Next Stage Design + Build

by Emily Blackburn

San Jose, Calif.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 96%
GQ 2022 Recommend Rate:
Number of Jobs in 2022:
Type of Firm: 
James  Kabel

QR: Your team was able to achieve high rates of customer satisfaction during the pandemic, a time of greater scrutiny because clients were at home more. There were also supply-chain delays. What measures did your firm take to maintain client satisfaction?

During the early days of the pandemic, we augmented our already stringent protection and clean-up standards including putting porta-johns on all job sites with wash stations and enforcing testing and masking standards with all employees and trade partners.  We continued a high level of communication with regular e-mail updates and continuing to provide a client portal using our cloud-based project management system.  

To deal with supply chain problems, we worked with clients to get long-lead items such as appliances and windows selected and orderered early, prior to completion of the remaining design work and finalization of the construction contract.  We also advocated strongly with local building departments to minimize permit delays during the pandemic and became one a few participants in a pilot program to accelerate permit review and approvals with the city of San Jose.

QR: Firms with happier employees have higher levels of customer satisfaction. What are the top ways you are able to keep your employees happy and satisfied?

Based on the quarterly employee surveys we do through our HR system (Bamboo HR), our employees are very happy and satisfied.   We do respond to any inputs on these surveys each quarter and have often augmented our policies and benefits based on the feedback.   We’ve also moved to a hybrid work environment for our design staff and added paid holidays and dental insurance to our package in the past two years. 

To help with the teamwork and collaboration challenges created by working remotely, we’ve provided Crucial Conversations training to the design, sales, admin, and production management staff.

QR:Purpose driven” companies, those that exist to effect change or take action on something bigger than their products or services, attract a younger, higher skilled employees who tend to be more engaged workers. Some firms connect their “purpose” to a written mission statement. Do you operate a purpose-driven organization? And in what ways does your firm extend itself to outside causes.

We are very purpose-driven in our team. We’ve defined and documented our core focus, values, 3-year goals, and vision using the EOS system and it’s Vision/Traction Organizer tools.   The values are updated with employee participation, every two years to keep them fresh and relevant to the current market and situation.  We use our values as a basis for hiring new staff members and evaluating our team during twice yearly evaluations so that everyone is clear on opportunities for growth and development.

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