7 Dos and Don’ts When Conducting Market Research in the Construction Industry
Our U.S. and Russian market research teams have learned a thing or two about how to handle market research interviews in the construction industry. It is an industry that wakes early, works long hours and is often crunched for time. Market research professionals must be diligent, organized and highly competent in order to be successful when conducting research projects.
With that being said, here are 7 Dos and Don’ts we’ve compiled from the thousands of interviews we’ve conducted in the construction industry:
Do call the respondent to confirm your appointment (but avoid texting before you’ve met)
Issues arise in any industry, but especially in construction. Conditions and deadlines change and it can become stressful for companies under the gun. One of the easiest ways to be inefficient is to drive two hours to a construction site only to find that your interviewee is not able to talk or, worse, he’s at a different job site. Confirm with a phone call. It’s the best way to ensure you don’t waste time during research projects.
One important piece of advice: Pre-interview contacts should always be done over the phone. When it comes to following up with the respondent after the interview, emails and text messages typically work best.
Do arrive 10 minutes prior to your interview
Nothing irritates someone who is at their job site by 6 a.m. every morning more than a person he is doing a favor for who shows up late for a meeting. Your respondent may not directly say it, but being late may very well impact the quality of your interview. He is going to be rushed and less likely to open up on critical questions. Be on time. Show that you are dedicated. Plan to be there early even. It’s far easier to wait than to walk in late and scramble through an interview.
Arriving early shows you are respectful, value the interview and respect the respondent’s schedule. This applies not only in the United States, but in Europe too.
Do have a printed copy of your survey ready before heading to the interview
Even if you plan on using a tablet or laptop to record answers, bring a printed copy of the survey with you to the interview site. You never know if you’ll have technical issues (it has happened to us before depending on the location of the site).
Do be sure to have clarity about the incentive being paid (but do not bring it up until the end of the interview)
Expert interviewers appreciate incentives as a goodwill gesture but get very easily offended if an interviewer thinks they are participating in the interview because of the incentive.
When interviewing experts, it’s common to have some kind of incentive in the form of a small payment for their interview time. Make sure there is acknowledgement of this and that payments terms are clear. The last thing you want is for any uncertainty or a respondent who did not get what they were promised in exchange for her expertise.
Don’t go to a respondent’s office without an appointment
We understand that you have quotas to fill when it comes to surveys completed. But one way to aggravate respondents is to show up without being invited or without an appointment. It presents you in an intrusive light, even if you’re not intending to do that. Only show up when you’ve confirmed an appointment. Even if the respondent is not bothered by you popping in, he won’t be as prepared to answer your questions if you arrive unannounced.
Don’t offer respondents lunch or dinner
Market researchers need to remain objective. If we were to offer lunch or dinner to respondents, we may seem as if we are bribing or hoping for a certain response when surveying or conducting research. For example, say you’re conducting a research project for a manufacturer of construction supplies and you want to see how customers feel about various products. Taking an interviewee out for lunch may appear to be a way to influence responses. Simply put, we tell our fieldwork team members to not do it.
Don’t discontinue an interview if the respondent isn’t properly qualified
It can happen: You get to an interview with someone only to realize they don’t have the required subject matter expertise.
Our recommendation always is to continue the interview even if you feel respondent is not qualified. It is good etiquette. This person has taken time out of his day and busy schedule to meet with you. You may cut the interview shorter, but do not simply terminate the interview and leave. Act like you are going through the normal process – if you cut it short or skim a few questions, they will not know. And you never know: The person may provide you industry background or insights that can still help you develop your knowledge base as a market research professional.