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9 Tips for Conducting Market Research With Contractors

October 27, 2020

As anyone employed in residential or commercial contracting will tell you, the industry hasn’t missed a beat with the pandemic. In fact, they are busier than ever. So, despite everyone working and being at home more – or perhaps because of it – this is a good year for contractors. And that makes them a very desirable target for marketing research.

But they are also a challenging target for marketing research. Let’s face it: the very nature of their jobs means they are not likely to be sitting at a desk in front of a computer waiting to take a survey. They are out and about, on the job site, and working long hours.

However, there are ways to reach contractors to recruit them for marketing research projects. Here are 9 proven tips to help:

  1. Rely on the Experts. If this is your first project targeting contractor respondents, you have a lot to learn. Make sure your sample and market research partner has extensive experience completing a variety of market research projects with this challenging sample. You may need to get creative to complete your project, and a partner who has “been there and done that” can be beneficial.
  2. Don’t Fear Multi-Modal. For really low incidence or tough-to-find audiences, combine an email or phone recruit to an online survey. Mail surveys can also work well with contractors. Multi- modal methodologies are especially effective when you have a low-incidence qualified respondent.
  3. Be Creative in Sampling. Using a dedicated contractor panel is always a safe bet for getting project quotas filled. But you may need to use alternative methods, depending on your specific contractor requirements. Consider buying a list from a trade magazine or association. You may even have to go directly to the job site to recruit respondents to complete the survey.
  4. Multilingual is Required. Don’t count on every respondent being able to complete an English survey or interview. Offer Spanish as an option in all cases, and regionally you may need to offer other languages as well.
  5. Give Them Time. Completing marketing research for you is not their top priority – finishing the job and getting paid is. Because of this allow for a longer than usual field time. Include one or two weekends in your field time, as contractors may be better able to respond then.
  6. Be Aware of Seasonality. In many parts of the country building contractors are busiest in the summer in some parts of the country; In other parts of the country, they work year-round. HVAC contractors are busiest in the summer and the winter. Be conscious about the timing of your project. You will get a better response with more thoughtful answers if you field your project at a less busy time of year. But if you need to survey groups during their busiest times, then plan on giving them a little more time to respond than normal.
  7. In-Person Research Works Great. Most contractors are very interested in tools and especially new tools. Getting to them one-on-one, in iHUTs and shop-alongs around tool talk usually works very well. Meet them at a home improvement store or central location and talk about the tools or other products in which you are interested. Let them handle the tools and try them out. Go to the jobsite with a new drill and let them try it out. Then interview the contractors about their experience and how it compares to other drills they use and have used. Bonus? Maybe they get to keep the new tool as their incentive which will help participation rates. Ethnographies on the job are another way to get high-quality, honest responses.
  8. Open the Funnel. Many contractors move fluidly between job categories. The person who installed your drywall might also be the one who paints it. The person who does your bathroom plumbing might also oversee installation of the sinks, countertops, and tiles. General contractors tend to be Jacks (and Jills) of all trades. So, while they are painting today, they may be perfectly qualified to talk to you about framing tools, flooring installation, or many other areas.
  9. People Know People Like Themselves. Ask your respondents to refer you to other people who could help you with your project. Moving from jobsite to jobsite, contractors regularly meet other people like themselves and, for the right incentive, are willing to make those introductions. At the end of the interview, give them the opportunity to refer others.

Although market research with contractors is challenging, it can be done and can deliver important and insightful results. Just because it is difficult does not mean you should not attempt it. Follow these tips, and you will be able to “build” a successful project!

Symmetric Sampling has 20+ years’ experience completing market research through our Contractor Advisory Board panel. Let’s talk about your marketing research project with contractors. [email protected]

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