Partnering with the right research field force is a critical first step

Market research is, or should be, an essential component to every marketing strategy. Properly done, research can provide invaluable insights into customer perspectives, decision drivers, competitive positioning, brand impressions, market disruptors and many other significant influencers. Research-based decisions can ultimately determine the success or failure of a product, service or organization. Inaccurate, incomplete or poor quality data can have a more devastating impact than no data at all.

So, how do you ensure your research is reliable? By starting with the right field force partner.

5 key criteria to consider in selecting a research fieldwork partner

The value of a strong partnership is well worth investing the time and effort of careful due diligence upfront. Applying the following criteria can help you make the right choice.

  1. Established history

The longer a company has been in business, the better you’re able to judge its track record and reliability. Have they evolved with new technologies and changing client needs? Do they have long-term, repeat clients? Do they have ample experience in the markets you wish to target?

  1. Appropriate size and scope

The larger the pool of evaluators and auditors, the better a field research firm will be able to meet the requirements of your research project. However, it’s important to evaluate size in relation to your specific geographic and demographic needs. Will your research be conducted on a local, regional, national or global scale? Are you targeting a specific age, ethnicity, income or other demographics? A firm may claim to draw from thousands of evaluators, but not have the numbers in the your target markets.

Other questions to consider: Are the evaluators experienced in your industry? How strong is the internal team? Are project managers spread too thin? Will your project get the attention it needs?

Even if you have a small or local project now, it’s worth looking down the road. The focus of your project may expand, or you may have other projects requiring broader field research. Choosing a partner that can support potential growth if needed can help expedite projects in the future.

  1. Qualified field force

Access to a large bank of evaluators is advantageous, but only if standards of quality are met. A well-qualified field force requires a diligent screening and selection process.

Jennifer Eyler, an Operations Manager of nearly 20 years with BARE International, concurs. “We employ an ongoing multi-tiered process to recruit, screen and select evaluators who meet our high standards.” According to Eyler, BARE utilizes customized software to monitor ratings and shop counts, qualify evaluators for preferred handling or unique shops, disqualify ineligible evaluators, exclude poor performers, detect fraudulence, prompt profile change alerts and capture extended data about evaluators to aid in profile searches.

“We hand select our project teams to verify each member meets client criteria and has the necessary research experience,” says Eyler. “Then we educate and train them with unique, client-customized e-learning modules, including project specifications and timeframes. Assembling the right team from the start not only ensures quality data collection, but also builds a consistent, reliable team for ongoing research projects.”

Quality measures should occur at each phase of the project, including project planning, process management, evaluator educational briefing and guidelines, data verification, data input, report generation and follow up.

  1. Depth of service

For optimal data, field research should encompass the complete customer journey. A field research partner with a full range of capabilities—in-person mystery visits, phone inquiries, online experiences, overnight visits, exit interviews, social media monitoring, brand audits—will be in a better position to provide a comprehensive data report.

Choose a firm that understands your industry, has the expertise to customize research to your requirements and can efficiently and effectively assemble the right team. This is especially important if you have a specialty, luxury or unique product or service.

Once a project has begun, data should be promptly and easily available. Will you have access to a customized dashboard? Can you review detailed data analysis, and access company statistics how and when you want?

  1. Verified reputation

Lastly, be sure to do a little research of your own to confirm reputation and claims. How well do they deliver on promises, deadline and budget?

Start with some objective sources, like checking membership and involvement in organizations that regulate and advance the industry, such as Mystery Shopping Providers Association (co-founded by BARE International), International Society of Hospitality Consultants, Market Research Association and Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals? Do they have an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau? Have they been recognized for their business acumen? For example, BARE has been awarded the MSPA Shoppers Choice, MSPA Elite, Smart CEO, and Inc. 5000.

Talk to past/current clients. Ask for at least three to five references, preferably clients within or similar to your target industry that have partnered in projects comparable in size and scope to yours.

A good partner makes you look good

Choosing a field research partner that knows your market, meets your specific requirements, respects your deadlines and budgets, and delivers reliable, quality data in a readily accessible format saves you time, effort and stress—as well as make it easier for you to excel.

BARE International has been helping clients shine for 30 years. A long-time advocate known for setting industry standards, BARE now manages more than 50,000 evaluations and audits per month, in 150 countries, with over 500,000 auditors worldwide. We’re confident we can contribute to your success too! Contact us about your next marketing research project.

 

Michele Jowdy, Business Development Manager – North America, BARE International

703 995 4375 • MJowdy@BAREinternational.comwww.BAREinternational.com

 

“I’ve had the opportunity to partner with BARE on several complex, nation-wide, retail Mystery Shop programs.  The team assures thorough understanding of program goals, carefully recruits and trains Mystery Shoppers, and rigorously adheres to the program timeline.  They provide tactical suggestions to streamline the shopper reports as well as strategic insights about the overall shopping experiences. Most importantly, BARE provides these services with attention to detail, deep professional knowledge, timeliness and good humor.”

 

Cindy Case, BI Worldwide, a BARE partner