Surveys – Are they worth the Money?


Surveys – Are they worth the Money?

From time to time I am approached by companies and asked to spend an hour or so on the phone answering questions about our industry. I’m happy to do so as I learn a considerable amount from the questions that are asked. Mostly about how naive surveyors are about the industries they are surveying.

The goal of the survey is to prepare a report that can be sold, at a pretty high price often in four figures, to those in the industry who are making decisions that will affect their companies for years to come.

My problem is that the surveys may fall short. When I read the ‘Executive Summary” and find a section that is obviously wrong, I then see the rest as suspect.

A year or so ago I got my hands on a report that was focused on PARCS companies. It listed 8 companies that it felt were the major players in the industry. Of the eight, three had been purchased by other companies and ceased to exist, two were small and inconsequential, and only three were large enough and still in existence so as to have any impact at all.  Off the top of my head I could list another 10 international firms that were making huge inroads into the market. I immediately discounted the rest of the report they were selling at $2500 a pop.

The well-known research firm that called me the other day gave me a list of half a dozen firms that provided on street enforcement, meters, and like services. Once again, two were already snapped up by competitors and a number of new entrants in the marketplace were disregarded. One company that had been split into three parts and sold off nearly a decade ago was listed as a major player. I tried to correct the list for them, but who knows just how successful I was. They seemed to be more concerned about ‘how long is a piece of string’ questions and less about the facts on the ground.

Purchasing surveys like this is a caveat emptor situation. Let the buyer beware.


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John Van Horn

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