Listening to Your Customers

Sept. 1, 2010
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In every business, it’s essential to make sure that what you’re offering is what the customer wants or needs. And as customer needs change over time, survival dictates that businesses change with them. There comes a time when persistence is no longer a virtue and refusing to change can doom your enterprise.

As a professional magazine serving the construction industry, we pay close attention to what you’re doing and what you’d like to see from us by conducting regular readership surveys. These surveys reveal much about who you are, what you’re working on now and where your future focus will be, how we can best serve your needs, and how well we’re meeting your expectations.

With the year’s end just around the corner, we thought you might be interested in what we found out from and about you in our most recent readership survey, completed in June of this year.

I can’t say that I was greatly surprised by most of the results, since we’ve conducted surveys regularly throughout the magazine’s history, but several things in this most recent edition caught my attention.

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First off, more than half of you have 25 years or more in the construction industry-27 years is the median-which is extraordinary in this or any business. With this as a backdrop, it stands to reason that more than 80% of you fill management or supervisory positions that translates to some major purchasing power, with a whopping 90% involved in your organization’s purchases of services and equipment. When you consider that the median annual purchasing level for our readers is $2.5 million, you can see what a tremendous impact you have on the economy. To put a cap to the point, the survey showed that fewer than 20% of respondents expect their budgets to decrease this next year, 81% reporting their budgets to increase or stay the same.

Rumors to the contrary, the print medium is still strong. Seventy-two percent of you opted for the print version only, another 18% electing to receive both the digital and print versions, with the remaining 10% receiving just the digital edition. What is significant here is that while the total number of digital issue subscribers has increased over the past year, that increase is reflected principally in the combined category, while the digital-only option has remained relatively level. Does this mean anything? I don’t know, though you can expect that we’ll dig a little deeper into this in our next survey.

Now let me throw some factoids at you:

  •  More than four-fifths of you have read at least three of the last four issues.
  • On average you spend more than three-quarters of an hour on each issue
  • Half of you have a job-related requirement for continuing education.
  • More than three-quarters of you have or are working toward certifications or degrees

Here’s a list of the majority of the activities you’re engaged in:

  • Excavating
  • Grading/fine grading
  • Dozing
  • Paving
  • Soil compaction
  • Dirt hauling
  • Trenching/shoring
  • Site clearing/preparation
  • Road and highway construction
  • Utility construction

Other areas in which you look to us for information include a number of technology and operations subjects, including:

  • Laser and GPS capabilities/machine-control systems
  • Takeoff and project management software
  • Communications and site-management systems
  • Underground operations and equipment
  • Erosion and sediment control best management practices
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So what does this survey say to us?

When we look both at the activities in which you are engaged and interests that underlie them, we see an educated, engaged, influential, and committed audience who make things happen…people on the leading edge of an occupation that has met its challenges with innovative and decisive action, and committed to doing so in the future.

We like who you are and hope to remain worthy of your support as we move forward into the future, so let me know what you’re seeing. Drop me a note anytime [[email protected]] with suggestions, article ideas, or just to talk shop.