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Two Minutes with Steve Schlesinger

Steve Schlesinger is a second generation researcher and 24 year veteran of the Market Research industry. During that time he has been very instrumental in building Schlesinger Associates and has given back a tremendous amount to the research community. He is currently on the national MRA Board and a member of a number of other associations. I hope you enjoy a few minutes of getting to know Steve.

MD How did you 1st get involved in the market research industry?
SS My mother had started as an executive interviewer in the early 60s. She worked her way up the ranks and eventually started her own company. You could say that I grew up in the business with dinner conversations about the industry and the types of studies my mother was working on. Of course, she had a clipboard and pencil in my hand by the time I was 17 years old. After college and grad school, I started helping her with a number of studies and the fun began. It has now been over 20 years and I am still excited to come to work every day.

Steve Schlesinger
Schlesinger Associates

MD What do you think is the biggest challenge the industry is facing today?
SS Respondent cooperation is the biggest challenge from our industry and has been for a number of years. It is imperative that all companies within the research community address this issue. It seems that we have struggled to communicate to the public the importance of research and distinguish ourselves from the telemarketers and spammers out there. It is our internal goal over the next 12 months to create local initiatives to explain the importance of the research process to prospective respondents – a true grassroots campaign. Initiatives have included better explanations of the research experience, literature to promote the importance of the affects of research and the distinction of research versus sales.
MD What does client service mean to you?
SS Our view of client service is a partnership with our clients. We work to anticipate their needs and respond to their requests in the most timely manner possible and with a can do attitude. We believe that our business is based on our quality and service and growth is dependent on both of these being at the highest level. On a daily basis we measure our client’s satisfaction with a three prong approach;

  1. customer satisfaction survey on-site with moderators and viewers of the research
  2. customer satisfaction survey one week after the study with the project manager for the specific study and
  3. self evaluation from our staff. These three processes enable us to constantly review our service level and implement suggestions for improvement.
MD What does an average day look like for you?
SS My day typically starts around 5 am with answering emails, mostly from Europe and Asia. Then a one hour workout, quick shower, drop the kids at school and off to my office. I am usually there until 6 or so and then home for dinner with my family. After dinner, it is usually some family time and then back to the computer to clean up emails and paperwork. It ends with some reading (pleasure and business) or TV and off to bed by midnight.
MD How do you think qualitative research will change in the next few years?
SS Technology will surely have an impact – with increased broadband, the ability to interview people in a home setting or off a PDA will exist with greater ease. These will be the ethnographies of the future. The use of online focus groups will also benefit by the increased broadband, enabling researchers to have better video images and access to certain respondent pools.The timelines for projects will continue to shrink, as they have been and the specifications for studies will become more difficult, with more use of segmentation tools (algorithms). One of the trends that have stayed consistent is the desire to talk to low incidence respondents. This trend will continue and companies providing recruiting services will have to be creative in how they find these respondents.

I also believe there will be some consolidation within the facility businesses.

MD What’s next for Schlesinger Associates?
SS We have plans for continued growth both domestically and internationally for the next 3 to 5 years. It has been our goal to add one to two new facilities each year and we hope to continue with that model. In the fall of this year, Kim White joined our company in the role of client development director. Kim’s role is to get in front of existing clients and prospects and look for new opportunities to grow our business. We are also launching a couple of new services in the coming year – stay tuned, we are very excited about these.

Thanks, Steve.

Over the past few years I have really gotten to know Steve and what he is all about. From my standpoint Steve is a rare breed. He is a solid business person, client focused, funny, and the owner of basically a family owned business. The interesting thing is that he never treats the staff like they aren’t related. They are all family. He has truly built a special business.

The research industry is truly great because of companies like Schlesinger Associates and people like Steve.

Please post any questions or comments for Steve.

Here’s a picture of Steve his staff just sent in:

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