Not quite Route 66, but we did have an interesting telephone challenge to recruit and interview drivers.

The client needed very rapid feedback from a wide range of drivers to talk about their driving experiences.

We had just one week to telephone, recruit and complete the interviews. The initial specification was drivers of both motorbikes and cars. We then had to find participants from different age groups and who had been driving for different length of driving.

The final complication was finding and interviewing driving instructors – yet again for both motorbikes and cars.

A key element of the interview was participants’ attitude to other types of drivers and their opinion of how other well other age groups drove.

The time constraint made this a very demanding project. There was literally no time to arrange call backs or to spend time tracking potential participants down.

The interviews were carried out by telephone, and the current trend towards preferring mobile phones to landlines present a further challenge for this type of project. When landlines were the ‘norm’ for phone usage, you could be reasonably certain that when someone answered their phone they were in or around their house.

Now, with mobile phones, participants can be literally anywhere and because of the time constraints we had to persuade people to talk to us when they were out socialising, shopping, collecting children or walking the dog. We did draw the line at carrying out interviews whilst participants were driving, although this might have added an extra dimension to their responses.

Inevitably, we did finish up carrying out some interviews very early in the morning or very late at night. We were amazed at the long hours put in by driving instructors but also delighted at their willingness to give up time for genuine market research.

We were able to send interview transcripts through to the client as the interviews were completed. This meant that they were able to gradually build a picture of the responses, shortening their reporting tome to their client.

L Plates