Awards, the Internet, Respect and the Outdoors

This magazine publishes a lot of information, but there's more we don't publish. So I thought I'd use this final column of 2005 to share with you the unpublished results from some of our online reader surveys.

We asked if winning industry awards is part of your marketing plan. For 54 percent of you, it is, and for 46 percent, it is not. My question to the 46 percent who don't value the power of winning an awards competition is, why not?

True, you are builders and architects, but you are also consumers. And as a consumer, isn't it impressive to walk into a place of business and see a trophy won by a business with which you are about to spend thousands of dollars? The validation provided by winning a competition makes consumers comfortable working with the award winner.

We also asked RDB readers what effect the Internet has had on how they conduct business. More than 80 percent of readers said it makes doing their jobs easier. This is no surprise. What's surprising is that 12 percent said the Internet makes doing their jobs complicated.

My guess is this 12 percent consists of those who have been doing things the same way for far too long. Another guess is this 12 percent might be intimidated by the Internet, and computers in general. If so, be brave and ask someone you know for a quick Internet lesson. It will be time well spent. Can consumers truly be asked to make the biggest investment of their lives with someone who doesn't use a basic business tool such as the Internet?

We asked architects if the builders they work with install what they spec. Only 20 percent of architects said builders always accept their recommendations. Another 50 percent said builders install what they spec most of the time. Twenty-seven percent of architects said builders sometimes take their suggestions, and 2 percent said builders never install what they spec.

It's good news that only 2 percent of architects said builders don't respect their opinion. It's also bad news. This number should be zero. In the design/build world, open communication and mutual respect between the builder and architect is a crucial element of success.

And as a bit of market research, here are readers' answers to the question, "What is the most essential element of an outdoor living area?" The winners were: kitchen 39 percent; water element 22 percent; fireplace 18 percent; hot tub 6 percent; entertainment equipment 4 percent; and sauna 3 percent.

To participate in future surveys, visit our website at and the opinion poll will pop up.

Have a wonderful holiday season.