DJS Research Ltd Annual Review 2013
19th December 2013 15:12
The theme for DJS Research Ltd in 2013 has been one of growth and in increasing our specialist offer. In May 2012, we moved in to our new offices, firmly laying the necessary foundations for increasing in size and capability and this has borne fruit in the intervening 18 months – not only have we been able to further develop our relationships with many organisations whom we have worked with for several years, but we have also been able to complete research for several new clients. We have also had success on several major framework agreements, as well as in regional awards.
As part of this growth, we have increasingly specialised certain aspects of our agency – including the implementation of our own education market research panel, our new regional level segmentation and predictive tool, and the establishment of a dedicated Field and Data Services offering for both end-clients and agencies.
Once again, for the 11th consecutive year, we have increased turnover – and aim to have achieved £3m at year end, which would be a remarkable growth year. This figure includes income from our largest ever contract, as well as a large amount of repeat clients which has become a hall mark of quality and something we are very proud of.
As part of this, we have increased our number of permanent staff to 42 – up a fifth on the same time last year – including expanding our Operations department with the addition of Paul Hylands as CATI Manager and Janice Beard who leads Field Recruitment. We will also be announcing several promotions and new additions to the agency in the New Year.
The DJS Graduate scheme is also progressing well. Now in its third year, our newest addition, Suzanne Fisher, has stepped up fantastically and will soon be taking her MRS Advanced Certificate. Suzanne is managed by Maya Winter and Alasdair Gleed, and works with a number of public, financial services and cultural sector clients to manage and deliver complex research analysis. In addition, Liam Higgins and Claire Jackson have moved from our Operations department to become researchers – with Liam working with major international health and education organisations and Claire focusing on industrial and chemical markets.
Innovation, both internally and in terms of new approaches, has become a key part of our ethos and we are continually looking at ways to both work smarter within our own agency and to offer new and improved data collection and analysis to our clients.
VoicED is our proprietary education market research panel – and one of the very few panels in the country which includes professionals from across the learning and skills sector for purely market research means.
VoicED has been utilised by both the British Council and a major distance learning provider, and our research team behind the project includes many of our most experienced researchers such as Sharon Nichols and Alex McCluckie. The success of VoicED among teachers and other education professionals is demonstrated by the speed at which we have been able to recruit individuals to join the community. We would like to thank several of our key supporters in the VoicED project, including Recourse, The Teacher Support Network and our partner and nominated charity, the Prince’s Teaching Institute.
Localise is a specialist regional and local segmentation and profiling tool, which can be mapped against existing property, infrastructure and resources to give a detailed overview of the population in a local area.
The tool can also be combined with aspiration survey data and other existing sources of information – such as CRM data – in order to create even more detailed segmentations and also predict future shifts. To date, we have utilised Localise very successfully in the public sector – in particular for capital asset management and for rationalising resource location for local councils. However, there is potential to provide, for instance, major retailers with local level segmentations in order to target a particular stores offers to the population, or even to select the best area in which to build a new outlet.
The approach was recently presented at a CIPFA conference and received excellent feedback. Alasdair Gleed, a specialist in retail and public research, leads the Localised team and we will be launching a dedicated website in the New Year. Anyone interested in finding out more about Localised can do so here.
Although we have always conducted research all over the world, in 2013 our international capabilities have increased greatly, and we have completed research for a growing number of large international clients – including companies in the chemicals, healthcare and education sectors. In the past six months alone we have worked in Thailand, Korea, Japan, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Bahrain, Canada, the USA, Russia and The Palestinian Authority.
Of particular note is our expansion in to the Middle East, where we have carried out several research projects – including Research Manager Charlotte Sykes travelling to Dubai to moderate group discussions. In addition, Julie Rundall and James Hinde, both specialist researchers in chemical and industrial markets, have been to several locations in Europe – including Paris and Switzerland. Several of our top ten largest clients are organisations based on the continent and we have established bespoke websites in both French and Italian languages to add to our presence abroad.
We have had a year of success in terms of both major indications of the quality of our research and through regional awards for other aspects of our business. As part of the former, as mentioned above, we have secured our largest ever research project – a large customer satisfaction tracking project dealing with hundreds of interviews every day through our in-house CATI unit. In addition, we have also secured places on Framework Agreements for major organisations such as the Local Government Association and The Electoral Commission and look forward to increasing our research involvement with both these bodies.
Away from our main research activities, we have also been commended for our commitment to youth employment and the contribution that DJS Research makes to the local economy at the Stockport Business Awards. Our entry included the idea that we do not see youth as something ‘we need to do – we actively encourage it’ – and this is an ethos that we will continue to adopt moving forward. Our graduate scheme and internships are increasingly popular, and the positive experiences of many staff who join via this route are outlined by a recent informal debrief with Casie Peet, who travelled all the way from The University of Kansas in the United States to take up a two month placement.
Finally, we have also featured on the Guardian’s Small Business Network for one of our marketing campaigns in Europe, and research conducted by Ali Sims was featured in an article for Utility Week, in which Rob Stait of Echo Managed Services discussed Customer Management Tactics.
We recognise that with increasing growth and ability comes increasing responsibility. As a result, January 2013 marked the first time we have adopted an official Charity Partner – CLIC Sargent – who we will continue to support in 2014. Our first year with CLIC Sargent has been a learning curve, although we are pleased to say that we beat our yearly target of £2000! Our fundraising activity ranged from small ad-hoc bake sales, to entering two teams for the Manchester 10k, all the way to organising a 5-a-side football tournament for local market research businesses which involved over 150 guests. As a market research agency, we are also conscious that we interact with hundreds of thousands of individuals every year, and that CLIC Sargent benefit from increased awareness as well as simply in financial terms.
Elliot Simmonds will also be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro for the charity in February 2014. Through a combination of self-funding and support from DJS Research, all donations made by members of the public and businesses will go directly to the charity (i.e. none will be used to pay towards the cost of the climb itself).
In addition to CLIC Sargent, our national partner, we also support local events such as the Whaley Water Weekend (a three day local music festival featuring the likes of Lucy Spraggan and Aziz Ibrahim – formerly of Simply Red and The Stone Roses), Whaley Firework Friday and several local sports teams including both football and rugby clubs.
2014 is set to be a breakout year for our agency. The foundations are laid for strong and prolonged growth, and our financial targets are ambitious – we would like to enter the top 100 UK agencies in terms of turnover. Within this, there is certainly room for additional staff members and we are currently seeking to add even more strength in depth to our sector expertise – especially in the utilities industry for instance.
In addition, Alexandra Noden, who recently attended an MRS Conference on research with children, is part of an internal team working to develop our research offer to clients seeking research with children and young people – a skill set we already have, but hope to utilise more actively.
We will continue to grow the client-base for both VoicED and Localise, as well as seeking to continue to grow our field and data offer under the leadership of Matt Coulling and Lyn Allen, who bring a research perspective to our data capture offer that others lack.
Finally, there are several exciting developments planned for the first quarter of 2014 – so watch this space!
In closing, although this has been a fantastic year for us at DJS Research, we are conscious that we wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help and support of a great many people. Firstly, we would like to thank all the organisations, and the individuals within them, who have commissioned our research throughout the year. We enjoy every project we undertake, and the relationships we build with all our clientele are our foremost consideration.
Second, we wish to thank all our own staff and our suppliers – without you none of what we have achieved in the past year, or within the past decade, would be possible.
Finally, we would like to say a huge thank you to our respondents. We have spoken to around 1 million individuals this year as part of our research, and we never forget that without help from members of the public and individuals within businesses or other public and private sector organisations, we would not be able to do the job we do.
A very happy holiday period to you all, and we wish you all the best for 2014!