The best (and worst) of conducting a reader's poll

Filed under: Opinion |

When we decided to conduct the Best in Springs Business survey, we hoped that the categories would distinguish our poll from the other “Best of” lists that various print publications produce.

Since we’re a business-focused publication, we chose categories that were, well, business-focused. We were hoping to find out who and what our readers thought about the people and the places that make up the Colorado Springs-area business community.

The results of our highly unscientific poll will be published July 23. “Bests” and runners up will be announced in 80 categories (which may be whittled down next year to save what little remains of the sanity of the CSBJ staff members who culled through and compiled the results. And let’s be really honest, “best air charter service” sounded good when we thought of it, but crashed and burned when it came to responses.)

Winners and runners up will be able to use the Best of Springs Business logo in their promotional and advertising efforts for the next year. (Don’t worry, if you are a winner or runner up, somebody from CSBJ will be getting in touch with you before the 23rd.)

CSBJ Publisher Lon Matejczyk says that the designation is an excellent opportunity for those selected to boost internal morale, promote themselves or their businesses and position themselves amongst their peers. (He also claims that he developed the Best of Business idea while working at another paper in another state. Of course I’m in no way, shape or form bold enough, or stupid enough, to actually research this to determine the veracity of his claim.)

As you peruse the list, one thing that you might notice is that there are several companies that seem to pop up in category after category. Like I said, the survey was nowhere close to scientific. Some companies obviously put copies of the ballot and pens in peoples’ hands and encouraged them to vote. And one human resources director even felt the need to explain her company’s submissions.

“My Company CEO modified by deleting several questions that were on your list,” she wrote. “I hope you will accept this modified version of your survey. I will forward more results as we receive them. When the survey was modified, it was sent soft copy to a number of sites in Colorado Springs where we have staff members assigned.”

Stuffing the ballot box? Maybe. But, nobody said voting couldn’t be made a mandatory job duty. I think it probably falls under that catchall phrase in most job descriptions that reads something like “other duties as assigned.”

And it wasn’t only CEOs who felt free to take liberties with the ballots. One reader decided that the four score of categories we had wasn’t all-inclusive. We received a ballot with a write in category and a nominee: Best janitorial company – Jan-Pro Cleaning Systems.

We also received several ballots that had categories marked N/A (not applicable). I’m hoping that the reference was to the voter’s interest in the category and not that there was no one or no business in the Springs to which the category could be applied.

In compiling the results, we realized that some of the categories must have either been confusing, or some of our readers just have way too much free time and way too good a sense of humor.

Under the best recycling/waste category we received a vote for “aluminum.” That was probably our fault for not making it clear that we were looking for the name of a company in the recycling/waste business, not the best product to be recycled or wasted.

Humor (or downright capitalistic greed) also appeared in the best place to park your money category: my pocket. Some folks obviously have way too much free time at the office or little or no life away from it.

Of course, the responses that we truly found interesting were those that had no tie in at all to the Springs. Funny how folks will vote for something or someone they truly like even if it doesn’t fit under the Best in Springs Business umbrella.

Need an example? Lord & Taylor is a fine place to shop, but you can traverse the retail map of El Paso County until the cows come home and never find a store here. And Disneyworld is a great place to visit, but I’m still trying to figure out how the theme-park in Florida took top honors in the best place to be CEO category.

All in all, our first venture into the “Best of” readers poll has proven quite enlightening. We’ve learned that we need to narrow our focus and be clear and concise in naming the categories. And hopefully, if your company didn’t make the list, you’ve learned that you can’t win if you don’t vote, and that every vote counts.

I could make another reference to Florida here, but I loathe sliding down that slippery slope. (And I’m really hoping that this year, the presidential election isn’t anywhere near that close). Of course, I guess I should be thankful that none of our ballots had hanging chads.

Managing Editor Mike Boyd can be reached at 634-3223, ext. 206 or Mike.Boyd@csbj.com.