The results from PizzaMarketplace's first-ever reader survey continue to roll in. As of Jan. 21, 18 percent of our subscribers to our e-mail news alerts responded to the survey, which provided a solid, statistically valid sample.
We thank those respondents for taking the time to "speak" their minds, and at the end of this column are the names of three lucky MP3 player winners. See if yours was one of them.
Digits and data
As with most surveys, we were pleased and surprised at our findings. For example:
* Sixty-nine percent of our readers have high-speed Internet access -- a figure that was far above our expectations.
* Eighty percent said the site's breaking news interested them most.
* Sixty-one percent of readers use PizzaMarketplace three to five times or more per month (and our ever-increasing traffic leads us to believe it's more).
* Eighty-six percent said the length of our feature stories was "just right."
* Sixty percent of readers like having e-mail news alerts delivered twice weekly. (It appears those who spend so much time delivering their own products enjoy delivery to them as well.)
Not all our findings were positive, however, but readers' comments were insightful and helpful.
* For example, though 56 percent said they find what they're looking for easily on the site, 37 percent said it's a challenge.
Improving the site's navigation is a never-ending process for a Web-based publication. But I can safely say that readers can expect many positive changes in the coming weeks.
* A few readers wrote that they'd like to see fewer articles about crimes against delivery drivers.
Steve Coomes, Editor
Believe me, so would I. Few things would please me more than reporting that driver murders, beatings and robberies have gone down. Problem is that's not happening. In fact, we ran a story on Jan. 10 that reported delivery crime went up 40 percent in Columbus, Ohio, in the first 11 months of 2002.
Therefore, we feel strongly that the subject deserves top-line attention. And, incidentally, stories we run on crimes against drivers are among the top-three most-read news articles on our site (news about cheese prices and sales performance of the top chains are the other two.)
* A few respondents requested we publish more independent research and industry statistics.
Excellent idea. An ongoing -- albeit sometimes frustrating -- pursuit of every news organization is to obtain hard data that operators can apply to their operations. And where the real challenge lies is in obtaining it. The fact is that those who hold such data typically don't share it because they paid good money for it, and sharing that data may reveal chinks in their armor. Perhaps most importantly, few people want to share an advantage such as hard data with competitors, so companies often are loathe to do that.
Nevertheless, it will remain a goal of ours to partner where possible with third-party researchers who may share that information.
* Some respondents recommended we focus less on established pizza companies and more on independents and start-up operations.
That you'll see more independent-focused stories this year is guaranteed. Thousands of new operators get into the pizza business every year, and providing more "how-to" information for their benefit is another goal of ours this year.
Still, we'll always keep an eye on large and well-developed companies. Though some may not like admitting it, those companies influence the industry most strongly.
* Multiple respondents requested we broaden our international news coverage.
This idea I really like, but in few other cases am I more dependent on readers for telling me what's going on in their corners of the world than here.
Therefore, I welcome any and every e-mail, letter, fax or phone call about a possible story from any reader anywhere on the face of the globe. I can't stress enough how valuable reader input, such as a story suggestion about a person, place, event, etc., is to the quality of PizzaMarketplace.
Lastly, I want to thank those of you who wrote such kind things as "change nothing," "it's great like it is," "you're doing a great job" and "keep up the good work." Whether your lunchtime fortune cookie told you to "be kind to someone today" or you were just plain sincere -- or whether our mothers and wives were using e-mail aliases to write such things -- we appreciate the praise.
Really, thanks to all who commented. Your suggestions for improvement are valuable and welcomed year 'round by calling or e-mailing me. We do our best to keep an ear to the rail in order to stay on top of issues you want to read about. But sometimes even the vibrations of the loudest trains aren't heard as clearly as a personal message from individual newsmakers like each of you. (My contact information follows.)
Congratulations to the following MP3 winners: Allison Voth of J.D. Sweid, Michael Thacker of The Brick Oven Italian Pizzeria, and Brian Summers of No Anchovies, Inc. (a Domino's Pizza franchisee).
Phone: 502-241-7545, ext. 111
P.O. Box 23539
Louisville, KY 40223