Seeking insights into the home improvement market, Basement Systems Inc. (www.basementsystems.com) partnered with the UConn Business Analytics and Project Management program on several inter-related projects over the course of two years. A division of Contractor Nation, Basement Systems is headquartered in Seymour, Connecticut and comprises a nationwide network of home improvement contractors offering basement waterproofing, foundation repair, insulation, mold prevention, and radon mitigation.
Graduate students in the program analyzed externalities that might affect demand for home improvement services, looking at the effect of weather, energy costs, the real estate market, and other geographic, economic, and demographic data. Other analyses looked at the cost effectiveness of different marketing channels and other factors affecting a company’s growth, including social media presence, competition, and reviews.
In addition to data analyses, the students used text mining tools to explore customer sentiment as expressed in online reviews. “These insights into our customers are an important factor in understanding market dynamics,” explained Jenny Hui Liu, a graduate of the program and Data Analyst at Basement Systems who worked with the students on the project’s parameters.
Richard Fencil, head of the Treehouse Internet Group, (www.treehouseinternetgroup.com) the company’s in-house marketing agency, said the results of the projects were being used in a number of ways. “The insights were immediately helpful in mapping the customer journey, expanding weather-related advertising, and our ability to provide support to our contractor network through our year-round training programs. The more we understand the interplay between reviews, referrals and online research, the clearer it is that a contractor has to deliver exceptional service to grow its business.”
Capital Community College worked with a team of UConn graduate students to help boost its fall-to-fall retention rate, which currently hovers around 45 percent. The UConn students’ findings were based on five years of data supplied by CCC, and all student identification remained confidential. The results of this predictive analytics project outlined the characteristics of CCC students who are most likely to succeed, and those who are at greater risk of dropping out.
“We hear a lot of stories from individual students, but until now we did not have the aggregate findings from the data analytics. The value of this kind of research is immeasurable. We are grateful to UConn, our colleagues down the street…we are all stakeholders in the success of our community.” G. Duncan Harris, Interim CEO at Capital Community College
The UConn students, in their consulting role, offered a number of suggestions to CCC administrators, such as augmenting the offering of financial advising to students who aren’t eligible for aid, considering more flexible class times for those who are working, studying which advisers work best with specific student populations, and adding additional support for students in the higher-risk categories.
Administrators from both colleges are considering extending the partnership. UConn students would like to gather more data, such as how many hours the average student is working, whether marital status impacts retention, how dependents influence completion of college, and the most common reasons students leave CCC.
“This partnership is phenomenal,” said Miah LaPierre-Dreger, CCC’s Interim Dean of Academic Affairs. “A lot of community colleges across the country would love to have this kind of data about their programs.”
“You’ve affirmed that we’re on the right track with the recent student-success strategies we’ve deployed and provided a data-informed platform for the launching of others,” Harris said. “The spirit of collegiality and support for our shared community exhibited in this project was phenomenal.”