The focus group facility suggested that their client offer a respondent incentive of $150. The client protested.”We only want to pay $100,” they said. “A $150 incentive is too extreme. Besides, our list of potential respondents is sufficient, so $100 is a suitable incentive.”But the facility still recommended an incentive of $150. Here’s why:- The recruit was from a limited client sample of car owners because the car model had only been available for three months.- The list included owners who lived outside the recruiting area, which meant the list was more than 50% smaller than the client realized.- Respondents had to fit the screener on various socio-economic demos, which the list did not identify.- Lists often have up to 50% wrong numbers.The client ignored the advice and went with the cheaper incentive anyway. Can you guess what happened?- The initial refusal rate was high.- Potential respondents didn’t return voicemail messages.- The client had to relax specs that they weren’t planning to relax.- Although the groups were recruited and the show rates were excellent, almost one-half of the recruit consisted of respondents outside the client’s original target market.What to do?Recruiting experts are used to recruiting respondents in their markets, so trust their advice. They are accustomed to recommending appropriate incentives. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by playing cheap with incentives. If you don’t trust a field supplier’s recommendations, they don’t deserve your business. Period.If there’s no compelling reason to reduce a recommended incentive (not enough money in the budget is not a compelling reason), but you reduce it anyway, then your recruiting will likely be slower than expected, respondents may cancel at the last-minute, leaving you with a smaller sample of respondents than expected. And you may be forced to relax your specs–or your expectations.