Visitor Count Record

Counting visitors entering your farmers market requires planning and adequate personnel. The number of data collectors needed depends on how many entry points your market has. Identify how many data collectors you’ll need, as well as how to prepare them for data collection by following the steps below.

Map Your Market: Create a map of your market by sketching its physical features. Include vendor booths, seating areas, buildings, and other structures. Then mark all entrances. Entrances can be primary (i.e. designated entry points), or secondary (i.e., between booths, or through an alley). Draw a line at each entrance, which classifies people as ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the market. It may be useful to draw that line in chalk onsite during your counting days. Identify any secondary entrances that could be easily blocked off on counting days. If you can move a garbage can, chairs or even use caution tape to block off a secondary entrance, it will help guide visitors to the primary entry points, and decrease the number of data collectors you’ll need.

Once you have identified the entrances, give each one a name (i.e., the street name, food court, north intersection, by the bank, etc.) so that everyone on your team is clear about which entrance is which. Ideally you will have one person assigned to each market entrance. However, if multiple entry points (primary and secondary) exist easily within the same field of vision, they can be monitored by one data collector. Create ‘zones of responsibility’ on your map which outline the areas (including one or multiple entrances) that can be monitored by one counter. Number the zones. The number of zones of responsibility on your map is also the number of data collectors you’ll need to perform a visitor count.

Sketch of a market map, with zones of responsibility and entry points identified.

Identify Your Counting Periods: Counts will be conducted for 20 minutes of each hour that the market is open. The first counting period should begin 20 minutes after the market opens, and the counting periods should remain consistent. So, if your market opens at 9:00am, counts will take place from 9:20am to 9:40am, 10:20am to 10:40am, and so on. If your market opens at 8:30am, counts would take place from 8:50am to 9:10am, 9:50am to 10:10am, and so on. Enter the time of the counting periods into the Visitor Count Record.

Prepare Collection Materials: Complete the customization of the Visitor Count Record by including your market’s name and your market map. Add any other information you’d like your data collectors to know, and print copies for each data collector. Provide data collectors a Visitor Count Record, with hand-held clickers. Hand-held clickers are inexpensive, subtle, and improve the accuracy of these counts. If no clickers are available, instruct data collectors to keep a tally of visitors on the back of their Visitor Count Record. If tallying by hand, data collectors may require clipboards.

Implementation: Assign one person to keep an eye on the clock, and to make sure that all entrances are staffed at the designated times. This person should also collect all Visitor Count Records at the end of the day. Give each data collector a Visitor Count Record, and highlight the instructions:

  • +  Count only adults.
  • +  Count individuals.
  • +  Do not count visitors that re-enter.
  • +  Do not count vendors.
  • +  Record the total from each 20-minute counting period on the Visitor Count Record.
  • +  If you can, set an alarm on your phone or watch for 5 minutes before the start of each period and 5 minutes before the end of each period, to help us maintain accuracy.

Assign one data collector to every zone, and walk with them to the zone. To ensure clarity, point out the boundaries of their zone both on the site, and on the market map. Collect the Visitor Count Zone Reports at the end of the market day.