Measuring adoption numbers can be fairly straightforward, but another helpful number to know is the number of people who walk in your door and leave with a new pet. It's especially helpful to know this number compared to the total number of visitors. The comparison of people who come in and adopt to all visitors is called the transition rate. This data is valuable because it can tell you a lot about:
How well your organization is reaching out to your community. For example, if you know your typical foot traffic, you can track whether traffic increases in response to promotions, special events, or advertising, and whether more animals go home as a result.
How well you are serving those who visit. What are people looking for when they come in the door? To find a new animal companion? Look for a lost pet? Drop off donated supplies?
Calculating transition rate involves some modest data collection and bit of easy math.
Conducting a Greeter Survey
A short greeter survey lets you learn basic information about your usual foot traffic. The survey is very simple: a volunteer greets each visitor who enters your facility and asks the visitor what has brought them today. The greeter keeps track of the responses on a greeter survey (.pdf).
Ideally, you conduct the greeter survey during all open hours for at least one full week — two weeks if possible. Avoid conducting this survey during holidays, as this may skew your sample.
Recruit volunteers who can be courteous and to the point so that visitors are not delayed from the purpose of their visit.
Keep a daily tally of those who came either to look at or potentially adopt a pet and the type of animal they are looking for.
You may or may not be interested in keeping track of other reasons people visit (to buy a license, to find a lost pet, etc.) at this time. (In the greeter survey the ASPCA Adoption Center used, greeters did collect a little more detail about other reasons people visited the facility.)
During the survey period, you also need to keep a daily adoption log (.pdf) that a staff member updates at the end of each day. This log tallies adoptions by both species and age group.
Doing the (Easy) Math
Now you have the information you need to figure out your transition rate.
Count the number of folks in the greeter survey who reported they came to your facility to look or with the intent to adopt a pet available for adoption.
Count the adoptions conducted that day.
Divide adoptions by the number of people who walked in the door to adopt.
30 people come in on Saturday.
25 of the 30 are looking to adopt an animal.
15 animals are adopted on Saturday.
15 divided by 25 is 0.60. Your transition rate on Saturday is 60%. That is, 60% of the visitors interested in adopting actually adopted an animal that day.
Doing a Little More Math
To get an even better handle on who's coming to your facility and why, you can dig further into your survey results to look at:
Potential adopters walking in your door interested in dogs vs. cats
Potential adopters walking in your door interested in puppies or kittens vs. adults
Foot traffic on certain days, and certain times of day (A city facility recently used this information to support the need for more staff at certain hours. The foot traffic relative to the staff level indicated they were woefully understaffed in the mornings.)
Transition rate by species
Transition rate by juvenile vs. adult
These numbers can help you figure out the areas in which you are not meeting the needs of potential adopters. Are potential cat adopters leaving without a cat, even though you are bursting at the seams with felines? Are potential canine adopters looking only for puppies? Your survey data can uncover opportunities to make changes that will send more animals home and save more lives.