Door to door survey distribution

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    Sarah Murphy

    The company I work for are sending out a household survey in a few weeks and we are trying to sort out our own survey distribution. We have been told by an enviornmental psychologist that we will improve the response rate if we deliver some of them face-to-face i.e knocking on doors, briefly explaining what they questionnaire/project is about and offering the owners a day when we will drop by to pick up the completed survey. We are having real trouble trying to work out how long this kind of distribution will take.


    We are aiming to get out 5,000 surveys; 2,500 in an inner city area and 2,500 in an affluent suburb. Half in each area will be distributed in this way and the other half will simply be posted through doors. We’re trying to factor in how spaced out the houses are, length of driveways etc.

    Just wondering if anyone had done this kind of survey distribution before and if they have any advice for working out how long it might take!!


    Hi Sarah!

    My company was involved few years ago in a project where the client requested a door-to-door delivery of the questionaire and then pick up of the completed survey 10 days later. In our case, delivery was the easy part.

    The pick up part was very difficult logistically speaking. And then the shock came: the respondents did not complete the entire questionaire, in some cases the questionaire had as many as 5 handwritings, and many refused to meet with us to give the completed survey, only to find out later that they were ashamed to recognise that they did not fulfill their promise.

    We manage to retrieve about 65% of the survey, but we used only the surveys we picked up on schedule, which was 35%. We never used this method again, mostly because we were not sure about the results and because the costs were much higher then anticipated due to the repeatedly failed meetings with the respondets.

    So, I would not recomend this method, but, if it would be the case again, I would put in motion a reminder system via text messages or email, something like a count down, for respondents, in order to make them “remember their / your deadline”.

    Best of luck,


    hi Sarah
    In the locality where I have conducted research before (Innercity Johannesbrug, South Africa) we have had to hire fielworkers who administer the questionnaire face-toface. the first phase was for myself and a co-cordinator to go around each block of selected flats and askign for permission to visit on a certain date and knock on each door then speak to the householder and fill in as they respond. Believe me we had 100% response rate because we substituted where we could not find respondents with another block of flats or another house, plus our study asked issues related to HIV/Aids which are quite sensitive. The affluent suburbs in SA tend to have people who are very cautious about security and I havent done a survey there. All the best…

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