This is the first of two posts about selling Girl Scout cookies. Click here to read the second post. You will find more details about what has and hasn’t worked for us, and Cookie Mom tips and tricks. Happy cookie selling!
My daughter, Z, is a very enthusiastic about Girl Scout cookies sales. Last year her goal was to sell 750 boxes of cookies and earn a trip to summer camp. (She sold 776 boxes.) This year, she wants to sell 1,000 boxes, and she is well on her way. Selling Girl Scout cookies is as involved as you want it to be. If you daughter is happy selling 12 boxes of cookies and earning a patch, great. If you daughter wants to earn a Cookie Queen patch and/or a larger incentive, it is going to take a good amount of time, on both your parts. Yes, selling cookies is a girl lead activity, but don’t be under the impression that you won’t be pounding the pavement, hauling cookies, and standing outside the grocery store right along with her. I am sure that Z and I will learn new tips and tricks each year she sells cookies, but so far these tips have been the secret to her success.
TIP #1 – Cookie Club
The Girl Scouts have a very strict rule about girls under the age of 13 using email and social media to sell cookies. They cannot provide any personal information (including an email address). Cookie Club is a colorful, kid-friendly website that allows the girls to take online cookie orders from family and friends without revealing any personal information. It walks the girls through setting and tracking sales goals, and monitoring their progress. Z especially loves the colorful sales graph that resembles stacked cookie boxes.
TIP #2 – Create a Sales Video
Cookie Club is all well and good, but it is a bit impersonal. If you really want to sell cookies, you need to put forth a bit more effort than clicking the “send” button. One generic Girl Scout email can be easily ignored. Nothing sells cookies faster than seeing a cute little girl in her uniform. This is a scientific fact, I’m sure. We created a sales video that I emailed to our family and friends. Think of it as virtually going door to door. Z could not send the email personally, but I was more than happy to help her with that. I can’t tell you how many extra sales she has gotten because of her videos. Her grandma’s co-worker saw the video and donated 10 boxes of cookies to Operation Cookie Drop without ever having met Z.
TIP #3 – Be Persistant
This year Z and I made two sales videos. The second went out a week before pre-sales ended to remind everyone to place their order. I read email on my phone all the time, fully intending to reply when I get home, and promptly forget to do so. (Hopefully I’m not the only one that does this?) I appreciate friendly reminders.
TIP #4 – Door-to-Door Sales
Going door-to-door is an excellent way to boost your numbers. Find out if your service unit has cookie costumes available for your troop to borrow. It is almost impossible to refuse an adorable Girl Scout dressed like a giant cookie. Let’s go over the basics first, shall we?
– First and foremost, smile and make eye contact.
– Make sure your daughter doesn’t just shove the order form in someone’s face and ask if they want some cookies. She should smile and give them her sales pitch: “Hi! I’m selling Girl Scout cookies! My goal is to sell x boxes of Girl Scout cookies to earn x. Will you help me reach my goal?”
– Don’t underestimate the power of a compliment. When a customer first opens the door, have your daughter compliment them on something; their flowers, the wreath on their door, anything! Make them smile before asking them for anything.
– If they say no, ask them if they would like to donate a box of cookies to Operation Cookie Drop instead. If they can say no to buying cookies from a cute little girl AND donating to our troops, they clearly have a heart of stone.
TIP #5 – Bring Cookies
I recommend waiting to go door-to-door until you have physical boxes of cookies. If not, you will find yourself hoping to catch your neighbors at home and going back repeatedly to try and deliver their cookies and collect payment. It takes FOREVER. This year Z is going door-to-door with cookies in hand and we have found that a) It is lovely not having a huge pile of “To Deliver” cookies in our home, and 2) Customers are buying more cookies than last year. An actual box of Samoas is harder to turn down than an imaginary box that will be delivered sometime in the future.
TIP #6 – Change or Operation Cookie Drop?
If your customer needs change when paying for their cookies, ask them if they would like change, or if they would like to donate their change to Operation Cookie Drop instead. Every $4 equals another box to our troops. They don’t have to donate an entire $4. Every little bit helps! Most people feel like schmucks asking for $1 in change instead of giving it to the troops. (As they should.)
TIP #7 – Saying “Thank You!” + Packaging + Customer Loyalty
It sounds funny to even say/type, but your daughter needs to build up her customer base. I don’t know about your neighborhood, but ours is filled with Girl Scouts. There are at least ten on our short street alone. Last year we heard quite a few, “I’m sorry, but I already bought cookies from the Girl Scout across the street,” or “I already have a little girl that I buy cookies from.” The goal is to have neighbors saying that about your daughter.
Just as you should never underestimate the power of a compliment, you should never underestimate the power of a “Thank you!” I’m not talking the quick, “Thanks!” as you are passing off the cookies. I’m talking cute packaging + a thank you note. I won’t lie, it takes time, but it is definitely worth the extra effort. Why?
– Everyone likes receiving a thank you note. It shows that your daughter truly appreciates that they bought cookies from her.
– Cute packaging is hard to resist. It may not make a difference this year, but next year your daughter will be the one that sticks out in your neighbors’ minds as the one who went the extra mile. She will be the Girl Scout they buy cookies from.
– Cute packaging aside, it really does help keep your deliveries organized. Last year I somehow managed to loose some cookies. (I think the “extras” Z sold were supposed to be delivered to a few customers.) This year, we taped each order together, attached the thank you tag with curling ribbon, and wrote the customer’s name + total on the back of the tag.
Participate in site sales! Your daughter can participate in as many site sales as she/you want (depending on your Troop Cookie Mom, of course.) Opening weekend is obviously the busiest sales weekend, but your daughter will generally sell at least one case of cookies even during a slower time slot. Z spent a few (slow) afternoons at Lowe’s, but every box she sold got her closer to her goal.
– If you troop has access to a cookie costume wear it!
– Even if your daughter is long past the pigtail stage, wear them. Never underestimate the power of cute.
– Make catchy signs with phrases like: “Only available for a limited time!” “Frozen Thin Mints are a Delicious Treat All Year Long!” “The perfect hostess gift!” “Last Chance for Cookies Until Next Year!”
– Make sure your daughter doesn’t just stand around like a statue. She needs to smile and wave at the people walking by and get their attention!
– Of course, if people say no, don’t forget to ask if they would like to donate a box to Operation Cookie Drop.
Now, let’s talk Troop Cookie Mom (TCM) Tips. I volunteered to be Z’s TCM last year without having any clue what I was getting myself into. Granted, most of my work is the direct result of Z being such an enthusiastic saleswoman. It truly is easier for me to have all the cookies at my house. That being said, I have definitely refined my process this year. I am sure that I will make improvements next year as well, but these are currently my most helpful tips:
– Keep your cookies in the garage. Last year, my husband and I lugged all the cookies up the front stairs and stored them in the library. Then we lugged them back down the front stairs when people picked up their cookies. Not my brightest move. Storing your extra cases in the garage makes for easier unloading/loading.
– When scheduling a time for your troop to pick up their cookies, keep the window of time small. Three hours is just about perfect. I spent an entire day waiting around for Z’s troop to pick up their cookies. A few came in the morning, everybody else came between 5pm-7pm. I was trying to be as accommodating as possible, but in reality I waited around the house all day for nothing.
– I assign two girls to every site sale. It is up to their parents who picks up and drops off the cookies/table/ sign/money for the sale. This year, I am asking that they pick up their supplies the night before their sale. Again, so that I don’t have to wait around the house the day of the site sale wondering when they are going to show up.