Yum. I'm hungry already! Don't these look divine?
Do you remember Sunshine Bakery? They used to make a cookie called Lemon Coolers. I loved those things. And then they stopped making them. :( So sad. They were so good!
But then last year, I stumbled across the Girl Scouts' Savannah Smiles cookies.
THEY ARE SO GOOD! They taste just like Lemon Coolers. Happy, happy me. :) I'm going to buy a bunch this year. We ran out way too soon last year.
Anyway. So, to cookie training. . . . I admit, I wasn't feeling terribly confident about it, because our troop's "Cookie Mom" had to reneg at the last minute due to other commitments. It just reminded me how vital it is for a troop leader to be as flexible as possible, and not be afraid to ask for help. :) Because I'm going to need it! Thankfully, my co-leader offered to store the cookies at her house and help handle distribution. That left me with paperwork, money, and training, etc.
I can do it.
But just like with learning how to be a Troop Leader, I needed to learn how to be the Cookie Mom.
For those of you lucky enough to have a Cookie Mom, she should attend your Troop Leader meeting with you, and the two of you should work together with your co-leader in delegating duties, etc.
While I'm sure it varies, for us, there was a Troop Leader meeting where we received a crash course in cookie sale information, and all our paperwork, including copies of the same packets parents receive, and instructional pamphlets on ordering, distribution, setting up booth(s), money organization, and online resources for keeping track of it all.
I was quite impressed with our Council's setup, to be honest. But it was still a bit overwhelming. For first-timers (like me), it's so important to make use of your resources, including your Service Unit and Council contacts, for questions and help. (And take lots of notes at your meeting! You won't regret it.)
A couple of things to keep in mind:
Streamline important information for parents.
Not all parents will read their packet thoroughly. Or they may, but it's nice to have dates streamlined for them. On the inside cover of ours, there are some spaces for important dates, etc., but not all. So I typed up a letter to parents, highlighting ALL the important dates, as well in including information regarding our troop's goal.
One thing to keep in mind is that it is always better to give parents dates that are earlier than your actual due dates, to anticipate those who might have issues getting their orders and/or funds to you on time.
We have a parents-only meeting scheduled before our next troop meeting, so we can go over all the information, but by typing up all the important dates on one sheet, and including some information regarding our troop goal and cookie booth, this allows parents added convenience, and it also can help reduce confusion down the road.
At the parent meeting I can answer questions they may have as well as collect permission slips (which MUST be turned in before orders can be taken, and you should save your permission slips and all paperwork related to cookie sales for at least six months after the sale ends).
At the meeting we can talk about our highest goal for troop sales, as well as come up with options for secondary goals to give as choices to the girls, should we not meet our top one.
While there are individual incentives for cookie sales that Girl Scouts already provides, our troop reward will not exclude any child who's unable to meet the overall goal average of 50+ boxes per child. If we have an average of 50+ then we will have our party at Build-A-Bear (no, they aren't paying me to use their name or anything; it's just a cute place for us to take the girls, plus they have Daisy GS outfits for the bears!). If not, then we will have some other kind of party elsewhere (even if it's just a choice between cupcakes or ice cream, at our regular meeting place), and try to give the girls as much input as we can in that.
But we've figured out how much it costs to go to Build-A-Bear and how much we need to retain in our account for future crafts, activities, etc. It doesn't do us much good in terms of earning all the money and blowing it in one fell swoop. We need to teach the girls about saving money too!
But for now, the important thing is getting everyone started, and getting the parents on board.
Edit: Once you get the initial order from everyone, you can provide a list of viable activities/rewards for the girls to vote on. Looks like the bouncy/jumping party place might win out over Build-A-Bear for our troop's end of the year party!
The first step is going over all the paperwork with parents, especially money stuff.
Explain why we do it. That it helps prevent or offset dues, for one. That it helps the girls learn about personal responsibility, money, setting goals, etc. Go over all the safety guidelines and paperwork.
And speaking of paperwork, in your packet there should be some receipt books. USE THESE! Anytime a parent picks up cookies, count and double count the boxes/cases, and have the parent sign a receipt for them. Same with money collection. Keep a paper trail of everything, including any communication you have with parents regarding money. That way if there are any problems with parents turning in their cookie funds, you have it all well-organized should you need to turn the issue over to your Council for resolution.
Decide if you'll accept checks.
In our troop, we have opted not to accept any checks from anyone other than a troop parent. Individual parents may choose to accept checks, but we are asking each troop parent to write a (post-dated, if necessary) check for the total amount of her initial order once she picks up her cookies.
This allows parents the convenience of not having to drop off funds constantly as we go between when cookies arrive and when the initial debit is made to our account.
Booths, blinging, and phone debit scanners:
Decide if you'll have a booth, and what all is involved in "blinging" it up. Attend training (if available and/or necessary) for using a phone credit/debit card scanner. This can be a WONDERFUL tool, especially for booth sales! And it helps balance things out if you're unwilling to accept personal checks.
Booth blinging: Check out Pinterest for ideas! There are some awesome ones out there. Reuse anything you can from prior activities (for instance, we have a nice wooden sign from our scarecrow that we can reuse for our booth!). There are TONS of ideas online for how to attract attention. Just keep in mind that it should be fun, should not leave a mess behind, and should involve the girls.
Online social networks (for parents of Daisies, obviously; see rules regarding ages and online safety at the GS site and in your Cookie Sales paperwork)
Workplace (always check to make sure it's allowed)
Girl Scout Cookies are one of the few solicited items that seem to be met with acceptance across the board, but spam is still spam, so try not to go overboard if you can help it. ;) Regardless, it's very important to maintain your child's safety at all times when taking cookie orders. For instance, I've seen online templates for door hangers that instruct you to leave your child's name and troop number.
Some people may not have an issue with this, but I prefer having the parent's name on there instead, just to be safe.
Here's a template that you can use:
You can print on regular paper, cut out, and instruct parents/girls to tape to doorknobs (never tape onto painted doors), or put in between screen/front door. Or you can print on card stock, get some ribbon and a foam sticker, and make a loop from the ribbon, using the foam sticker to adhere it to the back of the hanger. Then hang it on the doorknob if no one's home.
Does it matter to customers to have a girl's name versus a parent's? I don't see why it would, especially since your child will be the one to leave the hanger, and the one to hand-deliver the cookies when they arrive.
And your child is the one who benefits from the money earned. :)
Stay in uniform!
If weather permits, have your daughter wearing her Daisy vest when you are out together taking orders, working the booth(s), and delivering cookies. See your cookie packet info for details on behavior, but the bottom line is that she should remember the GS law and act according to it. So should you.
That's it for now. More to come!