For many of you reading this blog post, this is your first year selling Girl Scout cookies. While I personally believe that you should not sell cookies your first leadership year since everything about being a leader is brand new to you, if you accepted the challenge of selling and have already attended your training session with your Cookie Mom, here are my top tips for surviving your very first year of Girl Scout cookie sales.
Photo by Hannah Gold
1. Have a Parent Meeting
What is most essential to a successful and less stressful cookie selling season is to have parents on board with you. This meeting can be held during the first 15 minutes of your regularly scheduled meeting. Have your co-leader or an older Girl Scout lead the Daisies in an activity while you go over the nuts and bolts cookie sales.
2. Put Everything in Writing
Parents love to use the excuse of “I didn’t know!” when if comes to dropping the ball. Somehow, it is never their fault, despite the numerous emails, forms and letters you sent home and the announcements in your private Facebook group.
I learned a long time ago that a good leader needs to get everything in writing. It prevents problems and provides time stamped evidence that you did indeed inform parents of deadlines and guidelines.
Put your rules and guidelines all in a time stamped email that must be responded to. What should the email cover?
- Parent Meeting Time
- Booth Sales
- How Money Will be Handled
- How Delinquent Money Will be Handled
No response=no cookies. For extra CYA insurance, hand out the form in advance of sales at your meeting a few weeks before the actual sale. Have a place to sign at the bottom and returned to you.
3. All Paperwork Must be Handed In Prior to Selling
In order for the girls to be able to sell cookies, paperwork must be signed by the parent and handed in. Keep all paperwork in an organized binder so you can keep track of who has handed in the necessary papers and who still owes you the documents.
Photo from Pixabay
4. Count, Count, Count Again!
Before releasing cookies to parents, both of you need to count the cookies separately and together. This ensures that there are no accounting mistakes on either part.
5. Go Over the Receipt Together
When handing the receipt to the parent, circle the number of boxes s/he has taken. Go over it together so that both of you are on the same page. This ties in directly with #4.
NEVER hand over cookies to any parent without a receipt. This is your proof that s/he actually took the cookies.
6. Do Not Give Out More Cookies Until the Ones They Have Taken are Paid For
Suppose Susie’s parents take five cases of cookies. They want three more, but you have not received any money for the first five you released to them. You need to tell them that no cases will be given out until the first five are paid for. You do not want your troop responsible for the money if for some reason Susie’s parents never pay.
Every Council is different and some will cover part or all of your losses. See what you Council rules are regarding this matter.
7. Don’t Overdo Booth Sales
By Drmies (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Daisy Girl Scouts have a limited attention span and ability to withstand the cold. Have a limited number of booth sales and be sure that the shifts are no more than two hours, max. The cute factor will turn into the whine factor rather quickly.
Also, do a handful of booth sales in the beginning when enthusiasm is high. Don't sign up to do one both Saturday and Sunday of every weekend. This will lead to both parent and leader burnout.
8. Set Firm Boundaries
Cookie sales can really eat up your personal time. If you are to survive with your sanity intact, you need to give yourself a break. No cookie talk/emails/texts after a certain hour. Unplug your phone and disengage from the computer. Inform parents of these boundaries and stick to them. There is no such thing as a cookie emergency that cannot wait until the next day. Hand out cookies at times that are convenient for you, not the other way around.
9. Stock Up Your Fridge and Freezer
Because so much personal time is devoted to cookies, your desire and interest in cooking may be limited. Make some meals for the freezer for your busiest days, have your spouse do kitchen duty, and keep meals simple on booth sale days. Organic mac and cheese, soup and grilled cheese, fresh veggies and hummus, tacos, and crock pot meals can be healthy and inexpensive ways to feed your family. Your body and your wallet will thank you for not eating too much take out.
10. Do Not Take Parents Lack of Involvement Personally
You may have a girl or two not participate in cookie sales. Let it go. Unless you know exactly what is happening inside her home, this is none of your business. According to the GSUSA website, cookie selling is voluntary, not mandatory.
Troop money is troop money, no matter who sells what amount. You can choose to aggravate yourself over this, but why would you?
Have you learned any other tips that you wish to share?