Sell Girl Scout Cookies
Is it cookie time again? The Girl Scouts have their own special way of kicking off the new year... with cookie season! As a member of the Girl Scouts, you probably look forward to cookie selling time all year long... and so do your neighbors. Every year brings new cookies to sell and new first-time sellers.
Perhaps you're a new Daisy scout or leader, or you've just never sold cookies before. It's not really an art or a science, but it does take a lot of planning and organization. It can seem a daunting task at first, but in the end, it's very rewarding. In no time, you'll be an experienced veteran of cookie-selling.
Preparing to Sell
- Get your cookie materials. These usually consist of a few "cookie sheets" (big charts with columns for a buyer's info and each type of cookie, including nutrition facts, used to mark down sales), a prize sheet that shows the incentive prizes and how many boxes you must sell, and you may also wish to receive the requirements to earn a cookie pin. Cookie pins are diamond shaped pins that go on the uniform, and every year, there are different guidelines to earn one - taking the cookie sale several steps farther, as one might say.
- Set goals. After looking at the incentives, pick a realistic personal goal (face it, 3000 boxes for a computer probably won't happen), and help pick a troop goal. Decide what you'll do with the money (donate to a charity... go on a big trip... fund a service project...), and write your goals down on your cookie sheet.
- Know the cookie-selling rules and safety guidelines, as well as general courtesies. While these are often revised every year, and have probably been changed recently due to the introduction of the Ambassador scouts, the gist of them stays the same.
- Do not sell before the sale starts. The sale in your area should have an official "start date", and you usually can't sell before 12:01 on that day. Even if you get your selling materials before then, do not sell a single box before the agreed time and date. You will get in trouble if busted for this, and may even be banned from selling.
- Sell cookies only at the price on the cookie sheet. In the past, some clusters have had issues with troops adding a few cents or dollars to the cookie prices so as to make more money (troops already get a percentage of the money from sales, but it's only a few cents a box). Don't do this, as your troop can be banned from selling, and it's unfair to other troops and your customers.
- Stay safe. Scouts from Daisies to Juniors should have parental supervision at all times while selling. Cadettes to Ambassadors should at least have some kind of adult supervision. Never enter a house when invited unless you know the person well, and don't walk up to cars to sell on the street.
- Stay in "your" territory. If many scouts live in your neighborhood, stay on your street and the ones near it, provided none of the other scouts live there - don't go out the first day and hit the whole neighborhood. Don't sell in other neighborhoods, either, if another scout lives there (an exception being if your parents have a good friend or two who lives somewhere else... sell to them, but not their whole street).
- Be prepared to answer questions. Know how much the cookies cost per box, what cookies are available, be able to give a general description of each cookie to a first-time buyer, know which cookies are new, which ones are fat- or sugar-free, low sugar, don't contain chocolate, etc. You'll also need to know when the cookies will come in, about when you'll be picking them up, and when you plan to deliver them.
- Know how to fill out the cookie sheet. Many first-time buyers have trouble with this - more than you might think. You, yourself, may not actually know what all the boxes are for. On a typical cookie sheet, there are horizontal rows and vertical columns. Each person has their "own" row, with columns for their name, address, phone number, each kind of cookie, the total number of boxes, how much they owe, and a box to check off whether they've paid or not. Use numbers in the colored boxes, not tally marks, as those can get squished together. Check and double check all the numbers and totals.
- Wear your Girl Scout Uniform. This shows that you're actually a girl scout, makes you look more "professional", and, in the case of little kids, increases the "adorable" factor, which will reel most adults in. In lieu of a uniform (you don't have one, you lost it, it's filthy... whatever excuse you may have), a Girl Scout t-shirt and nice pants and/or your pins (the piece of felt with your Girl Scout and World Association pins on it) will suffice. Wearing an outfit that matches your friends' or leaders' attire will create a nice look.
- Find a clipboard and a pen. While not "required", under any circumstances, it's a good idea. People won't have to write against their door frames or walls, you'll have a writing implement on hand, and all of your materials will be in one place. You may even wish to tie the pen to the clipboard, to ensure that you don't lose it.
- Approach a house. Walk on the sidewalk, as it's considered rude by many people to just barge through the front yard. Ring the doorbell, put on a smile, and wait.
- When someone answers the door, tell them who you are and what you're selling. "Hi, my name is ______, I am in Girl Scout troop ______, and would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?" would be an appropriate opening line. In your sales pitch, you can also include your troop's selling goals, your personal ones, and/or what your troop plans to do with the money it makes. This makes you sound excited, involved, and endears you to potential buyers. However, do not say that you will get a prize. Make it sound like you are just doing it to help out your troop.
- Inform the person of what kinds of cookies you're selling, how much each box costs, when the cookies will be delivered, and answer any questions that they may have. Often, there will be at least one cookie that's sugar free, low fat, or something else that may appeal to diabetics (often, they don't want to buy cookies, but it's possible to convince them - that's why you'll want to have nutrition facts on hand, which should be on the cookie sheet). You can recommend a personal favorite or a cookie that was popular the year before, if they can't decide.
- Fill out the cookie sheet and tie up the sale. If you know the person well, it may not be necessary to have them write down their address and phone number, but all other information is necessary. Help them fill out the boxes showing how many of each kind of cookie they want, if they need it, and tell them how much their order will cost. You'll also need to work out payment.
- It's best to collect all the money at once. This is a good idea because collecting some money at the time of the sales and some at the time of delivery can be confusing, and has the potential to cause more accounting issues than you really want to deal with. Tell your customers that they can pay when the cookies come in, and only make exceptions for people you know.
- If they don't want to buy cookies, thank them for their time and prepare to leave, or try a subtle hint that they can make a donation instead, if they don't offer to on their own. Hey, you can't sell to everyone... you'll probably have more luck at the next house.
- Thank the person and leave via the sidewalk. Congratulations, you just made a sale! Now, go forth and conquer the rest of your neighborhood.
Other Selling Opportunities
- Call or email relatives and friends in other states. Cookies keep well, and they make great gifts for a birthday, Christmas, or any other occasion. You can send them in a package with all kinds of other goodies... it's just too bad that you won't be there to see the faces when the package is opened.
- Hit up people from school. This includes teachers, bus drivers, and even other students (though you'll need to get special permission from the school to sell to students, and you may want to keep in mind that especially with younger kids, the money-cookie transactions may be a bit hard to pull off). Most teachers will buy a box or two, and the same goes for bus drivers. Office staff, janitors, and other "less noticed" school personnel would also be a good idea, since they probably have fewer people asking them. However, be careful not to make a big deal about it, because if your teacher buys 10 boxes from you, another scout in your class may become jealous.
- Have your parents take a cookie sheet to work. This is an easy way to get lots of sales in one convenient place, and your parent(s) will take care of most of the delivery. One of the easiest ways for parents to do this is to enclose a cookie order sheet, a brochure describing the cookies and other information such as who's selling, in a folder that can be passed from cubicle to cubicle. This is often comfortable for parents and their coworkers as there's no direct soliciting or hovering. It gives people a chance to complete the order when they've time, and it minimizes feelings of obligation to buy.
- Sell at church! If you attend church, it is a great way to sell cookies to people that you know. After a sermon or during events, sell cookies to your friends and family. You'll be sure to have an order form filled with names.
- If they work at a time that you're not in school, you may even be able to go to their workplace and set up a mini-booth sale near the front entrance or their office door.
- Call store owners. If you or your parents are fairly close with a manager of a big store or an owner of a smaller one, you may be able to persuade them to buy large quantities of cookies to give out at an event, sell for a little extra money, or whatever else they'd like to do with them. This is a great way to exceed your goals... possibly by a few thousand boxes.
- Do a booth sale. Even if you couldn't sell cookies to the business owner, maybe they'll let you sell outside their store. A booth sale is a great way to get rid of extra cookies, practice selling in a different environment, or get those last few boxes you need to reach your goal. It also gives people who don't live near a girl scout, or who want to buy more of something, a second chance.
- Call local organizations. They, too, may want to buy cookies in bulk. Some ideas are senior centers/groups (or nursing homes), Boy Scouts (they'll never admit it, but they're jealous of Girl Scout cookies), church groups, sports teams... the possibilities are endless.
- Drive around. A new and exciting cookie selling form is called mobile cookie booths. You can be anywhere in your Girl Scout county for fifteen minutes. So make a big sign saying "GIRL SCOUT COOKIES FOR SALE" and have your parents ( or if you're old enough, you) drive around your town and sell cookies. So you could go to the park for fifteen minutes, go to the local Public for fifteen minutes then maybe the Library. And you do NOT need permission.
- As soon as the cookies come in, head to the warehouse. While each troop's order should be organized, separated, labeled, and correct, this isn't always the case. If you're one of the first ones there, you can be sure that you get the cookies in the best condition, there will be enough to fill your order completely, and you can double (and triple) check that your order is correct. Depending on the size of your order, you may need help with this... preferably someone who owns a van.
- Get your troop's cookies to a central location. This may be the leader's house, someone's large shed or garage, or just about anywhere that the whole order will fit. Inform the whole troop of this location, and have each parent stop by sometime to take their girl's order home.
- Write Teach Kids to Write Thank You Notes. While not required, it's a nice touch, and your neighbors will love to see a handwritten note from the scout. Just a generic "Thanks for buying Girl Scout cookies from (troop number). We can't wait to (what you plan to do with the money). I hope you enjoy your cookies, and thanks again!" will make an impression. have as many thank-you notes as you have orders, and put one in each bag (see next step).
- Box or bag up everyone's orders. It makes the delivery process much easier if all the orders are already divided up. Boxes or plastic bags with the person's last name on a tag will make the whole deal go much more quickly, and organizing the orders can be fun for younger scouts.
- Deliver the cookies. When delivering to your neighbors, you may wish to load the orders into a wagon and pull it door-to-door, or if you're delivering to a bigger area, you can go in your car. At every house you go to, hand the person their order, collect their money, give them change (if necessary) and put it in an envelope or fanny pack, thank them again, and leave. Remember to mark off who you've delivered to and that they've paid.
- Give yourself a pat on the back... after all that work, you're finally done!
- To help persuade people to buy in bulk, mention that Girl Scout cookies last a long time, especially when refrigerated. If kept in the fridge, most cookies, especially thin mints, are edible even a year or two later. They'll also survive being mailed to a relative, so they can make great gifts.
- Set up the cookies in a way so it will look appealing and inviting.
- Take advantage of the Great Cookie Trade a few weeks after cookies come in and booth sales start up. Different troops will be desperate for some kinds of cookies, and desperate to get rid of others. If you just so happen to have the last box of Samoas in the whole cluster, or you found someone who'll buy the Lemonades like crazy (even though they weren't very popular this year), you have an opportunity for some gains. Don't charge anyone ten dollars for the last box of Samoas, but you can at least get your money back for the box you bought. You can take Lemonades off everyone else's hands for face price or even free, and be able to rack up more sales and have a happy customer.
- Girl scout cookie boxes can be reused for all kinds of things, from storage at home to World Thinking Day booths. You can make castles, walls, and all kinds of other things... the possibilities are endless. Save your cookie boxes... you never know when you'll find a way to use them.
- Be sure to have change when delivering the cookies and taking the money to pay for them. Often, people will pay with checks, which will leave you at a loss when someone pays in cash and only has 20 dollar bills.
- If you're old enough not to need an adult holding your hand at every door, you may wish to go with a friend or two instead (with an adult still watching, of course). You can double your area in half the time, and split the cookies you sell.
- Advertise and decorate! Your local Girl Scout office may sell posters, car window flags, signs for your yard, and even costumes. These are great for booth sales, and signs on your car and in your yard will definitely get the message out. Have a cookie sheet with you at all times - you never know when someone will walk up and ask for some.
- If the cookie sheet doesn't already have a chart printed on it, you might want to take a separate sheet of paper and make the calculations for how much any given number of boxes would cost, if your mental math isn't very good. You'll probably want to go up to twenty boxes, or even thirty. This way, you'll be able to give a price instantly, instead of having to cover your cookie sheet with math scribbles.
- When buying the actual cases of cookies to deliver to customers, buy a few extras of everything to sell in a booth sale. However, don't "over-buy" so much that you won't be able to sell the extras. Turn to the cookies you've already sold to use as a guideline. If Thin Mints were popular this year, buy a lot of those. If Shortbreads weren't, a case or two is probably enough.
- Remember to tell people that buying Girl Scout Cookies is tax-deductible, as they are technically donating to the Girl Scout organization.
- When doing a booth sale, it helps to have a catchy song and dance and sing the names of the cookies while doing the can-can.
- Keep in mind that some cookies have different names in different places, because not all clusters or states use the same cookie baking companies (most, if not all, either get their cookies from Little Brownie Bakers or another company called ABC. Someone who's just moved to your area or has never bought cookies there before may be confused. It's important that you know what they're asking about when they want to know if you sell Samoas. Below is a list of the "two-name" cookies that you may encounter.
- Samoas (which usually come in a purple box are are donut-shaped and covered with coconut shavings and chocolate), are called Caramel Delights by some bakers.
- Do-Si-Dos (which usually come in an orange or salmon colored box and look something like peanut butter crackers), are also known as Peanut Butter Sandwiches.
- Tagalongs (round, chocolate-covered peanut butter cookies that usually come in a red box) are also called Peanut Butter Patties.
- Trefoils (as the name suggests, these cookies are shaped like the Girl Scout trefoil, and usually come in a blue box) are the same as Shortbreads.
- Thin Mints (round black minty chocolate cookies that have a crunch, sort of like a Twix, and usually come in a green box)
- Thanks-a-lots (round shortbread cookies with a chocolate coating on the back and "Thank you" on the front in one of five different languages, usually sold in an aqua blue box), are called All Abouts by some bakers (though not all bakers still sell them).
- Lemonades (very lemony-tasting, round cookies with a lemon design on them that were introduced in 2006, usually sold in a yellow box), are often confused with Lemon Chalet Cremes (which feature a design of Our Chalet in Switzerland), but they are actually not the same cookie.
- If a house has a No Soliciting sign on it, do not ring the doorbell. Those signs apply to Girl Scouts too, and the people in the house are not going to be very happy if you bother them.
- Never, ever enter someone's house that you do not know, especially if you don't have a parent right with you, or you're in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
- Do not sell cookies via the Internet except to people you know personally (i.e., relatives or friends), and communicate with those people via email, not a public website. Posting on, say, your MySpace that you are selling cookies is not allowed under the cookie selling guidelines, and it's also a bad idea to be exchanging addresses and phone numbers with strangers (since you'll have to mail them their order). Let them buy from local scouts, if they want cookies so badly.
- Don't sell early in the morning, before afternoon on Sundays, or in the middle of the day on Saturdays. In the morning, you'll probably rouse a bunch of grumpy neighbors from sleep, which will not endear you to them. On Sundays, many people will be at Church, and on Saturdays until late afternoon/early evening, many people will be at sporting events or other things with their families. You'll be ringing a lot of doorbells, and not getting any people. It's not worth your time, since you'll just have to come out again.
- When selling door-to-door, don't try to look into the house to see if someone's coming. This is rude, and decreases your chance of scoring a sale if the person catches you doing this. If nobody opens the door within a minute or two, just leave, and make a mental note to try again later.
- If you are a parent seeking to help your daughter sell cookies, be respectful to your friends and co-workers. Some people may be irritated if you ask them to buy cookies for your child. Don't pressure friends and co-workers to buy cookies.
- If you're an older scout, you may not have as much luck with selling, especially in booth sales. A sad fact of life is that the stereotypical image of a Girl Scout is an adorable little kid, not a teenager.
- Avoid selling "variety packs". A relatively new idea, these contain one box of every type of cookie, for a few dollars less than buying all the boxes separately. However, there were problems with packing and distributing these when they were first introduced, and now most clusters only make/receive a limited number of them, if any at all. If your cluster only gets 3000, and there aren't enough to go around, guess who has to make up the few dollars' difference and make one themselves? That's right, you do. Just cross them off the cookie sheet - it's not worth the hassle.
- Make Easy As A B C Cookies
- Sell Homemade Cookies
Things You'll Need
- Cookie materials
- Cookie sheet
- Incentive sheet
- Cookie pin requirements
- Pen/other writing utensil
- Envelope or fanny pack (to collect money)
- Parental supervision
- Girl scout uniform (pins and vest/sash)
- Pigtails if you're under 10/11. It makes you look adorable (girl scout image, remember?)
- Good walking shoes
- How to Make Girl Scout SWAPS
- How to Organize a Girl Scout Cookie Booth Sale
- Join the Girl Scouts (USA)
- How to Make Thin Mints
- Camp With Your Girl Scout Troop
Sources and Citations
- Girl Scout Cookies - Official GS Website
- The History of Girl Scout Cookies
- Girl Scout Cookie FAQ
- Girl Scout Cookies.org
- Wikipedia on Girl Scout cookies
- The Infamous Cookie Sale Songbook
- How to Sell Girl Scout Cookies - eHow
- Little Brownie Bakers