By Rene Butler
Although it may sound simple, running a successful cookie booth requires planning and hard work. Running dozens of them is a test of nerves and a logistical struggle. How do I know? In the past two years, I have organized and run more than 70 of them!
Our troop sells around 8,000 boxes of cookies a year and booths are a major contributor to those successful numbers. Let's face it, consumers like instant gratification and booths are much easier and more efficient than going door to door when nobody is home!
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So what kind of preparation goes into successfully coordinating a tasty table of treats? I use the 4 "S" method to success: Scheduling, Scouts, Supplies and Stock.
SCHEDULING: Location is key!
- It is important that you sign up for booths right when the locations are made available online. You thought Ticket Master is competitive? You haven't seen a mass of cookie moms hitting the Internet yet!
- I keep a spreadsheet with booths, locations, dates, and what was sold so I can spot trends and plan for next year.
- If you don’t have any data and If you're not sure which stores are the most coveted, ask your area cookie director; she will know.
- Failing that, scope out the stores. Which ones have full parking lots and crowded cash registers all the time? Look for stores in areas surrounded by apartments. Not only have those shoppers most likely not been visited at their home but the household density is also greater around these stores.
- The best times for booths are weekend afternoons and weekday nights. I find that weekend evenings don't make good cookie booths.
How many booths do you schedule? My mantra is, if you schedule it, they will come.
- I get the first three booths scheduled and release them for troop signups. Generally, at least four girls sign up for each with more interested. At that time, I split the booth and schedule another one somewhere else at the same time.
- When I'm allowed to sign up for unlimited booths, I schedule ones at dates and times I know me and my daughter can work. That way if nobody signs up, I can make a quick phone call to find her a partner later. If these booths get four girls interested, I split them.
SCOUTS: Training for success!
How many people do you schedule and what are they expected to do?
- Since my girls are cadettes, I rarely schedule more than two per booth. Here's why: when you have more than two girls, it creates a crowd around the booth that is inefficient and noisy. Second, the girls don't have enough to do and bored girls play around. I've seen too many cookie booths run by the parents because the girls are away playing. This is the girls activity, not yours. When there are two girls and one parent, everyone stays busy. This is the ideal size.
- The exceptions are when the location is extremely busy or when the girs are young (Brownies or Daisy Scouts) in which case three girls is ok. Also, if you are at a store that has two doors you can post two girls at each door.
Behavior at my booths is expected as follows:
- No eating.
- No sitting down. A girl should be eager to help.
- Each customer should be asked if they would like to purchase cookies. You can't just stand there and expect them to come to you.
- Look the customer in the eye and smile.
- Take rejection cheerfully.
- Breaks may be taken about every half hour for a few minutes and the girl must be away from the booth.
- Junior level girls and above use the bathroom alone and younger girls may take a buddy, which is why three are needed at younger levels.
- Older juniors and above may handle money and change must be counted back the old–fashioned way.
- No smoking, pets or extra people (non-Scouts). Remember that you’re in a place of business and act accordingly.
To hear more about the other two S’s of Booth success (Supplies and Stock), visit my website at www.cookiemoms.com. Soon, running successful cookie booths will be something you can do, too! You can find Rene on Facebook and Twitter.
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