Biscuit season is not far away. It’s a time of excitement for many but it can also be a source of stress or anxiety for Guide Leaders. As volunteers we do not receive training in how to run a business, but that’s exactly we do each biscuit season.
Our Guides take home crates of biscuits and we ask them to bring the cash in when they’ve sold all the biscuits. This sounds simple enough, but no matter how many times you ask them to bring in the payment for the full box, there will always be Guides that turn up with payment for half a box… and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve handed a crate to a Guide only to discover that it’s already been opened with half of its contents missing.
So here are some quick and simple tips to help you (the wonderful volunteer that you are!) get through biscuit season this year.
Explain to your Guides’ parents why selling biscuits is important for the district or unit, let them know about the skills each Guide will learn by participating in biscuit selling and suggest the different ways their daughter can sell biscuits. Provide them with all the information they need to help support their daughter through the selling season. In our district we hand out a booklet to all Guide parents, before we start selling biscuits, which includes a Frequently Asked Questions section.
It’s easy to forget that parents are not knowledgeable in all-things-related-to-Guides. With informed parents, you’ll find that they are more willing to help out when you need it.
Book in at least one biscuit stall before your biscuits even get delivered, that way there will be less to do when they arrive. Create a blank roster that specifies the number of Guides and adults required at each timeslot to cover the day and pin it in a prominent place, like the door of your hut. Allocate each unit in your district specific slots to fill, so there’s no possibility of the younger Guides filling all the timeslots just because they will have first access to the roster.
On the day, don’t forget to have a calculator handy for your Guides and print out a cheat sheet for them, listing the prices of each biscuit variety.
Don’t be afraid to set rules. Guides and parents at a biscuit stall are representing Girl Guides everywhere and they should be reminded of this. As an example, here a few rules that you could set:
- It’s OK to ask parents to wear a badge to identify themselves as part of Girl Guides. Give them a badge that states they’re a “Proud Guide Parent”!
- Give each Guide have a particular job to do whilst she’s on duty – have one Guide taking cash and another focussing on re-stocking the display.
- Don’t be afraid to limit the number of people that should be at the stall. A crowded stall looks like a party.
- If your timeslots are quite short, it’s ok to tell your Guides that they must stand up, not sit down, during selling. Customers want to buy from enthusiastic, happy, eager Guides!
Setting a small number of rules helps you to look more professional but it also has a direct impact on the personal skills that your Guides will develop.
As well as group sales (eg biscuit stalls), Guides can also take crates of biscuits home to sell. Suggest a couple of places they could sell:
- Ask their school/church if they can sell there
- Local Council offices
- Day Care Centres
- Sports fields on a busy Saturday morning
- Retirement villages (approach management first)
To help entice the Guides to sell as many packets as they can, as quickly as they can, you can turn sales into a bit of a competition. Count how many packets of biscuits each Guide has sold and the winners can earn a special treat! It doesn’t have to be a big expensive gift – you could let the winners choose the theme for an end of term party or have first access to the marshmallows at your next campfire!
In an attempt to get biscuits sold asap and the money returned quickly, put an end date on the selling season. This will free up both your time and your brain-space so that you can swiftly move on to other exciting activities.
Tracking and reconciling
Track the biscuits that are leaving your hut for individual sales, even if you’re not running a competition.
- You could have one large spreadsheet where all Guides in the district or unit can mark off which crates of biscuits they’ve taken home to sell. The crates might be numbered to make this easier.
- Have the Guides complete a record with a tear-off slip and then return the slip when they bring you the money for the biscuits. You’ll easily be able to track which payments have come from which Guide. Nice and simple!
- You could open the crates and re-pack them all to include a selection of the different varieties available. Turn this into a game and have your Guides do this for you! If you fill each crate exactly the same, they’ll all have the same financial value too.
- Some units ask for payment before their Guides take the biscuits home. This would completely eliminate your reconciliation issues!
Buy a receipt book specifically for the purpose of receipting money received for biscuits and deposit the money directly into your Support Group or district bank account, rather than into your unit account first. This will make your bank reconciliation easier because you won’t have to sort through your unit account transactions and receipts.
Almost the entire world knows when it’s cookie season for Girl Scouts USA, due to the power of social media. So create a few graphics that you and your Guides’ parents can post on your own social media sites, as well as local community Facebook pages. This will allow you to advertise the times and venues of your Biscuits Stalls so that potential buyers will know where they can find you!
A REALLY great resource for creating awesome graphics is Canva.com. There are hundreds of completely free templates, images, frames and icons for you to choose from and edit. Head over there now to check it out!
Handmade posters are the best! Spend some time with your Guides creating some large, colourful, handmade posters that will attract attention from a distance and inform your customers of the price of your biscuits. This is particularly important this year, because the different varieties of biscuits are going to be different prices.
Ask for help
Don’t forget to ask for help. No-one can do everything themselves. Biscuit selling is the responsibility of all leaders in the district and don’t be afraid to call on your Guides’ parents for assistance. If you don’t ask for help, you won’t find those willing volunteers! Even if you just have one helper that takes the cash to the bank each week – that’s one less job that you need to do.
Remember, it’s meant to be fun!
Finally, it’s also a great PR opportunity so don’t forget to have fun! If the general public see you having fun, it will make it much easier for them to approach your stall and engage with you.
See also: New Year, New Biscuits
Do you have any tips to share? We’d love to hear about what works well for you and your district, so comment below!