Recently in Cookies Category

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It's cookie season, and we are grateful for the really great weather we had last weekend.   We had many reports of girls out and about selling cookies.   On my way out of the office door tonight, a car pulled up and the occupants wanted cookies.   I thought they were requesting an opportunity to pick up cookies, but they just wanted to buy two boxes of cookies because they were craving them.   We had the same thing happen last week in Dothan when someone wanted cookies mid-week and could not wait until the weekend to find a cookie booth.   Clearly, there's some pent up desire for cookies, and hopefully your girls will be able to meet the needs.

We have had some reports of locations that are especially particular about where girls are set up to sell.   Please comply with their wishes, since they don't have to allow us back and we want to cooperate with their hospitality.  Remember to check in with the manager and thank them for letting you be there.   To touch on professionalism, we thank folks even if they don't choose to buy.   We don't know their reasons, but need to respect their right to choose.   It is important to be an active cookie seller.   Having your ear buds in listening to music while the adults sell the cookies is not the type of girl entrepreneur image we want to present.   Being engaged and involved at a cookie booth is a great way to be part of a team.   I've seen some great photos of cookie drive-thrus from last weekend.   As always, if you have issues, concerns, suggestions, please send them to communications@girlscoutssa.org.

We have been working on the summer resident camp program.   We are delayed on that because we had to find a new partner to provide horses for our horse camp.   We are working with Riverside Ranch from Loxley.   We are delighted to have this new partner, the horses are coming to camp this year are beautiful.   Look for the camp program to be on our website shortly.   As always, selling lots of Girl Scout cookies is a great way to earn your way to summer camp.

We know you have been busy juggling cookies and dealing with collecting money from parents.   This is always a tricky proposition.   Each year, we have a troop leader who comes to us after the cookie program to admit there has been a delinquent parent in their troop.   It is someone they know, it is someone they trusted, but now they are in the hole financially and the troop's profit from the sale is gone because the parent owes that much.   As a reminder, we are always willing to assist with parents who are not paying.   We consider this theft from the girls in your troop.   If you have issues with this, please contact, Teri Eversole at teversole@girlscoutssa.org. Sooner is always preferable because it is important to minimize the damage.

Just a reminder please have the funds for the first part of your cookie payment in your troop account on February 10.  This ACH will be based upon all cookies picked up through February 3rd

Thank you for all you do with the cookie program.   We hope the girls are learning and having a great time!

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Bbbbrrrrrr, we are experiencing the El Nino, and the temperatures are dipping into unusual winter range for here.   Kudos to all of you who did show up at your booth sale or drive thru last weekend and sold cookies.   I've been enjoying the photos of girls on participating in Walkabout Weekend that are coming in.  They are always fun.

I want to give a quick an update from some of the chaos we have experienced.   We have been posting the new booth locations as they come in.   We have had fewer reports of issues seeing the entire booth scheduler, so we are hoping that is working better for everyone.   If not, please let us know.  We are working to address your frustrations as they arise, since selling cookies should be fun!   Also, let us know how the cookie drive-thrus are going. These are a new program for us this year, so we look forward to your feedback.

We brought in additional inventory in all cupboards, so we have plenty of cookies for you to pick up.   Simply put in your planned order and come to pull more cookies.   We are pretty close to getting ready to ping your bank account to see if our bank sees your account prior to the ACH withdrawal in February.   If you have not gotten your bank account information to Cheryl Miller, please do so.   If we have sent your troop an ACH in either direction, we probably have the right information for you.   We will ping your account, and then will work to give you a warning a day or before taking the funds your troop owes for the first part of the sale.

I haven't heard much talk about e-mails to others to purchase cookies.   Just a reminder, this is a very easy way for girls to learn about on-line marketing, and you don't have to touch the cookies, as they are mailed to the customer.   Last year, our online sale was .5% of our sale, while most councils grew their sale by 5% or 10 times more.   It's something to consider, and you can sell out of council with e-mails, so you can "guilt" the grandparents into purchasing cookies!   As a reminder, those e-mails cannot be forwarded, and the girls' information is protected in the software.

If you have a good story about your girls and cookies, we always love those.   We use many of your stories throughout our publications, so if you want to share, please send them to communications@girlscoutssa.org.

Thanks for all you do to make the cookie program a success. I'm grateful that the forecast for this coming weekend is more favorable for outdoor sales.   We hope your girls are learning for the world's largest entrepreneurial program.   Keep up the excellent work!

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Welcome to cookie chaos!   You would think, because we do this every year, we would simply get better at it each time we do it.   Well, we wish that were the case.   We do keep notes and make changes each year.  But, as we make these adjustments, things around us changes.   The software is tweaked, the staff changes, we have different folks in the warehouse, etc.   Those are but a few of the changes we're dealing with for 2016 cookies.


First, my apologies again for the IT glitches we encountered at the end of last week.   We had more issues cropping up than we could believe, and they were different in separate parts of the council.   One part of the council could only view one page of the cookie booths; some could not see any booths.   In the midst of trying to work our way out of issues with the baker, our phone system started acting up, so it was a complete mess. Rather than have some inequity in booth sign-ups, we decided to cap it where we were until we could work our way through the issues and address them.

 

We are one of the earliest councils to sell cookies (the "cookie season" runs from when we start through to April).   In this case, leading edge is sometimes bleeding edge.   We heard the GSUSA booth finder app wasn't completely working and there were issues with their cookie platform.  Our online cookie program remains with ABC Bakers, so we have not heard of issues on that.

We had to order all our gluten-free cookies early on (remember that deadline for Trios last Fall?) and commit to those cookies.   Because they are more expensive and have a different market, we do not over-order on those, so we are already out of gluten-free cookies.   However, they can still be purchased online from a girl, but we won't receive any additional gluten-free cookies in our service centers.

Thanks to all of you who did the Walkabout about over the weekend.   We heard great things about it from folks who were out there, and have received some fun photos that we will be posting to our Facebook page for our annual photo contest.   We are hoping for better weather as the cookie program continues.   It's not easy to be out there when the weather is cold, so our hats are off to you who were out and about!

The cookie drive-thrus are getting started this weekend, and we would appreciate your feedback on that endeavor. Please send comments and photos of your drive-thrus to communications@girlscoutssa.org.   We do track all your comments and discuss them during our frequent staff conversations.   At this point, those are almost daily because of the issues we have been addressing.

As always, we appreciate your professional attitudes, the great cookie outfits we have seen, and some really good advertising.   The creativity is wonderful and a tribute to all of you who have spent some thoughtful time with girls making it a fun and educational program!

Thanks for all you do to make this a learning experience.   Like you, we deal with cookies daily and hope you have some laughs along the way, because we certainly do on a regular basis.

January 15, 2016

 


We had some crumbled cookies today as we tried to upload the cookie booth scheduler.   Here are some of the issues, if you suffered from some of these please accept our apologies and let us know, if you have not done so already.

1.  We sent out a message at 9:30 a.m. via SNAP, but its server sent the message out at different times to avoid spam filters. Rather than real-time communication, it can be delayed.   Because of this, we will be using social media, field executives' email lists, Remind text messaging and SNAP to communicate going forward.

2.   We had 79 cookie booths listed in SNAP's booth schedule, while last yea, we had 148.   Thanks to many of you for getting the permission forms to your favorite booth location.   We can only upload those locations for which we have signed paperwork. The staff assures me this requires lots of diligence on your part.   If your favorite booth does not appear, please pester them and have them fax their form back to us at 251-344-4181.   We appreciate your assistance on this and will add new booths daily as we receive them.

3.   Because of the many glitches today, we are limiting troops to only signing up for 3 booth sales until we can work through some of the issues.   If, when you go to view the booths, you only see one page of possible booths, despite the fact you have scrolled up or down with the arrows, please send an e-mail to  afaulk@girlscoutssa.org.   Also, it would be helpful to know what your ISP (internet service provider, such as Comcast, Windstream, AT&T, etc.) is.

4.  To add insult to injury, our office phones started acting up after lunch.   We want to be responsive, especially as you are wrestling cookies and working to get booths scheduled.   If the phones don't pick up, which was one of many phone issues, please call Teri Eversole or Cheryl Miller's cell phones.

We are working hard to move through these glitches and will continue to do so over the weekend. If you have other cookie-related issues that we should be aware of,  please let us know at communications@girlscoutssa.org.

Thanks...liz brent

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Don't you just LOVE a drive through?   I have some favorite fast food places, but two don't have a drive through, and I have to admit, I don't go to them as often because I have to get out of the car and stand in line to get my food.   That might be the epitome of laziness, but convenience matters in today's busy world.

With this in mind, the staff has been working hard to develop cookie booth drive thrus.   They have been outlining the rules so we comply with our safety standards, but still provide an opportunity for those who want to purchase cookies, but who might not stop at some of the booth sites to get their always-desirable Girl Scout cookies.

We have purchased drive-thru kits with safety materials, such as signage, cones, and laminated menu cards so we assure everyone involved is safe.   The service unit managers will be managing those kits, and there's a $50 deposit for each kit, so we ensure that troops return what they borrow.

Sign up for the drive thru is on the booth scheduler.   We have selected sites that have larger parking lots, have good visibility, and easily can take the traffic in one direction only, again to assure everyone is safe.   Because this is our first year doing drive thrus, GSSA staff will be visiting some of the sites to be sure safety guidelines are followed.  Because we have carefully chosen sites, we are not authorizing drive thrus other than those available in the booth scheduler.  Please do not hold an independent drive thru this year.

 Meghan Cochrane and her public relations representatives will be highlighting the cookie drive thrus as one of the new initiatives of this year's cookie program.

We hope you will find this as an easy way for your girls to get out and sell cookies without the hassle of moving lots of cookies from cars.   We welcome your feedback on this both now and during the sale so we can work to improve it for the girls and you.   Comments can be sent to communications@girlscoutssa.org.  

The rules and notes about a cookie drive thru can be found on our Troop Cookie Chair Resouces page, or click here.

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Predicting how cookies will sell is much more of an art than a science.   That is true from your perspective and ours, and it is always good to be reminded of this, as we wind up as the aggregate of all of you.   We work to pay a lot of attention to how rapidly cookies are going out of our 10 warehouses.   The patterns change from year to year related to the weather, enthusiasm on the part of the girls to get out to booth sales, and whether we have lots of criticism of Girl Scouts, such as the orchestrated Planned Parenthood affront during 2014.

Just as a reminder, we do not give money to Planned Parenthood. We have no relationship with them and believe that topics related to those issues are best managed at home and within faith communities.   For the GSSA policy on this go to What GSSA Stands For on the GSSA website

Why do we want to encourage you to do pre-orders/planned orders?   Last year, GSSA was left with $40,000 in excess cookie inventory.   At the end of the sale, we are not able to sell that magnitude of cookies.   We gave them to our First Responders and military, which was a great thing, but all of that is at the expense of GSSA girls, so we really do care about having you give us your best guess for pre-orders.   We work hard to have cookies on hand in case you get caught and really need them.   However, this year we will be much more cautious on how much inventory we have on hand.   Losing that much in cookie revenue hurts all the girls of the council.   We order cookies on Sunday evening, for delivery to our larger pantries at the Mobile and Montgomery service centers on Monday and Tuesday.   If you can submit your order for the following week by Sunday evening that would be a great assistance to us.   We can only guess from one year to the next, but the more you tell us what is going on with your sale, the better we are at predicting what your needs will be in the aggregate.

We do close off pickups and deliveries while we are replenishing our larger warehouses.   It is simply too confusing to have cookies going in and out at the same time with two folks there counting.   If you think you count a lot, think how much we count with cookies moving sometimes twice a week.   We work to replenish our inventory only once a week but sometimes that simply doesn't fulfill your needs.   We always hope the delivery trucks arrive on Monday, but that does depend on the schedule and workload of delivery agents.

If you see new patterns, or experience new situations during the cookie program, please let us know.   One year we had some issues in a particular shopping center. After we had to contact the police, others who had issues shared they had experienced the same thing.   If someone bothers you and/or there are issues, please let us know.   We work hard to monitor all our media during the cookie program with increased vigilance.   You can contact us at any of the following addresses:   communications@girlscoutssa.org, teversole@girlscoutssa.org, cmiller@girlscoutssa.org, mcochrane@girlscoutssa.org.

 

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I heard a story this morning about someone who was no longer serving as the cookie chair and she was laughing about how she had done little to break in the new chair for that service unit.   She noted that person would be surprised at the amount of paperwork that arrives.   The point was she was glad to no longer serve in that role and wished her successor good luck.

We want to thank those of you who are brave and have the courage to step up and take on more leadership.   Serving as a troop leader can sometimes seem daunting.   But working to coordinate many troop leaders can sometimes be a challenge.   We appreciate all of you who are willing to take on that role and fulfill that need.   Without you we would not thrive and survive.   You are at the heart of how this organization works.

We all share in the chaos and challenges of the cookie program.   It is interesting, it is one of those activities where I hear story after story about girls who blossom doing something they didn't believe they could.   Many girls find their voice through the cookie program.   Others gain confidence to recognize they are entrepreneurs and can accomplish more than they imagined.   Some just learn a lot more about arithmetic and find that maybe making change is easier and more relevant than learning addition and multiplication.   It is hands-on, experiential learning that happens in a short span of time.   Ordering cookies and organizing how to get rid of them requires some leaps of faith.   How much to order, how to keep track of it, how to separate who sold what at booth sales.   All of it requires some time, thought, and attention.   But we are fortunate that some of you are willing to take on a larger role, to lead the leaders.   We are very grateful to you for all you do.   To make the cookie program a success, to assist your colleagues in what can feel overwhelming, and to change the world through girls.

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It is hard to believe, but cookie time is just around the corner.   I was reminded of this when our public relations cookies arrived last week.   It seems like yesterday that we saw the last year's cookies head out the door.   Last year was a great sale; the girls did a tremendous job, as you did as leaders, and parents.   Thank you for that.   We hope to have an even better year this year.  Before we do that, though, I thought I would run through a few reminders.

Cookie training, which has a fun lemonade party theme in honor of the Lemonade cookie's 10th anniversary this year, is a good program to attend if you can make it fit into your schedule.   We have a representative from the cookie baker with us to talk about the changes they have made and new things on the horizon for the year.   This year, ABC Bakers has worked very hard to make the online ordering experience a better one for those using it, as well as you, so there are some improvements there.   Last year, our online sales generated less than one percent of our total cookie program, while most councils saw a 5% increase in sales through the online opportunity.   Clearly, there is room for growth there, and it is not as complicated as order taking and delivery.   If you have relatives and friends that live outside the GSSA footprint, here's your chance to garner some sales from them.

As always, it is good to have the leadership responsibilities outlined for your troop and service unit.   We have some great leaders in service units who can speak to how they are organized if you need pointers.   If so, please send Cheryl Miller an e-mail, and she can get you in touch with those tremendous volunteers, she is at cmiller@girlscoutssa.org.

With the retirement of Chris Shavers, Teri Eversole will be running the entire cookie program, and as you can image, this is a huge task.   Teri can be reached at teversole@girlscoutssa.org, or you can call either office and use extension 1302.   Please let us know if you have needs so we can address them.

Last year GSSA was left with more than $40,000 in excess inventory.   I realize it is often hard for you to predict what your needs will be, so we err on the side of having sufficient inventory.   This year we will be working with our inventory management more closely.   You can assist us greatly in this effort by always submitting a planned order.   This helps us pull what you need and assure we have the types of cookies you need on hand.

We had some folks take more cookies than what they could sell,  which is never a good thing, so we will be watching more carefully how much is taken out on the initial order.   We want the girls to be successful; we want you not to be cussing about cookies littering your entire home for the duration, so we will assist you in ordering wisely.

This year, we will be adding some drive through cookie booths around the council.   We have been working on safety rules to make this safe for your girls and a success.   We have targeted high-traffic locations throughout the council's footprint that we can get access to.   Look for those on the booth scheduler.   If you have any contacts that you believe would provide good drive through locations, please contact Meghan Cochrane at mcochrane@girlscoutssa.org, or call and use extension 2907.

As an educator, I'm always impressed by and want to encourage you to use the curriculum materials that go along with the sale.   ABC Bakers provides some great materials for girls to enhance their learning while doing, so try to use their on-line resources, they are really great!

We plan on doing a special segment called "Cookie Bites" throughout the program to communicate about changes, issues, good ideas, and how the program is progressing.  Look for those in the GSSA Weekly during the sale.  You also can sign up to receive reminders via text message on your phone.  To do that, please email Jennifer Thrash, director  of membership development, at jthrash@girlscoutssa.org.

Proceeds from the Fall Product Sale and the Cookie Program help pay for the wonderful events and camps that our council presents for our Girl Scouts.  So it makes sense that Girl Scouts who participate in these fundraising efforts get a discount on registration fees for these programs.  We call this reduction in fees the Entrepreneur Discount.  

How it works: girls who sell either $125 in Fall Products OR 50 boxes of cookies will be entitled to a special discount for council-sponsored programs. The amount of the discount will vary, depending on the program.  This is because some programs require significantly more staff support to coordinate.   

 

New Members: new Girl Scouts will be able to register for programs at the discounted price until the end of the Cookie Sale in 2016.  If they have sold $125 in Fall Products or 50 boxes of cookies by the end of the Cookie Sale, they will then receive the discount until the end of the Cookie Sale in 2017.

Returning Members: did you earn the Entrepreneur Discount by end of Cookie Program 2015?  If so, great!  You have earned the discount through Cookie Sale 2016.  If, at that time, you have met the Fall Product or the Cookie Program goals, you will continue to receive the discount for another year (until the end of Cookie Sale 2017).


We hope your troop will enjoy the Entrepreneur Discount - it's a well-deserved recognition of the energy and time invested by our girls, as they learn important life skills in the most delicious way possible!

   

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....to everyone who moved cookies, sold cookies, marketed cookies, or had anything to do with the cookie program.    We are still working through some of details, but it looked like we did okay on the cookie program this year.   I recognize it is a tremendous amount of work and effort on the part of thousands of you to make that a success.   I always hear great stories about girls who found their voice, learned more about arithmetic, was able to make eye contact with strangers and a variety of other life skills from that one program.   So thank you for all you did to make everything about that program successful. 

We have gotten back into the swing of things with some great Girl Scout programs to celebrate Girl Scout week, which for us is every week.   Thanks to our hosts at Auburn University for a great equestrian program.   I saw the pictures and it looked like a great time.   We have Pi day this weekend, again thanks to Auburn University who is hosting this STEM day for the girls.   The USS Alabama Battleship sleepover is maxed out with girls, a great weekend is on tap for that one.   The Joy to Life walk in Montgomery is scheduled for April, if you have girls that need community service hours they need items made for the Survivor Tent.   Also, one of my favorites each year, the Biscuits baseball game and Camporee sleepover is in April.

We have a mini-destination scheduled for Huntsville, there is lots to see and do while there.   It would be a great way to explore science and be awestruck with how STEM can turn into a job that changes the world by going to space.   A great opportunity to explore the Great State of Alabama!

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