GEN:BSA: Popcorn Sales
Chris Haggerty, Sierra Vista, Arizona (CHAGGERTY@ARIZBPA.BITNET)
Mon, 5 Dec 1994 20:42:00 MST
Long post warning!
As our District Popcorn Sales Chairman for the last two years, I
have seen rising popcorn sales. There are several things which I
have observed that can make the difference between a successful
and an unsuccessful sale. (These ideas can be applied to almost
any item your unit is selling.)
Last year Pack 429 sold $654 worth of popcorn. This year they sold
$5511. Last year Pack 420 sold $4398 worth of popcorn, this year
they only sold $1953. To top this off, 429 is located on Fort
Huachuca and ALL door to door sales are prohibited (this includes
girl scout cookies, school stuff, you name it). What happened
here, why did 439 get such growth in sales and 420 drop so much in
sales? A big part of the answer is the people and the
To have a successful sale, the adult in charge needs to be
enthusiastic about the sale. This gets the other adults
enthusiastic and the effect trickles down to the scouts (working
best, of course, with the younger ones).
Next, you need to have organization. The leader of 429 started his
plans for the popcorn sale almost a year in advance. (Be sure you
have a fund raising person on the committee who is willing to look
ahead!) He knew that he could not go door to door, so he got real
excited when he learned that we were going to do "Show and Sell"
and "Regular Sales". The Show and Sell meant he would have the
product in hand at the time of the sale. Next he got permission
from various commanders and other locations on base to set up the
card tables in key locations. In doing this, he was in effect
going after a previously un-taped market. Then he organized his
dens to staff these locations. All that was left was the execution
and training of his cubs to sell the popcorn. He was the only unit
leader in my district who knew two months (or at any time) how much
popcorn he wanted based upon what he thought they could sell.
(They sold $250 more than what he asked for.)
On the other side of the coin, those units which put very little
effort in to motivation and planning get very little back. The
adults do not seem to care, why should we?
The Show and Sell (having the product in hand to give to the
customer at the time of purchase - no order involved) has its good
and bad points. For the council, they have to pay for the popcorn
ordered, so anything not sold is theirs. What we did for this was
order a portion of the popcorn which the district sold last year.
Some, not all, of the units decided to do Show and Sell. They
picked up the popcorn and sold what they could. What was left
unsold, was returned and they did not have to pay for it. Then
this sale was followed by the Regular sales (take orders) and the
left over popcorn was used to help fulfill the regular sales. I
had a lot more popcorn come back to me after the show and sell than
I would have liked. We were fortunate that several of the units
not doing show and sell did well and sold all my remaining stock.
In theory this works great. It worked great in practice for 429
as well. But not for all units. There was some confusion and
problems. Damaged popcorn containers were placed back in the
returned cases, only to be discovered latter. Some units did their
show and sell like regular sales. This was fine until some scout
came by the unit chairman's house expecting to pick up an order for
delivery tomorrow, only to find that all the caramel corn was
already sold (they would have to wait for the regular sales
delivery to get more).
The worse problem as I saw it was the under-achievement which the
show and sell can foster. Since we could not risk having a lot of
popcorn and nothing to do with it, we ordered less than last years
sales for the show and sell. Large units doing show and sell could
not get enough popcorn to work the show and sell well (not enough
popcorn for each kid to have some in hand). So their scouts only
sold what was on hand and skipped the regular sales. Result, some
of my big sellers from last year who did the show and sell this
year dropped down in sales. For the small units the show and sell
had the opposite effect. In general their sales went up.
My recommendation to the big units next year is to use the show and
sell at display sales, and to generate business customers. This
way you will not cut into the potential sales which can be
generated by the door to door type sales activity. For the small
units I am going to recommend that they go for broke!
Done right with planning, the show and sell can enhance your sales.
Done wrong without planning, the show and sell can actually hurt
your total sales.
In reference to the comment about the popcorn being expensive. It
is not. Orville may belong to the same fraternity as I do, but his
popcorn (the best I have purchased from the stores), it NOT AS GOOD
as TRAILS END (the microwave stuff). I can get cheaper popcorn,
but that is exactly what you are buying. The buckets (traditional
popcorn) can be purchased a little cheaper, with much less
detectable difference in quality or a lot cheaper with a greater
detectable difference in quality.
The caramel corn can be purchased much cheaper. But the quality
of the store bought caramel corn is harder to gauge. So, I would
have to admit that the caramel corn has the stiffest competition
in the price area. YET IT IS CONSISTENTLY OUR BIGGEST SELLER! If
the quality and consistency is there, people will buy it.
District Advancment Chairman and Popcorn Chairman TOO!
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City