Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cookies Galore

This year,  I am the Troop Cookie Manager for The Big One's Girl Scout Troop.  Yes, that is a real title.  We even get our own abbreviation (TCM) in all the hand out materials that parents get.
I am in charge of the whole cookie process for our troop.

I have to tell you, as much I used to think the whole cookie thing was a little crazy, that was nothing compared to the knowledge I have gained and the realization that this is nuts.

For starters, as the TCM, I had to attend training on how to do my job.  I was given a manual that is actually about a half inch thick, and the size of standard notebook paper.  There is tons of information in there.   I have found that manual to be invaluable already.  I carry it like my Bible.

Once I was trained, I had to train all the parents on cookie selling.  It sounds pretty simple, but it isn't.  There is a ton of paperwork for each parent to fill out.  We have opted to let the girls use an online Cookie website, so with the permission slips needed for that, and the cookies in general, I had to get at least 4 signed forms from parents.  On top of that, they had a parent hand book to go over.  We have to go over all the rules of the sale, some of which are very specific, and parents must adhere to all rules or else we, as a troop, face penalties.  It is all a bit much when you go over it, but we got it done.

After every one signs up, I have to put in an order for the entire troop for cookies.  We use the "Cookies Now" program here.  That means we dont' take orders.  You start selling from day one with cookies in hand.  I have to decide how many cookies the troop will need, how to divide up the order, and then maintain everything from that point through the sale.

I just finished picking up the entire initial order for our troop from the warehouse, and that is insane.

Imagine a large warehouse that has storage and loading/unloading facilities for semi-trucks.  I pull up to see 8 semi truck loading bay windows in a row full of Girl Scout cookies.  At each window is a different area with in our Council, all labeled so that you could find your Service Unit.  In each bay is a group of women, and thousands upon thousands of boxes of cookies.  You find your window, go up, and check in.  This means you take any paperwork they have for you, and then you count every case of cookies that they have preset on a pallet for you to make sure it matches what you ordered.  Once you say they are all there, you sign for the cookies, then go to your car.  We signed up for a time slot.  At your allotted time slot, you very quickly back up to the loading bay.  Women start jumping down, and this insanely fast loading process start.  IT has to be fast.  You have fine minutes to get your cookies loaded and get out.    Really.  Seriously.

I think the next best example of crazy is the booth sale lottery.  They call it a lottery, but it really isn't.  If you are familiar with sports at all, it is much more like a draft.  Every troop send a representative.  There are sign up sheets with time slots and locations of every booth sale we can get all around the room.  The process goes in rounds.  The first round starts, and a troop number is called.  That troop screams out of excitement, gets to run up, and make their time and place pick for their first sale.  Afterward, the next number gets called. It goes on and on until all each troop has been called once in the round.  Then round two starts.  There really is a lot of screaming and some power plays for good spots.  Teams from different troops sit together muttering strategies on getting the best spots.
Insane I tell you.

There is so much more involved with the whole process.  You have the booth sales to manage for your own troop, keeping the staffed, dealing with the girls, and keeping the cookies straight.  There is inventory and money to manage.  There is so much going on behind the scenes of those cookies rolling down the street in a wagon.

I guess, before I got involved in the whole process, I just never knew how intense it is.  This is serious business.

Along the way, we are trying to teach the girls a lot about life.  We are trying to help them gain skills they can carry over into adult hood.  We are trying to raise money for community service events and more.

I'm not trying to say cookies are bad, by any means.  I'm just saying, the next time you see a worn out parent standing next to a seven year old in front of a supermarket, who has probably driven them crazy with the process, buy a box, and give the parent a nod.  Not so much for the kids, but just to say, you must be one seriously dedicated parent to go through all this, and I respect that.


House Of Aqua said...

I never knew how serious the cookie business was. It was really interesting to read all about it.