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Incentives for Popcorn Sales?

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Our pack planning meeting is just around the corner and one of the items we will be discussing is incentives to offer that will increase our units popcorn sales. Currently we place 15% of a scout's sales in a cub account for that boy. They can use that money to pay for registration, Boys' Life, derby kits, camp, etc. The parents really like this but the boys, especially new members, don't get really motivated.

 

We want to add more incentives, but our pack doesn't feel the incentives offered by Trail's End are a good value. This past year we told our boys that if we average $200 in sales per scout we would hold our post popcorn party at Incredible Pizza (they have an indoor fairgrounds), and this doubled our rather poor previous popcorn sales. We still need to increase our sales though, so we can offer a richer program with more outings and perhap start bringing in special guests.

 

Does anyone have something that works well to get these little guys motivated?

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We tried for a few years with cash incentives and the like, all with lukewarm support. Some improvement, but only so much. One of the early ideas was that if the unit hit our goal, the top seller could throw a pie in the Cubmaster's face. That got some traction, but not enough.

 

What really raised the bar for us was when we decided to do unit prizes. We decided about five years ago to offer big prizes to the top couple of sellers. And, all who sold something would receive some sort of prize. The first year the top seller received a Playstation2 and the 2nd place got a Gameboy Advanced. We more than doubled our annual sales. Since then, we've continued this practice. Depending upon how they do, there are nice prizes for the first 3-5 places and then lesser prizes for the rest. We've led our district each year for five years and been in the top 3 of the council each year. We've also done that without ever having the top district salesman. That demonstrates that it truly is a team effort making it work.

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We start off with a per scout goal of $350 in sales. Every boy who reaches his goal gets a rocket kit. The top ten sellers each get to throw a whipped cream "pie" (paper plate with whipped cream) at the leader of their choice.

 

We also do a combination of Take Order & Show & Sell. We have 2-4 booth sales just about every weekend. This gives lots of boys the opportunity to "pay their own way in Scouting" & "help the Pack grow".

 

We don't do Cub Scout accounts.

 

Every year we make enough in popcorn sales to fund our entire year. We are not looking to have a $100,000 cushion in the bank. We just about break even each year. However, the Pack provides just about everything for the scout, including scarf, slide, handbook, awards & the scouts cost for outings (except summer/day camp). The Pack also pays for all leader training (except for Woodbadge. As much as I would like it, I just cannot see asking the Pack pay $200+ for it) We keep the cost for the families as low as possible.

 

 

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We used to do big prizes at the unit level (bikes, tents, etc.) but got away from that in the last few years because it ended up that we were spending unbelievable amounts on these - and the boys who ended up benefiting the most a) often didn't need these prizes anyway and b) were nearly always leaders' kids - usually the same leaders' kids, too and c) meant the kid whose parents could not put a sign up sheet in the office at work and whose relatives lived out of state or couldn't buy tons of popcorn was at a permanent disadvantage in comparison to the parent who sells hundreds or thousands of dollars of product to co-workers, for their son. That'll always be the case to an extent, but when we're talking big prizes, this disparity is more keenly felt I think.

 

This resulted in some parents being disgruntled (why are we paying dues/participating in sales, etc., so the leader's kid can win another bike?) Also it became quite competitive to the point of being a little nasty among some of the boys and yes, among their parents. On the whole, it just brought up too much controversy and did not promote a "one-for-all and all-for one" pack spirit (more like, a "what's in it for me?" spirit - ugh)

 

Although some of the trail's end prizes at the lower levels are NOT great quality, I agree, the boys still think they're cool and I think we need to remember to see things a bit through THEIR eyes, and not our own eyes. And if you are encouraging your boys to reach for higher goals, I think the prizes at higher levels are much better quality.

 

Does your pack do den-level show and sell events outside local stores? We found that this increased our sales by A LOT and also promoted den unity, as well as evening out the playing field among kids from different economic and family backgrounds.

 

Good luck!

 

Lisa'bob

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LisaBob, I agree that den level Show and Sells are a huge help for the kids whose parents don't have access to an office.

 

We sign up for time slots by dens, but we do allow siblings to go with big/little brother's den, if that helps the family.

 

The total earned during that time period is then divided up between the number of scouts who participated.

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We did do Show & Sell this year for the first time. It helped increase the sales but became an accounting nightmare for our Popcorn Kernel. We have ideas on how to rectify this in the fall.

 

Being from a small town, setting up in front of stores is very difficult. They are bombarded with requests and find it easier to say no than to pick one group over another. We might try approaching a few of them over the summer, while requests are down, and asking them about dates in the fall.

 

We actually do better on sales by going to the outlying neighborhoods in the city just north to us. There never seems to be any scouts covering that area otherwise, and the Show & Sell works really well here as we don't have to go back later. Besides, people just like getting what they pay for, when they pay for it. :-)

 

In the past our pack gave gift certificates to the scout store to the top seller in each den, and the overall top seller in the pack received an additional gift certificate. It worked okay in the past, so I'm told. But, our first year in, the pack had dwindled to 18 boys and the outlay of funds for the gift certificates was the same as the pack's portion from the sales. Needless to say, that was one of the first things to go to the wayside last fall. After buying an aluminum pinewood derby track to replace the wooden one that someone's cats ruined, we couldn't afford to do much.

 

Now we have 30 active scouts and are starting our spring recruiting and will have our fall recruiting finished before popcorn sales start, we want to do something really special that the boys will all have fun with. We have discussed another post-popcorn party. I thought maybe at the Petra Indoor Climbing Walls where they provide the professionals and the gear. Then I thought some sort of prizes to the top sellers and down. I just don't know what they would be. I kind of prefer to stay away from game boys and such, as I would prefer to see these boys active. I thought about doing full-rides to day camp, but that kind of excludes our Web II's. We already provide the book, neckerchief and slide as part of graduation. And if a boy sales at least $200 we waive pack dues.

 

We don't really have a popcorn kick-off party. We just do announcements and coordination at the pack and den meetings. It's not a very exciting way to kick it all off. We get the attention of the adults with the scout accounts and the dues waivers, but that doesn't get the kids pumped. What do you all do?

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Getting the kids pumped to go and sell a bunch of stuff is tough because at the cub level, it really is the parents who make the decision as to whether or not to support your fundraisers in many cases. But...

 

This is one place where the trails end prizes are useful because the kids can SEE the pictures of the prizes and decide for themselves (to some degree anyway) what kind of goal they want to set so that they can earn the prize they want. If you're really adamant about not using the trails end prizes then maybe include some photos of whatever you are using as prizes, instead.

 

Another way to get the boys excited is to have visual graphs (like a thermometer, for example) that shows how the pack or den as a whole is doinig toward reaching their goal. Of course you need to be careful not to go too far with this or you'll have some boys who are upset that they're not doing well in comparison to their den/pack mates, and when we're talking 6 year olds, this does matter. No hurt feelings over popcorn! But as a group concept, it works ok.

 

One more way: buy a little extra popcorn and use it as free samples at your kick-off.

 

Especially for the boys who have been around for a year now, you can also start out by asking them how they liked the pinewood derby, getting them all excited about that (or camping or whatever you intend to do with the money this year) and then explaining how that was possible because of their hard work selling popcorn. Give them a sense of ownership in it and keep it short, sweet, and fun.

 

But honestly, I think you shouldn't go overboard with this, especially with big prizes. If they're eating up your profit then they're becoming a reason to hold the fundraiser themselves, rather than simply an aside.

 

Lisa'bob

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As a Pack we opted for the 30% instead of the Trails End prizes for our boys. However, since that's kind of a vague idea for the boys (at least our group), we opted to purchase prizes for the 3 sellers. We went w/ things that were Scouty, yet inexpensive. For example our top seller got a head light flashlight, the 2nd seller got a hiking first aid kit and our third seller got a canteen. If we had had more boys selling we would have bought more prizes. The key though was that we kept the prizes inexpensive and scouting minded.

 

YiS

Michelle

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We do the 30% as well. We put 15% in the pack account to cover awards and expenses, and the other 15% goes into each scouts Cub Bucks account. I like the idea of the head light gear and such. We have an Army Surplus in our area. I think I will go look around and see what they have. They are sure to have lots of things that the boys (and parents) will like. One of our den leaders suggested the backpacks with the water bladder and drinking tube. It looks like it would be great for hiking. Another leader suggested giving them their pinewood derby kits.

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