Month: April 2014

Seven Reasons People Hate to Sell Popcorn

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leading_group_clip_5629This time of year, Councils are looking for commitment from Units to sell popcorn in the fall. Units oftentimes get pushback from parents on whether their Unit should participate in the popcorn sale. Below are a list of objections from parents and how Unit Leaders can overcome these objections:

1.  The popcorn costs too much.

Parents must understand popcorn is a fundraiser. Just like any other product being sold as a fundraiser, the price on the product is increased to enhance the profit margin for the Unit. Remember, you are not selling popcorn, you are selling Scouting. In addition, the price of microwave popcorn per pouch is comparable to those in the store. Many Councils sell the 18-pack or 20-pack for $20. This is slightly over $1 per pouch. Try to purchase a 3-pack in a store and the price is usually $3-4 or about the same price.

2.  It is easier to sell a $1-2 item instead of a $10 or higher item.

Yes. It is easier to sell a $1 item then a $10 item. However, the question really is time. A Scout has to sell a $1 item to 10 different customers to equate to selling a $10 item just once. This is compounded if you look at a $20 item. Now people will say a Scout has to ask more people to get the $20 item. This may be true, but as long as it is less than 20 people, the time spent selling is far less.

3.  We get a higher percentage selling something on our own then selling popcorn.

Parents must realize 70% or more actually goes back to Scouting. On average, Units usually split this with the Council or getting about 35% of the gross sales of the profit in commissions. The Council does two things with their portion of the sale: Cover Expenses and Supplement the operating Budget. The Council Expenses can include prizes, delivery costs, order forms, kickoff materials, sample product, and product storage. In addition, the Council takes on the risk of the sale. Those who sold Trail’s End Sour Cream and Onion last year experienced sales less than anticipated. The vast majority of Councils allowed Units to return unsold product and were stuck with this product. This is an expense. The balance remaining of the sale goes into the Operating Budget to cover other expenses like camp, salaries, utilities, and program materials. The American Camping Association state the average cost of a weeklong camp in 2014 is $600 nationwide. The average Boy Scout Camp is only half that amount. Parents need to understand Scout camps are subsidized through Friends of Scouting and Popcorn Sales. By participating in the popcorn sale, they are also helping lower the cost of Scouting for everyone.

4.  The popcorn sale is too hard to manage.

The main reason for the popcorn sale being hard to manage is because Units make the mistake of putting all of the responsibility on one person, the Popcorn Kernel. There are several ways to divide the duties among several people and lessen the work for everyone. For example, have one person responsible for managing just the Show and Sell locations and have a different person handle distribution of popcorn to Scouts. You could also assign a person in each den or patrol to help with the popcorn sale. Click here for a list of job descriptions on various popcorn positions for your Unit.

5.  It is easier to just pay for Scouting items out of my pocket than go around with my son and sell popcorn.

Part of the Purpose of Boy Scouts is to “instill within youth desirable qualities of character, [and] to train them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship…” If parents pay for everything, the Scout never understands the value of a dollar, how to overcome an objection, and a sense of accomplishing a goal. Click here for a list of reasons of why Scouts should sell popcorn other than money.

6.  We can only ask our family and friends so many times to help our son.

I agree with this statement. This is the reason Units need to put as much effort in to as few (or one) fundraisers as possible. The average family of four has the opportunity to participate in just over 13 fundraisers a year. Between the PTA asking 4 or 5 times, Baseball, Soccer, and Church, then multiply this by two children, there is little room for Scout fundraisers. Families have to pick and choose which fundraisers in which they want to participate. This is why Units need to get the biggest bang for their buck. I know of many Units which have netted over $5000 from popcorn sales. This would be a lot of $1 candy bars.

7.  The Cub Scouts sell popcorn, we do not sell popcorn.

First, it costs a lot more for a Boy Scout to fully participate in the Scouting program than a Cub Scout. Because of this, Boy Scouts need to take advantage of every opportunity to raise money. In addition, there is the Salesmanship Merit Badge which can be completed entirely using the popcorn sale. Finally, most of the nation’s top selling youth were all Boy Scouts. They have developed a client list and have gone to the same houses for the last several years. It usually takes less time to raise a lot of money because of this client list.

Parents can get burned out on popcorn. Please use the statements above as a reference when communicating the reasons your Unit should sell popcorn. I hope the responses above help convince every Scout in your Unit to sell popcorn.


Placing Popcorn Kernel on your Resume

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woman_interviewing_stick_figure_12429At a recent Scouting event I spoke with a person currently unemployed. She was rejoining the workforce after an extended time performing the difficult job of homemaker. She was concerned about what to put on her resume because there was a significant gap between her last job and now. I advised her employers look at significant volunteer experience just like they look at previous employment. I knew she had been the Unit Popcorn Kernel for the last two years and these skills can directly apply for the position for which she was applying.

When I hire people, I look more at skill sets and results then if they had done the actual job before. Here are a list of skills a Popcorn Kernel can transfer to a resume:

Budgeting – Popcorn Kernels with the Unit Committee are responsible for creating a budget for the Unit. This provides a net amount needed to be raised in order to meet the goal of the Unit. In addition, the Popcorn Kernel must work within a budget to run the sale which includes factoring for promotional materials, sample product, credit card processing fees and prizes.

Forecasting – The Popcorn Kernel needs to be able to predict the amount of popcorn the Unit will sell based on previous year’s sales, number of Scouts selling and the method of selling.

Accounting – Money is involved. Most Popcorn Kernels develop a method to track the payment of funds from Scouts, payment of sales to the Council and the return of unsold product. In addition, based on how funds are allocated in the Unit, Popcorn Kernels create reports to the Committee Chair on how these funds are distributed.

Presenting – Popcorn Kernels often present the Popcorn Sale Program to the Scouts and Parents. This requires public speaking skills and perhaps creating the presentation using PowerPoint or Prezi.

Creating Incentives – Prizes are a tool to motivate Scouts to sell at higher levels. While the council may have a prize program, oftentimes it is incentives created by the Unit which provide the greatest motivation. Popcorn Kernels need to know their audience, find the items which will motivate them, and, as stated earlier, must stay within a budget to purchase those items.

Computer Literacy – Popcorn Kernels must learn a new computer system in order to track orders and place the popcorn order with the Council. Learning this program is often without any formal training. So, learning a computer system through a self-directed method is valuable to an employer.

Manage People – Popcorn Kernels often need to recruit other adults to help out with the Popcorn Sale and train them on what to do.  In addition, they need to set expectations for parents and Scouts on the execution of the Popcorn Sale.

Project Management – Let’s face it. The entire Popcorn Sales is a microcosm of Project Management. The Popcorn Kernel must determine the risk in placing the order for the Unit, create a budget, determine if Scouts are on pace to reach their goal, develop reports for others, and evaluate the results of the Popcorn Sale. These are all the elements of Project Management.

Results – At the end of the Popcorn Sale, ultimately success is determined by the achievement of results. When I look at a resume, I always want to know what the results of the project were. Even if the results were not as expected, what did they learn from experience and how will they use that experience in the future.

I hope you can see how the skills of being a Popcorn Kernel can be transferred to the qualifications necessary in a Job Description. It may require teaching a perspective employer about what the Popcorn Kernel role entails. However, the skills listed above are those most any employer would be happy to have in a new employee.