It’s nearly Fall, and that means it’s time for Scouts to sell popcorn to help fund all the fun activities planned for the coming year. Many non-Scouts out there love popcorn and often want to support a good cause like Scouting. The hardest part is getting your Scouts connected with these eager customers-to-be.

To better prepare you for popcorn season, we have gathered the wisdom of Scouters from all over the country to see what they know about selling popcorn. Here are the kernels of knowledge we found that could help you reach your highest popcorn sales goals yet.

Make a Great First Impression

First impressions can have a big impact. A good popcorn salesman ensures that their uniform is in tiptop shape when making a sale. This little detail will go a long way to impress your customer.

Being very observant can also be important in starting your sales pitch off with some friendly conversation. If somebody’s wearing a team jersey or T-shirt, use that as an ice-breaker. Or, simply ask someone how their day is going. Any conversations that you can have with somebody is a great start.

Think of your job as more than selling popcorn. It is about making connections with people and showing them, through example, that their donation goes to building confident and kind youth.

Invest in a Chip Reader

New technology has made it possible to accept payment from customers who use credit cards, even those with chips. If your unit decides to take this route, chip readers are a relatively inexpensive investment. The only other tool you will need is a smartphone and the ability to download the chip reader’s app. 

By investing in a chip reader, you can reach an even wider range of customers because you can accept payment from those who don’t carry cash. This could be the future of popcorn sales! 

To decide if a chip reader is a good option for your unit, read more information about them HERE.

Remember your Customers From Last Year

The Popcorn Scout, via Bryan on Scouting

Bryan Wendell, Editor for Scouting Magazine, shares some highlights from the September 2015 ScoutCast that give away Scout popcorn sales tips you shouldn’t miss.

In one episode of the monthly podcast for Boy Scout leaders, the Popcorn Scout himself, Donovan Fisher, and his dad, Scott, share their secrets.

Donovan, 15, has sold more than $95,000 in popcorn in his life. To make sure each year is more successful than the last, Donovan keeps track of his customers from the year before. 

Donovan keeps his customer data on what is basically an Excel spreadsheet — nothing fancy, it just includes the customer names, contact info, sales history and some notes.

“I remember what they’ve gotten last year,” he says. “And so when I knocked on the door, I can remember, maybe if it’s kettle corn, you know that they like some sweet stuff, so you can always say, ‘Oh, this caramel corn’s also sweet.’ And then, they’re like, ‘Ooh, that sounds delicious,’ and they buy it.”

Finally, when Scouts deliver the popcorn, have them include a thank you note. Their customers will be very impressed and remember them next year.

Have the Popcorn On-Hand

One Scout mother says: “My scout has been going door to door and has the popcorn in hand that he pulls with a wagon. We have had several people tell us no and then when they realize he is pulling a wagon full of popcorn they chase us down and ask to look through the wagon to pick the popcorn they want to purchase. So I would say have the popcorn on hand and go by foot!” 

This is a great way to show potential customers exactly what they are getting out of Scout popcorn. The customer sees the product is available right then and there and will be
more likely to buy. It is hard to turn down bags of delicious caramel corn when it is right on their doorstep! 

Incentivize Sales

Leaders can light the hypothetical fire under their Scouts feet and inspire them to make sales by incentivizing them with fun prizes. One unit uses a prize jar, filled with little candy or prizes that a Scout can choose from when they make a Sale.

Another unit leader says “Let the boys who sell the most throw a pie in a leader’s face! It’s amazing how much popcorn a Scout will sell with that chance in front of them!”

You can even give your Scouts some control and let them come up with incentives they like.

Work on the Salesmanship Merit Badge

Scouts can use their time selling popcorn as one of the requirements for the Salesmanship Merit Badge. 

The requirement states: “Do ONE of the following and keep a record (cost sheet). Use the sales techniques you have learned, and share your experience with your counselor.

a. Help your unit raise funds through sales either of merchandise or of tickets to a Scout event.
b. Sell your services such as lawn raking or mowing, pet watching, dog walking, snow shoveling, and car washing to your neighbors. Follow up after the service has been completed and determine the customer’s satisfaction.
c. Earn money through retail selling.”

By selling popcorn, Scouts have already completed option “a” and are on their way to completing the rest of the merit badge! 

If your Scouts want to earn this badge, this could be a great motivating tool for them. 

Get Started!

Before popcorn season really gets going, start brainstorming with your unit about ways to reach your highest sales yet. Its never too early to start planning! 

These are only a few tips to help your unit bump up your popcorn sales this year. For more ideas, visit the BSA’s “Guide to Money-Earning Projects.”

What are some tricks that helped your units in the past? Share them with us in the comments below! 

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Madison Austin
studies Public Relations at Brigham Young University and is a marketing specialist at the Utah National Parks Council. She is an avid hiker and enjoys being outdoors. Growing up in the mountainous regions of Colorado and Virginia enabled her to follow these passions. After moving to Utah to attend college, she has spent her time fostering both a career in Communications and a love for Utah's National Parks.

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