Now, in what may be the latest entrepreneurial bid to take a page from evolving market trends, Troop 12115 in Salem, N.H. has created a drive-thru facility in a vacant warehouse to sell cookies in the vein of a fast-food restaurant.
The concept was initially tossed around at a so-called ‘Cookie Rally’ last year, where troops from New Hampshire and Vermont convened to share selling tips and techniques, says Patricia Mellor, CEO of the Girl Scouts council that serves both states.
“I’d seen the drive-thru trend growing within pharmacies, restaurants and banks,” Mellor says, “and then I started seeing empty bank buildings or empty fast-food restaurants and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could use that technology for our own drive-thru booths?’”
Not only was the troop in Salem able to procure a vacant warehouse that consumers could drive straight through, she says, but they had the marketing forethought to pitch to a local news outlet – whose report subsequently garnered national attention – before having made a single sale.
This kind of strategic brain-racking is precisely why Mellor calls the Girl Scouts’ cookie sales program “the number one business development program for girls in the country.” The takeaway from the troop’s drive-thru initiative? “Meeting your customers where they want to be and thinking outside of your own box,” Mellor says.
At the same time, a drive-thru model has presented new challenges, including the need for grabbier marketing to draw consumers to the booth, familiarity with credit card transactions and new safety precautions around moving vehicles.
Nevertheless, it looks to be a promising sales season. While Troop 12115 has committed to selling 5,000 boxes, the council’s overall goal is 1.265 million boxes, of which it is currently just 100,000 boxes shy, according to Mellor. Cookie season is over at the end of the month.
Such success is undoubtedly due to the organization’s emphasis on fostering a nimble and innovative spirit. “Our world has changed significantly over the past few years,” Mellor says, “and so our goal is to make sure we’re reacting at the pace of girls – and girls are faster than anyone else out there.”