Since before I can remember, I’ve tried to monetize almost everything in my life. No, I don’t put money over happiness, or my family. I’ve just always seen opportunities to make a change and add some change to my and my friends’ pockets.
It’s tough to know you’re doing the right thing when you have an idea that you jump on and run with. I think about that every day, as I’m sure many business owners and executives do. Should we have spent 40 hours on this project, 200 on this other one? Even when business is (for lack of a better word) busy, it’s still on my mind. Even more so today, as our team has grown and more of us depend on the business doing well.
Just over a year ago, I sat down with the Popcorn Kernel of BSA Troop 161 in Sturbridge, MA (who coincidentally is my mother). She had been tasked with managing the 2018 popcorn campaign for our local Troop, and was challenged to motivate the scouts and do everything to at least match the previous year’s sales. I was more disappointed than shocked to see that in 2018, a lot of the processes and sales management techniques still seemed so antiquated. Just watching my mother try to organize 200+ sales sheets and track inventory last year was stressful, and I wanted to do something to help.
Together we developed a mobile app and online system to track sales, inventory, rewards, and scout earnings, addressing as many challenges and wish list items the troop had when it came to selling popcorn. Having sales orders go directly to the Kernel to be processed immediately (versus collecting and compiling sheets in a mad dash at the end of the season), scouts being able to see their earnings and be motivated by other top sellers shown in the app, and so many little things that we once thought “wouldn’t it be awesome if…” Long story short, the troop beat the previous year’s sales and so much more, setting new records and even ranking among the top in the state. The app was praised by scouts, parents, and of course all the people behind the scenes doing the heavy lifting.
This May, I was invited to an “Awards Dinner” for our district’s troops, which turned out to be a sales pitch from this year’s popcorn distributor – Trails End. Their big idea: “We made an app!” I slumped in my chair feeling defeated. Every sentence out of the rep’s mouth was an “awesome feature” that would “revolutionize popcorn sales” and bring BSA into the future. Mobile payments, online inventory management, prize tracking, and everything else we had built and were still working on for this year’s update. I had lost, and let’s just say I wasn’t in the best mood leaving that dinner.
Then I realized something. Even though we may have been overshadowed by Trails End, who had much more influence over the Troop than I ever could, I had identified a problem and figured out the best solution. I’m sure I wasn’t the first, and I’m clearly not the last, but this proved that we were doing the right things. We were supporting and inspiring not-for-profit organizations like BSA, who in most cases aren’t on the leading edge of technology by any means. Trails End releasing this amazing app isn’t a reason to stop working or change direction. It’s verification that we’re on the right track – identifying today and tomorrow’s problems and addressing them in the best way possible. We will continue to think outside the box to deliver products and services that our customers may not know they need, but can dramatically improve productivity and make their work easier.
While others may be disappointed to see their work overshadowed, we’re excited to see such a big player addressing the concerns and needs of such an honored organization. We wish BSA and especially Troop 161 the absolute best in sales this year, and I personally look forward to seeing them break even more records! I’m very happy to see the Trails End app in the field and motivating scouts across the country.
Best of luck scouts!! And to everyone else, please consider supporting scouting this year – you get some amazing popcorn when you do!