Alantria Dixon, MBA ’09, is one sharp cookie. Thanks to her leadership, Girl Scouts in the Atlanta area have sold more than 29 million boxes of cookies for the past seven years.
As a senior director of Mission Revenue for her council, she oversees the financial well-being of 2,000 troops in 34 Georgia counties. This year her strategic planning and growth strategies paid off — her region grossed $16 million and met its annual goal, a feat that served up more than 60 percent of her council’s revenue.
“When I look at what I do now, I learned all of my general management skills at Michigan,” she says. “Getting my MBA at Ross helped me become a more well-rounded leader.”
Dixon credits strategy professor Aneel Karnani with giving her skills and insights she relies on every day, even now. “He taught me to use my organization’s core competencies. He said, ‘Whatever you’re good at, keep being good at it.'”
Nationwide, the Scouts sold 200 million cookies in 2022, earning $800 million in gross revenue, with 18 percent funding individual troops. Thin Mints are the biggest seller in Dixon’s area — and in the U.S.
“I love what I do, and I love my team. It is truly a calling,” says Dixon, who grew up in the Atlanta area and sold cookies as a child. “Every morning, I get up knowing I’m serving the 23,000 girls in our council and helping move forward our mission of building girls’ courage, competence, and character.”
Sometimes the cookie crumbles
In 2023, the Girl Scouts debuted the newest cookie, the Raspberry Rally. (Picture a Thin Mint with a bright pink center.) It actually hit the front page of The Wall Street Journal, but not in a good way. Introduced only online and in limited quantities, scalpers snatched up the tart treats and sold them online for $30 or more per package.
The Rally sold out in the Atlanta area in less than 24 hours. “It’s very disappointing that individuals resell cookies. Doing so does not support our local girls,” says Dixon. When asked if her organization erred in limiting the supply, she muses, “It’s definitely an opportunity for the Girl Scouts to look back and see whether or not we would do something like that in the future.”
Supplier problems also threatened to take a bite out of her business. The cookie baker used by the Atlanta area faced serious labor shortages this year, which caused “quite a few challenges,” Dixon says. Production shortfalls resulted, and cookies for online distribution, which represent 12 percent of her sales, were delayed six weeks.
“We had to pivot,” says Dixon. “We had to find other ways to encourage girls to capture sales. We encouraged them to get more in-person orders and asked girls to have people support them through our Smiles4Military donation program. That way they could fill the same number of orders, even if we weren’t able to quickly ship cookies to family and friends.”
Sweet supply chainCookie sales planning happens year-round and goes into overdrive in January, when the sweet treats go on sale. Dixon’s massive cookie distribution efforts depend on nearly split-second timing. In an operation the Pentagon might envy, this past Feb. 11, seven delivery companies dropped off 2 million boxes of cookies for pick-up by 1,500 troops in destinations as far as 125 miles apart.
“It was a big day. Those cookies were pre-ordered, and they represented 60 percent of our sales,” says Dixon. Her favorite is the salty caramel Adventureful which debuted in 2022.
Besides overseeing distribution, Dixon forecasts trends and sales up to five years ahead. She also is studying how to boost cashless purchases by those who buy cookies in person. Since 1996, cookies have been available by phone. Online sales began in 2014. Shoppers also can use Cookie Finder at the Scouts’ website to locate retailers nearest them, and delivery apps will now deliver the treats. This year, in-person sales end April 30.
The Girl Scout cookies tradition began in 1917 when a Muscogee, Okla., troop baked cookies in a high school cafeteria to raise money. By the 1930s, 29 different bakeries handled the manufacturing. Today two bakeries handle the demand, which is why some Girl Scout cookies have different names in some areas. The only break in the 106-year-old program came during WWII, when Scouts instead sold calendars due to sugar, flour, and butter rationing.
Today Girl Scout cookies rank second in popularity behind Oreos nationwide, even though they are only sold a few months every year. Exceptional Scouts can earn Cookie CEO and Cookie Market Researcher badges.
Once a Scout, always a Scout
Before joining the Scouts, Dixon held roles at UPS, Procter & Gamble, and the Weather Channel. She feels she has come full circle. “Having been a Girl Scout, I knew I wanted to work for an organization focused on empowering girls. I love that I am shaping the future of girls and women,” she says.
Besides her distribution derring-do, Dixon manages local partnerships with GNC, Kroger, and Walmart, which allow troops to hawk cookies at their doors. She supervises a military distribution program and has partnered with the United Service Organizations, the Georgia National Guard, and Hugs for Soldiers to distribute more than a million boxes.
Thinking up sales incentives for young Scouts occupies her imagination, too. “Every now and then I have to think like a five- or seven-year-old, because I select rewards for them that need to be exciting and motivating,” Dixon says. Technology prizes for those who meet sales goals and “little diddle-daddles” like furry shoes are popular, she says.
Mostly Dixon stays focused on growing the Girl Scouts’ membership. “We’re always evolving and committed to offering programs that serve the needs and interests of all girls,” she says. Her council hosts the largest girl-focused STEM event in Georgia. There’s a Civil Rights summer camp. Local Scouts are active in immigrant and refugee communities. Facilitators work to include girls who are in subsidized or temporary housing.
“A lot falls on my shoulders,” Dixon says. But her job has a tasty fringe benefit. “I do get free cookies. That is a good thing,” she adds. “But it also can require a lot of self-control.”
(Lead image of the Raspberry Rally — and friends — by Jeremy Marble.)