Do you aspire to enter the booming cannabis industry and become a budtender? There’s much to be said for this line of work if it matches your personality, work ethic, and skill set. It remains the No. 1 most commonly advertised cannabis-related job, and many companies need good, competent people to market their products and provide professional advice to their patients and customers. It’s a fact that customers usually base their opinion of a company and a brand based on their shopping experience and the service they received from a company budtender. Budtenders do not just provide customer service, they’re brand ambassadors. Companies can gauge their success largely on the efforts of their budtenders.
Unfortunately, while good budtenders are so vital and important to a company’s bottom line, they’re also the most common position to quit their jobs because it wasn’t what they thought it would be. A significant number of people will quit or get fired from their budtender jobs within the first three months—it’s the nature of retail, and in many ways budtending is retail sales for the modern age.
Retail employers in any industry don’t like turnover, because it leads to a host of other problems like overworking the rest of the retail team and paying overtime. It also creates gaps in work schedules and creates the need to train new employees. Turnover also is expensive. A study by the Center for American Progress concludes that it costs employers an average of $3,328 to find, train, and replace a $10-per-hour retail employee. Retail turnover can soar as high as 70% during the first year of employment.
Why the high turnover? The axiom of “employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers,” definitely applies to retail—as well as a wide variety of jobs in just about any industry. Employers would be wise to make note of these recurring, common reasons for failing to retain employees, but clearly many of them do not. Exit interviews with departing employees would help identify trends where companies fall short of realistic and reasonable employee expectations. Here are some of the most common reasons for retail turnover:
- Poor employee relationship with manager
- Lack of incentives—except for managers
- Insufficient training
- Redundant and boring job
- Poor hiring practices
- Promoting the wrong employees
- Lack of encouragement for thinking, just doing
- Antiquated policies
Accurate Budtender Responsibilities
Those who seek jobs as budtenders should remember that the job—regardless of it being a cannabis job—is retail sales and customer service first and foremost. Let’s examine the truth about this line of work and precisely what new budtenders should expect from their jobs. If you thought you wanted to be a budtender, but these expectations are not something you feel comfortable doing, perhaps you are not the proper fit for this type of work, and a different type of cannabis job would suit you better.
Different cannabis dispensaries can vary tremendously when it comes to dress code, the interior merchandising arrangement, and the overall “vibe” of the store. While some businesses are more laid back than others, they all want to make money and succeed. This is a common denominator of all cannabis retail. Here are some common expectations cannabis retail employers have for their staffs:
- A clean, tidy appearance
- Ability to show up on time every day
- Willingness to work overtime if needed
- A friendly demeanor and strong desire to communicate with customers
- Inventory knowledge and the ability to locate specific items quickly
- The desire to speak intelligently about inventory with patrons
- Cannabis knowledge
- Ability to support team members and management
- Knowledge of top indica and sativa strains, as well as their medical applications
- A desire to support fellow employees
- A desire to meet sales goals
- The ability to upsell and cross-sell products
- A desire to engage customers in conversation and retain them as customers
- The ability to ask and answer a broad range of cannabis-related questions
When working as a budtender, a strong work ethic is mandatory. You must arrive at work on time every day and have a strong desire to get down to business immediately and throughout your shift. Most dispensaries will want you to work several consecutive days in a row, including weekends and evenings. Not only must you be on time when the doors open to customers, but for employee morning meeting updates as well—which may be a half hour before store hours. A gloomy Monday morning attitude must never show itself while you are on the job. You must be on point and crisp, willing to engage customers at all times.
Budtenders should be outgoing with customers, with a strong desire to accommodate their needs by asking key questions and answering others. Having a passion for cannabis certainly helps as well, because your enthusiasm for the store’s wares will undoubtedly show to customers and patients. Dispensary customers are impossible to categorize when it comes to age, gender, economic class, or race, so you may find yourself waiting on an elderly medical patient in her 80s one minute and a young recreational user who’s a construction worker in his 20s the next. You must adapt to meet the needs of each customer and his or her needs multiple times per day—regardless of whether or not you can personally relate to them.
A thorough knowledge of the store’s inventory is vital to all budtenders and will help you perform much more efficiently and quickly during your shift—and time is money for busy cannabis dispensaries. She should be able to quote the potencies of each product, or at the very least find it quickly on the label. If your store is part of a vertically integrated business, knowing your proprietary strains from top to bottom is extremely important since these are the strains that separate your company from all the others. Customers can only buy these strains at your store.
Stocking inventory on the store shelves or other appropriate location is another responsibility that may come into play during your job as a budtender. This can actually assist you during your daily interaction with customers. Pay attention to these products, their packaging, use, and location within the store.
Ready To Get Started?
Becoming a cannabis budtender can be extremely rewarding work in a great industry—as long as you know what your job will entail and you have realistic expectations going into the job. It’s a fantastic way to get your foot in the door with a company and grow with the company as it continues its expansion. Working with cannabis is a dream job for many, and for good reason. Gaining experience with a cannabis company and working hard will make you more valuable to the company, as well as increase your opportunities within the industry as a whole. If you decide to take the plunge into budtending, congratulations on making a wise decision!