If you own or manage a marijuana dispensary or adult-use store, hiring a highly competent and motivated staff can greatly improve your bottom line. Identifying and understanding the full scope of your needs prior to getting your business up and running is imperative to having an efficient and productive business.
As well as needing competent employees, you need to hire a team with a strong work ethic and the desire to succeed. Employing a staff that goes above and beyond the basic essentials to running an efficient retail business and hiring a knowledgeable staff that engages in outstanding customer service should be your ultimate goal. Your budtenders should not only know the various strains and products inside and out but also should know retail—because as well as being an exciting and relatively new type of business that caters to marijuana consumers, cannabis dispensaries are retail businesses, and the basic principles of running a successful retail business apply. A dispensary staff must never lose sight of that fact.
The legal cannabis industry attracts a wide variety of people seeking employment. Because marijuana use has pervasive stereotypes of laidback and unmotivated consumers, you will undoubtedly encounter potential employees who do, indeed, fit that stereotype. Your challenge is to identify those who not only have a passion for cannabis and can speak intelligently about it, but who also have a strong desire to succeed from a business perspective. Passion for cannabis is only half of the equation—a business mindset is the other.
The Selection Process
Successful cannabis dispensaries can vary widely. Some have names as well as exterior and interior designs that reflect marijuana culture. Other businesses in the industry reflect a more conventional approach to nomenclature and design. There is no right or wrong direction to go as far as the “flavor” of your business goes—that’s up to you, the business owner, and your vision for the type of retail establishment you want to own. There is definitely room for variety. Just look at the wide selection of successful restaurants models that exist for proof that there’s more than one formula for success. Hire a staff that understands your company image and will reflect it.
When interviewing prospective budtenders, the applicants with previous retail experience will likely have a more transferable skill sets than those from other employment backgrounds. Using point-of-sale (POS) software won’t be new to them, and most likely they will be familiar with retail basics like upselling and cross-selling. If these applicants have good references and a proven track record for selling and customer service, they deserve serious consideration—especially if they interview well. If you’re looking to hire someone in a sales capacity—and that’s the nature of retail—they need to be able to sell themselves effectively during the interview. You want to hire with confidence, and its up to them to assure you they’re the right person for the job.
As well as having a retail background that may transfer well to a dispensary environment, any applicant with a resume that reflects industry-specific training from a respected and legitimate cannabis university is going to stand out from the crowd, and rightfully so. These individuals had the foresight and wisdom to gain the specialized knowledge they need for success in a new and emerging industry that’s unlike any other in the world. Most likely, another formerly black-market, nascent industry with a history as rich, controversial, and long as cannabis has will not occur again within our lifetimes. This is a unique era in America, and it’s advantageous to hire likeminded people who recognize this fact and appreciate this special time in history. They are pioneers who represent the future of cannabis.
Prospective employees who’ve earned certification from an institution like the Cannabis Training University (CTU) will arrive at work on their first day of employment ready to put their education to use. They already have the solid foundation of learning they need for success. They will have to learn some of the small procedural things that are specific to your particular business, of course, but they will have learned the key fundamentals of how a dispensary operates, as well as have gained a familiarity with most of the types of inventory sold. Cannabis learning has never been more accessible, with comprehensive program in place for learning to grow cannabis, create concentrates, and operate a profitable dispensary.
Anyone looking for a respected and legit cannabis training program should earn Master’s Certification from CTU as an important first step to entering the industry. After completing the program, they will have clear expectations about what a future working in the cannabis space looks like and what they can expect.
You, as a business owner and employer, want to hire the most skilled employees. After all, the success of your business largely depends on it. Applicants who have certification for cannabis-specific work are more of a known quantity than those without it. Any start-up or relatively new company wants to minimize risks. Hiring certified employees is one way of accomplishing this.
Morale and Opportunities for Growth
As you build a talented team, inspirational leadership must come from the top. You must not only attract talented employees but retain them as well. You should demonstrate to your dispensary team that hard work does pay off. For those who excel in the workplace and earn your respect, opportunities for growth must exist. This should be made clear during the interview process, but then you must deliver on it by backing your words with action when its warranted. If your budtender employees feel like they’re bumping their head on the ceiling with no room for upward advancement, they will eventually move on to greener employment pastures, particularly if they’re ambitious—and those are exactly the type of people you want to retain and keep around to continue growing your business. Companies in every industry struggle to maintain high employee morale, and in this respect cannabis businesses are no different.
The structure of your dispensary operation will have several levels to keep operations running smoothly. An incoming budtender who performs well should expect to earn the opportunity to eventually become a lead budtender with increased responsibilities like training and shadowing new employees on the job. Likewise, a lead budtender should expect to have advancement opportunities for a possible future role as an assistant manager. This lower management position would typically include supervision, work schedule development, conflict resolution, customer service support, inventory tracking, cash drops and management, receiving deliveries, and any necessary duties relating to day-to-day operations.
An assistant manager who performs the essential duties of a dispensary manager, should be your first choice for a position as facility manager. No incoming applicant will know the specific business as well as your assistant manager who already knows the store layout, employees, and inventory, as well as all of the standard operating procedures that relate to each. Promoting from within your company will reward a person who has demonstrated a strong work ethic and put in the necessary time for learning and subsequent advancement. It also demonstrates for all employees that dedication and work does pay off and get rewarded. This will go a long way toward sustaining good morale among you team while also inspiring others to perform at a higher level to improve your bottom line.