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Your budtenders are crucial to your cannabis retail operation. A solid budtender training program is essential, one that's efficient, well-structured, and built to endure beyond the initial training period for new hires.

This article concentrates on budtender training for cannabis retailers. It outlines the necessary skills to develop and offers a guideline for creating an effective employee training program.

Budtender Training


What Is the Impact of Budtender Training on Dispensary Performance?

The most common role for cannabis dispensaries is that of a budtender. They also have the potential to impact cannabis retailers the most significantly–either positively or negatively.

How Well-Trained Cannabis Budtenders Can Benefit Cannabis Businesses

  • Brand Reputation

Almost every dispensary review highlights service and meeting customer needs. When cannabis budtenders possess strong skills, customers are pleased. They leave positive reviews for your dispensary and refer their friends.

  • Sales

Well-trained budtenders understand when to seize opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling with a client, and when to politely conclude the interaction. Achieving this balance demands patience, training, and experience.

  • Operational Efficiency

By saving on your daily workflows, you can increase your profits. Budtenders trained in standard operational procedures will become valuable assets for your cannabis retail business.

  • Compliance

Your budtenders need to be compliance specialists. Well-trained sales staff who understand state regulations can save you thousands of dollars in fines. They also provide you with peace of mind.

The following are some ways that poorly trained budtenders could hurt your retail business:

  • Theft

If you don't have zero-tolerance theft policies or a culture of laxity, you'll notice shrinkage. Alongside proper dispensary training, it's crucial to stay vigilant about inventory management. Reviewing surveillance, limiting access, and establishing security measures will decrease merchandise theft. Budtenders are likely to adhere to strict workflows.

  • Manual Errors

In the cannabis retail industry, data entry errors are common. Loss of revenue can occur due to a missed decimal or a rounding error. These mistakes can lead to losses of tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars each year if made by your entire staff.

  • Negative Customer Interactions

Budtenders often leave a lasting impression on their customers. In fact, 78% of customers have requested refunds due to a bad customer experience. When customers don't feel comfortable with your budtenders, they are less likely to return to your shop.

  • Slow Workflows

Budtenders who aren't trained to use software or hardware like tablets or computers can slow down your entire store. This might lead to decreased sales per hour as customers wait in long lines.

The Right Skills for a Budtender

The most successful budtenders possess a common set of skills. You can create a cannabis training program to help your staff enhance these skills over time by identifying the qualities you are looking for.

Develop Your Introductory Budtending Skills

Your budtenders should demonstrate basic skills from the start, such as compliance and handling cash. These are crucial for your employees to know to avoid costly mistakes and ensure the safety of your business.

  • Customer Service

Your job description should emphasize a friendly attitude and appreciation for customers. During budtender training, set the expectation that all interactions between employees and customers will be positive, transparent, and educational. This will help retain customers even when budtenders are still in the onboarding phase.

  • Store Policy

In the first few days, your budtender training should cover both store policies and those directed at customers. Store policies set expectations for budtenders. The sooner your new staff aligns with these policies, the more they'll feel part of your team.

  • State-Level and Local Compliance Regulations

When training new budtenders, make sure to explain cannabis compliance laws and stress the importance of following all regulations. Describe to them what compliance means and why it's crucial in this industry.

  • Basic Software Usage

Start with a small group of employees and demonstrate how to log in to your point of sale system, complete transactions, print receipts, and accept payment using a debit card. As they gain experience, your staff will become more comfortable with your cannabis technology stack.

  • Cash/Payment Management

Budtenders handle numerous cash transactions daily due to the heavy reliance on cash in the cannabis industry. It's crucial to promptly train them on cash handling procedures and security measures. Provide clear cash-handling guidelines that budtenders can easily reference while on the job.

  • Product Knowledge

Most new budtenders may already be familiar with this information. However, there are numerous cannabis products and consumption methods that differ from one store to another. Before starting their shift, ensure your budtenders are familiar with basic cannabis terms, including THC, CBD, and cannabinoids.

Continued Development of Budtender Skill

Introducing ongoing skills early in the budtender training process is crucial. However, it will take time for them to develop and improve. Don't rush to learn these challenging skills! Instead, act as a guide to help your cannabis associates become expert budtenders.

  • Upselling

Upselling requires the right training and some trial and error. The golden rule of upselling is to provide value. Explain this to your staff, and then let them try and learn.

  • Cross-selling

When a budtender encourages a customer to buy a related or supplementary product to the one they already bought, it's called cross-selling. Cross-selling should be encouraged and taught throughout the budtender's training.

  • Cannabis Trends

New information and research on cannabis are continuously emerging. It's important to motivate budtenders to stay up-to-date on cannabis trends, new studies, and other released information. For ongoing learning, they can explore podcasts or newsletters on cannabis. This way, they can provide customers with the most relevant information.

  • Detailed Look at Software and Hardware

As budtender training progresses, your sales team will become more proficient in using your software and hardware. Encourage them to explore more tools, such as analytics or inventory management, and set up permissions for employees in your Point of Sale system.

  • Customer Relationship Management

Budtenders can establish lasting relationships with customers by addressing them by name, discussing previous purchases, and building a strong bond. Some may not be naturally adept with people, so it will take numerous interactions for budtenders to feel comfortable.

Budtender Training

How to Create a Training Program for Budtenders

Your budtenders can only be as effective as your training program allows them to be. You'll notice consistent results if your budtender training program includes a solid foundation, fosters relationships, offers incentives, and provides growth opportunities.

Include the following steps in your training program for budtenders.

1. Create Your Own Training Materials

You have two options for delivering training materials to your budtenders: you can either print out the materials and provide them on the first day, or you can distribute them digitally. These materials will be essential for employees throughout the onboarding process and beyond. Encourage them to refer to their budtender training manual frequently.

Included in your manual should be:

  • A clear job description for a budtender
  • Your retail store's history, mission, vision, and values
  • Store policies covering areas such as clocking in and out, acceptable attire, breaks, operating hours, and time off
  • Training materials provided by your hardware and/or software providers, or materials you create if your partners do not provide them
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or where to find them, covering tasks like cash handling, check-in procedures, safety protocols, opening and closing procedures, etc.
  • Guidelines for customer interactions, such as introducing oneself, maintaining eye contact, and asking questions
  • Product information obtained from vendors or resources like Cannabis Training University

2. Schedule Regular Training Sessions

Training shouldn't stop after the initial two weeks of onboarding. To promote growth, you should continue to train your staff quarterly or annually.

Some states, like New Jersey, mandate annual dispensary training to ensure compliance. This training typically covers:

  • Cannabis laws in the United States
  • New developments in the cannabis industry
  • Security measures
  • Emergency response procedures

If there are no state requirements, you can decide what topics to cover in your team's regular training sessions. Use these opportunities to have fun and mix things up.

Additionally, as a higher education option, you can require certification courses for budtenders and provide further research and training opportunities.

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3. Gamify Your Sales Process and Reward Your Budtenders

Creating a strong culture and experience is vital for building a robust budtending staff. Incentives, commonly used by sales teams across industries, foster a healthy competitive atmosphere. 

By offering incentives based on data and sales performance, you can boost budtenders' sales and enhance staff culture. Clearly explain the rules to your staff, monitor sales data, and keep them informed about standings and rankings.

4. Document Your Process and Iterate

Perfection requires continuous adjustments based on experience. Don't overlook your budtender training process! 

Schedule feedback sessions with new employees at 30, 60, or 90-day intervals to evaluate what's working and what isn't. 

This fosters communication with new budtenders, allowing them to contribute to the store's operations. This mutual respect and active listening are crucial for retention and maximizing the success of your onboarding program.

Ready to Elevate Your Budtender Skills?

Dive deeper into the world of cannabis training and elevate your budtender skills with Cannabis Training University. Explore their website for a wealth of information, courses, and resources designed to help you thrive in the cannabis industry. Visit the Cannabis Training University website now to take your knowledge and expertise to the next level!


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