Margaret Thatcher once said, “Being powerful is like being a lady: If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” I find that quote to be surprisingly relevant when it comes to dispensaries and their budtenders. I have visited many stores where the budtenders have to tell you they are budtenders, otherwise you would have no way of recognizing they are offering customer service.
I have never owned a successful bar, clothing store, or pharmacy, but the simple concepts of both customer service and helping patrons spend money by offering guidance and product knowledge aren’t concepts that seem difficult to grasp. And I can actually say this first hand having a successful cannabis delivery and having operated a successful store in San Diego called Kindest Meds.
In California, many of the dispensaries of the past had this incredible habit of hiring a field of budtenders who were either: 1.) Attractive young girls who knew very little about the products they sold; or 2.) Arrogant stoners who seemed insulted by customers who didn’t share their level of experience or knowledge about marijuana (someone should have pointed out that being an arrogant stoner is a conflicting ideal, by the way). In either case, I often witnessed people getting almost the lowest possible form of customer service available.
In my own retail operations, it was admittedly to my joy that customers would be overly grateful with my budtenders, just for their kindness and willingness to take some time and explain the differences in the products. These sadly elementary basics of customer service won my businesses awards, while also bringing us returning customers, great word of mouth marketing, and creating a more enjoyable environment for us to work within.
If you have a store or a delivery, your budtenders are the face of your business. They represent your business and are what your customers know and understand of the kind of business you operate. Just as you put effort and money into marketing, you should be investing time and energy into making your budtenders exceptional.
There is a surprising value of your budtenders, and an often overlooked importance of the customer service they should be offering your clients.
Do you offer training to make sure they understand the laws? No, of course not. But, why not? They will be the first ones to create legal issues, and the first ones to get you in hot water with a regulating body. Do you offer regular product training sessions so they know your products well enough to educate your customers? I’m guessing the answer is still probably no. But again, why not? Seriously.
My retail success isn’t magic, but instead comes as a result of many things, which includes regular product training for our budtenders, in addition to ensuring they offer superior customer service. In both my store and my delivery, I actually bring in an attorney once a year to speak on the changes and updates to the laws, and have done so for the past 6 years. As the legal environment settles, there is less importance for this, but your budtenders should still have an understanding of the fundamentals- Right?
We additionally do quarterly trainings that focus on market updates, product training, customer service evaluations, and a deep review of the advancing science behind cannabinoids, terpenes, and how this is applies to the various products we offer.
I don’t know anyone else who does regular quarterly trainings, or even just regular trainings. And I don’t know why. Regular trainings (quarterly, twice a year, etc.) are something ever retailer needs to consider.
Set a higher standard. Offer a superior service. Be a better competitor. I am actively involved in CGA, CCIA, SDCIA, and SDCDA, and rarely see operators taking the steps to do the things they recognize they should be doing. Be better than your competition. Make sure your team is offering a better experience for your customers. It will literally pay dividends that translate into more sales, and a better overall work environment.