As cannabis moves into the mainstream, customers and industry watchers are expecting dispensaries to present themselves as professional businesses. The industry is evolving quickly, and it’s difficult for businesses to keep up. But here are three areas to help your organization looking, feeling and acting as professional as possible.
Use social media. You might have heard about the rocky relationship between cannabis and social media, how different sites are enforcing their policies, and what dispensary personnel can do to minimize the effects of these policies.
Despite the obstacles, it’s a good idea to create social media accounts. Having a company presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other accounts, providing basic information about your business, can prove to potential customers that you’re serious about serving them. The perceived amount of time to update their pages often discourages small dispensaries, but you don’t have to post frequently. At the same time, post your business on the cannabis social media sites (like Leafly and Weedmaps) to help customers and patients find you.
Build a website and keep it current. Don’t make the mistake that social media pages are all you need for an online presence. You should also have a functional, up-to-date website for your business. Consider user-friendly services like Wix, WordPress, Weebly or one of the many others that can easily build and launch your website. Then make someone on your team responsible for keeping the site current.
Create unique email addresses. An email presence is also important, so set up business email accounts for each of your key employees. Use professional addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org (not CoolDude726@aol.com) for anyone who represents your business online. Usually, you can set up these addresses from the same service where you purchased your domain name or built your website. In addition, Google’s G Suite provides email and many other services starting at $5 a month.
This applies as much to your front-line employees and physical space as it does to you as a dispensary owner or manager. Your burden is higher because you set the tone for your staff. If you dress, act and conduct yourself professionally, employees will see that you expect them to be professional as well. Beyond being well-groomed and well-mannered, you can do other things to help keep your operation looking professional.
Keep the exterior clean, bright and welcoming. The first impression your store make happens before the customer walks in the door. If your dispensary is allowed by law to have outdoor signs, make sure that they’re visible and well-lit and that they indicate where to enter the store. Make someone on your team responsible for routinely examining the building’s exterior and parking lot to clean up trash and report anything that is broken or may pose a hazard.
Order business cards. Each physical location and key employees should have business cards. These communicate to customers, partners and others that your dispensary is professional and that your employees are professionals. If you’ve already taken the time to design a logo and brand for your business, designing a card is easy and less expensive with online services like VistaPrint, Moo and GotPrint.
Ensure your employees look professional. A simple uniform, such as a polo shirt with a company logo, will help your employees feel professional and confident. Also, your customers will know who can assist them. By getting input on what their uniforms should look like, you can help galvanize your team behind your store, your brand and your mission.
How you conduct business in back of the store will affect operations in the front of the store. If you’re disorganized and unprofessional in the back office, don’t expect bud room employees to keep up appearances for you. Here are three tips.
Take human resources seriously. Although many employees joined the business because they were friends or family members, it’s time to start treating them like real employees. This starts with your Human Resources practices, including payroll, worker’s compensation, scheduling, benefits and hiring. While HR can seem daunting to a small business, consider cannabis-focused resources like Wurk or HighestReward to help you set up your system.
Train your employees well. Remember that budtenders are often the only representatives of your business that a customer will see. If they display inexperience, ignore state and local regulations, or don’t follow store policies, it’ll reflect poorly on you and your business. Making all employees high-quality representatives and employees can be as easy as shoring up your training. Consider hiring a training manager or an industry specialist like Cannabis Industry Institute to implement customized, efficient, scalable training for your business.
Track your data. Understanding how to track and use key data in your store can help you solve problems and keep your business afloat. Data points—such as sales by product type, brand, time of day, employee making the sale, and profit points for each product—can help you foresee challenges before they happen. By doing this, you can reduce damage during hard times and capitalize during good times.
Many point-of-sale systems offer data tracking, so take time to familiarize yourself with these features. Ask the vendor for additional training to help you get the most of what you’re paying for. Also consider industry-specific services like Headset or BDS Analytics to maximize data tracking, analysis and execution.
There’s always room to improve the professionalism of your business. By taking these few steps, you can stay ahead of your competition as the industry continues to mature. The investments you make today will pay off in the short-term but will also help your dispensary remain agile, efficient and business-savvy for years to come.
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