So, you were granted a license to run a marijuana dispensary. It has opened, and perhaps you’ve been running it for a while. Those are great first steps, ones that every successful business needs to take. However, you may not be satisfied with the way that your dispensary business is running. You’d like to be more successful, more efficient.
Here are 6 ways to run a better dispensary:
One major thing a customer wants in any type of retail experience is superior customer service. In order to stand out from the crowd, dispensaries need to provide innovative, exceptional customer service. From the time the customer walks through the door, you have the opportunity to provide first-rate service.
Gone are the days of the stereotypical stoner-type customer buying pot on the down low. Retail dispensaries in states where marijuana has been legalized are catering to mainstream retail customers who do not fit into outdated stereotypes.
Here are some ways dispensaries can create an exceptional retail experience:
- Build relationships by greeting customers who walk through your door with genuine pleasure to see them.
- Make each customer feel unique in their customer journey. Dispensary products are not one size fits all. Treat each customer as an individual. Ask them questions about what they are looking for. Give them information about why you think a certain product will be a good fit. Invite questions. A personalized customer experience will go a long way to bringing that customer back to your store.
- Be visible and available, but don’t hover. No one wants a sales employee breathing down their neck.
- Learn to read the subtle signs that indicate a customer might need help.
- Never say, “I don’t know.” If a customer asks a question that you don’t know the answer to always respond with, “Let me find out for you.” And then follow up on that promise.
- Provide an in-house dispensary ATM to allow for ease of payment. Since dispensaries still are largely run as cash businesses, by providing an in-house ATM you alleviate any payment issues and encourage spending.
- Make sure your customers leave with everything they’ve purchased. No one wants to have to make a return trip because you forgot to put their product in the bag.
Hire the Right People
One of the best ways to create a remarkable customer experience is by hiring the right staff in the first place. Your employees are your biggest asset and they can make or break a positive customer experience. Don’t feel that you have to hire the first person on your list who knows the most about cannabis. Instead look for employees who know about and understand customer service and then teach them all about cannabis. It’s easier to teach employees about marijuana then to teach them to be kind and helpful. Look for employees who are enthusiastic, about the dispensary, about the job, about the industry, and about how they can be of service to your customers. These are the people you’ll want on your team, not just ones who like the product. You can have your budtenders trained through programs such as Cannabis Training University to make sure they are fully knowledgeable and qualified to sell.
Range and Quality of Product
You’re not likely to become the hottest ticket in town if you’re only selling one type of cannabis product. Customers like options. While you’ll get customers who want to partake by smoking your product, many others won’t want to smoke. By providing a range of products, you’ll entice a wider variety of customers to enter your store. Marijuana flowers, pre-rolls, lotions, edibles, oils, live resin, tablets, powder, and chewing gum are just some of the product options available for dispensaries to sell.
Additionally, quality matters. Make sure your product is of the highest quality. You’re not likely to get a repeat customer if you sell waxy edible chocolates or inferior marijuana flower. Have your product third-party tested and responsibly sourced. If you can, partner with a local respected grower, which can provide some unique marketing avenues to get out word of your business.
To your customers. To your employees. To your suppliers. You’ll easily gain a reputation of being difficult to work with if you constantly complain to suppliers, gossip in front of customers or employees, or don’t train your employees well.
Additionally, make sure that your dispensary is clean and inviting. Keep the exterior of your store free of weeds and debris, well-lit, and welcoming. A customer’s first impression begins even before they walk through the front door.
Have business cards available for your customers. Be sure to include the business’ contact information and address. Something as simple as a business card conveys the message that you are a competent, experienced, and professional business. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to have superstar business cards designed. There are companies online where you can design and print cards using their templates.
Get the word out about your business. Make sure you have a presence on social media and review sites such as Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor.
Create a website. Make sure that it is clean and well-designed. Once again, you don’t have to spend a fortune on web development. Website hosting platforms such as Squarespace and GoDaddy allow you to use professionally-designed templates to create and customize your own website.
Word of mouth is the most important, and cost effective, form of marketing there is. Create a referral program. Offer limited-time coupons for new customers to receive discounts on non-marijuana merchandise such as pipes, apparel, and cleaners.
Create an educational event. Especially in states that have newly legalized marijuana, it’s important to educate the public on the benefits of marijuana, ease any fears or antiquated ways of thinking, and to introduce your dispensary. By creating an event you can build community and educate at the same time. Bring in some snacks, have simple giveaways such as stickers of your logo or cloth shopping bags made of hemp, and perhaps even raffle off a private event at your location. Be sure that any event you create follows state guidelines and regulations.
Give back. People like to support businesses that give back to the community. Sponsor an adult bowling league or an event at the local Chamber of Commerce. Donate money to charities that run addiction help programs and services. Choose your cause and support it with fervor.
The most important thing you can do for your business is to remain compliant with state and local regulations. If you become lax in your security, in your paperwork, in your selling practices, you are at risk of losing your business license. Make sure you keep detailed records of your sales and inventory.
It’s a good idea to run regular compliance audits ensure you are keeping in line with existing regulations. Also, keep abreast of any alterations to those regulations and make the necessary changes when and if they happen.
By taking these steps to make and keep your business professional and customer-friendly, you are helping to safeguard your dispensary and assure that you are a vital part of your local community for years to come.