POSTED ON October 5, 2021
Retailers need to be clear from the start with a standardized process in place when they first interview for a budtender role, or any role for the company, so they can set expectations. Retailers can define what their brand is, their mission and goals, and give clear instructions on the importance of compliance. There are more requirements than meet the eye, so cannabis retailers need to be aware of these to ensure a good fit. The less than obvious personal traits include the ability to have a conversation, to learn, educate, and articulate the varying depths of knowledge. There is more to cannabis retail than just selling, it’s about creating relationships and building a community through trust, education, personability and professionalism.
The single most important aspect when considering budtenders for cannabis retail is adherence to compliance laws and regulations. Retailers need to have an effective way to teach new employees and ensure that all compliance regulations are adhered to by their staff. They will need to hire a budtender who is capable of becoming an equal part of the entire budtending team, always professional, reliable, and most of all compliant. Cannabis-specific POS systems, like Greenline, are designed to make restrictions effortless on the part of the budtender, but retailers and their staff should always be mindful of what the rules and regulations are for their region.
Learning to use new software can often be a daunting experience, a challenge budtenders face, all while learning the individual store’s line of products, how to use them and how to guide customers on product use. Not all systems are easy to learn and, although similar to other retail software programs, compliant cannabis software has additional layers of complexity the budtenders must understand to avoid mistakes and possibly company revenue.
At the point of sale level, what a budtender needs to learn can be made much easier with the selection of the cannabis POS system and its associated hardware. Greenline offers retailers an easy-to-use, compliant POS solution, with the option to set up their store with compatible and well-supported peripheral hardware. Greenline’s automation was designed with the budtender in mind for quick and easy transactions as it helps with age verification and automates the 30-gram weight restriction. With a powerful training system, Greenline sets up cannabis retail teams for success right from the start by providing all levels of staff a self-guided, supported, training session with Greenline University, followed up with a solid and extremely reliable customer support team (most have previous budtending experience), who provide operational support and can help ensure best practices when using Greenline software.
Budtenders need to be willing to gain a strong understanding of cannabis products, the different forms of cannabis and even the attributes of the different strains they will be selling. A good recreational cannabis budtender should be able to provide a base definition of most of the parent strains by scent, taste, and effect, while being mindful of not providing any form of medical advice as compliance is key when defining the products to customers. To be successful they should learn how products are created, where they are grown, how to identify the quality of some products, and even extraction methods.
There are a number of resources retailers and budtenders can turn to for easy access to industry information. By engaging directly with licensed producers, budtenders learn the details of flower strains and how to differentiate between the different classes of cannabis. They learn how to educate customers on concentrates, extracts, and dabs, plus all associated accessories and how to use them properly and safely. Once a foundational level of product knowledge is achieved, the role becomes one of engagement where the budtender gradually becomes a stronger source of guidance and information for both new and seasoned cannabis users, whether they are smoking, vaping, or experimenting with other consumption methods.
A good cannabis retailer will set up their staff for success from the beginning. In order to be familiar with the products, the types of products and the top-selling products on the cannabis shop’s menu, budtenders can refer to online directories such as Leafly or Weedmaps, where they can research cannabis retailers’ menus online and check out the reviews to see what’s new, what products are top-selling and why. Although these are popular directories, (both are integration partners of Greenline), retailers should never assume budtenders know all the industry resources available to them. There are additional benefits such as industry news, tips, events etc. Useful resources also include cannabis-focused magazines (Canadian Cannabis Retailer, Cannabis Prospect) local industry associations (ACCRES), newsletters (FourPM), blogs, podcasts, and webinars, all of which can easily be found on social media channels.
Compliance becomes challenging when it comes to marketing, especially product marketing on social media channels. Retailers can draw from the talent and community network of new and experienced budtenders to improve visibility. Marketing is where creativity comes into play and an important area where budtenders can help store owners with their high level of detailed tech experience. By disseminating product knowledge and building a stronger local community, budtenders can use their social media expertise to help the store achieve improved website rankings and store visits to supplement marketing strategies already in place.
While all this is a great benefit for store owners, the fact remains that retailers need to ensure compliance at every level, especially at the social media marketing level. Social media is a powerful marketing tool but nobody wants their Instagram account shut down – especially when taking into consideration the time involved for planning, building a following, and being creative with product announcements to add differentiation. It can be useful to follow cannabis retail social channels to learn how other retailers achieve successful workarounds for regulatory marketing restrictions. Quite often, cannabis-specific CRM platforms, like Greenline’s integration partners Springbig and Alpine IQ, are ideal for the cannabis industry and it’s a good idea to create a loyalty program, using integrated software, to increase customer interaction and build a solid customer audience for promotional marketing activities within the confines of cannabis marketing regulations.
Digital menus can be a powerful tool for training and educating both budtenders and consumers, as they can help to quickly pinpoint the types of product customers may want to try, and help to narrow down specific categories for easy selection. Retailers should do some initial research on menu options to make the best selection so they can get an idea of how the menus could look and how they can work best in their store. As Greenline supports multiple cannabis-specific integrators such as Budvue and BudSense, consider having a demo to get a sense for the value they each provide. Most importantly, make menu style selections with budtenders, customers, and licensed producers in mind to get the most value.
In any sales-related position an important, and often overlooked, aspect is knowing who your competition is in your region and how well they are doing comparatively. It’s easy information to find and an excellent resource includes using Greenline’s integration partner for business intelligence, Headset, a software system that uses aggregated sales data from specific regions to report on real-time cannabis consumer trends & market intelligence. The metrics provided by Headset can even go as far as measuring budtender performance as well as in-store vs online sales. Headset is quite a versatile toolset to leverage all kinds of data to help with overall retail decisions, to meet goals and to monitor ongoing progress, all of which will aid in keeping retail operations profitable.
Budtenders have a great deal of influence when making customer recommendations and providing selection guidance with the wide-ranging volume of products available and an equally wide-ranging scope of product types. Some products will inherently require a stronger sales strategy and budtenders are tasked with providing a balance of information depending on the customers’ needs and level of cannabis knowledge. Successful budtenders are those who can help guide customers to determine what’s best for the way they hope to feel with cannabis use. How their recommendations affect new or regular users can impact their frequency to the store. Budtenders can effectively shape the outcome of the retail experience by having confidence in their knowledge of the products they’re selling, by continually learning about the cannabis plant and the industry as a whole, and by effectively using the POS software as a tool.
For budtenders, there is always room to learn and grow. Cannabis retailers shouldn’t be reluctant to ask their own budtenders for advice. Budtenders are becoming the way of the future for cannabis awareness and breaking ground to help educate their communities as the industry matures, improving profitability and enhancing the consumer experience.
For more information schedule a demo and talk to the Greenline sales team.
Integrators + resources included in this article can be found in the Greenline Marketplace:
BC Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers