5 Tips From a Top-Rated Budtender To Increase Retention

The budtenders set the heartbeat of any cannabis retail store operation. They are the communication line between patrons and products, they also set the tone and vibe of the space in which they work, and they are the reason loyal customer bases are formed. Finding great budtenders can be a challenge in itself, but once you find them, how do you keep them?  

We sat down with the number one rated budtender from Cannabist San Diego, Shaggy Bullock, and he shared his top 6 tips on how to retain great budtenders.  
For Shaggy's full interview, check out the webinar replay here.


Here are our top 5 takeaways on how to retain great budtenders:


  1. Learn to incentivize your budtenders properly.
  2. Prioritize your budtender retention.
  3. Understand the minor gripes management may not know about.
  4. Make your dispensary the "it" place to work.
  5. Don't put your budtenders at risk.



1 - Learn to incentivize your budtenders properly.

One of the most popular questions that dispensary managers have for industry gurus always comes back to how they can incentivize their budtenders most effectively. Of course, offering incentives to budtenders is a necessary part of running your business because it makes your budtenders genuinely enjoy working at your dispensary, which results in motivating them to:

  • Do a great job
  • Move more product
  • Explain products to customers


So, what are some of the ways you can start incentivizing your budtenders in time to boost your 420 sales? Here are some of the ideas provided by Shaggy.


Give out samples.

Often distributors will provide dispensaries with samples of their products. Use these as an opportunity to show your appreciation for budtenders. Some examples of times you might give out samples as rewards could be:


  • Going above and beyond
  • Doing a couple of extra things outside of the typical day to day tasks
  • Having a high sales day

Promote friendly competitions.

Another great way to incentivize your budtenders is by promoting friendly competitions. These can take many forms, such as top sales for the day, week, or month. Or, if you're running promotional items, you can run a competition and have a prize for the budtender who sells the greatest number of the promotional item.

The idea behind friendly competitions is that they are not challenging the budtenders negatively, which will encourage them to destroy each other to get to the top. Instead, they offer a little extra push to get your budtenders more involved by incentivizing them to earn more than their basic wages and tips.

Allow them to learn more about products.

Ensure that your budtenders are sampling products to learn more about what they sell to customers. When sampling products, ask your budtenders to provide you with a short paragraph or brief about their experience with the product. That way, you can make sure they know the product well and can therefore go on to sell it to someone else.

Not every budtender is naturally driven and wants to learn more about products; for others, enthusiasm comes naturally. It's a delicate balance, but you'll quickly identify those interested in learning more when you provide opportunities.


budtender retention


2 - Prioritize your budtender retention.

Generally speaking, the budtender role is a relatively transient job. Whatever the reasons, when you're running a dispensary and especially gearing up for your 420 sales, you need to know how to retain quality budtenders.

Offer competitive pay. 

One of the top ways to retain budtenders, as mentioned by Shaggy, is to offer competitive pay. Currently, the industry pays slightly higher than other jobs in retail or restaurants. Make sure your rates are competitive for the industry.

For budtenders just entering the industry, you can start just above minimum wage. You should offer them a 30, 60, or 90 day probation period, after which you can talk about a pay rise should they show they are excelling in their position.

Recognize a job well done.

Don't forget to recognize and reward your budtenders for doing a good job. Make your budtenders excited to be at work and feel like they are a part of the team by rewarding them for simple things like:


  • Top sales
  • Going above and beyond

Seek out ways to provide daily happiness

Small actions go a long way with your budtenders. Things like having snacks in your breakroom, coffee, pop tarts, granola bars, etc. These items are low-cost to you but are hugely impactful to your team.

3 - Understand the gripes management may not know about. 

When you are in a management position, you'll find that your budtenders stop telling you the whole truth about situations. For this reason, it's essential to find a way to understand the gripes you're not aware of.

Avoid micromanagement at all costs.

Micromanaging your budtenders is one of the biggest gripes they will have. Sure, when you have a new employee, it's crucial to stay on top of them. But, with employees that you know, you should trust them. Period. Trust the people who have shown responsibility and care about the shop.

Trust the people you have hired to handle thousands of dollars of product to do their jobs the right way. When you have terrific budtenders, you should be giving them the freedom to grow, which ultimately allows your shop to grow.

Hold meetings to get budtenders involved in the business.

As previously mentioned, some budtenders are there just to do the job, but others are genuinely interested in the business aspect. Hold meetings where you ask those interested in creating a business plan and offering a budget with a feasible proposal.

And don't forget to reward those who have the proposals you decide to pursue. If the business plan succeeds, make sure they get the credit for it.You'll find that your budtenders will care about your company as much as you do.

budtender retention


4 - Make your dispensary the "it" place to work.

Your business's brand is a big factor when it comes to attracting and retaining great hires.   Budtenders want to work in places that have good vibes, are responsible, and also innovative in the cannabis space. Here are a few recommendations, according to Shaggy, to help boost your dispensary's brand awareness and make it the "it" place to work. 

Optimize social media collaborations.

Social media collaborations are an excellent way to bring traffic flow to your business. Working with brands will help you build awareness of your business on the back of their social media presence.


Since some cannabis consumers can be brand dependent, take advantage of collaborations by tagging brands during PADs, cross tags, and ultimately building relationships with these brands.

Participate in community outreach.

Even though the cannabis industry has made strides, it still faces some pushback in some communities. One way to combat this is by participating in community outreach. That way, when you enter a community, it will help to stop them from trying to push you out. Some things your dispensary might want to take part in may be:


  • Beach clean-ups
  • Breast cancer charity walks
  • Any other thing your community might need


The specifics of the community outreach will depend on what the need is in the area. In the end, it comes down to showing up. It doesn't have to be the entire dispensary — just one or two people who show up every time.


Before your 420 sales this year, seek out different ways to get your dispensary involved in the community. If people try to push back on your business, you can show you are a part of the community committed to growing it. 


Send the message to your community that you are a part of the community. You aren't here to do any harm — you are here to help make the community better.


5 - Don't put your budtenders at risk.

Know your legal regulations and stay on top of them. Also, make sure you do background research on any companies you work with to ensure they are staying compliant. Legal responsibility falls not only on the store owners but also on the budtenders. The budtender community is small, and a great budtender isn't likely to stay at an establishment where they could be put at risk because the owners are not fully aware of compliance regulations. Be sure to use compliant savvy technology and stay on top of compliance in your state or province to keep your business and your budtenders safe. 

Final thoughts.

So, there you have it. You've heard it straight from none other than the #1 rated budtender at Cannabist San Diego, Shaggy Bullock. Anyone looking to increase their dispensary sales will pay close notice to Shaggy's words of wisdom. After all, Shaggy continues to be wildly successful in the cannabis industry and wants to help others by offering his expert opinion.

If you're looking to increase your 420 sales this year but aren't quite sure where to start, hopefully, now you've got your answers!

Budtender retention tips

SIMILAR ARTICLES

You Might Also Like

5 Reasons Your Dispensary Should Consider Early Wage Access

Read More

What You Should Include In Budtender Job Descriptions?

Read More

Budtender Licenses and Certifications | An Employers Guide

Read More