7 Tips to Increase Budtender Retention in 2024

Mack Bush
February 2, 2023

Cannabis dispensary owners know that there are huge issues with budtender retention in the industry right now. One survey found that 55% of budtenders had left the cannabis industry for another job in a one-year period.

Hiring new employees is expensive. The average cost to hire a new budtender is about $4,000, and filling a new position can take an average of 42 days. Plus, the typical cost of turnover is 21% of an employee’s salary. Keeping your current staff will save you time and money.

Once you find amazing employees, it’s vital to retain them. Here are 7 ways to improve budtender retention and ensure that your treasured staff are excited to come in each day.

Start by Hiring the Right People

If you’re having issues with employee retention, consider whether you’re putting enough thought into who you hire in the first place. Choosing the faces of your cannabis dispensary is difficult, and hiring in this booming industry requires special attention.

Technology is improving all the time, and there are many tools that can help you track down the top talent. KayaPush offers industry-changing software that makes hiring and onboarding budtenders a breeze.

Screen your dispensary candidates with questions catered to the industry. You might want to know whether they have any cannabis experience or if they can explain the differences between sativa and indica. You should know what traits you’re looking for in a great budtender before you start the hiring process.

A smiling and happy budtender giving a thumbs up.

Offer Budtenders a Competitive Pay

Offering an attractive hourly rate is a fantastic way to attract quality candidates. Plus, if a budtender is well-paid, they’re much more likely to stay at your company for a long time.

The base rate will depend on many factors including:

  • Minimum wage and average wages in your area
  • Pay rates offered by dispensary competitors
  • Average tips at your location
  • Other benefits you’ll be offering
  • Your budget based on profits

It may be tempting to start your new hires out at minimum wage. However, this can be a mistake. You want to send the message to your employees that they work at a high-end establishment, and only offering minimum wage doesn’t distinguish your business from other service jobs. And you may have heard the phrase: “minimum wage, minimum effort”. 

In addition, you should be offering lucrative pay hikes during each employee’s career. If a budtender feels stagnant in their work, they’re much more likely to seek a job elsewhere.

Offer Great Benefits

Offering competitive benefits will go a long way in improving employee retention. They can help to increase mental wellness, aid with physical ailments, and most importantly, they show your employees that you care and are invested in their wellbeing. 

Some benefits you should consider offering include:

  • Overtime and holiday pay
  • Paid vacation
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Part-time options
  • Health insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Extended health benefits
  • Disability insurance
  • 401k or RRSP matching
  • Free samples
  • Free food/swag

If you don’t offer any benefits, consider upping your game. One study looked at why people quit their current job to find a new one, and 42% said they were seeking better benefits. Increased pay was the only reason that was more popular. Benefits may seem like an unnecessary cost, but they do a great deal to increase budtender retention.

A budtender is laying on a towel by a pool. Ample vacation time is a great way to increase retention

Streamline the Training Process with Budtender Retention in Mind

Dispensary owners want to make the best first impression on new employees. If you’re pulling out old dusty binders and out-of-date training software, it sends a message that you haven’t put a lot of work into making sure that your new budtenders succeed. And even worse, if you don’t offer any formal training, then you are setting up your team to fail.

KayaPush can help you simplify the onboarding and hiring process. It’s easy to use and allows employees to self-onboard, eliminating all of that paperwork on the first day. You can create and store standardized training documents, and you’ll be able to get new budtenders on the sales floor faster.

Reduce Workplace Stress to Increase Budtender Retention

Working in a dispensary can be stressful at times, but you should do what you can to keep your staff happy and relaxed. If coming into work every day makes your employees feel anxious or overwhelmed, they’re much more likely to quit.

Schedule enough people to cover each shift, especially on busy sales days and holidays. Tell managers to take over difficult clients to protect your budtenders and alleviate stress. Make expectations clear when assigning a task. Be understanding when an employee requests time off or needs to call in for a legitimate reason.

Even small steps like these can have a huge impact on budtender retention. When your employees feel safe, calm, and valued, they’re much more likely to stay with your company.

Provide Training & Educational Opportunities

Most of your employees won’t be budtenders forever. Many people want to become managers, move on to other jobs in the cannabis industry, or even start their own dispensaries. If they’re not given opportunities to grow, they’ll start to feel stagnant, which could encourage them leave your dispensary prematurely.

If a budtender expresses that they want to learn more about cannabis, you should absolutely do what you can to educate them and advance their career. You can help your employees attend conferences, take classes, and learn more about each brand, product, and strain that you sell. And when hiring for leadership positions, consider existing team members, especially those who want a career in cannabis. This will help them move up the career ladder at your dispensary, keeping budtender retention high.

A dispensary owner wearing a suit while training a new budtender. Training is important for retention

Gamify Sales

Working at your dispensary should be fun! Engaging your employees with new initiatives, products, and competitions can keep them happy and increase budtender retention.

Turning sales into a competition or game will increase morale and add spice to your employees’ work routines. You could pick a promotional product and give the person who sells the most items a prize. You might offer a swag package or gift card to the budtender who does the most upselling in a month. You could even offer to buy your whole team lunch if you reach a sales goal.

Need ideas for ways to gamify sales and make working at your dispensary more exciting? Ask for input from members of your staff. They probably have some great ideas, and getting their opinions will make them feel heard, which leads to increased employee retention.

KayaPush makes it easy to track your budtenders’ sales and monitor their performance. Using our proprietary software with our partnered integrations makes it much simpler to incentivize your staff and learn more about your sales and labor cost trends.

Final Thoughts on Keeping Your Best Buds

Outstanding budtenders are a huge asset to your dispensary. If you want to stay on top of budtender retention, you should treat them like they matter. Your budtenders should know that you value their contributions and care about them as people.

KayaPush’s cannabis software can help you hire new employees, onboard them, and track timesheets. Book a free demo today to start improving your employee retention!

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February 2023


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