9 Tips To Find and Hire A Dispensary Dream Team

The stakes involved in hiring the right budtenders for your dispensary are high. If the process becomes too difficult or time-consuming, it might seem tempting to grab whoever is available.  But don't do it!

This shortsighted approach to dispensary hiring will likely lead to unnecessary turnover and a less than ideal customer experience. You want a retail dream team of knowledgeable, dedicated employees who will help your business thrive, and we're going to tell you how to make it happen.

If you are unsure where to begin, this article will help you find, foster, and retain a top-notch dispensary staff.  Read on for 9 hacks to ace the dispensary hiring process.


How to get dispensary hiring right.

When hiring a new employee, it's important to consider several things.
First, make sure the candidate has a passion for marijuana. Someone who has no interest in cannabis or does not smoke it themselves may have difficulty selling the product to others.

Next, look for someone friendly and outgoing. Potential employees who are uncomfortable speaking with customers or giving product recommendations won't be a good fit for your business.

Finally, ensure that all your employees are well-trained in customer service skills, compliance best practices, and know how to handle demanding customers politely and professionally. You want people who can help customers feel comfortable so that they'll come back again and again.

To attract high-quality applicants who are eager for dispensary work, try these nine tips:


1- Start with local connections.

When you first start hiring for your dispensary, your backyard is the most obvious place to look. You can start by asking around within your community or industry. It's always good to get a referral from someone who knows the person well, especially if they have worked together.

Try getting referrals from other local dispensaries or dispensaries in other states. You can also ask employees of other closely related businesses if they know anyone who might be interested in working at a marijuana dispensary.

It’s a great idea to get references from family and other people in the industry when hiring for your dispensary. If this is not an option for some reason, make sure that you do thorough background checks on all applicants before offering them a position. This process helps ensure that you're hiring trustworthy individuals who are unlikely to steal from you or cause problems for your business later down the road.

You may also want to consider hiring someone who has worked for a competitor. Hiring a former employee who has worked for a competitor could be an excellent way to train new, less experienced employees without breaking the bank.

dispensary dream team, budtender onboarding

2 - Ensure your budtenders are 21 years or older.

While it’s true that cannabis is recreationally legal in many states, like Colorado and Washington, hiring employees who are under the age of 21 can create a whole host of issues. 


First off, understand the laws in your state. A candidate needs to be at least 21 years old to work as a budtender in most cases. Employees under the age of 21 may not be able to work in cannabis stores due to federal laws that prohibit them from being hired by companies that sell or distribute marijuana. Although some states have exceptions for 18-year-olds working in the cannabis industry, in Colorado, for example, employees must be at least 21 years old to work at a dispensary.


It is also essential to hire people who are 21 or older for other reasons. It makes it easier for you to train them and educate them on the importance of compliance and other issues related to working in your dispensary.


By hiring people who have been around for a while and have some work experience, you will find that they tend to be more focused on their bud-tending responsibilities.

3 - Do a background check.

A background check is an easy way to help you weed through the potential candidates. You can easily find out if the candidate has a criminal record and will be able to tell if they have any negative feedback from previous jobs. In addition, this will help you avoid hiring someone who may steal from your business.

Hiring someone who has stolen from another company is one of the worst mistakes. Such a person will cause your business to lose money and damage your reputation in the community. You must avoid hiring these individuals at all costs because they will only harm your business.

In addition, a quality background check can save you from having to deal with costly lawsuits down the line because of employee theft or misconduct on the job site. 

When choosing which background check services, you should use, make sure they are reliable and trustworthy and, when they provide their results, they are accurate and true.



4 - Ask the right interview questions.

A crucial step in assembling a top-notch staff is communicating your hiring needs. In addition to evaluating your prospective employees' qualifications, you'll also want to assess their personalities during the interview process.


Every employee should be well versed in the cannabis industry and its products. They should also be able to speak intelligently about them. Test their knowledge by asking each candidate about their favorite strains or products. Follow up with some probing questions about why those products are so unique. 


Additionally, dig into their personalities by asking them about their past work experience and what they like and dislike about working in the cannabis industry. Try to get a sense of how they handle stressful situations and communicate with others.

Finally, get a sense of who they are as people by asking them about their personal goals, ambitions, and what they hope to achieve through this position. These questions will help you gauge whether they're qualified for the job and how well they'll fit in with the existing team dynamic.


Some budtender interview questions you should ask include:

  • How would you describe your work ethic?
  • What is your favorite part of the job and why?
  • What are you most proud of having accomplished at your last job?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an angry customer or employee, and how did you resolve it?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a team and how you contributed to that team's success?
  • Describe the best boss you've ever had and why they were great. What did they do differently than others in the same position or level?
  • Why do you want to work here at this dispensary location?

dispensary dream team, budtender onboarding

5 - Use HR tools designed for the cannabis industry.

An specialized hiring and onboarding service designed for cannabis businesses will help you find qualified candidates, screen them using pre-defined criteria and schedule interviews with only one click. They can also provide automated reminders for licenses and certifications, employee education, compliance, training, and payroll support.

Once you've found the perfect candidate, you can fill out all the necessary paperwork in one place. The online process saves time because all of your documents are available on one platform, so you don't have to search for anything outside your account.

The candidate then goes through an automated background check so that you can make sure they are qualified before extending an offer. Once hired, they will go through an automated training program that provides them with any necessary information they need to know about working at your dispensary. 

In addition to making sure your employees are qualified and educated, it is essential to track the vital compliance and personnel data needed to stay within legal guidelines. A professional dispensary HR solution can help you track employee applications. It can provide a qualified pool of candidates through its database.



6 - Help them understand your brand.

It's vital that everyone on your team understands and believes in the brand you're trying to create. How can they sell it if they don't understand what sets you apart from other dispensaries? 

Make sure everyone knows your core values and how they fit into the bigger picture of what you want to accomplish as an organization. If it's important to you that your brand portrays an environmentally sustainable image, make sure that potential employees will be able to relate. A great way to go about this could be to create a budtender manual to present when onboarding.

Here are a few ways to help your employees understand your dispensary brand:

  • Give them access to your marketing materials. Whether you've created a website or have a social media presence, make it easy for them to find information about your dispensary and its products.
  • Provide training sessions. It includes everything from explaining how to correctly answer customer inquiries to teaching them about different strains of marijuana.
  • Give them opportunities to network with other dispensaries and other professionals within the industry. It will help them stay up-to-date on trends and learn more about what's going on in their local market, which will help them better serve customers at your dispensary.
  • Give a clear vision. It's also vital that all employees have a clear vision of how they fit into the bigger picture at your dispensary. If other people are working alongside them at any given time, let them know who those people are and why they're essential.
  • Help them understand your product line. Give employees access to marketing materials explaining your inventory's products and their benefits. You might even consider giving them an overview of each product on a sheet of paper or in an email.

dispensary dream team, budtender onboarding

7 - Provide comprehensive training.

Once you've hired your team members, it's essential to provide them with comprehensive training. Remember that some of your employees will not have been working in a dispensary before they begin working for you. Therefore, it is up to you as the owner or manager to provide a training program that sets them up for success.

To ensure that your training program is comprehensive, include all the following points:


Provide in-store and online training

Some learning styles are better suited for online courses, and others are better suited for in-store courses. Try providing both, so that your team members can learn using their preferred method. Examples of online courses include Weed Academy, Cannabis Training University, and Green CulturED. In-store options can be customized to your business model and products but require more time from an instructor or educator.


Create a training checklist, manual, plan (or all three)

Develop checklists or manuals to ensure that all topics are discussed in the same manner by all instructors and educators. Putting together written materials will also help you avoid forgetting important information when conducting the training yourself.


Provide role-specific training

Depending on their role within the company, some employees may need more specialized training than others. For example, one of your employees working as a cashier or checker at your stores may need retail skills such as problem-solving and conflict resolution techniques. However, an employee working as a manager at your dispensary may need more specialized leadership skills like team management techniques.


Provide customizable training modules

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn't always work with employee training. Some employees may have different skill levels than others or need more time on topics, while others may need less time on them. By offering customizable modules, you can adapt your program to each employee's needs. The modules ensure they receive what they need when they need it.


8 - Have a successful on-the-first-day.

On the first day, give them a tour of the store and pick their brains about what they have done that was successful in previous jobs. Then, explain how to handle each task and make sure they understand it.


When you walk through tasks with your new employee, make sure you're clear about what you expect from them. Use positive language and examples when describing the job requirement. With firsthand information, it is easier for your new hire to get started on the right foot. It also helps keep them from making mistakes or feeling overwhelmed.


Use a checklist as a guide for your new employee's first day, so they know your expectations. The first few days will be critical in training your new employee. If they feel overwhelmed or uncertain about their role, they may not stick around long enough to become an integral part of your team.


However, try not to focus on the business side of things too much on day one. Instead, provide an environment where they can succeed in their new role by becoming familiar with the dispensary, its products, employees, and customers.

dispensary dream team, budtender onboarding

9 - Set clear expectations from the start.

Start as you wish to proceed. Although it may be tempting to avoid confrontation when building a team of enthusiastic and extraordinary individuals, letting things build up is a recipe for disaster.

New team members may need to be held accountable to produce great work. To keep things fair, you should be prepared to set clear expectations and enforce these expectations consistently and respectfully early on.


When hiring employees, you must find people who are passionate about what they do and who want to be there every day. If someone isn't working out for any other reason, something else behind the scenes may make them want to leave. Hiring someone who loves their job will make them want to stay at your business and become part of your dream team.


Finding and keeping great employees builds a dream team.

In overview, take your time to find out what's important to potential hires by asking why they're interested in working at your dispensary and their career goals. In addition to making sure they have a general interest in cannabis and its products, ask about previous experience in retail or customer service.


Once you've found some promising candidates, make them feel welcome during the onboarding process by planning social events for new hires. Provide training opportunities such as allowing them to shadow other employees or learn about products from distributors/vendors. 


Onboarding occasions will help ease any anxiety they might have about working at your dispensary. Once appropriately trained with product knowledge and best practices for working with customers in person or over the phone/email, they will be more likely to stick around.



Want to learn what you need to include in your budtender onboarding program? Download our free guide today!

budender onboarding checklist

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