Hiring a Dispensary Manager: How to Recruit a High-Performer

Emily Kho
May 3, 2023

The green rush is in full swing as the legal cannabis industry explodes with growth, and with competition between dispensaries heating up, every aspect of business becomes crucial. 

One hire that can truly make or break a dispensary's success is the dispensary manager. Acting as the driving force behind the team, the dispensary manager is a pivotal player in the race to the top of the industry. Not surprisingly, the hiring process for a dispensary manager should not be taken lightly.

In this article, we will discuss the role of a dispensary manager, their compensation, qualifications, when to start hiring, recruitment, and tips for training and onboarding.

The Role of a Dispensary Manager

The dispensary manager oversees daily operations and ensures that the dispensary operates smoothly and efficiently while providing a high-quality customer experience. In addition to these duties, a dispensary manager is responsible for managing inventory, ordering supplies, supervising, training, scheduling staff, and ensuring compliance with state and local regulations.

They are responsible for providing exceptional customer service and ensuring all customers have a positive experience. They must also maintain a thorough knowledge of cannabis products to share with their team and customers .

Beyond these general tasks, are four key responsibilities that will define the success of your dispensary. A high-performing dispensary manager should be able to:

  1. Manage their team effectively
  2. Foster a gamified environment
  3. Instill customer-centric values
  4. Recognize employees’ strengths and wins 

Your dispensary manager is the glue to your team. They motivate and train budtenders, incentive their staff to hit sales goals, and set the tone for how customers should be treated. Budtenders, especially those new to the industry, will look up to their manager for guidance and support. A poor manager can lead to high turnover, low sales, and a negative brand reputation, whereas an inspirational manager can make even the toughest days enjoyable. The dispensary manager truly shapes how the dispensary operates, making it the most critical role to a dispensary's success.

A dispensary manager is training his team.

Dispensary Manager Compensation

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a dispensary manager in the United States is approximately $55,851 per year. However, salaries can vary greatly depending on specific circumstances, including:

  • The location of the dispensary
  • The size of the dispensary
  • The experience level of the manager

Some dispensaries may offer their managers additional benefits such as health insurance or extended health benefits, bonuses, paid time off, profit-sharing, and retirement plans. To recruit top talent, it is recommended to pay above the average and to offer a comprehensive compensation package.

Is Prior Cannabis Experience Required?

While prior cannabis experience is not always required, it can be beneficial. A dispensary manager must have extensive knowledge of cannabis products, strains, and effects. 

If a candidate has previous experience working in the cannabis industry, they may have an advantage in understanding the nuances of the industry. However, considering how new the legal cannabis industry is, prior cannabis experience is not always possible. Candidates may have previous experience in retail management, customer service, or other related fields. 

Ultimately, a dedicated dispensary manager should take it upon themselves to thoroughly learn and understand the industry. This can be accomplished by:

  • Researching and learning: Start by doing some research on the industry as a whole, including the history of cannabis, different strains, and consumption methods. Make sure to read up on regulations at both the state and federal levels, and keep up with any updates or changes.
  • Gaining hands-on experience: One of the best ways to learn about cannabis is by experiencing it for yourself. Visit other dispensaries, try different products, familiarize yourself with the terminology, and prepare for common customer questions.
  • Building relationships: As a dispensary manager, you'll be working with a variety of people, from vendors to customers to other industry professionals. Take the time to build relationships with these people and network within the industry.
  • Staying up to date on trends: The cannabis industry is constantly evolving, with new products and trends emerging all the time. Stay up to date on these trends by attending conferences and events, listening to cannabis podcasts, and subscribing to cannabis blogs or publications.

By following these tips, new dispensary managers can quickly get up to speed and make a positive impact on their dispensary's success.

Qualifications of a Dispensary Manager

A successful dispensary manager should have excellent leadership and management skills. They must also be able to:

  • Communicate effectively with staff and customers
  • Recruit, onboard, and train new employees
  • Motivate and lead their team
  • Problem-solve and remain calm under pressure
  • Create a team environment that encourages retention
  • Manage inventory
  • Maintain compliance with state and local regulations
  • Educate their staff on policies, products, and industry knowledge
  • Provide feedback and coaching to team members, especially those who are underperforming

Additionally, they should have strong organizational skills and attention to detail. A bachelor's degree in business administration, marketing, or a related field is also desirable.

Ultimately, team management and customer service are critical to this role. After all, it will fall upon the responsibilities of the dispensary manager to run a successful business. Similarly, it will be your manager's duty to create and foster an environment where employees are engaged. A successful dispensary manager can increase employee retention while exceeding sales targets. 

A dispensary manager's resume.

When Should You Start Hiring?

Your dispensary manager is the most important hire for a dispensary, since they will be the person to build and shape the team. You do not want to rush this hire, which is why it is recommended to start recruiting early, so that you can select the best candidate. 

The hiring process can take several weeks or months, depending on the availability of qualified candidates. You will also want to schedule additional time for training and onboarding before opening. This is a position where it is better to hire too early, instead of too late.

How to Recruit a Dispensary Manager

Recruiting a dispensary manager requires a targeted approach. Utilizing online job boards and social media platforms can effectively reach potential candidates. Additionally, cannabis industry organizations and networking events can provide opportunities to connect with qualified candidates. 

If you’re having trouble finding someone within the industry, consider candidates with retail experience in an environment that is sales-driven and customer-oriented. For example, the cellphone industry draws many parallels to the cannabis space. Both have competitive sales targets, a small retail space, and require specialized knowledge. A manager who can operate a thriving cellphone retail business can very likely do the same for your dispensary.

A dispensary manager is interviewing for the position.

Training and Onboarding a Dispensary Manager

Training and onboarding are critical to the success of a dispensary manager. Providing a comprehensive training program that covers product knowledge, compliance, and customer service is essential. You should also provide an overview of the dispensary's brand, target audience, and sales approach. If feasible, send your new dispensary manager to local cannabis conferences and events so that they can become immersed in the industry and start making connections.

Additionally, ensuring that the manager is familiar with the dispensary's policies and procedures is critical to their success. Providing ongoing training and support can also help the manager to continue to grow and develop in their role.

Creating an Engaging Environment

Aside from the basics, dispensary hiring should always include management that has experience with creating an engaging environment for employees. Managers should ensure that their employees understand their KPIs, goals, and targets. According to statistics produced by Gallup, employees that have a target benchmark are 17 times more likely to be engaged. 

Dispensary Hiring with KayaPush

Hiring a dispensary manager is a critical decision that should not be taken lightly. The manager is responsible for ensuring that the dispensary operates smoothly, provides excellent customer service, and maintains compliance with state and local regulations. 

To ensure the success of the manager and the dispensary:

  • Start the hiring process early
  • Recruit strategically
  • Provide comprehensive training and support

At KayaPush, we understand the importance of hiring a qualified and experienced dispensary manager. That is why we offer a range of services to help dispensaries find and retain the right candidates for this critical role. And once you find your budding manager, we can make their life easier. From recruitment to payroll, we can streamline your operations, so that your manager can focus on building customer relationships.

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May 2023


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