How to Create a Budtender Onboarding Plan: 6 Elements for Success

Mack Bush
June 13, 2023

Hiring fantastic, passionate budtenders is one of the most important parts of owning a cannabis dispensary. Your staff is responsible for helping your customers learn about cannabis and working with them to select the best products. If your staff is not welcoming or knowledgable, customers are much less likely to visit your dispensary again.

In order to turn hires into top-notch employees, you need a strong budtender onboarding plan. Onboarding is the process of bringing a new employee into the company and familiarizing them with your policies. Since the onboarding process is the first interaction your budtenders will have with your company, it should be a positive experience.

Training your employees properly is an extremely important part of retaining them. Up to 55% of budtenders will quit and move on to another dispensary within the first 3-5 months of their employment. Since hiring and onboarding is a time-consuming and expensive process, you can make your life easier by creating a digital budtender onboarding plan that’s engaging and accessible. Cannabis employee management software may include digital onboarding in their services, making it simple and seamless to get started. 

What are the Benefits of Digital Onboarding?

There are several reasons to onboard your budtenders virtually. 

  • Digital, self-guided onboarding allows your new hire to complete all documents before their first day.
  • Paperless onboarding is environmentally-friendly, attracting younger generations.
  • You can easily manage all of your employees’ information in one place.
  • Track licenses and certificates with alerts for when they are expiring.
  • Track birthdays and anniversaries to boost morale.

Ready to start making a budtender onboarding plan? Here’s six things to include in your training program.

Brand Identity, Mission & Values

Familiarize your new budtenders with the reasons you opened a dispensary and what makes it unique. Your mission and values will help guide their behavior when talking to customers.

In addition, your budtenders should know your dispensary’s brand identity. Your brand identity may include your logo, colors, graphic design elements, and uniforms. Informing them about your brand identity will help to make a cohesive team.

Organizational Structure

Your new budtenders need to know the structure of your company. At the end of their budtender onboarding, they should know who they report to, both their direct supervisor and the management structure above them. The seniority levels of your other budtenders should be clear as well. 

Ensure they know how to request time off work and who to reach out to when they need to call in sick. They should be aware of who to talk to if they have complaints or issues with other staff members, too. Essentially, at the end of onboarding, your new budtender should know their main point of contact for every aspect of the business. 

A new budtender is meeting her team virtually as part of her digital onboarding plan.

Job Description & Expectations

Supply your employees with a thorough job description for their new position. It should detail their responsibilities and tasks in detail. Make sure you include everything they’re going to be asked to do, because an employee may refuse to do work that’s not in the official job description. The job description should closely reflect the job advertisement, because if there is a big discrepancy, your new budtenders may feel misled or exploited, which can lead to turnover

Clearly communicate all expectations of employees. Tell them what uniform to wear, what to do if they’re sick, and any disciplinary actions you’ll take if your standards aren’t met. This is the time to ensure they understand their job and the company’s rules so they can’t claim ignorance later. If you have a digital onboarding process, it’s easy to prove that a new employee was informed of the expectations during their training and there will be a document for them to review if ever needed.

Budtender Training

Each of your new employees needs to learn the basics of budtending before they can go out on the sales floor. However, it can be hard to learn these things theoretically without first-hand experience.

Some things you’ll need to teach new budtenders include:

  • Customer service skills
  • Compliance with cannabis laws and regulations
  • How to process transactions
  • How to use your software
  • Standard operating procedures
  • Opening and closing procedures
  • Company policies like refunds
  • Cash management
  • Upselling
  • Security measures

We recommend assigning each new employee to a current budtender or manager as a mentorship. The mentor can teach them new skills and rules as they come up, and your new employee can learn from the best.

A budtender is reviewing a cannabis product on a tablet.

Product Training

One of the most important budtender responsibilities is understanding cannabis and the products your store carries. Your staff is responsible for educating customers and finding the right cannabis options for each person. They need to be trained thoroughly during budtender onboarding so they can talk to anyone about your products.

Some cannabis topics your customers should learn include:

  • Brands you carry
  • Popular consumption methods
  • How to use your products
  • Accessories needed to use your products
  • THC vs CBD
  • Indica vs sativa vs hybrid
  • Terpenes and the entourage effect
  • Cannabis flower characteristics
  • Side effects
  • Dosage guidelines
  • Best strains/products for certain medical conditions (chronic pain, insomnia, etc)
  • Product prices
  • Common promotions and their stipulations

Some new hires may not have any of this knowledge when they start. You might want to have information prepared in your budtender onboarding plan so they can learn quickly and efficiently.

People are shopping in a dispensary.

Onboarding Timeline

You should have an idea of how long the onboarding process will last. While you probably want to get your new budtender to start working on the floor as soon as possible, it’s vital that they’re trained properly first. Create a timeline with tasks to complete each day, so that your new budtender knows what’s on tap for the day and if they are on track to complete their onboarding on time. Daily tasks also paces the training, so that your new hire isn’t overwhelmed on their first day. The best part of an onboarding timeline is that your trainer will know exactly what they need to teach each day, streamlining and simplifying the onboarding process.

Final Thoughts on Creating a Budtender Onboarding Plan

Creating a budtender onboarding program early in your dispensary’s operation ensures that you have a cohesive staff who understands your products and company’s mission. KayaPush’s digital budtender onboarding software can help make the onboading process fast and easy. Schedule a free demo today!

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June 2023


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