How to Prepare Your California Dispensary for 420

Shruti Tangirala
March 13, 2024

California stands as a leader in the dynamic landscape of the cannabis industry. Despite facing challenges due to the pandemic, the state's cannabis market continues to thrive. With the state’s market size valued at approximately $324.33 million in sales as of February 2024, it boasts impressive sales figures and a loyal consumer base. As 420 approaches, it is crucial to prepare your California dispensary to capitalize on this holiday, maximizing 420 sales and ensuring seamless operations.

But First…A Brief History of 420 in California

Among the many myths of the origins of 420, the day originated in California during the 1970s, when a group of high school friends consumed cannabis at 4:20 p.m. each day, thus coining the term “420”. Years later, one member of the group landed a job as a roadie for Grateful Dead’s bassist Phil Lesh. In 1990, a group of Grateful Dead fans began distributing flyers inviting people to consume “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. In the following year, High Times magazine printed a copy of the flyer, which contributed to the association between 420 and cannabis consumption, eventually solidifying its status as an iconic part of American culture. 

In recent years, California has hosted a range of events for 420, among which Hippie Hill stands out as the world's oldest and largest 420 celebration. Held in San Francisco since the 1970s, this event has grown substantially over the years, attracting tens of thousands of attendees from diverse locations to celebrate the freedom to use cannabis.

A photo of people gathered for 420 Hippie Hill in San Francisco, to enjoy cannabis and music.

420 Sales Projections for 2024

On April 20, 2023, cannabis dispensaries in the United States made an average gross profit of $4,300, making it the largest cannabis sales day in legal history to date. With 420 falling on a Saturday this year, 420 2024 is expected to be the biggest and most profitable to date. Americans are estimated to spend nearly $130 million on April 20, 2024! 

Taking a look at the US cannabis industry as a whole, the United States is expected to lead global cannabis revenue, with per-person spending estimated at US$116.60 in 2024. Meanwhile, California’s licensed retailers reported a total of $5.1 billion in taxable cannabis sales in 2023 and saw approximately 15.31 million units sold in February 2024, which highlights the Golden State’s thriving cannabis industry.

If you’re a dispensary owner looking to maximize sales while ensuring seamless operations during this unofficial holiday, here are 10 tips to prepare your California dispensary for 420.

A banner ad to download a collection of 420 checklists.

10 Ways to Prepare Your California Dispensary for 420 

1. Start Planning Early

One can never start planning for 420 too early. To prepare for this year's 420 event, it's important to analyze sales data from last year. Identify which products sold well and which ones didn't, and use this information to forecast popular products for this year. It’s best to compare last year’s data with your current sales. Have any new products been selling like crazy, or are you getting frequent requests for a specific brand? You’ll want to make sure you’re well-stocked in these products. Your inventory management software or POS may even offer calculated predictions based on past and recent purchases, making this step a breeze.

2. Stock Up and Secure Inventory

Ensure you have enough stock for the entire month leading up to 420. Explore catering to a more diverse crowd than your regulars by stocking up on a variety of products across all categories and price points. 

And don’t forget to prepare for online, delivery, and pick-up orders! Allowing customers to schedule orders in advance for pick-up or delivery can help manage customer flow and reduce your staff’s workload.

3. Optimize Your Dispensary Layout

You will need a top-notch strategy to maximize profits, outperform competitors, and retain customer loyalty. Optimize your store layout for 420 by implementing Costco-style price anchoring to significantly influence customer perception and behavior. Strategically placing high-cost products near the entrance of your store sets a pricing benchmark for your customers. As they continue to shop, they will see other products as bargains compared to the initial high-priced items, leading to increased sales in your dispensary.

Managing customer flow is also key, especially during busy times. Make sure your store layout allows customers to move freely and access products. Clear signage will help customers find what they are looking for quickly and avoid confusion. Additionally, consider placing tablets by large displays for immediate purchasing, reducing wait times and staff load.

These tactics, combined with strike-through pricing, tiered pricing, and product grouping strategies, can influence customers' perception of value and willingness to buy products, ultimately boosting sales.

A cabinet with cannabis products at a California dispensary exhibiting Costco-style price anchoring.

4. Determine Promotional Pricing and Plan Events

Customers always love a good deal, which is why you should consider implementing promotional pricing strategies like bundle deals, freebies, and limited-time offers. Bundle deals encourage larger purchases, while freebies can enhance the experience of your customers. 

You can also offer special discounts for the first 42 customers. Another option is to have limited-time offers, which create urgency and lead to immediate action. All of these strategies can increase foot traffic, build customer loyalty, and ultimately drive sales for your dispensary.

5. Create a 420 Marketing Plan

A well-thought-out marketing strategy will help you stand out from the competition while boosting sales. Generate excitement within your current and potential customer base with a solid marketing plan leading up to 420 with these tips:

  • Refresh your website to feature your exciting 420 promotions.
  • Run email campaigns offering exclusive promotions to your subscribers. 
  • Start conversations on social media through discussions or Q&As.
  • Reach out to your customers with enticing offers through SMS marketing.
  • Create in-store promotions and distribute flyers to attract foot traffic.
  • Use customer data to segment your audiences and personalize your marketing campaigns. 

Ensure you’re prepared to maximize sales and engage customers with your marketing plan by downloading our 420 marketing checklist!

An ad to download 6 420 checklists for your California dispensary.

6. Ensure Your California Dispensary is Well-Staffed

420 will be the busiest day of the year, which is why it’s so important to ensure that you are properly staffed. You’ll need enough budtenders, security guards, cashiers, and delivery drivers to handle the increased demand. 

To increase the quality of your customer service, consider hiring seasonal workers to help manage the influx of buyers and reduce wait times. For optimal staffing in your California dispensary consider leveraging a scheduling software tailored for cannabis dispensaries. This will allow you to efficiently manage employee shifts, track hours, and streamline scheduling. You will be able to ensure that you have the right staff in place at all times, reduce scheduling errors, and improve overall efficiency in your dispensary, all while staying compliant.

7. Review Labor and Compliance Laws

Owning a dispensary isn’t always fun and games. Navigating labor laws is just as important for your California dispensary on 420, as it is all year round, especially with the state's strict regulations. 

Here are key California laws and regulations to keep in mind:

  • Employees in the cannabis industry must be at least 21 years old. 
  • Certifications aren't mandatory, but you need a valid seller's permit.
  • Background checks are permitted as long as you adhere to the Ban the Box law.
  • Maintain a safe work environment with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines and security measures. 

Learn more about California’s cannabis laws here.

8. Host 420 Training Sessions for Your Staff

Host training sessions for your staff, where they can learn the ins and outs of cannabis compliance, understand promotions and discounts, and role-play customer interactions. It's all about making sure your team is ready to provide the best service. Focus on helping your staff understand how to recommend products based on customer needs. A well-trained budtender can make all the difference, guiding customers through strains and products, whether they're newcomers or seasoned users.

Don't be shy about encouraging your team to upsell or showcase new products, but make sure their advice is always genuine. You want to build trust with your customers, not just make a sale. Each customer has unique needs and desires, so train your staff on how to offer customized recommendations. Every customer interaction counts because every new customer on 420 is a potential repeat customer! Learn all about retaining your 420 customers here. 

A budtender at a California dispensary is helping a customer pick out a product on 420.

9. Implement Increased Security 

Given the high volume of customers and the potential for increased foot traffic, you need to have a comprehensive security plan for your dispensary on 420. This is essential to ensure the safety of your staff, customers, and products. Restricting access to authorized personnel in restricted areas and implementing key card badge systems can help ensure compliance with state requirements and effectively track employee movements.

Video surveillance is a must, covering all crucial areas like entry points, product handling areas, and limited-access zones. The footage should be of high quality, stored securely for at least 90 days, and accessible to regulatory authorities. Hiring security guards, using commercial-grade locks, and having a licensed alarm system are also components that help ensure the safety of your dispensary.

10. Develop a Contingency Plan for Emergencies

Being a cannabis dispensary owner in California comes with the risks of potential outages, medical emergencies, or even robberies. Have backup plans for power outages or tech failures, ensuring you can still process transactions and maintain security. Train your staff on how to handle medical emergencies, and have clear protocols in place for robbery scenarios, including ensuring staff safety and contacting the authorities. Being prepared for these scenarios can help you navigate 420 and beyond smoothly.

Final Thoughts on Preparing Your California Dispensary for 420

As California's cannabis market continues to flourish, preparing your dispensary for 420 is crucial. By analyzing sales data, stocking up on popular products, and optimizing your store layout, you can ensure a successful 420 season. Streamline your operations by planning promotions, ensuring proper staffing, and complying with labor laws. And don’t overlook the importance of enhancing security measures and having contingency plans in place for emergencies! With these steps, your dispensary will be well-prepared to make the most of the 420 season. 

Maximize your dispensary’s efficacy and compliance with KayaPush's all-in-one people management software. Our platform offers auto-generated schedules, budget optimization, templates, and mobile app access, saving you time and effort. With features like alerts for non-compliant schedules, you can ensure that your dispensary operates smoothly and within legal guidelines. By combining careful preparation with the right tools, your California dispensary can make the most of this holiday and impress your customers.

To explore the possibilities of strain-free HR this 420 season and beyond, book a demo with KayaPush!

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