Tom and Maria discuss some of the most important insights from our recent cannabis industry seminars that we hosted in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Portland, Maine.
We joined with our partners across the country to share growth techniques to successfully launch and grow a dispensary. It was fantastic to connect with cannabis retailers and hear their stories.
Tom Mulhern: Maria, one of the best parts of our job or any job really is traveling. And I'm so excited cuz this past week I was spending some time in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Portland, Maine. And I don't know about you, but when I get on the road, I have to try out the local foods. So what do you think the local foods are in Albuquerque and Maine?
They're very different types of foods. What are they known for?
Maria McCliggott: I literally have no idea for Albuquerque like Mexican food, maybe
Tom Mulhern: In Albuquerque, New Mexico, they're known for, they're known for breaking bad, but they're also known that's not a food. They're also known for chilies. So everywhere we went, they said, you've gotta try the chilies. You gotta try these chilies. They're so good. So they grow at a certain altitude up there. in Albuquerque we had amazing chilies. And what do you think Maine is?
Maria McCliggott: It's gotta be some sort of seafood.
Tom Mulhern: Lobsters? Yes we had to have the local, had to have the local lobsters there and that was the meal was just two lobsters on a steel plate. That's it that's all we had. But the reason we were traveling was we were meeting with some local dispensaries and local business owners in Maine and New Mexico, trying to help them to successfully launch a new dispensary or new cannabis retail business.
And it was really great to meet some people out on the road.
Maria McCliggott: Awesome. So who are the speakers at the event?
Tom Mulhern: We had some of our partners that came and spoke. We had Gary, the CEO of Cova we actually had different accountants. So we had Naomi from NACAT Pros. Who's an accountant for cannabis, retail businesses. As well, we had Christine from Cultivate Consulting and it was really interesting having two different accountants.
They were saying the same sort of thing to both audiences that really having. Your your accountant, that's working for you. They need to be trained in cannabis legislation. And so having someone that knows what they're talking about when it comes to cannabis is so key as well. We had bud sense our buddy Kirk, over at bud sense, and he spoke about kind of customer experience.
And then lastly, we had Tommy Truong the CEO of our company, Kaya Push. And he spoke all about employee engagement and that's like his that's his passion, his employee engagement. So it was pretty cool.
Maria McCliggott: That's awesome. It sounds very interesting. Did you learn anything new while you were at the event.
Tom Mulhern: Something new that we learned was that really all of these different cannabis businesses are wrestling with the same thing and probably for businesses that are trying to open the biggest issue they're running into. And we find this across the board, not only in New Mexico and Maine, these newer areas, but people are just confused when it comes to some of those accounting practices and HR and payroll, and, especially for Naomi and Christine, we had long lineups after the event of people saying, Hey, I really need some help with this.
And when you're early in that process, like getting those correct SOPs in place is so key. And so I think that was, for me, that was one of the most illuminating things was just that everyone who's starting is wrestling with these same questions of how do I do this? Like, how do I even get started in this? It's not like opening a pizza shop or something. There's so much legislation and there's so much things you can do and things you can't do. We definitely had that same conversation over and over.
Maria McCliggott: Yeah, I bet. Especially because it's so different between every state and then even certain cities have their own legislations surrounding cannabis. So it's gotta be really hard. To start from the ground up.
Tom Mulhern: And starting from the ground up in a smart way. You can just get moving forward with your business, but it's not gonna last very long because you're gonna, hit some sort of barrier or some wall that really there's no turning back from.
And so starting, whether that's starting with your accounting or starting with your security or even location, your paperwork, your application, all of those things, having a fresh start and getting insights from people who really know what they're talking about when it comes to cannabis.
We all have that one person that's like, I, I could build you a website. You don't want that type of help when you're getting started. Maybe once you're moving forward. And you can bring some people in like that who are newer in the industry, but that was probably the biggest insight was that you gotta start with people that know what they're.
Maria McCliggott: So if your buddy says that they can do your taxes for your cannabis business, you should probably just say no,
Tom Mulhern: Run the opposite direction, run the opposite way.
Maria McCliggott: Sounds like a valuable takeaway from the event. Was it just prospective dispensary owners that came to the event.
Tom Mulhern: You know what? We really had such a mix. In Albuquerque, we had one gentleman that was opening an infused restaurant. His dream was to have a full culinary experience where he, matches different strains and different infused dishes with. A full cannabis experience.
So we, we had people like that. We talked to delivery businesses in Maine. We talked to one company that actually uses CO2 for extraction. Uh, Cannabis for, you know, vape pens and, and oils and all sorts of things.
So yeah, it really was a gamut of different people and it really showed the breadth of people that are in the cannabis industry, from dispensaries to uh, people management, to, scientific engineers who are figuring out how to make the product. There really is this large mix of people that are out there.
So it was really cool to see.
Maria McCliggott: Wow. So it sounds like a lot of different people came and it really goes to show that how valuable this information can be, not just for dispensary owners, but the. Industry as a whole, because all of the different regulations generally affect the entire industry.
Tom Mulhern: Yeah. And I think what we learned too is. Getting together with people in the industry, this mixer, it was a smaller mixer, but like the seminars really brought together people who had never met, even though they live in the same town and they're doing the same thing they've never met.
So I think my encouragement to different cannabis retailers out there is get out and meet the people in our community. We talk to so many people who talk about how cannabis industry is such like a family or like a small community. And so my encouragement is to go out to those events.
And, if you've got it, go out to MJ BizCom and meet, walk the floor and meet all the people or go to some of the local events that are happening in your community and really connect with the people that are doing the same work as you that's. That's so important.
Maria McCliggott: Yeah. It's especially in an industry like this, where everything seems to be against you. We definitely need to come together and you gotta work with your neighbors and try to just create that community.
Tom Mulhern: And that's what we try and do with Kaya Push too, is we've found that we can't do it all. And so working with partners and working with dispensary, and really working together makes things better.
Maria McCliggott: It sounds so great that you could just get the cannabis community to actually come together in a physical space and meet. And I know that we're hoping to do more events like this in the future and hopefully more and more of cannabis professionals are gonna be joining.
Tom Mulhern: We really want to be a voice in the cannabis community, business community. That's trying. Bring good back into what we're doing and to work together, to help people be more effective at launching their businesses, but also effective at growing and scaling those businesses. So we're definitely gonna be out at some of the events happening if you are out at those events, be sure to say hi to myself or Tommy or anyone from the Kaya team.
Maria McCliggott: So Tom, I have to know what was the main takeaway from the event?
Tom Mulhern: I would say that the main takeaway is. Everybody is trying to solve two issues in the cannabis industry right now. One of the issues, obviously, like I said, was the accounting and trying to figure out how to do payroll and how to, manage your employees.
But I think another huge issue that we talked about with everyone from Gary at Cova to Kirk from Budsense was really how do we help dispensaries with that employee engagement? Because there's such a turnover rate right now. And we talk about this on the podcast all the time, this turnover rate with bud tenderers, and we had so many conversations of how to find good talent and how to keep them.
Tommy actually had some really great insights on how to really, make your retail business successful and how to keep people engaged. But I think that was a, that was the main takeaway is that we're all trying to figure this out. Even in the cannabis tech industry, like this is an issue that we're dealing with right now is how do we keep our teams engaged, excited, because we work in like one of the fun industries, there's amusement, parks, cannabis, like the . I can't think of other fun things, but it's a fun industry and we want people to be engaged, you know?
Maria McCliggott: bud tenders just right up there with rollercoaster operator, for sure.
Tom Mulhern: It's pretty similar. If you get the right product in the hands of the right people, it is a really similar
Maria McCliggott: Turnover is huge. And budtender turnover rate is about 55% a year, which is a massive number. So anything that we can do to get that down is great.
It's so great to see all these educated and professional people coming together and breaking that stigma of the industry and showing that it can be this money making professional business.
Tom Mulhern: Yeah, and that stigma is still there. You know, I was talking to a couple that is, they're opening a dispensary in their local town and they're fighting, the local government they're fighting zoning laws. They're even fighting with family members who have this huge stigma. On what they're doing.
And, I think the future of our industry really is when it becomes central to everyone's life, because the plant that we're selling, is such a powerful, has so many benefits. And I think being able to work together to drop that stigma is really the future of our industry.
Maria, I have a question for you. Maybe your listeners don't know this, but you don't live in Canada or north America. Where do you live?
Maria McCliggott: I am currently living in the south of France.
Tom Mulhern: Okay. So now you're living in the south of France. So I talked about, peppers and I talked about the lobsters in Maine. What is your favorite local delicacy there in the south of France?
Maria McCliggott: That's a good question. There's so much good food here, obviously. And it's really not a stereotype that they eat baguettes every day. So we eat them every day. And that is definitely one of my favorite things about France, but one of the local foods that's really good is the Booo base. And it's like the seafood stew.
It's just about an hour away from us is the main place to get it. And it is so good.
Tom Mulhern: That sounds good and fresh and tasty.
Maria McCliggott: Straight from the Mediterranean.