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9 Ways to Be a Better Budtender

Budtenders may be low on the totem pole but their importance as first responders can't be overlooked.

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Budtending isn’t a job to be taken lightly. It’s not something you should pursue just because you have an enthusiasm for cannabis but rather it should be recognized as a vocation of sorts to bring something beneficial into people’s lives.

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Cannabis dispensaries are becoming more competitive as new markets emerge in recreational fronts, and budtenders are needing to pull up their socks to portray a professional, helpful image as the industry continues to sophisticate.

Are you new to budtending and ready to stand out amongst the crowd and rise amongst the dispensary staff ranks? Here are 10 tips that may help you:

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Comply or die

Don’t have your shop be the next Sweet Leaf, do your due diligence when loading pre-weighs or at point-of-sale distribution. Numbers matter, especially when compliance is at stake. Any dispensary staff member or management representative will agree that compliance is a tough game, but a necessary one. Don’t let compliance slip, or you could risk your job in serious ways. Engage in regular self-monitoring techniques to make sure you aren’t causing a discrepancy in any sales or inventory figures that could turn heads.

Be a docent of dosing

Cannabis products and labels have become so regulated that there should really be no question as to how much cannabis is contained within a dose of an edible or other concentrated product. When you see someone trying a new concentrate or edible product, ensure you have a conversation about dosing, and help them read the labels that show them exactly what they’re ingesting.

Know your customer

From cannabis moms to athletes who vape post-workout to the on-the-go professional who may like to slip something under her tongue on her commute, you should get to know how different people like to use cannabis and help them find products that match their everyday lifestyle.

Know your grow

It was recently shown that only 20 percent of budtenders have any form of medical education or training, yet over 90% give out medical advice. Know the limits of your scope of practice, but share what you know through a critical approach to reading cannabis research and always keep learning. 

Upsell -- thoughtfully 

Being in sales involves upselling, and these strategies are an important part of cannabis retail, yet don’t get into the habit of selling people stuff they won’t use. When upselling, put yourself in the shoes of the buyer, and picture them in their everyday environments (like in #3) and ensure that what you suggest will actually be of use, not just a way to get your sales up. You gain most trust that way with your customers.

Related: Entrepreneurship in Retail? You Got It, Just Follow These 5 Simple Rules!

Avoid fake news

Being a critical consumer of information surrounding cannabis means being careful about the language you use. Don’t make claims about products that you can’t substantiate with evidence or research when working with medical cannabis patients. For instance, if you say something “cures cancer”, you could be putting someone (and your store) at risk. Don’t get slapped by the FDA or any other governance that could put their eyes on you if you spread openly misleading information.

Protect yourself before you wreck yourself

You don’t want to be caught making a mistake a la Sweet Leaf by allowing something like customer looping and risk your cannabis dispensary’s operations. In this industry, customers will feel entitled to something even if compliance says they are not. Allowing customers to buy over legal limits is a good way to get fined and or shut down.

Work your next job

If you are interested to make a career in the cannabis industry, you have to show motivation and take initiative to stand out. Budtenders have become a dime a dozen, but not all will have the opportunity to eventually cash in on the lucrativeness of cannabis. Seek mentorship. Ask questions. Seek internal advancement. Ask for training and development. Your employer will take notice and opportunities will come your way.

Don't be a stereotype stoner

Sure the Kathy Bates Disjointed character is charmingly funny as a hippie dispensary owner, but it doesn’t do much to move stigmas around cannabis to get rid of old perceptions. Smash stigmas by showing a fresh and new, poised, and professional cannabis staff.

The cannabis industry is moving away from hippies, stoners, and druggies, and more into the sophisticated, new, fresh-face of cannabis. As cannabis becomes more talked about, and accepted, you will be approached by groups of people you may be surprised to see in a dispensary, but nevertheless deserve great service. Be professional, show your knowledge, and help smash negative perceptions of the legal industry by doing something like coming into work stoned. With a highly regulated, competitive, and lucrative industry, professionalism is always appreciated and noticed by the discretionary consumer.

Related: Cannabis Culture Is Fast Becoming Corporate Culture

We are at a time where cannabis employment will be at an all-time high, yet more people will be competing for available jobs in the cannabis industry. Don’t miss the bus for an opportunity for success by being a sub-par cannabis dispensary employee. By following these 10 steps, and incorporating the internal strategies of your dispensary you joined for success, you will be on your way to a glowing career in the cannabis retail space.