When it comes to the customer experience and sales, budtenders are one of the most important elements of your operation. These men and women often provide the first point of contact with a customer. They’re also the face of your dispensary – the image and brand you want to convey. Budtenders assist customers in numerous ways, recommending products and strains, answering questions and providing dosage suggestions.
The best budtenders naturally possess good social and communication skills, exude friendliness and warmth, and are readily approachable. But a good personality alone doesn’t move product. And while there are budtender certification courses, no one but you can provide the personalized training for your unique product offerings. This training instills confidence in budtenders, and translates into bigger transaction sizes. In fact, research shows budtenders that sell more are more likely to be long-term employees. Not a small point, when you consider the high turnover rate among cannabis bud-tenders.
What kind of budtender training should you provide? For the most part, a good blend of techniques and knowledge works best to create well-rounded budtenders that feel skilled and comfortable serving a variety of customers.
Cannabis budtenders should be as familiar as possible with your products. Teaching employees about the product offerings across the different categories is one of the most essential steps of the entire training process – after all, that’s why the customer is in your store in the first place.
Budtender training should focus on strains, effects, product origin and suggested dosages. Beyond that, budtenders need to prepare for questions. Remember, the cannabis industry is still new, there is an ever increasing number of new products, and many consumers need an education themselves.
Prepping new budtenders with this vital knowledge may seem like a daunting task, but it actually lends itself to some fun and easy memorization games during training. For example, the more experienced employees can quiz others. Challenge new budtenders to take time memorizing and reading on their own as well, and in the event of a customer question they cannot answer, ensure that they know who to ask at any given time in order to get an answer.
Have new hires shadow veteran employees to learn the ins-and-outs of budtending. Mentoring programs are a great way to ensure new budtenders don’t feel like they’ve been thrown into the deep end. Additionally, they foster cohesion and camaraderie among staff, as well as a sense of achievement and growth opportunity for experienced budtenders.
With data-driven retail analytics, owners can review transaction data for each budtender. You can review overall sales performance, average ticket size and brand affinities. The salesperson’s name is attached to each transaction, so you can easily pull this data to see an individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
If average ticket sales are small, you might focus budtender training on how to upsell customers. Teach what accessories and additional items pair well with certain products. If a budtender is selling too much of certain categories or brands, and too little of others, the culprit might be lack of knowledge.
Mining these insights can lead to highly personalized, data-driven training for staff that could make a big difference in improving overall store performance.
Budtender training is never done. Weekly meetings help address issues and encourage staff to ask questions. The industry is constantly shifting, and this could be an important time to share with them vital news about governing policies.
If you are keeping up with trends and shifting demographics, then you know your inventory is constantly evolving. Carve out time to educate budtenders about new products entering the store. At five-star restaurants, chefs often cook up meals for servers, letting them taste the dish as a whole, as well as learn about each individual ingredient. You can host similar hands-on educational meetings that will elevate budtender skills, making them first-hand experts.
In person meetings are a good time for role-playing games, as well. These activities help you assess budtenders’ customer service skills, and allow you to provide instant feedback. Role-play games are also useful at training staff on how to handle difficult customers or unsafe situations.
No-doubt, budtenders impact your bottom line. Investing the time and resources in budtender skills and training makes them effective and efficient salespeople – and better able to do the job they were hired for.
In summary, we suggest a blend of budtender training techniques focused on the following:
Knowing strains, effects, product origin, suggested dosage, and other key cannabis information
Memorization games, quizzing games, mentoring, educational materials.
Tracking overall sales performance, average ticket size, brand affinities, number of customers, product pairings, and other performance data to create customized training programs.
Data-driven retail analytic tools like Headset.
Keeping bud tenders up to date on new regulations and product launches, as well as maintaining and developing skills.
Staff meetings, product demos, role-playing.