How to Improve Cannabis Dispensary Staff Professionalism

Cannabis dispensaries and retailers must focus on delivering amazing customer experiences to stand out in an increasingly competitive industry. Delivering the best customer experiences is an extremely effective way to ensure your dispensary has a competitive advantage.

One of the ways you can give your dispensary an edge when it comes to delivering the best customer experiences is to ensure your staff is highly professional in all of their customer interactions. 

Following are some tips to improve the professionalism of your cannabis dispensary staff, so your business stands out for the right reasons.

Hire Carefully

Hiring employees can be a daunting task, but you need to commit to finding the right people, not just any able body. If you want customers to return to your dispensary and talk about how great it is with other people, then you need the right employees to create an environment that customers love.

Take your time, write very specific job ads and position descriptions, interview a lot of people, and hire not just for skills, experience, and knowledge, but also for cultural fit. The best candidate on paper may not have the right personality or level of professionalism to create the customer experiences you want your dispensary to be known for.

Offer the Right Perks

The world changed since the COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to work from home for more than a year. As a result, workers are looking for a different set of perks and benefits. To attract the best and most professional talent, consider offering flexible schedules and options to work from home.

The Wall Street Journal reports that remote work is the new signing bonus, so be prepared to shift your approach from just offering sign on bonuses to offering telecommuting and flexible schedules instead.

Onboard Thoroughly

Once you hire employees, don’t put them in front of customers without taking them through a thorough onboarding process. They need to understand not just the daily work-related processes of the dispensary but also sales, customer service, and other soft-skills procedures. They need to understand how you expect them to behave, the terminology they should use, how to handle difficult customers, and more.

In other words, you need to set clear expectations for your employees from the first day they work for you, and you need to give them clear procedures to follow to ensure they have the appropriate tools to meet your expectations.

Pay More

Think about your own shopping preferences. Would you pay more for a higher quality product and a better customer experience? Many people will, and that’s why it makes sense to pay more for higher quality employees who can deliver the highest quality experiences to your customers.

The simple fact is you can’t expect to attract the best candidates for the jobs you need to fill if you’re not paying more than your competitors. Show the best and most professional job candidates that you understand their value by paying them adequately.

Train and Educate Your Staff

You need to thoroughly train your staff on all dispensary processes, cannabis laws, compliance requirements, customer service processes, sales skills, and more. You also need to train them on all of the aspects of the products you sell. 

In addition to all of that training, you need to train your employees on acting professionally in all situations. This includes understanding other people’s sensitivities. 

For example, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet, and many people are still sensitive to social distancing and hand shaking. Train your employees to respect others’ personal bubbles and avoid doing things that could make them uncomfortable.

Keep in mind, training is not a one-time thing. You should continually invest in educating your staff. This includes re-training when it’s necessary.

Practice Behavior Modeling from the Top Down

Behavior modeling is a part of what psychiatrists refer to as Social Learning Theory. In simplest terms, behavior modeling is a type of observational learning where someone learns by watching what another person does and imitating their actions. 

Behavior modeling training has become a popular training method for workers and is known to help employees build skills, learn positive job behaviors and habits, and improve performance. However, behavior modeling isn’t just about formal training. It’s about walking the walk and talking the talk. It starts with leadership and trickles down to every employee.

Recognize Your Best Employees

If an employee delivers an amazing customer experience, acknowledge it. Recognition is important not only to show the employee that you’re aware of their efforts and appreciate them, but also to highlight behaviors that other employees should model.

Recognition doesn’t always have to come with monetary or material rewards, so make a habit of thanking your employees and telling them when they do a great job. Your words can go a long way in helping employees stay motivated, productive, and happy — and happy employees typically lead to happy customers.

Hold Your Staff Accountable for Quality

Quality applies to the products you sell as well as the experiences customers have with your employees’ behaviors and levels of professionalism. Use a post-purchase survey tool to collect feedback from your customers. You can install kiosks in your dispensary to gather in-store feedback, or you can share a link to an online survey on your receipts or through email marketing.

How do you know if your customers believe your dispensary is the best and your staff delivers the best experiences if you don’t ask them? Customer feedback data is critical to tracking how well your staff is doing in the eyes of your customers. It also provides a way for you to identify problems and solve them to improve customer retention.

Key Takeaways about Improving Cannabis Dispensary Staff Professionalism

You can’t expect employees to deliver the best customer experiences if you don’t hire the right people, take them through a comprehensive onboarding process, pay them well, educate them, recognize them, and hold them accountable for their behaviors. Professionalism can be learned, and it applies to every employee at every level.

Originally published 10/15/19. Updated 7/2/21.

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