As competition increases in the cannabis industry, retail and medical dispensaries need to differentiate themselves in order to gain new customers and earn continued loyalty from existing customers. The best brands will stand out in time, so it’s critical that dispensaries focus on delivering amazing customer experiences if they want to keep their doors open for years to come.
When business owners think about differentiation, the first things that comes to mind is often pricing, but there is so much more to positioning a brand so it stands out from competitors than price.
Delivering the best customer experiences is another extremely effective way to ensure your dispensary stands out from the crowd, and one of the ways you can do it is by ensuring your staff is highly professional in all of their customer interactions. Following are some tips to improve the professionalism of your cannabis dispensary staff.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 should 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
Bottom-line, 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.
Susan Gunelius, Lead Analyst for Cannabiz Media and author of Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide: 2017 Edition, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her 25-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.