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What Makes a Good Dispensary

What makes your dispensary a place worth raving about? Its actually a very basic equation. Apply it to your dispensary. Customers will keep coming back and thank you for it!

Dispensary owners always think that they have the formula for longevity and sustainability in the industry. However, any consumer knows that there are dispensary owners that know their business and run their operations in a manner that is conducive to business growth and promotion of the industry, and others that create an alienation out of the consumer in the focus on the sale-ability of he product – as compared to those that produce a consumer good with the intention of focusing on the user experience.

Here’s the things you’ve got to cover:

  1. Weigh the product at the time of sale
  2. Keep product in large jars and sell directly from them
  3. Know and promote your grow with product in large jars
  4. Have refill vape cartridges at a decent price
  5. Allow customers to re-use plastic bottles with quick-print sticker labels
  6. Treat people like they are on your level
  7. Don’t have too much flash
  8. Do have a super cool vibe
  9. Accept debit cards and give regulars discounts
  10. Pay your employees well and treat them like family

There are certainly other things that can enhance the retail experience you provide for your customers, and those extra courtesies are what will make you stand out. Just make sure you master these ten essentials first.

Weigh the product at the time of sale

This is the first and most basic tenant that all growers, dispensary owners, budtenders and customers should be active and vocal about, and possibly even build into regulation. Keeping the final processing of packaging at the time of sale is essential for many reasons. The first is that the budtender can create a perfect portion for the customer, and the customer can watch the pieces selected to inspect their product before they purchase it. My budtender always weighs my eighth over 4 grams for a set price listed on a laminated sheet on the counter – different quality of product is in a jar with a sticker color corresponding to the product’s tier (ie $35, $39, $43). So I can look at the top shelf and see how the batch went, and look at the bottom shelf to see what condition the surplus is in, think about the week ahead of me and decide which level eighth I want for the week. I feel comfortable with my purchase, and I trust my budtender will portion out the flower that she would like to have for the week. It creates a real loyalty of a customer to a shop.

Keep product in large jars and sell directly from them

This is another benefit of packaging at point of sale – allowing buds to settle into the final stage of their cure, in a large jar (approx 120 oz) with the rest of the stock that came to harvest at the same time. The customer can see a slice or section of each harvest, and get a true feel for what batch their portion is coming from. When retailers put out their choicest piece in a tiny sugar filed jar, it can be very misleading to the customer of what their pre-packaged opaque bottle contains. Far too many times have I returned home from shops like that, only to pour my wares on a scale and find that I’ve gotten less than an eighth for the price I paid, and when I complain there’s no one who cares or will listen. Lost customer. And don’t even get me started on budtenders that will argue with you about the weight of the stem. Don’t tell me about tests you’ve done to prove the weight of the stem is negligible in an eighth. Not only are you being condescending to your customer, but I have weighed stems as big as an entire gram before. I know how a scale works too, asshole. Lost customer. Of course the dispensary owner could argue that I had the opportunity to examine my purchase before I left the store with it. Outside of the fact that it sucks to pour your eighth in your hand before you choose it and/or walk out the door with it, but do they really want to start a precedent where the customer has to bring their own scale before they feel comfortable walking out the door? Of course not. Much better to just weigh it in front of them, and call it a day.

Know and promote your grow with product in large jars

If you’re proud of your growers and the product created under your ownership, then you should be eager to display your harvests in large glass jars. It is a very positive shared experience when your customers can look into the jar from a given crop, and see some distinct buds from different parts of the plant and get a feel for how many buds of varying size that strain produced. When I’m examining a strain, I’m taking all of these things into account. Smell, density, bud size, bud to leaf ratio, bud formation all factor into determining which of the available strains is going to match my needs for the week. Also, having consistency in the different batches of strains that you grow will help your customers get comfortable with some of their favorites, and learn more about themselves and their portions with being able to rely on a level of consistency. I’m also looking for signs of insects or other pests, or other things that might have caused the crop to undergo heavy doses of chemical to keep the crop on track to product. A lot of times it is the quality of the lower grade product that will encourage me to buy the higher quality product, and so long as there are times where I want to purchase the lower quality product (and I’m happy with it) then I feel like my grower and greenhouse managers know what they’re doing and I want to support them.

Have refill vape cartridges at a decent price that work

Every cartridge that vaped but didn’t produce a hit or didn’t properly vape in some way has jaded my confidence in the refill cartridges. However, I have found that there are a couple dispensaries that consistently produce refill cartridges that are as reliable as the name-brand O-pen Refills. These dispensaries deserve a reward for producing a quality alternative product at a bargain – your customer’s bank account thanks you, and this keeps them coming back for more – and of course purchasing other things.

Allow customers to re-use plastic bottles with quick-print sticker labels

Not only will this save you money on providing them, but this is the icing on the cake to the model of packaging your product at the point of sale – your customers can bring their black medicine bottles in. All you need to be prepared with to facilitate the transaction, is the ability to print labels based on what the weight of the product your budtender put on the scale. So often do I walk out of my beloved dispensary with a bottle that weighs 4.3 grams, and I really feel like I got a great value for my dollar. Not to mention, I’m not at all worried about the weight of the stems when I got more than the minimum weight. Contrary to this, it is equally important to sell your pre-roll joints in vacuum sealed packaging. Not only will this preserve the quality of the product, but it will deter any instinct to steal from your front house.

Treat people like they are on your level

Clearly from the rant above about stem weight, you can gather that there are some experiences that make customers feel like they are being condescended too. It can be very ego-boosting to be a budtender. Truly, some glam to that occupation – a dispensary owner actually entrusted you with the public face of their business, and to handle their product in a professional manner. That is pretty cool. This fact, however, does not make you the ultimate expert in smoking Marijuana, and it doesn’t warrant any pretentious behavior. This delivery of product and service comes from the way that the dispensary is run, and the way that the owner(s) operate. If you want to make sure that your storefront is legit, spend a couple shifts a week in the shop – either as a budtender on staff or siting in the background to observe. Working alongside your staff, and them listening to how you field questions and help customers will show them the way they should deal with customers. If you can’t be in the shop on a regular basis for whatever reason, then be sure to hire trustworthy managers

Don’t have too much flash

Its pretty simple, you’re not trying to confuse your audience. You’re not selling boats and cars, you’re selling a product that sells itself. No neon, and no boobs. Generally a good starting point. A little bit in the right way goes a long way. We found the pic for this blog, and it has neon. Just be tasteful, and use this form of marketing with some discreteness.

Do have a super cool vibe

My favorite dispensary has an arcade game in the super casual waiting room, which is also the same room as everything else. Its just chill, and the video game is fun. I’m saying there have been times I’ve let people buy weed before me so I could get to the next level in the arcade game. I mean, its free, and its a good game.

Accept debit cards and give regulars discounts

Last time I was in, I had a $3 decision to make. Sounds silly I know. I could have spent $3 in ATM fees to pull out $10 or to just swipe my debit card – that’s $3 vs $13 withdrawal. Soo, I’m out ahead, with two pre-rolls for $3, than cash in hand for $7 from the ATM.

Pay your employees well and treat them like family

Be prepared to pay a fair wage and provide benefits to your team. They represent you, and they oversee the quality of product that goes out your doors. Accompany this with well established boundaries and expectations for delivering quality from a smoothly run shop, and your employees will take pride in working for you.

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