Tether’s Budtender Appreciation Week is coming up from March 21st to 25th. This means there is no better time for cannabis retailers to turn their attention to their most valuable asset — and we aren’t talking about the bud. As the cannabis industry grows budtender education is top of mind.
Whether you have considered this or not, budtenders are the face of your company. They are the conduit between your company and the consumer. Above all, they drive sales, consumer loyalty, and your image. So, what are you doing to support, educate, and reward this valuable resource?
The Results Are in: Budtender Education, Engagement, and Advancement
Do you consider your frontline staff to be the backbone of your business? They keep customers happy, spending money, and coming back for more.
As Jay Rosethal from Business of Cannabis said in a recent interview with Marigold PR, “The critical gap between brands and consumers is that front line budtender.” If your frontline employees don’t have the skills, passion, and support to do their job, it will immediately impact your bottom line.
In early 2022, Tether, an online budtender community created by Marigold Marketing & PR, released the results of their industry survey. The survey set out to learn what budtenders want from their employers and the brands they sell and a little more about the demographic.
In February Cannabis Prospect Magazine reported the results from more than 300 Canada-wide responses and 70 in-store, in-person visits. According to the survey, budtenders want:
- Education through experience
- Industry advancement and improvement
- Community engagement
During the pandemic-related “Great Resignation,” it’s more imperative than ever to maintain your staff and keep them happy.
Supporting Your Budtender: What it Looks Like in Practice
Beyond the traditional methods of keeping staff happy (increased hourly rates and benefits), what are budtender-specific means of supporting your frontline staff?
Education Through Experience
So, let’s take a look at the first discovery from Tether’s survey, the “Education through experience” component. Seventy percent of budtenders agreed that there is a need for more in-depth product and industry education.
How can you teach your staff more about the products they sell, cultivation methods, and the industry as a whole?
Canadian cannabis brands are getting better at offering educational trips, farm tours, and industry parties. These sponsored events give your budtender education and insider experiences. They will learn more about the brands they sell and help them network with other people in the sector.
Katie Pringle of Marigold PR understands sending staff away on brand trips can be a challenge. She details, how “You are a small retailer. How many [staff] can you send to a career development opportunity? Probably all at once, probably on a Saturday, on the busiest day of the week?” It’s a balancing act, but one that helps budtenders sell better and develop stronger loyalty to your store.
According to the Tether survey, 80 percent of budtenders want to connect and build community within the industry and among other budtenders. Much like there is an established culture and community for bartenders, budtenders crave something similar.
Industry parties mentioned above are one such way to help your staff integrate within the industry at large and conferences, and exhibitions. So, think MJBiz Con, Lift, and other big events.
Therefore, it can do a lot of good to send your best and brightest customer service reps to these events, where they can learn about new trends, products, and more.
Finally, more than 50 percent of budtenders reported wanting to advance in the cannabis space. Another reported 25 percent seeking management or ownership roles. While not every employee will be a perfect candidate for career advancement, it is well worth investing in those who show potential.
Think about creating career advancement plans for stand-out budtenders. What goals do both of you share in the short and long term, and how can you work toward them together? If staff see a future with your store, they are more inclined to stay, feeding into staff retention, loyalty, and satisfaction.
A Few Additional Takeaways for Keeping Budtenders Happy
The Tether survey also elucidated additional industry facts about job perks worth mentioning. For example, 24 percent of Canadian budtenders are paid $20 an hour or more, with 24 percent receiving health benefits.
Another tidbit — 70 percent also get swag as a job perk. Combined with the fact that sampling is the number one way budtenders educate themselves on new products — this is a valuable and relatively affordable tool to use with your staff. As subject matter experts, budtender knowledge gets translated to your curious customers and converts into sales.
Invest in Budtender Education & Experience: Benefits Across Your Business
As Pringle stated, Canadian Budtenders “love the consumer, the product and the industry,” in a way unique to a retail position. This means, as a cannabis retailer you need to recognize, reward, and support this passion and consider it a critical business investment.
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