Cannabis Branding Starts with Building a Team of Rockstar Employees

As the cannabis industry continues to expand, marijuana entrepreneurs find themselves facing some of the “good problems” that success brings. One of those is providing human resource services to their growing number of employees and developing ways to attract and keep talented workers.

That can prove a formidable task, especially for those new to running a business. Thankfully, one of the many service areas where companies have emerged to support the cannabis industry is human resources.

A leader in this emerging field is CEDR HR Solutions, a Tucson, Arizona-based company with years of experience providing HR solutions to private dental and medical practices, that is now expanding into the cannabis industry.

The company trumpets the claim that “better workplaces make better lives” in its regular communications and, with the level of professional support they are able to offer business owners, it’s easy to see why.

People Are the Key to a Brand’s Success

Branding is big in the cannabis industry right now. Companies are researching how to make the best logos, get celebrity endorsements, and design the most attractive packaging for their products. But, while great products and unified aesthetics are important, the key to building a successful cannabis brand are the people who work there.

It’s an issue that some businesses may not have addressed, even though employees are a customer’s first point of contact with a dispensary. They can make or break a sale and, if properly trained, provide the type of service that leads to long-time customers.

A study by Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research found that only 55% of dispensary staff reported having received training for their job and fewer still had any kind of medical-related training. Yet, almost all of them were making recommendations to customers and patients on what to buy.

That said, it’s easy to see how knowledgeable employees who make a connection with customers can boost a business above the competition. CEDR calls such employees “difference makers.”

Employees Are The Most Valuable Differentiating Factor in Cannabis Retail

Experts in the industry agree with the assessment that “human capital” is the most crucial factor in making a business standout. This can especially prove true in an industry such as cannabis, where the competition to attract consumers is particularly fierce.

Katherine Long, CEO of the branding agency Illustria, told Ganjapreneur that “brand” is actually the “sum total of all that you do.” She said it goes beyond just the design of a logo or what the packaging looks like for your cannabis products.

She said, “Even if you cannot yet engage an agency, you can still think about your brand and customer experience at every touchpoint. Even something simple like choosing to invest in a customer care line, thinking about how you talk to your customers, that all affects your brand. Own your brand before others start defining your brand for you.”

In other words, whether owners and managers are leveraging their full potential or not, employees are a key differentiating force for consumers comparing dispensaries.

Gregory Fleming, CEO of Uncle Ike’s in Seattle, told Seattle Central College that team members must have knowledge on all the strains available in a retail establishment. These may number in the hundreds, depending on the size of the dispensary.

“If you can’t tell a customer how the product they want to buy will affect them, they won’t buy it.” he said. “In non-cannabis retail settings, customers will find the product they want and bring it to a register to purchase the item. In the cannabis industry, customers work one-on-one with a budtender to pick the items they want to purchase.”

Get Ahead of the Curve

Clearly, “human capital” is extremely important for cannabis businesses. Businesses can get ahead of the competition by investing in employee training and working to retain their best team members.

CEDR crafts employee handbooks for each business, using their team of legal experts to ensure the employee handbook complies with all local, state, and federal laws. They also offer unlimited HR guidance to members, covering everything from the hiring process, to safe termination, and even developing strategies meant to retain talented employees.

For example, CEDR suggests using a “behavioral interview” approach to identify the best people for the job during the interview process. They also provide advice on how to “un-select” an employee if things don’t work out and can help a business maneuver complex legal situations if employees ever decide to take action following termination.

With the industry growing rapidly and the competition heating up, getting the best team in place can give a cannabis business a significant edge over the competition. A company such as CEDR HR Solutions is showing how companies can take the next step toward becoming a more efficient – and more successful — operation.


Click here to speak with a CEDR advisor about your business’ HR strategy and current state of legal compliance for free.

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