News and Best Practices

What You Need to Know to Hire a Great Budtender

August 5, 2016

Running a dispensary or rec store requires you to do dozens of things, often simultaneously: buy product, process cash, make sure you’re in compliance with state and local regulations and a myriad of other duties. In all of this, having a star team working with you will be one of the best assets in your arsenal—and one of the most important positions will always be your hiring budtenders.

There are a lot of things to consider when you’re hiring a new employee. But in a new industry where few job candidates have much prior experience, it can be a little more difficult to choose the right person. So what can you do to ensure that you are hiring someone who will be a good fit for your shop? To help you out, we turned to Greg Gemot, co-owner of DANK, a dispensary in Denver.

What to consider during the hiring process

There are a million things to consider during the hiring process for any job, but budtenders play a very specific role. Their job is to be knowledgeable of all the products you sell, including individual strains and what makes each unique, as well as to have exceptional customer service skills.

Gemot says that when DANK is looking to hire a budtender, the company is always looking for someone with industry experience, even though that may limit the pool of candidates. “Industry and product knowledge is a must if you want to start at a budtender position,” Gemot said. “We have other entry-level jobs in the back of the house that require little to no experience. Of course, we only accept applications from individuals who have a state-required badge.”

Should you do background checks?

Of course, this will likely vary by state. In Colorado, where DANK operates, to receive a badge to work in the industry job candidates have to pass the state’s background check. And most Colorado dispensaries require candidates to obtain their badge before applying. But there are many types of background checks, and Colorado focuses on whether the badge applicant has any outstanding warrants or felony convictions. Other commercially available background checks can tell you if the applicant has severe credit problems, lesser criminal violations, past bankruptcies, problematic military records, previous workers’ compensation issues and so on. If all you care about is immediate legal problems, and your state conducts background checks, then the state’s check may be good enough for you. But if you’re looking for a great employee who is a good fit and has potential to be a long-term employee, you may want to go further. If you do, talk to your attorney to see what kinds of background checks are legal and advisable.

In addition, as with any job, you will want to check the candidate’s references. Talk to previous employers as well as personal references. According to Gemot, “We also look at work history, and if we see that a person has jumped around to several positions and companies in the past, we usually shy away from them.”

Promoting your current employees

So if you’re looking for a budtender with previous experience and you want to promote from within, what is a good starting point? For Gemot, it is back-of-house and other entry-level positions. One of the best ways to build a strong company is to promote from within. This gives you the option of bringing in new entry-level employees and encouraging your current ones to work harder in hopes of better positions in the future.

According to Gemot, “We always promote from within first. All positions at DANK will and can be used as a stepping stone.” That’s an enviable position to be in, but as the industry grows, many dispensaries and rec store operators are finding that they’re growing so fast that they have to begin looking for new talent outside as well.

How to find a budtender

If you’re hiring from the outside, how do you find candidates?

“We use our social media, website and we also have a stream of applicants that come in on a regular basis because we treat our employees so well,” Gemot said. “We have a happy family here at DANK, and that goes a long way in recruiting new employees.” So when you’re first starting out, a good website and a social media ad (perhaps in groups on Facebook) are a good way to find interested applicants—plus you can always ask other dispensary owners in the area if they have applicants they would recommend.

By Julia Granowicz
Dispensary Management Today articles are for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal guidance or advice on dispensary operations. You should contact an attorney or a qualified cannabis consultant for specific compliance and dispensary/retailing advice.
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