What makes a great budtender?
Quality products, fair prices, a convenient location, and excellent customer service are all part of the recipe for a successful business. Providing high level customer service is a proven method that will set your business apart from others and this can be especially challenging for some dispensaries. Customer Service is more than just being friendly and courteous; employees should be well educated and properly trained in order to serve customers at the highest level. Unfortunately there is no national licensing standard for budtenders, requiring many dispensaries to hire self-proclaimed cannabis “experts”. Well-trained, educated, and personable Budtenders (aka: Patient Care Specialists, Dispensary Technicians, etc.) are the key to providing patients/customers with a remarkable dispensary experience, but what makes a good Budtender great?
First and foremost, great budtenders must have a deep and thorough understanding of cannabis and its associated products and accessories. Many patients/customers are interested in where their medicine came from or how it was grown and processed. As such, budtenders should understand the different methods and techniques surrounding cultivation, harvesting, processing, extraction, and infusion as well as how different methods will impact quality and pricing. Budtenders don’t necessarily need to know the fine details like feeding schedules and specific environmental conditions – but they should be well informed on organic vs. conventional growing methods; integrated pest management principles; flushing and harvesting techniques; the drying, curing trimming and packaging process as well as quality control and lab testing procedures. In addition to knowing the strains and their genetic lineage, great budtenders should have an understanding of the different phenotypic traits that can be expressed from one strain of cannabis. In some scenarios cannabis can be very similar to wine; much like how all cabernets are not the same, all Blue Dreams are not equal. Farmer A’s Blue Dream might naturally express increased levels of myrcene and limited amounts of alpha-pinene, while Farmer B’s could be extremely limited in myrcene with higher levels of alpha-pinene. Although Farmer A and B are growing the same genetics under the same conditions, the end products would produce different effects, each with a unique smell and taste. Great budtenders are able to make this clear distinction and share the knowledge with their patients/customers so they understand too.
Over the past decade the industry’s knowledge and understanding of the science of cannabinoids has steadily increased. CBD finally won its place in the spotlight and the benefits of other phytocannabinoids are being recognized for their medicinal potential. It’s no secret that most patients/customers are looking for products with elevated THC levels. Although a high-THC product will certainly produce a more profound effect, it’s misleading to customers to think that higher potency equates to higher quality. Budtenders should be able to educate patients on what cannabinoids are and how they affect the body, but great budtenders can also tell you how those cannabinoids interact with other cannabinoids and terpenes to produce a more desired effect. Great budtenders should also be trained on the possible side effects of mixing cannabis with other medications but they should never give medical advice. Educating patients/customers on potency and dosing is incredibly important as the industry continues to evolve. Recreational use is now allowed in nine states and cannabis is becoming more socially acceptable across the world; as a result we are seeing more first time cannabis users than ever. If we want cannabis to see widespread legal and social acceptance it is very important that these first timers have a pleasant and positive introduction to cannabis. That starts with proper education at the point of sale.
Patients/customers should be well informed on the products that they are buying and how to properly use them. Great budtenders should provide demonstrations to patients on how to safely and efficiently use their cannabis, but also show seasoned veterans on how to bring their experience to the next level. Great budtenders should encourage patients to shy away from cheap, low-quality accessories than can potentially be harmful to their health. Many cannabis accessories like vaporizers, vape pens, and even glass are produced in manufacturing facilities that do not have the end users best interest in mind. Great budtenders must establish loyalty with their patients/customers instead of focusing on making sales. A good budtender can easily make a quick sale, but a great budtender focuses on helping the patient/customer make the right decision in order to establish loyalty and facilitate future sales.
Although budtenders should never give out legal advice, they should be well educated on the local, state, and federal cannabis laws. Many people are under the false impression that if cannabis is legal you can possess and consume it open and freely – this couldn’t be further from the truth. State’s that have permitted recreational or medical cannabis use have done so under very strict rules and regulations that businesses and consumers must comply with. Many patients/customers are ill-informed of these rules and regulations and can easily and surprisingly find themselves in trouble with the law. Great budtenders should always educate patients on where they are allowed to consume their cannabis and how to properly and safely store it. Patients/customers should be reminded that cannabis is still a federally illegal schedule I controlled substance and to protect themselves they must abide by rules and regulations imposed by the state and its local municipalities. As a society we have fought long and hard to bring cannabis to its current level of acceptance, and we still have a long way to go, but now our society must demonstrate that cannabis can be used professionally and maturely. Again, this starts with proper education at the point of sale.
When hiring budtenders, dispensaries should always keep customer service skills at the top of their requirements. It takes a special type of person to positively connect with the many different patients/customers that visit a dispensary on any given day. Great budtenders must be patient, compassionate, detailed and thorough. They must express a deep understanding of cannabis and its interactions with the body and they must have a strong desire to help others. But above all else they must exhibit a strong passion for pushing cannabis forward into worldwide social acceptance.
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