New markets are opening up for recreational cannabis as some states begin to ease up on their restrictions and open up to the product. Naturally, new cannabis customers would need time to adjust to buying recreational cannabis from a licensed physical store. How can you allay their fears, make them comfortable and make sure that they come back and spread the word about your business? How do you build trust with the customers and the rest of the business community? Tony Frischknecht shares some tips on what you can do to give the best experience to you end user and get your new cannabis business on the radar.
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How To Allay The Fears Of The New Customer Part 1
It’s always a pleasure of getting new readers. I’ve seen that there are quite a few new ones out there. Thank you so much for reading. I also want to give thanks to a lot of people that have been reading lately. Your support means a lot to me. I just want to give that shout-out. I’ve got some great stuff for us. I also want to give one more shout-out to Conal Rosanbalm. We had a pretty good episode here on discussing strains, where the names come from and what the future of that was. It was a good conversation. We’ve got a lot of responses to that. Thanks, Conal. I appreciate that.
Before I go too far, I want to give you something that we forget about as business owners and as employees looking from the perspective of the customer. There are a lot of new states out there. You are starting your businesses. Things are exciting. You’re getting your flower ready. You’re getting your sales up and going. This is all awesome stuff. From my experience, it’s not hard to sell cannabis. You will be out there doing very well quickly and you’ll get it in this rhythm of, “Why do we need to change what we’re doing?” It’s easy to forget about the end-user, the customer. Now we’re going to be talking about the new customer that’s coming in especially to the states where we’re seeing recreational open up.
Dispensaries are scary to people. I can think back to even not visiting my dispensary, not knowing what’s going to happen is a little bit unnerving as a person walking into a store that they’ve never walked into before this type of store or they’ve never been in the area. A lot of your locations are going to be in offset areas because the zoning in certain spots is going to be mostly commercial so people aren’t used to. It’s a challenge for you as the manager and entrepreneur to make that comfort level for your customer so that they keep coming back and they tell their friends about it. Here in Colorado, we had some regulations that made it a little sketchier looking, things like frosted glass.
The zoning back in these little corner commercial areas where it’s dark. Unfortunately, it didn’t allow at the time for openness or transparency that should be shared with everyone. On the regulation side, you can see that happening. That’s what happened around here. You’re going to see this in different states. It’s going to happen in different states. In Nevada, they had nice, shiny open glass along the front sides of these dispensaries. You could see into it. That makes it a lot less scary, but you’ve got to work with the regulations where you guys are at. These are a couple of things that I’ve come across that I think are extremely valuable to reduce the fears for your customers and for word of mouth of what people are going to expect in there.
You guys in recreational, these are all going to be brand-new customers. They may have smoked it back in college at some point or back when they were teenagers and they’ve never done it again. Creating that familiarity that, “This is a retail store, we’re here as business owners and we want to have you come back.” Here are a couple of things. One I already mentioned is comfortability. If you’ve got a waiting area, a lot of people will have medical and recreational in the same building. A lot of times you’ll have a waiting area because you can have only so many people in the sales area due to whatever constraints you have, whether it be the size of your location, your regulations, you’re only allowed so many people around the products themselves, whatever it may be.New customers are going to be apprehensive. Make sure to make them comfortable so they would want to come back. #Cannabis Click To Tweet
Make it comfortable for people, get some nice chairs for them. Provide some for water or something for drinks, cold drinks of some sort. I would suggest a bottle of water. You can go as far as soda or some light drink, try to keep it where they can open it on their own. There are some funny things going on, now that the world’s changed a little bit. You want to make sure you don’t have drawn the Health Department on anything. Maybe even some small snacks like you’d get on the plane. You get a thing of peanuts or a thing of pretzels, something to snack on if they’re going to be sitting there for 10, 15 minutes.
Your entrance is a big part of this. Some of you guys are like, “Tony, I know I want to make my entrance nice.” I understand that but think about your colors. Think about the environment, even invite maybe some of your family or friends and saying, “What ideas do you have to make this comfortable for you?” For a lot of these people, this is going to be their first time coming into your business. They can give you some good feedback on what looks good and what would be cool. You want to also put a little bit of your personality in this because this is your business. If you give your management a little bit of say in it, they’ll take a little more pride in it, which is an awesome thing to do for building morale and building up your employees.
Another great thing to do when you’re creating this environment is to go outside within a few block radius. Meet some of the other businesses. They’re going to have word of mouth, whether it be a hardware store of some sort, grocery store, go in there and say, “I’m your neighbor down the street. I’m not sure if you’re pro or against cannabis, but this is what we’re doing down there. My name is so-and-so. Please let me know if you have any issues in the area.”
A lot of people are under the impression that the store is going to go in that area, crime rates are going to go up, and all this stuff is going to happen. You going in there and opening yourself up to your community around you is a big part of that. They’re going to see, “He’s not just a drug dealer.” Especially for new areas, this is extremely important. Get out of your comfort zone, make sure you introduce yourself to the people around your area.
If you want to take it one step further, introduce yourself to whoever is representing the local government in your area so they know you there. You can start building that relationship. Word of mouth starts traveling, if you’ve got somebody at the grocery store, liquor store, “They’re opening the cannabis place down the street. I don’t like those.” You’ve got the register guy going, “He came in here. He seemed like a nice guy.” You start building these little local relationships that make you look like you are a real business because you are, but you have to prove it. Just because you have an LLC and a license with the city and state, they don’t treat you like a normal business, like a dry-cleaning business or anything else. This is very new and people are very quick to judge right now. It’s easy to do.
This next one, friendly staff, I know that seems crazy. However, when you’re opening a store or you’re starting, a lot of the times it’s very easy to put a warm body in there because you have to get somebody in there to help you with the retail side. Hiring the right people is key to eliminate a lot of problems. If you take the steps, in the beginning, to go through the interview process with your people and potentially other management. If they’re going to go through the management first and then come to you, multiple layers, it takes a little extra time, but that little extra time is going to save you so much.
Remember that hiring is huge. The friendly staff is also going to create this light experience for the customer. A lot of places have security guards as you walk in. Your security guard has to be friendly. That’s the first point of contact. You want them to have a presence, but you also want them to have a smile. In the times we’re living in, it’s not easy to have that since we’re having a lot of the delivery and stuff that’s happening now. You’ve got to exude that out of your body language. If somebody is friendly and open to you, especially the security guy and on each step of the transaction of the sale, you have that person handing over to the next one.
They’re getting more comfortable with you as a business and you not just being a drug dealer. We want to try to change that mindset in most people especially the brand. It blows me away. However, many people forget that this could be their first time using this product. I remember the first time and this too was eye-opening. It was a long time ago, but you’ve got to get that sense to make them comfortable there. They trust you. We’re building trust with these people.
The Perfect Budtender
This is the third thing that is the right budtender. You may think that, “If I have a budtender that knows everything about cannabis because he smoked it or he’s used it for so long.” They’ve got a passion for it, but it may not be the best position to put them in. It’s so easy when you’ve been around something. Whether it be cannabis, whether you’re an engineer, you’ve got to try to speak the language. I like to say dumbing it down a little bit for the layperson to understand what you’re talking about.
A couple of situations, one, you’ve got a store that has had medical for a while. You’re introducing recreational or adult use, virtually the same thing but different language. Some people may disagree with me out there, but virtually it’s the same thing. You’ve got this person that has been coming to your store for a while. They know what they want. They’re pretty quick about it. You want to make sure, especially on the medical side, those people are familiar.Just because you have a license doesn’t mean that the locals will treat you like a normal business. You have to earn respect. #Cannabis Click To Tweet
If you’re putting a budtender in there that’s been very familiar and has been smoking for a long time, they’ll relate to the medical guy very easily because they can talk back and forth. However, if you’re going to a recreational side, you need to have a budtender that’s willing to spend a little more time, patience explaining the products. What are the different things that they know about? You need to understand that there are a couple of different places and people can do both. However, if you find somebody a little bit better with camaraderie back and forth with a patient, they may fit better in that space.
New customers, they’re going to need more time. Depending on what you notice, you may need to have two different lines. You might have to have a line for the customer that’s a weekly customer showing up, knows what he wants, gets in and gets out. You might have another line that’s like, “We’d like to show you some more stuff. We’d like to maybe teach you some stuff.” When you start building that trust, they’re going to be coming back to you consistently.
Potentially, they’ll move to the line that’s faster. These two different customers, you’ve got one that knows what they want. You’ve got the other one that’s unsure. Making the guy that was waiting there is going to make him frustrated. It’s going to force him to be like, “I’m going to try somewhere else. I’ve got to wait in line for a half-hour here.” You don’t want to piss off your good customers. A good budtender should have a curious mind, somebody that wants to keep learning.
Right now, we’re all learning. There’s also a lot of know-it-alls out there. You don’t want to be one of those either. Make sure your budtender is not close-minded. Make sure they enjoy sharing and teaching also. This is what I call should be a no-brainer. They love to work with people. You want to make sure that these people love to work with people and love being around people. They may or may not have retail experience in the past, but they’ve got to at least have that.
Being In Tune With The Customer
I know many people that are in sales that hate people, but they sell the sales mentality that they have. It’s good to make sure you find those people and weed them out or at least move them into a different position. Not that they’re bad people. They may be better suited somewhere else. Lastly, since we’re going through the sales process here inside the store, the last part is key is to be in tune with your customer. Once again, we see it everywhere. I’m constantly filling out Amazon surveys about what I liked about this and how many stars it was.
I get emails from everything I order offline given me want this, want that and they get old and annoying, but it’s a matter of being in tune with your customer. All I ask is to make it very simple, something as simple as taking 1 to 2 questions survey. What’s great about if you do 1 to 2 questions, you can change out the question when you’re trying to evaluate your business. One to two questions, was your budtender friendly on a scale from 1 to 5? Was the atmosphere comfortable for you? Those are two simple ones.
If you want to get some true engagement, I suggest at the sales counter creating a small discount of some sorts, 5% to 10% or a couple of dollars, whatever you can stomach as a business owner and a manager that makes sense or valuable. If you do that at the transaction point, you’re going to get people to say, “I’ll take the extra 10% off. I might save them $5, $10, something like that. That’s an expense to you, but it also is something you can look at on a weekly basis to say, “What can we change to make our place better?”
It’s very inexpensive and you have a customer right in front of you right there. You’ll also see those negatives quickly. You can adjust that, whether it be the budtender you have, something, two questions like that and a small place where they can write any extra description if they choose to. They might have had a bad experience and they don’t know where to share it so they can put it there. Those four things, paying attention to the new customer are going to be tremendous for building your business, especially right out the gate.
If you’re going to be open across these four things in the retail world, it will change your business overnight. The good part about this is those surveys weekly you’re going to have a few changes that are happening. You can add to your process and your customers are going to be, “I love this place.” All of a sudden, word of mouth is going to fly on. This is some great stuff I wish somebody would have shared with me in the beginning. However, we didn’t have anybody like that. I want to give these little tips to you and I hope you can take them and run with them.
Nothing I say is perfect for everyone, but take what you like out of this. If one of these things may annoy you like, “I know that. I don’t need that,” that’s fine. Take what you like out of here, move it into and create your own or you can drop a couple in the line of things that you’re working on and say, “This will fit here and here.” Pick from that a little bit. These four things, there’s some value to you somewhere. Don’t throw it all away if you don’t like one of the things that are brought up.
I appreciate everyone out there that’s been reading lately and giving me some awesome feedback. This still I feel is the beginning for me. I plan on bringing you much bigger things to come. I am working on them tirelessly. Thank you so much for joining me on Plant Problems. Please feel free to reach out to me and check out any of my episodes at PlantProblem.com. I have tons of information there. If you feel like there is some good stuff and you’re like, “I like that,” we would love to hear from you.
Please let us know if there’s something that we can dig deeper for you. If maybe it’s more on the dispensary side, say, “I’d like to know some more about this,” I’d be more than happy to dig into that for you. I spent several years in the dispensary side and things are ever-changing. There are many new states that are coming on board. These starting points are huge. I’d like to give you a leg up. Thanks again for reading. I will catch up with you very soon.
- Conal Rosanbalm – past episode