Understanding your customer as a dispensary owner or grower plays a huge part. In this episode, Brooke Bevan joins Tony Frischknecht to share her perspective on cannabis as a new user and how she changed her view on cannabis from something negative and disruptive to positive. Get to know how Brooke opened up to the idea of using medical cannabis for her condition and how the Canadian government is helping through their healthcare system. Brooke and Tony discuss the benefits of using cannabis and the effects it has had on the community and the whole environment of it. Learn the importance of educating new users and the community in general on the positive impacts of using cannabis as a dispensary owner or grower.
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Understanding Your Customer From The Perspective Of A New User With Brooke Bevan
Knowing How Your Customer Thinks Is Key To Keeping A Happy Long-term Client
There are a lot of new patients and customers that are starting to look into the world of cannabis. A lot of people throughout the world are long time users, but there’s also a huge market of new users that are starting to come onto the scene and ask questions. Whether they’re using it for getting them off of certain medications or they’re using it for recreational, there are many types of people out there, and understanding your customer as the dispensary owner or grower is a huge part of this. What I’ve decided to do is I’m bringing a new user to the program. I’ve got Brooke Bevan. Brooke, it’s a pleasure to see you. Thanks for being on the show. How are you doing?
I’m doing good. Thanks for having me.
Opening up what your thoughts are because you haven’t used for very long. Whether you’re using medically or recreationally, we’ll talk about that. It’s something that is overlooked. We’re in this mass rat race in cannabis, who can grow faster, who can get more product, who can distribute wholesale? It’s a great time to have you on and explain from a new user’s perspective on what they think about cannabis. What type of environment did you grow up in when you were a kid?
I am from a farming background. My family has been in agriculture all my life to the state. My parents still have a farm that they run. I grew up being very active on the farm, helping out. It’s one of these things that sticks with you forever the whole mentality of hard work.
When you’re talking about agriculture, did you ever experience cannabis growing up at all?
I didn’t know what it was until I was in high school and I went from a tiny school. My grade nine class had nine kids, and then I went to a high school that had 98 kids in my grade twelve class. It was a big shift for me. The drug stuff, we never heard about it until high school. It scared the crap out of me. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. They were talking about it or doing it, I was avoiding it like the plague.
Why do you think you were so scared at the time?
When you’re young in a small town, you hear about the junkies who were always getting arrested. They were always getting in trouble, “You hang out with those people, you’re going to end up in jail.” That was the whole thing growing up. It scared me. I was a good kid. I tried to follow the rules most of the time.
I completely understand that. I’m sure there are lots of readers out there that can totally relate to not wanting to break the rules. It’s an interesting time because growing up as a kid, you don’t understand, “What are drugs? I’ve never experienced it.” Our first logical notion is to be scared of them and we tend to do that throughout our entire life, because we’re scared of the unknown, which it’s not very open-minded, “Let’s see the facts and understand that.”
There were no facts growing up with it. You saw it on TV and you saw it in movies. It was always that person who was not in their head at all. It didn’t give you a good representation at that time and that was the media as well. They never showed the positive aspects of it.
How much experience or what did you know about cannabis in 2019?
In 2019, I knew nothing. I knew that the people I didn’t hang out with who were always giving me troubles or the people who were on it. You can ask anybody who hangs out with me or who knew me, I was very negative against cannabis. If you are going to be using, I didn’t want to have anything to do with you.
It sounds like you had a very strong stance against it.
I did and very uneducated strong stance. I didn’t want to know it. I didn’t want to hear about it. I didn’t want to see it and didn’t want to smell it.It's one of the things that sticks with you forever, the whole mentality of hard work. Click To Tweet
Why did you start exploring cannabis more?
It started with me opening my own business. I made the conscious decision that I wasn’t going to be negative on people for different viewpoints of myself. I was going to give them the benefit of the doubt and give people a try and depends on religious politics. It didn’t matter what it was. I was going to give them a try. That’s where I met you through work. You are nothing like I expected when it came to cannabis. I’m like, “This is something though. Let’s give it a try.” As you started to educate me in the business aspect of it, then I started to look harder at it and then start to make more logical decisions. It is about education. The more you know them, it completely changed my viewpoint because I learned more.
Did you grow up in a religious family at all?
My dad is not religious, but my mom is. We did go to church on Sunday and all that jazz.
Was this a big factor in deterring you away from cannabis for so long?
It wasn’t something that I thought about. It was not knowing what it was and knowing that to me, I was always told it was a negative thing. From all around me, it was negative.
Many times, I hear people use the word as demonized in Europe and Canada. The Canadians tend to be more lax and laid back, at least to us, Americans. It’s interesting to know that you’ve still felt a lot of that pressure growing up and the environment you are on. When did you first try cannabis?
I tried cannabis for the first time in March 2020. My doctor was talking about moving beyond to permanent medication for my PFS, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome and for some injuries I’ve earned as a child. I hated the idea of having to be on a pill every day because the meds I was already on were making me sick, groggy and I was not feeling very good. I wanted something that was not going to make me ill all the time. When cannabis got legalized, it was something that I was peeking at, but I was so scared to be seen looking at it. I didn’t want people to know what I was doing because there’s still a negative impact on it, especially in workplaces. I picked that up but, “I’m not going to look at this.”
Did you have any discussions with your doctor at that time?
I didn’t because we were not talking about it then. There wasn’t enough information out to the doctors yet. It wasn’t until it’s about a year into it being legal that the doctors did have a lot more information and were willing to look at different alternatives. It depends on how liberal your doctor was, depending on if they were going to talk about it or not. If you had a religious doctor, they wouldn’t talk about it at all, but my doctor was ready to try alternatives and he was willing to look at stuff for me because he knew I didn’t want to be on those pills for the rest of my life.
You do socialize medicine, right?
Yes. We pay for some of it, but for most of the part, the government covers quite a bit of it.
Did they cover cannabis?
If you have a doctor’s note, it’s covered. If you’re on cancer and your doctor is prescribing that it is part of your treatment, then it’s completely covered.
Here in the US, we had a lot of scare doctors too. We had a few of them that would create little places for you to get your prescription. In Colorado, California was very similar. I’m imagining, lots of states are doing the same. Are there specific doctors that you’re able to visit for this or is it all in the socialized system?
Even before it went legal, medical marijuana was very popular. It’s still something that doctors did. There were very specific vendors that you had to go to with your documentation to prove that you needed that stuff and then you’d get it through those vendors.
Did you know about this before?
Medical marijuana has been around for a while, but you had to be in a severe case to get onto it. You had to have cancer or some dangerous disease for your doctor to want to prescribe that for you at that time, it was pretty special cases for that.
Was there some fear that was built up from the special cases at all?
Not on my end, I didn’t think that my issues were big enough to be considered a real case to be able to apply for it because usually, they’re very scrutinized at that time. Before everything went legal, you had to have documentation. You had to have years of tests behind you and you had to be sick to be able to get onto those programs.
It sounds like you knew that it was helping people, but it was more in severe cases more than anything at this point.
I didn’t know too much. I knew people who were using to help with their cancer treatments or help with their MS. I didn’t begrudge them that, but I thought it was a special type of cannabis that they were getting. It wasn’t the stuff that was on the streets.
You guys have had quite a different experience because of coming down from the federal legalization down or backwards, which it’s tough to see the parallels because we haven’t experienced federal legalization. I’m sure there are a lot of people in the US that would love to know the government would cover some of their medication if they could.
Our government is good because they’ve got some stuff that’s not considered life-threatening. We still have to pay for it, but for the most part, most life-threatening medication is covered.
You took it in March 2020. Let’s talk about that. What did you do? Did you go to a store first? Did you get it from somebody and try it?
I got brave and walked into one of the new dispensaries that was put up. I have a friend who likes to smoke it. He doesn’t talk about it. When I said, “I was thinking maybe to go and take a look at what they had,” he was like, “Let’s go.” He took me and I went in and the staff was phenomenal.
Was the store on a main street?
We have dispensaries on every major road and in a lot of smaller communities. They’re everywhere. They’re like liquor stores on every corner.
You live in a small community.
I live in a small city. We have about 100,000. In my city, we have 12 or 13 dispensaries.Find out what works for you, but try things slowly. Click To Tweet
Were people upset when they started popping up in town?
Yes and no. We are a very religious city. We are a Bible Belt. There are lots of religions here. Religious people are very upset. We also have a high liberal count of people as well. The liberal people were excited to see it to show up, be legal, and not a bad thing done in a back alley. We had a 50/50 split on the whole environment of it.
What have you seen in several months?
It’s mellowed out. They’re like a liquor store or a cigar shop. They’re there now. People would walk by them. They don’t think too much of them. The kids might go, “Mom and dad, what’s that?” Other than that, there’s not much fanfare anymore to them.
Are they particular in how they look? Do they look like the rest of the other businesses? Did they blend in? Do they stick to that?
They blend in. You cannot see into the business from the outsides. They have frosted windows, but they’ve made them very bright and nice to look at. A lot of the buildings in our city aren’t individual buildings. They’re mini-malls. We have lots of those around. Anywhere where people congregate, they have one of these dispensaries and they’re there, they look lovely. From the outside, they’re like any other business you’d walk by.
Let’s go back to where you were walking in the store and you had a friend take you.
I had a friend take me, we walked in the store and there were four staffs on attendance. It was one of the bigger ones in town. I walked in, I have no clue what I’m doing and I’m scared to be even seen in the store. It’s a smaller city, everybody knows you, it’s going to get around that you were seen inside the building, especially going in and out. You’re almost shamed is what you were thinking in your head. I’m like, “I’m going to go in, take a look around and then leave. I want to see what it looks like inside.” It’s like the little tourism thing where you’re like, “That’s different, let’s take a look.”
What was the first thing you were shocked by when you walked into the store?
How open and bright it was. You think it’s going to be dark and smoky. It was nothing like that. The regulation for the dispensary is you’re not allowed to smoke or test anything in the stores. It was very clean. Everything was almost surgical to a look. It was very airy. It wasn’t cluttered. Everything was on display, but there were no boxes for you to pick up. If you wanted something, you had to order it at the counter and they would bring it forward for you. Everything was in the glass. There was nothing out for you to catch. Everything was in a display case.
It’s like a normal business if you were in the retail world.
Especially, if it’s a high-end product. If you’re going into a jewelry shop, all the stuffs are behind glass because it’s expensive and could walk away easily. It’s the same thing in the cannabis stores here, everything was on display. If you wanted to open, they would pull it out of this display case to show you. It was like the jewelry shop where the salespeople would start with you and greet you when you walk in the door and stay with you through your entire purchase.
Did you find that was comfortable for you?
Yes. I found that very comfortable. They were super friendly and helpful. They didn’t come off as the typical druggie. I didn’t have that feel to them. They were very dressed, cleaned up, and had colored hair, tattoos, but they were very vibrant people. They were very knowledgeable about what they’re selling and their products. When they found out I was a first-time person, they decided to do an education session with me. They explained to me that different types of strains, what everything was, what this did, what that did, how things work and they spent some time with me talking about what the different stuff was because I didn’t have a clue of the different types of stuff that there was available.
It’s like that was pretty helpful to you.
I found that the more I spoke to them, the more I got to ask questions, the more relaxed I got into the store. By the middle of our exchange, I was ready to try something and was like, “I can do this. I can make a purchase and try something.”
If your friend had not gone with you, would you have walked in the store by yourself?
I probably would have, because I sit there staring at it for half an hour in my car going, “I can do this.” He’s like, “What are you doing? Let’s go for lunch.” I’m like, “I’m sitting here and I’m thinking about going.” He’s like, “I haven’t been in one yet. Let’s go together.” I waited for him and we went in together.
If there are people out there that are stuck because they’re scared like you were and they don’t have anybody to go with, do you have any recommendations on how they would approach the store situation? Would they make sure certain things are on the store or look for particular items?
As someone who was very not sure of everything, go in with a plan to try something small, be brave. In Canada, dosages are quite smaller than what I believe they are in the States. We are heavily regulated, so they’re not going to sell you something that’s going to hurt you. That was one of the things that the first salesperson said to me was, “If you’re going to try it, start small and then slowly work your way up. Don’t go in and expect to try everything at once.” For me, my first try was a cannabis hybrid pill. It was an oil pill and they’re like, “When you get home, take one and see how you feel, but don’t take any more. Tomorrow, if you want to try it again and you didn’t feel anything, try taking two this time. Be experimenting with it. Try it on an empty stomach, try it on a full stomach, try it in the morning, try it in the evening, find out what works for you, but try it slowly,” which is very encouraging.
Do you remember what the milligram was that you were trying?
The first one I started out was 10 milligrams. I remember the first night trying it, I didn’t feel anything, but it occurred to me after that I did because I slept. I went to bed on time.
Some people forget that they took it.
That was the thing. I’m like, “I took it.” At about 11:00, it hit me. I was tired. I went to bed on time, not at 3:00 AM. The next night I took two on a full stomach. I didn’t think I felt anything, but at 11:00, I was ready for bed again. I went to bed on time. The third night I took two on an empty stomach. I felt that one. I noticed a difference because I was playing video games when that happened and I’m like, “I have to get off. I need to lay down.” That was the experience for me on the third try.
You’ve taken it a couple of times and I assume you’ve tried some new products. What have you found works for you?
I was heavily on T3s to handle some of my pain issues. I was completely able to go off my T3s completely. I take the cannabis hybrid before bed. I find if I take it before, it makes me sleepy, it makes me go to bed on time, but I don’t wake up sore. That was a big one for me. I wasn’t getting out of bed going, “What’s happening?” As I consistently started taking it. I was getting more rest because I wasn’t hurting. Working for long periods of time as I do, I was getting less and less sore. Now, I can do a lot more things without being sore from that one pill. I switched from the pill to the oil to try something new.
What type of delivery system are you using?
It’s a syringe. I fill it and put it under my tongue. It’s not giving me the same effect as the sleepiness I was getting through the pill was. It was maybe a different type of oil that they were using. What I did find is I was sleeping way better than when I was even on the pill, but I wasn’t getting tired on it. I’m still trying to determine which one I want to go with more, but it’s the experimentation of trying them and figuring out what works better. I didn’t know if I was going to like the oil because I was wondering if it was going to have a taste. It has a little bit of taste, but it was different. It wasn’t a bad taste. It was a little bit woody to me. It didn’t bug me at all and I’m not adverse to taking it.
It hasn’t been that long that Canada has been able to allow the pill and edibles?
They came in April 2020. They passed that law and they did it in section. “Only this province got out,” it opened up that way because they didn’t have enough for every province. They had to do it a little bit slow because there wasn’t enough product at the time to get everywhere.When people walk in the door, being bubbly and hopeful puts somebody at ease. Click To Tweet
Do you have a big selection or a small selection?
We have a very selection. For edibles, we have two types of gummies, a couple of types of chocolate and teas are popular.
Cooking and drinking hot tea.
Also, they classified the pills as edibles. We were lucky because we got a shipment of pills in March 2020 and the chocolates came in April 2020.
Would you say you were a little more comfortable with eating it and not smoking it?
I can’t smoke it because I have asthma and it would induce asthma attack with my lungs. Edibles were something I wanted to try and it’s something that was odorless and no one would know I would take it. It was important, especially with my roommate’s situation. My roommate didn’t want any cannabis smoked in the house or around the house and that was something he was adamant about.
Has your roommate been pretty okay with what you’re doing or no?
He doesn’t care as long as he doesn’t have to interact with it or smell it. That was a big part. He didn’t want to have to smell the smoke because he’ll go to work smelling like it. He gets random drug tests. We’ll get in trouble if they assume he has it.
There’s probably a paranoia in there.
There is, especially in his position because he is a supervisor in his job. If he goes in smelling like smoke, it could potentially be damaging to his job. I know a lot of the jobs, especially where you have to be drug tested, if they even assume that you are doing anything, you get tested way more often.
You’ve been trying it out since March 2020. What have you learned?
It’s not as scary as I thought it would be. I started to learn about the properties, what it can do for you. I’ve never realized that the plant was versatile. Not only does it help myself medically, but the plant can be used in many other ways, such as textiles and feed for animals. The whole thing was outlawed at one point, which blows my mind, and you realize that it’s probably the most versatile plant in the world and how many people it can help. I didn’t realize it until I started looking into stuff that how ignorant I was about the whole situation. I’m very open about it. I do talk about it now.
People are like, “You’re one of those users.” I’m like, “Yes.” I invite them to be educated on what it entails versus what they think they know. Once they start to learn, all of a sudden, their mind, they’re more open to looking at it for different points of view. I have one friend who was on a cocktail of drugs, 13 or 14 a day to handle her illness. They cut it down to four and she does edibles twice a day now to migrate her issues. She’s been way better and less sick because they were giving her medications to counter the reactions of other medications. It was this horrible snowball effect.
That’s the unfortunate part of the medications. A few people in my life have had different transplants, like organ transplants. When you start looking at it, they’ve got all these drugs you have to take, anti-rejection drugs because your body won’t naturally accept an organ that is foreign from your body. You have to take several different medications and they have these adverse effects. You’re taking another medication to offset that medication and it’s like dominoes. Let’s say one of your drugs is, “Side effect is heart disease.”
That was with her. When I started talking about it with authority and knowing that I researched and learned about this stuff, she went to her doctor and go, “Can we try this? I’m sick and tired of feeling like I’m sick and tired all the time.” Her doctor was good because he did decide to even try, even though he didn’t know enough at the time, but he did some research and go, “Let’s take this off and try this instead.”
Are you aware if the government is actively researching the plant on doing grants?
I don’t think there are grants in research. That might no be right because I believe the University of Lethbridge in Canada got a large grant to research cannabis. We have a nice university here that does a lot of medical research, a lot of breakthroughs come from there. I’m sure that there was a doctor there that got a grant to do some research. A lot of grant money was given to new businesses that were starting up to get people ready when everything went legal. It was supposed to be a legal candidate many years ago, but they couldn’t get the regulations in time. It was October 2019 that it got regulated out for us.
If you were to talk directly to a business owner that was either starting a store or has a store that they’re running, what would you tell them that you would like to see if you were to enter a store from a customer’s aspect? What do you think stands out to you that you like?
Your staff being friendly and being professional. Not show up to work in torn clothes or being messy looking. Being cleaned up enough that you’re being professional because you are that professional. You are going to be the face of your industry, those frontline people that are greeting those people when they walk in the door. Being very bubbly and hopeful, put somebody at ease, someone like myself because I don’t know what I was getting into when I walked in that door. If someone would greet me as soon as I come in the door and be friendly, ask how things are going, that made a difference at my end. If I walked in the door and someone ignored me, I would have walked right back at the door and never gone back.
From my experience, what I’ve seen is as business owners, we get very busy in making sure the processes are running. It’s very easy to forget that we are selling drugs. It sells easily. With the added competition that you have in the industry now, you have to remember that you have to grow the best stuff, but you also have to have customer service. I appreciate you pointing that out. It’s huge for these states that are coming on board in the US and these countries to understand that there is a very finite time in the industry where you can get away with selling cannabis, like selling everything you can.
There is a time where it will wash out where you have competition. You have people that are running real businesses. For those out there that are reading, if you’re against the man or the government and you don’t want much to do with it or you want to sell cannabis legally, you need to understand that this is a business and you need to take it seriously to attract customers like yourself. At the end of the day, you’re a much bigger market than these people that have been smoking and using for decades.
Another thing to think of, especially when it comes to politics and religion, is to keep it out of the business and then don’t disclose your clients outside of the business. One of the things I’ve noticed from talking to some of my clients is that they’re taking the product because a doctor had said, “You need to take this product,” but they’re in a religion that doesn’t agree with it. They’re taking it because they trust their doctors, but they don’t know if people outside of the building know they’re taking it. If your staff or even yourself see them outside the building, you shouldn’t greet them. You shouldn’t say, “How’s it going? How do you like your product?” You should ignore them completely because you don’t know how that will affect the person outside that life.
Thank you for your insight. It’s very valuable looking at it from a person. Some of the guys that have been in this industry for 5, 10, 15 years, we get very desensitized to being around Colorado where there are smells all over the state. You can literally drive in from the mountains and drive into town and you’re like, “I know I’m home because I smell cannabis.” I pointing that out to be discreet and also know that this is the beginning. In Brooke’s town, it’s very discreet, but you’ll find more people start opening up and that’ll start laxing out a little bit. It won’t be as big of a deal.
We’re fairly new with it. We never know where we’re going to sit with it. Maybe we’ll be biggest than Denver one day.
I want to let the readers know that if you guys want to check out more about Brooke, please visit PlantProblem.com. I hope that this gave you a good insight on who your customer is or who your customer is going to be. Taking this info right here and trying to map out how your store is going to be or how you can improve should be something that you think about more than, “I’m not sure.” Also, take some of the things she says. If you don’t like them, grab a couple that you like and start using them. Brooke, thanks for being on. Readers, I love talking with you out there. I hope that you were able to gain something from this episode. I even learned something new from Brooke. I look forward to sharing my next episode with you. Have a great day.
- Brooke Bevan
About Brooke Bevan
There are 3 parts to having a successful podcast.
Part 1: Content
Part 2: Technical part such as editing
Part 3: Organization and consistency.
I assist in guest research, invitation, and organization keeping the podcast on time. I also am an idea bouncer, researcher, social media and website manager, and podcast office assistant. I keep an eye on all the moving parts so you can focus on Great Content Creation!
I am a very proud member of BNI – Elevate Lethbridge.