5 Tips to Build a High-Performance Cannabis Retail TeamNov 13, 2023
At Vetrina, we dedicate a significant amount of time collaborating with cannabis retailers and brands, assisting them in achieving their business objectives. This commitment is exemplified through our recently released Cannabis Retail Management Course, where we delve into the intricacies of retail management. Diving deep into the critical areas of the business like Sales KPIs, Inventory and Assortment, Marketing and People and the essential metrics within those areas that enhance profitability. However, our focus extends beyond these quantitative aspects; we also emphasize the cultivation of soft skills that are pivotal in shaping a truly exceptional team.
This blog aims to provide you with an actionable plan that you can start today to train and nurture a team that not only drives profitability but also delivers outstanding customer service.
1. Creating Clear Vision and Shared Goals for Teams
A clear vision sets the direction and objectives for the holiday sales season. When the entire team is enrolled in this vision, everyone works toward common goals. This alignment ensures that every team member understands the purpose and focus of their efforts.
If you are unsure how to share your goals and updates, we recommend Coach-In meetings.
A well-defined vision inspires and motivates retail teams. It gives them a sense of purpose and a reason to strive for excellence during the holiday season. Motivated teams are more likely to put in extra effort and go the extra mile to achieve the set goals.
Don’t forget this can be fun for the team, holidays are also a fun and festive time for them. Their regulars are coming in to top up and look for gifts, new fun seasonal products are coming in, and who doesn’t love to be swept up in the holiday rush? Time flies on the floor and sales can take on a new festive atmosphere.
Setting goals doesn’t only have to mean sales, you can layer on additional targets, and make it specific to your team and your style of leadership. You can create team initiatives around basket sizes, seasonal product sell-through, and a metric around a community or store initiative. Creating an amazing guest experience on the floor will always benefit you in the long run, so don’t hesitate to drop in one fun goal you know your team will enjoy pushing for.
2. Creating Effective Communication for Retail Teams
To share information and help your team achieve its goals, make sure you have a strong communication system. Successful cannabis retailers focus on improving communication in various ways, including between leadership and the team, between the sales team and customers, and even feedback from the customers to the store.
Good communication is vital for a smoothly operating team and providing top-notch customer service. It requires clear and open channels of information between team members and between staff and customers. In practice, this means having daily team meetings to discuss goals and priorities, keeping everyone informed about inventory and product details, and ensuring smooth coordination during busy times.
It also extends to customer interactions, where staff actively listen to customer needs and preferences, offer informed product recommendations, and ensure that customers are well-informed about cannabis products, usage guidelines, and any relevant regulations.
Here are some ideas to improve communication in your cannabis business:
Leadership to Team:
- Regular Team Meetings: Hold frequent team meetings to discuss goals, priorities, and any changes in policies or procedures. Encourage team members to share their feedback and concerns. For example, always start shifts with a 10-minute coach-in meeting.
- Clear Communication Channels: Create clear communication channels between leadership and staff. Ensure that important information is conveyed promptly through channels like emails, messaging apps, or notice boards. For example, if your shift changes do not allow extensive coach-in meetings, have designated people responsible for updating a board your team can scan before getting onto the floor.
- Transparency: Be transparent about the store's objectives, performance metrics, and any changes in leadership or organizational structure. Transparency builds trust among team members. For example, you may not think your team cares about basket size, but it can be fun helping a customer find that perfect ‘add-on’ to a gift idea. Your team can have fun hitting your goals once they understand why you care.
Team to Customer:
- Training and Product Knowledge: Provide comprehensive training to team members on product knowledge, usage guidelines, and customer service. For example, during the holidays it is normal to see seasonal products, how will your team learn about them?
- Active Listening: Train team members to actively listen to customer needs and preferences. Encourage them to ask open-ended questions to understand customer requirements better. Learn more about training an amazing sales team in our blog From Clerking to Selling: Transforming Your Retail Experience and Increase Profitability.
- Educational Materials: Offer educational materials to customers, such as brochures, pamphlets, or digital resources, to help them make informed decisions. Ensure that these materials are readily available and well-organized in the store.
- Surveys: Collect customer feedback through surveys or comment cards. Use this feedback to identify areas where communication can be improved. Making surveys a normal part of the business will help in the future as you make choices around training, products, and even what inventory to purchase next!
3. Continuous Learning and Adaptation for Cannabis Retail Teams
You may have noticed a theme around learning already, it is a crucial part of any high-performing team. It empowers team members to stay updated with changing regulations, product trends, and customer preferences. Embracing lifelong learning ensures that the team remains adaptable and well-informed, which, in turn, enhances the store's ability to provide top-notch customer service and remain competitive in the market.
Here are 5 simple ways you can foster continuous learning on your team:
- Online Learning Platforms: Invest in online learning platforms. These platforms enable employees to learn at their own pace. Vetrina offers a Cannabis Retail Management Course for those teams ready to take control of the retail environment and increase profitability.
- Training Sessions: Implement regular training sessions for employees to enhance their product knowledge, customer service skills, and understanding of changing regulations.
- Learning Resources: Create a resource library or digital platform where employees can access educational materials, industry news, and product updates.
- Mentorship Programs: Implement mentorship programs where experienced team members can guide and mentor newer employees. This promotes knowledge transfer and skill development.
- Feedback and Improvement: Establish feedback mechanisms that encourage employees to share their insights and suggestions for process improvement. Act on feedback to demonstrate the value of learning and growth.
4. Exceptional Customer Service, Clerking vs Selling
Exceptional customer service can be a defining factor that sets high-performing cannabis retail teams apart. Understanding the difference between "clerking" and "selling" is essential. Clerking primarily involves operational tasks and basic customer service, while selling actively engages with customers, understands their needs and preferences, and guides them toward making a purchase.
To ensure your retail team excels in providing excellent service, consider creating a discovery and persona framework to understand customer needs, investing in budtender education tools, and using customer-centric language that facilitates the discovery process. By bridging the gap between clerking and selling, you can elevate the customer experience and build lasting relationships with loyal patrons.
5. Build Adaptability and Resilience
High-performing cannabis retail teams understand that adaptability and resilience are key qualities. They don't just thrive when everything goes smoothly; they shine when faced with adversity. Said less dramatically, things don’t always go according to plan!
What would your team do if they faced an unexpected surge in holiday traffic due to an unexpected local event? Rather than being overwhelmed, a great team quickly adjusts the staffing schedule, reorders popular products, and leverages its deep product knowledge to assist customers efficiently. This adaptability allows great teams to not only meet customer needs but also capitalize on the trend, boosting sales and customer satisfaction.
Building resilience within a cannabis retail team is a process that involves fostering a growth mindset. Encourage team members to view challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. Provide them with the tools and resources needed to navigate uncertainty, such as cross-training in different roles, so they can step in when needed. Additionally, celebrate small victories and lessons learned from setbacks, reinforcing the idea that resilience is a valuable trait.
In uncertain times, adaptability and resilience become your team's superpowers, enabling them to thrive no matter what challenges come their way. This mindset will also help your team leadership to not be afraid to identify problems early and tackle them head-on.
Action Plan for High-Performing Cannabis Retail Teams:
- Creating Clear Vision and Shared Goals for Teams:
- Conduct a team meeting to discuss and define clear holiday season goals and objectives.
- Encourage team members to actively participate in goal-setting and suggest additional targets beyond sales, such as basket sizes, seasonal product sell-through, or community initiatives.
- Foster a fun and festive atmosphere during the holiday rush to keep the team motivated.
- Implement Coach-In meetings to regularly communicate and reinforce the vision and goals to all team members.
- Creating Effective Communication for Retail Teams:
- Establish regular team meetings to discuss goals, priorities, and changes in policies or procedures.
- Ensure clear communication channels between leadership and staff for prompt information sharing.
- Promote transparency by openly discussing the store's objectives, performance metrics, and organizational changes.
- Invest in training programs to enhance product knowledge, customer service skills, and communication abilities.
- Encourage active listening and open-ended questions during customer interactions.
- Make educational materials readily available for customers, aiding in informed decision-making.
- Collect customer feedback through surveys to identify areas for communication improvement and training needs.
- Continuous Learning and Adaptation for Cannabis Retail Teams:
- Invest in online learning platforms like Vetrina's Cannabis Retail Management Course.
- Organize regular training sessions to enhance product knowledge, customer service skills, and regulatory understanding.
- Create a resource library or digital platform for employees to access educational materials, industry news, and product updates.
- Implement mentorship programs where experienced team members guide and mentor newer employees.
- Establish feedback mechanisms to encourage employees to share insights and suggestions for process improvement.
- Exceptional Customer Service, Clerking vs Selling:
- Develop a discovery and persona framework to understand customer needs and preferences.
- Invest in budtender education tools to enhance product knowledge and customer service skills.
- Use customer-centric language that facilitates the discovery process during customer interactions.
- Bridge the gap between clerking and selling to elevate the customer experience and build lasting relationships with loyal patrons.
- Building Adaptability and Resilience:
- Foster a growth mindset within the team, encouraging them to view challenges as opportunities for growth.
- Provide cross-training opportunities so team members can step in when needed, enhancing adaptability.
- Celebrate small victories and lessons learned from setbacks to reinforce resilience as a valuable trait.
- Encourage leadership to identify and address problems early, fostering a proactive approach to challenges.
Tips for Cannabis Brands
By now, you likely recognize the substantial overlap in how you can bolster your team during the holiday season.
Many facets that contribute to the strength of a retail team also apply to building a robust brand team. You can identify ways to maintain rigorous training, formulate and communicate engaging team goals, nurture effective communication and an adaptive mindset, and emphasize the use of customer-centric language.
Taking your support to the next level involves considering the list of action plans we provided to retailers and contemplating how you can further assist them while cultivating a stronger relationship.
Perhaps you could offer a festive training session for the team, bringing them up to speed on product knowledge. Alternatively, you might provide resources for their learning library in the back room. Additionally, sharing insights and customer-derived data can empower the team to sell products effectively and address customer needs.
Building a high-performance cannabis retail team is not just a goal; it's a necessity for success in this dynamic industry. By implementing the five tips outlined in this blog, you can create a team that not only drives profitability but also delivers exceptional customer service. From setting clear goals and fostering effective communication to promoting continuous learning, exceptional customer service, and adaptability, these strategies will empower your team to thrive and meet the challenges of the ever-evolving cannabis market.
If this blog has you rallying your team excitedly to enroll them in your holiday goals, be sure to sign up for our newsletter. We help our subscribers tap into industry insights and recognize the signs of success to drive their business into higher profitability.
Want to learn more from Vetrina?
Join us inside our Cannabis Retail Management 100 Course.
This course is not your basic Cannabis 101 course — we go deeper. We will go over the retail core principles and help you apply and use them in your cannabis retail environment.