How to Hire the Best Budtenders

by Aly Payne,

I have found that some of the best budtenders had their start in either the service or retail industries. It is essentially just like any other customer service position, but with a heavy emphasis on compliance.

You can teach just about anyone the intricacies of the products that you carry, but work ethic and customer service are skills that are a little more difficult to transfer on. Discretion is also a positive trait as well as knowing what certain customers desire in their level of customer service.

Luke G.  |  Customer Success @ Green Bits and Former Budtender

When your marijuana retail store or dispensary needs to hire new staff, or build staff for a new operation, you don’t always have to hire people that love marijuana. Having a passion for the industry is great, but loving an industry doesn’t mean they’re right for your business. Your business has its own set of guidelines and culture and you want people who will help your business grow without disturbing the culture that you’ve developed (or are developing).

Folks walking through the doors of your establishment should feel comfortable with their budtender – meaning that knowledge and professionalism with a friendly tone goes much further than someone that just loves the plant. The following guide is going to help you hire budtenders that are right for your establishment and clients’/patients’ needs.

Look Outside the Industry

When hiring budtenders, consider looking outside of the marijuana industry. Those with customer service, account management, retail and/or food industry experience are used to assisting others directly. This type of individual is likely to strive in your company’s environment by having the ability to interact with people regularly.

Those outside the marijuana industry have also had the opportunity to develop skills that are necessary for bringing people through the doors. Almost anyone frequenting a dispensary or retail store is going to end up having a favorite budtender.

It is also ideal to look outside your industry to show those looking to enter the marijuana industry that they have a fair chance. Part of learning how to hire budtenders is knowing what skills will benefit your business the most.

Follow-Up with References

Every state has regulations regarding what you can ask references when calling for an employment reference check. It is ideal to ensure that you are not breaking any rules by asking prohibited questions. When speaking with personal/character references, ask about reliability and punctuality. Also, ask about a person’s reaction to stressful situations or how they react when they are frustrated. This will help you understand the personality of the applicant and if their reactions to situations are ideal for your company’s culture.

You’ll also want to know if sick days were used frequently, if they performed job duties as expected, exceeded expectations or were a model employee. This will help you determine whether a candidate is suited for a position in your store. Also, when possible, verify dates of employment.

Verifying dates of employment is important since you’ll want to hire budtenders that have stable and steady work histories. It shows dedication, a good work ethic and the ability to follow a schedule. Those that underperformed with previous employers are likely to underperform in your business as well.

Look at Skills before Industry Devotion

As mentioned in the introduction, industry passion or devotion should be on the checklist of important budtender traits, but should not be used as a sole reason to hire someone. Loving an industry does not mean that you belong working in it or are responsible enough to work in the marijuana industry. You have to hire people with a record of accomplishment for following the rules, because one person breaking the rules in your marijuana business can result in a loss of licensing.

Verify the skills that your applicants have listed. When conducting reference and employment checks, ask about the applicant’s level of expertise in different areas to help determine their fit in your marijuana business. You could ask about:

  • Personality
  • Ability to follow company guidelines
  • Willingness to help others
  • Ability to lead in stressful situations

Succeeding in these four areas shows that the applicant has taken previous jobs seriously and puts in a valiant effort to perform their jobs well.

Screen All Potential Hires with a Thorough Background Check

It is important to run thorough background checks for every potential new hire prior to completing the onboarding process. Candidates that cannot pass a background check should be excluded from consideration. Candidates with criminal backgrounds may not be trustworthy with your product, cash or customers.

Information Retention is Necessary

Every dispensary, whether recreational or medical, has a menu. There is also general industry knowledge that is important when hiring budtenders. Although industry experience is a plus, it is still very new in some states, meaning that experienced persons may not be available. So, look for those that can retain industry information and those that can memorize your menu.

In memorizing the menu, budtenders should know this information:

  • The lineage of a strain
  • Benefits (either recreational or medical) of the strain
  • Flavor/aroma
  • THC and CBD percentages
  • Date of harvest
  • Expected effects
  • Potential side effects

Those patronizing your dispensary or store are going to want to know the answers to questions regarding these topics. Budtenders should be able to provide this information without skipping a beat. If you have a large menu, it will be a little bit of a challenge to remember everything, but quizzing the budtenders before each shift is a good way to know who has taken the time to study and who hasn’t. A good tip is to reward those that have the menu memorized!

Along with memory, you also need to test a potential hire’s math skills. There is a lot of math involved with the marijuana industry. Budtenders should know the measurements of packaging amounts without having to look it up. They should also be able to count half gram and multi-product transactions easily. They don’t have to be Albert Einstein, but they should be able to do some simple mental math.

Closing Thoughts

Before posting ads for budtenders online, create a must haves list and post it with the job duties. These would be required skills. In those skills, you should include that industry experience is a plus but is not required. It is also important to stress that your employees must pass state exams and obtain industry agent identification. Your first instinct is going to tell you to look at those with industry knowledge and experience first, but don’t leave non-experienced hopefuls out when learning how to hire budtenders for your marijuana industry business.