Matt Dell

Budtender Training 101: The Must-Know Secrets for Training Your Staff

Budtenders have the potential to increase customer retention and boost overall sales.

So, the quality of budtender training can influence the revenue and reputation of your dispensary.

But you can't just choose any budtender course to do this for you. Selected members must have the necessary expertise and knowledge relevant to your store.

As the face of your business, and particularly as the specialists for advice-dependent cannabis consumers, there are many important factors to consider regarding the experience your team provides.

While you may have your performance indicators to go by, a universal sign of success in any retail business is increased revenue.

Keep reading for a closer look at the causal factors behind performance and secrets you can use in your next dispensary training.

The Case for Training: Budtender Performance & Dispensary Data

We compiled data from cannabis dispensaries across San Francisco, Sacramento, and Colorado, to see how their employees performed in July 2020 to study employee behavior and achievement.

On average, we found that budtenders, among many exciting correlations, show a 64% delta between the best-performing and worst-performing employees.

If retail locations encouraged the poorly performing ones to at least meet the average level of performance across all employees, their revenue per ticket size would grow dramatically, about 31% per ticket size.

The wide disparity of ticket size strongly suggests that certain team members lead consumers to lower-priced or higher-priced items. For example, one may always offer a lower-budget flower, where another might always suggest a higher-end flower).

It sounds like a no-brainer, but those who tend to sell higher-end cannabis products often had that strategy reflect well their overall revenue performance.

Additionally, tenure had no clear correlation with ticket size. Experience did not necessarily equate with higher performance.

These figures help suggest that implementing budtender training and courses on strategies could influence overall revenue.

Sales Strategies for Every Budtender

There are a few key strategies your team should learn to help them provide service to clients. The following section outlines these methods.

Maybe you already see some at your company? Either way, they should be part of any classes you're considering.

Cannabis Consumer Profiling: Responding To Lifestyles & Interests

One selling technique for dispensary budtenders that can be highly effective is segmenting and lifestyle profiling.

Whereas many businesses look to age and gender as a critical indicator of understanding the wants and needs of their clients, these factors are not causal in preferences.

By recommending cannabis edibles, tinctures, or concentrates based on past purchases and inferring preferences on specific brands and product types, employees can get a more accurate picture of buyers' needs.

A bit of personalization goes a long way. A simple "We know you like this brand's vapes" shows you're paying attention and can make a difference in the next visit.

Store teams can use personalized strategies with the help of two things: data and experience.

They can use data within point-of-sale (POS) software to identify personal preferences.

POS data contains information on what a customer previously purchases, which is valuable towards teams looking to leverage a greater understanding of their base.

Of course, the other way personalization can come is through time spent on the job. Those employed at a dispensary longer should recognize regular cannabis consumers and begin to anticipate or respond to their buying behaviors.

While mastering data provides a potentially quicker and more sophisticated means for employees to profile customers, training that includes tips on familiarizing regular clients can also be somewhat practical.


Each retail employee has their way of making the sale, but in understanding what a customer purchases repeatedly, there's an opportunity to bump revenues.

While we explored the difference that selling more expensive products can make, there are other ways to promote less costly items while still optimizing ticket size.

Particular stock lends to add-ons like storage, devices, bulk purchasing, or potentially free discounts.

Identify which products provide an opportunity for upselling and suggest a pair of products, only if it makes sense, of course.

Believe it or not, upselling can depend on robust consumer profiling. More knowledge of the niche groups within a dispensary base leads to more empowered employees.

Investing in training that covers both profiling and upselling can improve performance at the store.

The Most Important Courses of Any Budtender Training

Budtender Industry Knowledge

As budtenders become more and more knowledgeable about your products, they will help buyers make accurate decisions.

The ultimate goal is to give a customer what they want without leading them astray. Achieving this starts by having retail employees understand the entire cannabis plant and the specific effects of each product containing cannabinoids, THC, CBDs, etc.

Now it's true that employees should also learn the effects of medical marijuana and why certain strains provide relief for particular conditions and symptoms.

Retail employees must learn their seemingly infinite inventory to cater to this wide range of needs and personal preferences among clients.

All employees should be able to adequately explain the difference between Indica, Sativa, and hybrid strains. They need to know what terpenes are and how they affect THC or CBD effects.

Aside from the physical distinctions between marijuana, they should also distinguish brands and make cannabis brand recommendations.

It is crucial because employees might not know what buyers will respond to best, but they should recommend brands based on their preferences to cannabis flavor, quality, type of high, or price range.

When a brand is out-of-stock, the last thing a dispensary wants is for an employee not to know what to say to a buyer.

If employees know the products and brands, they can make practical recommendations even they are out-of-stock. If they don't have a solid answer, clients will buy from someone else who does.

Investing in courses and training that begin with this foundational knowledge or hiring staff to demonstrate it will undoubtedly improve your dispensary.

Marijuana Consumption: What Trained Budtenders Should Know

When clients ask how they should consume cannabis, the budtender should learn more about the patient and offer an informed perspective.

Traditionally, trained teams believe that the best way to introduce marijuana is through ingestion, as it is the simplest mode of use. Smoking and vaporization should only be discussed after oral consumption has been established successfully.

However, employees must also understand that people are at unique places on their cannabis journeys. Employees are responsible for shaping and influencing consumer behavior, which they can only do when asking the right questions.

There is no correct way to answer these kinds of questions; employees must be more interested in being patient experts than dispensing facts.

To ensure they ask informed questions about patients consumption habits, some of the questions can be:

Retail employees must learn that they are not trying to sell something but rather help a decide what they need. The best employees won't try to tell buyers how to live their lives; it's much better.

Make sure that training includes this basic philosophy.

Compliance in Budtender Training: Essential for All Classes

Compliance matters for employees at a dispensary. Even those with prior education can make mistakes such as:

If your employees don't seem knowledgeable about testing methods and procedures, they should be!

They should learn how to properly test bacteria and mold contamination to avoid potentially lousy stock from being sold over the counter.

Service can also impact dispensary compliance.

For example, in an interview with Flowhub, former Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) direct Jim Vigiland described how one budtender's bad service resulted in a dispensary getting flagged by compliance and losing their bank account.

As cannabis is still pending federal legalization, an excellent reputation is everything, especially when it comes to the way budtender service and satisfaction can influence state compliance.

Not all clients will take the time to read instructions before consuming the product, so advising on safe practices is paramount to building a trusting relationship.

For medically and recreationally licensed employees, confidence in making claims backed by evidence and research is vital not only out of necessity but also in cementing your role as a trusted retailer.

As seen in the example above, supporting entities like banks necessary to a cannabis dispensary may choose to end industry relationships based on bad service.

Therefore, investing in training that prioritizes cannabis retail compliance is essential for any dispensary.

How to Properly Handle Cannabis & Work in Teams

Budtenders have many responsibilities when it comes to maintaining the cannabis in-store. Training should cover all the compliance-related processes related to inventory management and quality, and how to interface with patrons.

Employees are responsibility for strategizing store maintenance as a team. Here's a segment on how team members should work together on tasks.

On budtender shift change:

Please take a minute or two to get organized before the next budtender arrives for their shift. Ask if there are any messages, things needing to follow up on, etc.

If required, ask the budtender departing for a brief moment to help with completing tasks such as packaging, weighing, and tagging any plants.

If budtender is not yet working on the clock, keep employees in line by allowing them to clock in immediately upon arrival. After completing any tasks mentioned above, the budtender can do a 30-second update what they did during their last shift before clocking out and departing.

Training Proper Etiquette for Serving Cannabis

There are a few essential parts to etiquette, especially in a cannabis dispensary.

Retail etiquette is necessary but straightforward to follow as a budtender to ensure your dispensary runs smoothly and the customer experience is fantastic.

Knowing these rules ensures that a hired budtender knows how to handle different situations appropriately.

A few essential parts of etiquette include training:

How to Greet Customers

When greeting a person for the first time, it is essential to have a solid handshake and make eye contact when talking to them.

It's imperative to look your clients in the eyes during these exchanges to show you are trustworthy and display confidence.

A good rule of thumb is that they won't be as keen to get any products from you if they feel uncomfortable being around you.

Setting up Software Before Doors Open

Install dispensary software before anyone arrives, so there are no bumps along the way. You have to make sure that software installation is part of any opening protocol.

The manager or lead budtender should be able to access and set any budtender software up correctly.

Some employees might not know to install a budtender menu correctly, which could cost your dispensary money in decreased revenue.

If it takes too long for you to get everything set up, or maybe there is some confusion about all this information, then you can lose out during that time if your first customers are waiting around for things to open.

That's the worst possible experience you can give someone: waiting around with nothing to do.

Access & Experience with Retail Technology

Another factor in exceptional budtending is mastering dispensary software.

Your dispensary likely has a tech stack for retail operations, including additional tools that provide insights into specific processes. Training should always include an overview of all relevant technology for retail so that every budtender can start using it quickly and effectively.

For example, the POS system is one technology most central to a budtender's daily job. It allows employees to accept credit card transactions and track inventory, sales, and information. It enables employees to interact on a retail level.

Use Data To Make Your Training Better  

Training is always going to be unique to your storefront. You're going to have distinguished challenges that require specialist knowledge.

The best way to find these out is through data.

If you're looking to find out what areas budtender training is necessary for your store, Happy Cabbage can help.

Contact us today for a demo of Sirius, our new operations platform, for identifying improvements to your business.