Committee Blog: Time to Hire

The road to opening a licensed cannabis business is a long one. You have managed to navigate through a competitive and complex licensing process. You have convinced your local community to give your company a shot. You have beautified the area surrounding your business. You have secured your supply chain, and you even opened a special account at a cannabis bank to deposit all that cash. You have hired armed security, and even though you are paying the company 3X what you’re making, it’s okay because you and your staff are safe. You even survived the facility build-out, and hopefully, you have about six months of capital. What an accomplishment. Bravo! You did it! Wait… you need a team to help you operate this beast. Time to hire!

I heard someone say, ‘Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.’ I would guess that if you have made it to the finish line, you’re likely to already have a team. Now it’s time to expand that team. As if the odds aren’t already stacked, in the fast-paced world of cannabis retail, turnover rates are hitting a staggering 55% within a year, per as of November 2023. I learned about this very early on when I began my research. I needed to know why and what I could do to avoid more than half my staff quitting within the first year. There were some common factors that led to employee attrition. I was a bit surprised to hear that pay wasn’t a top factor. What I learned was budtenders, in particular, didn’t feel the company provided any kind of staff development. Many instances described a poor management staff, and many felt unappreciated and overworked.

When we started this thing, it was important to make sure we could create opportunities for others. I’ve worked for both big and small businesses, some corporate and some non-corporate. I have had some good managers and some bad ones. I learned something from each job I’ve held. I vowed to make sure my staff never looked at our managers and our company and put us in the bad category. Trust is earned, and leadership can never be forced. I opened doors on April 22nd, and we hired 21 part-time employees. I will follow up in 12 months to see if I beat the odds. I’ve done it before.

It was through the NCIA network I met Carlo, and he had me go through a workshop. What I learned was, first, we needed to ask ourselves: What are our principles at Banyan Tree? My team is amazing, and we have been together so long we trust in each other’s expertise to maintain a harmonious environment. We want to make sure the staff feels the same way. So collectively, we created a list of principles. Next, we posted the job position. The response was overwhelming. Within 24 hours, we had close to 500 applications. We narrowed that down to 50. We scored the candidates based on their work experience and the video response they provided, aligning with our principles. Next, we scheduled the interviews. We called each candidate to share what they could expect during the interview. We sent them the list of our principles. We would be conducting the interview using the S.T.A.R. method: Specific, Task, Action, Result. That means the questions we ask will all be related to their work experience. We expect the answers you give to describe an experience that uses the S.T.A.R method response. It really helps us get to know the candidates during the interview, and you can tell someone is being genuine when they can recall an experience they had while working at previous jobs. There were about 21 of those interviews that went on for a full hour. We hired 21 amazing people. They all feel like they are part of something special. It’s my job to keep my promise.

It’s important to continue developing and educating the staff to help them get better at their skill. It is necessary to provide them with the tools they need to perform their job. Stuff like scanners and POS systems and card readers need to work. Technical issues disrupt the flow, but that’s controllable. Communication and trust are key. Without it, you’re doomed. Appreciation and praise go a long way. We need customers to stay in business, but we can’t do business without staff. My philosophy is that my employees are everything. As long as they love their job, our guests are going to reap the benefits.

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