Slow day? Best Ways to Keep Budtenders Busy

Staying excited and engaged on busy days at the dispensary is easy. Patients and customers are usually in a happy mood, and the day flies by. But what do you do to keep your staff motivated and productive on a rainy morning when no one is shopping?

Too many managers assign cleaning and organizing tasks on slow days, but this feels like a punishment that demotivates the team even more than not having customers to help. Instead, take downtime as an opportunity to improve the team’s product knowledge and teamwork. With this in mind, I’ve put together seven ways to encourage personal growth while also reducing wasted time and resources.

Do a compliance inspection. Preparing your team for inspections makes them much easier and less stressful when they happen for real. Make sure everyone knows whom to contact in case of an inspection and where to find those phone numbers. Guide the team through the company’s policy as far as who is qualified to answer questions and escort inspectors. Walk them through the items inspectors will check and what questions they can expect to be asked. While doing this, make sure your dispensary is flawless or make a list of issues to correct and get to work remedying them.

Improve menu descriptions and collect reviews. Tap into your employees’ knowledge and passion for cannabis by asking them to write about the products they sell and use. I’ve allowed my staff to buy edibles and concentrates at cost or given them other discounts in exchange for 250-500 word product and strain reviews. A slow day is a perfect time for them to work on those writeups. In addition to improving content on your websites and menus, I have seen teams really connect during these types of projects; whether they are comparing notes or getting help with spelling and grammar, teamwork thrives. If you feel you have enough product reviews, ask them to look through the menu and come up with suggestions to better describe the items offered for sale at the dispensary. This helps drive future sales because the cannabis consultants really get to know what they are selling, and customers can shop online more confidently. However, I warn you to curb your expectations. The reviews and product descriptions you get may need some polishing. Your consultants may know their products but may not be great writers. Regardless, it’s worth recruiting their help and feedback. It is far more cost-effective to get a preliminary draft from a bored employee on a slow day than to pay the marketing team to create something from scratch.

Encourage cross-training. A slow day is a great time to teach your team new skills. Some easy ways to achieve this are showing a packager how to run the front desk, letting an assistant manager see how an order is done, or grooming a consultant to take on more leadership by letting them observe the schedule being made. Even if they don’t get to add the knowledge or task to their regular duties right away, having a manager take an interest in their growth and development will help them be more productive and improve employee retention and promotion metrics. And as a manager, it makes your job easier if you can call on your team to support you by taking on additional tasks as needed.

Check on facility maintenance. Every dispensary has a leaky faucet, a printer that needs some TLC, some weeds growing along the front walkway, or something similar that needs attention. Find out who wants to do what and let them try to fix the problem or at least figure out what needs to be done to get it resolved. A few employees may need to get on the phone with tech support, some may need to go outside and roll up their sleeves, and someone else might pull out the dispensary toolbox; either way, work is being done that improves the facility and reduces wasted time. I’ve always been impressed by the knowledge and skills my employees possess, and it makes a slow day way more enjoyable when everyone owns a project rather than just being forced to clean or check expiration dates. I’ve also found that when I ask employees to help with these types of tasks, the company usually saves money because it reduces the need to bring in professionals or buy new equipment.

Audit timesheets and employee files. Have your employees double-check their timesheets are accurate, and they’ve turned in any requests for time off for the next pay period. Also, have them make sure their contact information and mailing address on file is up-to-date. You may also ask them to check when their last employee review was and have them email you to schedule their next one. If it’s really slow and about that time, knock out a few performance reviews that day. In addition, make sure their withholdings are correct, and you have all required I9 documentation.

Everyone trains on a topic. Have everyone write down a cannabis-related topic they want to learn more about and throw them in a hat. Then let each team member pick one and spend 20-30 minutes doing research to present to the group. I’ve seen this exercise spark some great conversations where tons of information is shared. This has also led to improvements for new hire training in terms of what materials and topics we cover. In the end, everyone has hopefully learned something new to better serve patients and customers.

Have the team come up with social media posts, upcoming sales, or blog topics. They know their customers and patients best, so they are uniquely suited to suggest relevant content and sales. It has been immensely helpful to me to plan upcoming sales and deals when I ask my team for help. They know what isn’t moving, what could be bundled together, or what’s coming up for expiration that needs a price cut to move. In addition, have them comb through the website and see if there are any new FAQs to add typos to fix or links that don’t work. Even if the marketing or inventory teams have to make some tweaks to what they come up with, it’s empowering to see your ideas online or offered to patients and customers.

If you get through these suggestions and still have time to kill, ask the staff what they think will help them be better or improve the dispensary. No one wants to sit around bored at work. I have found dispensary employees are creative and ambitious; they want to impress the boss and grow within the industry, so given a chance to share, they will surprise you with some great ideas!

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