5 Best Practices for Dispensary Training

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Trichome Institute has trained dispensary staff throughout North America for nearly a decade. Based on our experience as educators and the feedback from some of our most trusted clients, we’ve created new courses, tweaked our training process, and fine-tuned best practices for dispensaries.

dispensary training


Divide and Conquer

Considering our industry is ever-changing, dispensary managers, HR directors, C-Level employees, and partners have enough on their plate as it is. Running a business in a wishy-washy legal landscape and taking responsibility for every other aspect of managing employees is challenging enough. So instead of trying to do everything on your own, divide and conquer.  

When onboarding new employees, HR and dispensary managers should focus their internal training responsibilities on state and local laws about cannabis sales, consumption, transportation, and regulations that can directly result in legal issues. Internal training also includes the company’s mission, culture, SOPS, and other aspects of the business. External training is where we divide and conquer. Trichome will be the entity that educates your staff on cannabis topics, concepts, products, sales training and customer service, and other relevant issues about cannabis and the industry that are based on recent research.

Vet your new hires

We all know that onboarding a new employee isn’t exactly straightforward. There is a lot of time, energy, and expenses to get someone to start their first day of work. When you add the additional steps involved with training someone to the point that they can perform their job solo, it all adds up and can be incredibly frustrating when someone quits or gets fired in the early days or weeks of their time with your company. So, we want to ensure you’re not rushing things and using up a course seat for someone who wasn’t great for the job.

When onboarding a new hire, train them on your local laws, HR guidelines, and any other programs you have internally. Next, have them shadow one of your top dispensary associates or managers to see how well they work with others and communicate with your customers. Once you feel they are a good fit for your brand, you can invite them into your Trichome training group!


Mandatory Training v. Award Structure

No one likes mandatory training. Ok, maybe a few folks specializing in HR may get some kicks out of it, but overall, most of us don’t love it. So, we encourage you to use our courses as incentives with the perspective of – “congratulations, you’re doing great and get to take this awesome cannabis education course,” rather than “ok, well, you hit your _______ (timeframe), it’s time for your next training program.”

Here are three examples of how you can present our training encouragingly.

  1. New hires: Once you vet a new employee, as previously described, you can enroll them into the training in a positive way by telling them that they have done a great job since they got started, they fit into the culture of your business, and that you want to take their knowledge to the next level. Describe the course, which will most likely be Cannabis Consultant Training, as a fun and captivating way to learn about cannabis. It’s not yet another PowerPoint slideshow with a monotonous tone like they may have had in previous jobs. When we created CCT, we had this exact situation in mind. We wanted to create a training course that didn’t feel like a training course. So, keep it positive and fun, and make the training seem like an incentive, not some tedious BS.

  2. Passion Focused: The word passion may seem corny, but the reality is that some dispensary employees love, and I mean deeeeeply love, concentrates, or flower. From diehard dabbers to ganja connoisseurs, we’ve got courses to help take their excitement to another level. In this example, let’s say you have an employee who loves recommending flowers to your customers, and you want to encourage them by expanding their knowledge. In this case, you can then present them with the Interpening course and explain that they are doing such a fantastic job selling flower that you want them to become an Interpener or cannabis sommelier. This course will be a great way to encourage their excitement for flower further and boost their confidence – ultimately leading to even better customer experiences, retention, and higher sales.

  3. Supplemental: Let’s look at the same person above, but from a different perspective. Your flower-loving ganja geek is crushing flower sales, but you need them to balance out their recommendations and increase concentrate sales. The reality may be that they just haven’t spent enough time researching concentrates. The CCT course does a great job explaining concentrates and the products that come from them, but the real depth is found in the Extraction & Concentrates course. In this scenario, you can tell your employee that you want them to have a similar excitement for understanding concentrates. So you’re inviting them into the course so that they can further benefit their customers by offering them other options with the same level of confidence as they would with flower.

However you introduce our courses to your staff, be sure they are being presented in a fun, encouraging way, and don’t remind them of yet another boring company training sesh. It’s the cannabis industry, after all, learning should be fun!

Set training goals

There are a few ways to train your staff with our courses. The newest way many of our dispensaries have adopted since 2020 is by having the employee complete the training from the comfort of their home and then paying them a particular amount of hours to cover the training. Another way is by having the employee complete the training on-site in increments over a couple of days. One of the most effective training protocols is to ask your employee to complete specific lessons on-site or at home, followed by a review with the dispensary manager the same or the next day.

Regardless of how you go about training your staff with our courses, you need to set goals and provide an expectation of when they need to have the course completed. Our courses are an investment, and the best way to see an ROI is to ensure your staff is educated and speaking the same language so that your customers feel comfortable coming back again and again.

Get your products involved

Here’s a no-brainer – our training isn’t displaying your products! We’d love to take your sponsorship money and show you your in-house Durban Poison or 10:10 Watermelon Lime Tincture, but it’s not in the cards. So, since we’re not discussing your brand or products, we recommend you interact with the training and your employees by showing your dispensary products to accompany course sections.  

Try to say without the negative. It starts by stating what our training is not, and I prefer to say what it is. If it does not contain their products, don’t mention that. Just note that they need to take advantage of using their products in the entire training process 

Depending on how you assign and break down our course modules, we recommend you highlight products on your shelf to help connect the dots of our training to your inventory. After CO2, ethanol, and hydrocarbon is explained in ECF, open up the concentrate case and show some extracts that fall into each category. Just wrapped up the transdermal and topical section of CCT? Then grab some lotions, balms, and patches and explain which stay on top or enter the bloodstream. Trying to explain why your top-shelf flower is $15 more a 1/8th? Then grab an Interpening magnifier and let your newly certified Interpeners have a geek-out sesh while evaluating the trichome density and ripeness so that they can then justify the additional expense to your customers.

Remember, there are several ways to incorporate our courses into your company culture, brand, and products to provide a more well-rounded learning experience for your employees.



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