Dispensary Budtender Turnover Rate is Out of Control

dispensary budtender rate is high - jars of cannabis

The most essential tool for a successful company is its employees. Having a high-quality workforce is the backbone to any industry, especially one that requires such immense customer service skills. The cannabis industry is a brand-new sector with a vast amount of career opportunities. Candidates from every walk of life are flocking to the cannabis industry in hopes of being a part of such a pioneering market. One of the most sought-after positions in the industry and a foot-in-the-door for many is the budtending position. Even though this is a well-desired position with a ton of available openings, cannabis companies can’t seem to hold onto their budtenders. In fact, the dispensary budtender turnover rate is higher than any other position in the industry. Why is this the case, and what are the best solutions?

Brief Look at the Budtending Position

To understand the turnover rate, we must first understand what it takes to be a budtender. While there are jobs similar to the budtender position, the uniqueness of the cannabis industry makes this a career unlike anything else. Budtenders are the face of the dispensary and the initial point of customer interaction. They are responsible for providing a professional, caring, and knowledgeable shopping experience to every consumer and patient. The budtending position requires someone with high social skills, a passion for cannabis knowledge, and a desire to serve customers and patients.

This job may sound like an average sales or retail position. However, the cannabis industry is all about compliance and regulations. These state compliance laws are changing nearly every day in newly-legalized states. A budtender must maintain compliance throughout their entire shift with every customer. While they are providing top-notch customer service, they must be double-checking their work to make sure they did not oversell, give away any product, or forget to check a license. On top of following the hundreds of other compliance laws enforced by the state, budtenders must be flexible, social, and extremely detail oriented.

The point is, it takes a very particular type of person to be successful as a budtender.

How Bad is the Turnover?

The budtender position is a vital role in the success of the cannabis industry. Every consumer who ever shops at a dispensary must go through a budtender to do so. They are the face-to-face sales and marketing day in and day out. Customer interaction is the most critical factor to any top-notch dispensary. It may be a good idea to retain quality employees if this cannabis career is so vital to a dispensary’s overall success.

The Numbers:

  • Only 38 percent of Colorado’s budtenders stayed with the company they started with for the first year.
  • Of all Colorado’s cannabis employees, 44 percent were new and left in the same year.
  • Only 15 percent of employees, who were with a company for one year, stayed the following year.

Many people think the budtender position is an ideal entry-level job in the industry; so why would candidates be quitting companies so quickly? If it’s such a desired job, why can’t companies retain their budtenders?

The Primary Causes of Dispensary Budtender Turnover & Potential Solutions

Multiple factors go into the causes of high turnover. Solving this problem is not about pointing fingers at the employees nor the employers. High turnover is the outcome of poor interviewing and selection processes, weak training procedures, lack of position understanding, lack of leadership, and lack of incentives to stay. These are all factors that play into a high turnover rate. The good thing is, through increased professionalism and education, there are solutions to this problem.

Possible Solutions:

  1. Dispensaries and Talent Selection Companies need to begin fine-tuning their selection processes to fit the cannabis industry. It may be a good idea to create interviewing and selection programs tailored to developing the dispensaries’ leadership and ability to hire for their shop.
  2. On top of creating better selection programs, there needs to be an understanding of the budtending position and what it takes to be successful in this environment. Position understanding gives the employees a better sense of what the job entails and where it can lead.
  3. The industry needs to become aware that budtenders are not a disposable position which is always replaceable. More competitive incentives and leadership are necessary to help retain dependable employees. Understanding the cost of a bad hire and why retention is vital, would drastically help educate cannabis business owners about the importance of lowering the dispensary budtender turnover.

These are all brief solutions to the problem, and each one requires multiple steps. Solving the high dispensary budtender turnover is no easy task. It is not too complicated, but it needs diligence and focus. Cannabis companies need to see the importance of internal business development. Many dispensaries outsource their hiring instead of teaching their management to “Hire Right and Regret Less.” The turnover rate will likely begin to decrease as we gain a better understanding of cannabis careers and what types of candidates will be successful in those roles.

Stay tuned for updates on the turnover rate in the cannabis industry, here!


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Justice Council
Justice Council is a freelance writer, CBD specialist, and cannabis enthusiast located in Denver, Colorado. His wide range of experience as a budtender, delivery driver, and CBD sales rep has given him a unique look into this new world of cannabis. Throughout his career in the industry, Justice has written many pieces on culture, economics, product knowledge, and career opportunities within the cannabis space. He takes pride in being part of a truly pioneering industry.