Dispensary tips

4 strategies for surviving and thriving as an MSO in the cannabis industry

By
Lindsay Crafford
July 14, 2022

Opening a cannabis dispensary is no simple feat, and when you expand into a multi-state operator (MSO) business model, things can get complicated fast.

If you're a cannabis retailer who wants to grow and scale your business, you need to have some solid processes in place for ensuring day-to-day operations run smoothly. In this blog post, we'll explore some best practices to help you manage multiple dispensary locations, including:

  1. Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  2. Hiring dispensary staff
  3. Investing in scalable, easy-to-manage technology and software
  4. Store security and theft prevention

How to survive and thrive as a cannabis MSO

Continue reading below for four strategies successful cannabis MSOs are using to operate efficiently and scale their businesses.

1. Standardize your operations

One way to successfully manage multiple cannabis retail locations is to use the same standard operating procedure (SOP) across all your stores. You'll want to make sure that all of your store operations are running smoothly, even though you won't be physically present to monitor each store at the same time.

The procedures applied at each of your stores could cover components like:

  • Discounting and promotions
  • Team schedules
  • Inventory and returns
  • Customer experience

The more locations you have, the more relieved you'll be that you have these standard operating processes in place.

2. Hire awesome budtenders

Professional and reliable staff are another must-have.

Hire people you can trust to represent you managing your retail stores. Make sure that all your employees are competent and able to work professionally. In the cannabis industry, ongoing training is essential to improve your budtenders’ knowledge, since they're the ones directly interacting with customers day in and day out.

  • Give preference to employees with an ability to be professional and polite under any circumstances.
  • Provide your employees with the right training too, since you can't physically manage several stores at once. Your employees need to understand your goals, and in return, you need to keep them happy.
  • Pay attention to your employees’ welfare, too. Make sure they always receive good salaries, incentives and benefits.

3. Use the right software and technology

Sleek, user-friendly technology and software continue to be huge assets for today's dispensaries. While there's an overwhelming number of solutions and offerings out there, only a handful are truly built to scale with your business as it grows.

Ecommerce software

Many cannabis retailers prioritized creating an ecommerce presence when customers couldn’t enter stores at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s never too late to set up a solid online store to support your multi-location dispensary! While there are standalone ecommerce platform providers, if you want to run a truly efficient business, look for ecommerce solutions that integrate with Point of Sale (POS) software. This allows you to sync online and in-store activity across all of your locations with one platform.

Point of Sale (POS) software

The more you grow, the more you’re going to need the right technology and software to stay on top of key metrics and activities across every single location. Modernizing your POS setup is the first step. Companies like Dutchie can provide the ideal POS system for cannabis retailers. As you look more deeply into POS systems to support your multiple locations, other things to consider include:

  • Automating your inventory. Owning several dispensaries means that it can be challenging to keep track of inventory manually. While possible, it often proves far too labor-intensive. The traditional way of addressing inventory management is to hire a dedicated team member to keep track of everything, but doing so is not cost-efficient—and often prone to human error. Investing in an inventory management system, like a POS, eliminates these issues while helping you stay compliant and avoid retail fines and violations.


Payments software

The cannabis industry has a cash problem. The good news: now there are cash-free solutions that can help.

For dispensaries in the US, cannabis remaining a federally scheduled substance is a significant obstacle. And even though cannabis is legally regulated in the vast majority of states and Washington, DC, the major credit card networks prohibit the processing of cannabis payments. Until recently, these restrictions forced cannabis dispensaries into adopting an all-cash policy. The result? Inconvenienced customers and challenging tax collection practices—with dispensary owners literally delivering sacks of cash to City Hall.

Cannabis payment processing solutions use electronic processors to receive and distribute payments from customers’ banks. These solutions allow cannabis dispensaries to sidestep all of the difficulties associated with running an all-cash business, such as:

  • Account tracking. Keeping track of cash payments is complicated and challenging. Cannabis payment processing allows retailers to automate transaction reporting in a way that is impossible when dealing with cash.
  • Security risks. Keeping large amounts of cash anywhere is a security risk. Tempted burglars are well-aware of the fact that cannabis retailers typically keep large piles of cash on-premises and often have to deliver cash directly to tax authorities monthly.
  • Constant trips to the bank. Keeping significant amounts of cash-on-hand can be risky, so some dispensaries make multiple trips to the bank in a day in order to keep low in-store cash balances.
  • The hassle of bill payments. Many utility providers just don’t accept cash. This puts cannabis dispensaries in the difficult position of having to make electronic payments, despite not having access to their own business capital in an electronic form.
  • Inconvenienced customers. Many customers prefer to avoid spending cash whenever possible. In fact, when offered cashless payment solutions, shoppers tend to spend more thanks to the added convenience.


Psst—Dutchie Pay is coming soon!

As attitudes shift more and more each day, Dutchie is thrilled to help prepare US dispensaries to accept digital payments.

‍Our digital payments solution, Dutchie Pay, can lead to faster checkouts, more significant purchases, more productive staff, and returning customers. Shoppers can now choose how they pay—with curbside, delivery, and pay ahead options.
Join the waitlist today!

4. Get serious about store security

Security has always been paramount for cannabis dispensary owners.

The pandemic has led many retailers to improve their security management, as thieves looked to take advantage of shuttered locations and quieter towns and cities. A recent report from Spiceworks showed a third of businesses want to enhance their security management.

Smart technology and security integrations can help retailers manage multiple locations while improving their stores’ performance. Consider the following for your stores:

  • Smart security cameras: Video cameras are a must-have for surveillance and they can also be used for live look-ins, access control, and more.
  • Store access control: Cameras can be used alongside other smart technology like access control. Dispensary owners can use cameras to identify familiar people like delivery personnel or employees to unlock doors remotely. Keycards and swipes can also increase security across your stores.
  • Remote delivery tracking: Use smart cameras to track deliveries and ensure expected deliveries arrive safely and on time.
  • Smart lighting and energy: With smart thermostats and lighting, owners can manage energy usage at multiple locations. For example, each store manager can set your lighting and thermostat to match open and close hours and lower the use of energy from those devices while the store is closed.

Staying on top of multiple dispensary locations

Adding one or more locations to your cannabis retail business is something you can be proud of. It means your dispensary is growing, opening itself up to greater foot traffic, and achieving more opportunities to bolster your sales and revenue.

Looking for software to help you streamline in-store purchases across every one of your locations? Contact us today to see how Dutchie can help to ignite the potential of your multi-location cannabis retail business.

About the author
Lindsay Crafford
Sr. Content Marketing Manager @ Dutchie