April 11, 2022

Preparing your staff for 4/20: a guide for cannabis retailers

April 11, 2022

What makes one dispensary stand out in the eyes of a budtender when so many sell the same brands and products? It’s simple—besides pay and benefits, your staff wants to feel valued. After all, it’s your dispensary they chose to work for, so take care to make sure that 420 is as painless as possible. 

Luckily, there are several ways to make the big day more exciting (and rewarding) for your team, so let’s get into it.

1. Maintain consistent communication

Given the 420 rush (including the days leading up to it), your staff will be busy processing orders, consulting with customers, and more—but that’s no reason for your dispensary to dial back on internal communication.

Maintain open, consistent lines of communication throughout the holiday rush, just as you would with a medical customer who’s waiting for their favorite product to be restocked. Employees that feel supported by their managers are more likely to feel content in their position and motivated to increase sales. 

To keep things running smoothly during peak sales times, make sure you’ve established workflows that keep all employees aligned on the day’s top priorities. Anything that slips through the cracks will create tension in your store—and shoppers will pick up on it.

2. Have realistic expectations

Given that 420 is one of the busiest cannabis shopping days of the year, preparing staffing schedules and setting business hours ahead of time will save your staff from headaches and burnout.

Here are a few ways to keep your staff happy and the sales flowing:

Support for extended hours

Depending on your location, consider offering extended hours to give customers more time for in-store pickups. If regulations in your city prohibit this, you could still extend your before-opening and before-closing shifts for inventory checks and restocking. This prevents you from overloading your staff within a small window of time. 


If you plan to run delivery on 4/20, you will definitely need to book extra staff exclusively on shift to take deliveries. Pulling sales staff from the floor on a busy day like this could cause more problems in-store. Make sure these individuals are trained to conduct deliveries within the POS and traceability systems.

Obviously the more deals you offer, the more budtenders you will need to have scheduled. Sometimes it’s wise to staff up extra on the week leading up to 420, so the prep is treated just as seriously as the holiday itself.

Spoil your staff

Treat your staff for their hard work! Supply food and caffeine, and rotate them frequently so they have more breaks than usual. You don’t want them feeling burnt out in front of a customer.

Enable pre-ordering

If your POS allows for it, enable customers to pre-order their products for the next day with after-hours ordering—and use these pre-orders to plan for future demand. You can also let customers schedule orders in advance for pickup and delivery, and set maximum order limits so your staff can manage order fulfillment with ease.

3. Provide training and educational resources

Budtender education is vital to cannabis as a movement. Unfortunately, lots of negative connotations and stereotypes regarding cannabis (and those who consume it) continue to persist. To prepare for 420, educate your budtenders on the importance of accurately speaking to the science behind cannabis. You’ll want your customers to see your budtenders as a trusted resource—and while a lot of cannabis consumption varies by body chemistry, a true cannabis enthusiast will be able to successfully guide a customer in their product selection.

Resources for budtender education can include books (made available to employees during downtime at the store or for “rent” to read at home), scientific research, brochures and pamphlets (directly from the brands you sell), industry newsletters, and even online courses. Utilize all the resources available to you to keep your budtenders passionate and informed about what they’re selling.

Another fun way to keep budtenders passionate about the products they’re selling is to create exclusive vendor hangouts. These meet n’ greets are more than just in-store popups, because your staff doesn’t always have the time to actively learn and ask questions while working the sales floor. Setting internal meetings with your top-selling brands can help motivate your staff. The rich details they hear directly from the cultivators and producers that crafted each batch of flower or oil can help provide a curated shopping experience for everyone involved. 

4. Incentivize staff with contests and reward those who go above and beyond

Employees that go beyond the criteria of your average budtender want to be acknowledged when they take on additional responsibilities that aren’t necessarily a part of their job description. Recognize and reward those who’ve reorganized inventory, made a stock list for the purchaser or supervisor, or pulled an item with an old harvest date from the floor. Attractive rewards for going above and beyond can include:

  • Lunch incentives
  • Verbal acknowledgments/shout-outs
  • Traveling MVP trophies
  • Career-based promotions

Contests within your dispensary can also incentivize your staff to work faster and upsell more often. Point of sale analytics can help you monitor sales for these contests. If you’re a Dutchie customer, this is as easy as checking out your Dutchie Analytics. 

Every contest should have a tangible reward; a gift card to a local glass shop; a vaping device or battery; brand swag, etc. Position the prize as the result of an attainable but significant sales goal. Your 420 revenue will spike, and the commitment to increasing product sales will follow naturally.

5. Offer free samples and benefits 

The average budtender considers sample products a benefit. Samples tend to come from vendors who want feedback on a new product or a wholesaler trying to get their product into a new store. One of the most exciting things about being a budtender is testing the product as homework. This gives them an opportunity to leverage their expertise in customer conversations about products, drawing from their own personal experiences. Samples are an incredible incentive for budtenders.

Note: unfortunately, samples are not available to staff in Canada due to legal restrictions. Instead, they can purchase products at an “employee price” or discounted rate.

TL;DR: For a successful day of sales, it’s vital that your team feels supported and appreciated. Offering encouragement and support—as well as contests, discounts, and learning opportunities—will create a positive work experience for your budtenders on 420. When customers notice that your dispensary (and employees) are thriving, it’s a win/win for all.

Download our The Ultimate 420 Survival Guide for even more tips

If you’re a dispensary owner or manager, you understand how your staff’s energy levels can make or break holiday sales—but there’s so much more that goes into the 420 puzzle. In our Ultimate 420 Survival Guide for Cannabis Retailers, we cover everything you’ll need for a successful day of retail sales, including:

  • Finding your in-store aesthetic: layouts and floor plans that keep customers happy, plus eye-catching merchandising
  • Your ideal tech stack: mission-critical tools you’ll need to satisfy demand, track inventory, power sales, and stay compliant
  • Staffing: how to communicate with, train, and support your team leading up to (and during) the big day
  • Post-holiday sales performance: how to review and analyze consumption trends and sales performance—and plan for next year

Get the guide here!

About the author
The Dutchie Squad