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Cannabis App Development

How to Improve Budtender Retention & Dispensary Hiring

Posted by: Nikki Tabberrah

February 15, 2023


The rapid expansion of the cannabis industry has brought with it a unique set of challenges, one of which is managing high budtender turnover rates.

The average turnover rate of budtenders in the cannabis industry is around 45%. This means that over half of all budtenders are leaving their positions each year, resulting in high costs for hiring and training new employees. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average cost of a bad hiring decision is at least 30 per cent of the individual's first-year salary. And with constant turnovers, businesses are bleeding out from constantly filling the gaps of these budtender vacancies

For those unfamiliar with the term, “budtender” refers to a retail cannabis store employee whose duties include product knowledge, customer service, and sales. Budtenders have traditionally been expected to possess significant knowledge about different types of marijuana products available in dispensaries as well as their effects. As such, they are vital to the success of any cannabis business.

However, despite the importance of budtenders to marijuana businesses, they tend to stay on the job for relatively short periods of time—in some cases just a few months or even weeks—before moving on. 

The high turnover rate can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as inadequate pay and benefits, unfulfilling work environments, and limited opportunities for career growth. For example, many states only require employers in the cannabis industry to offer minimum wage; however, this is often insufficient for employees who must also possess a significant level of knowledge about different types of marijuana products and their effects. As a result, these workers tend to view their jobs as short-term opportunities rather than long-term career paths. 

As such, cannabis businesses must find ways to mitigate these issues if they wish to maintain healthy staffing levels in their stores.

One way that many cannabis businesses are addressing budtender turnover is by improving their pay and benefits packages. Many states have recently implemented minimum wage laws specifically for workers in the cannabis industry; however, some employers are offering wages above these minimums in order to attract and retain talent. 

Additionally, some companies are offering incentives such as stock options or profit-sharing plans that give employees a stake in their company’s success while also providing them with an incentive to stay longer-term with their business.

Incentivizing employees through recognition programs or offering opportunities like cross-training or additional certifications can also help keep morale high among staff; additionally, giving employees clear paths for career growth within your organization will make them more likely to stick around long-term rather than seeking out other positions elsewhere in the industry.

While all this means investing more money into payroll, there are other ways you can slightly improve retention and legitimize employee experiences if you can’t shell out more dollars into the biz just yet. 

Cultivate a Healthy Environment

For starters, employers should strive to create a welcoming, inclusive environment where everyone is respected regardless of their backgrounds or positions within the company. Creating an open dialogue between management and employees can help build trust and foster collaboration, which can lead to improved job satisfaction among budtenders.

Offer Free Resources

Maximize your team's potential by taking the time to source employee development opportunities and beneficial resources. Invest in their growth with free or low-cost budtender training courses, while also providing them practical assistance through healthcare, childcare services and personal skill-building activities.


Improve Workplace Culture 

Assess brand and workplace culture and strive to make changes if necessary. For starters, you can make communication a priority because communication between management and staff is key to fostering healthy workplace culture. Next, you can establish a clear set of workplace values and expectations that foster an environment of trust, collaboration, and respect. And to tie things together, you can regularly implement team-building activities so that staff and management can build harmonious relationships with one another while still having fun.

Here’s a fun activity you can do:

  • Trivia Night - close the shop, prep some snacks and huddle the team for an exciting trivia night. Pick a theme and use Kahoot! to create your game. You just need a big screen and everyone can join in through their mobile devices. More than building rapport with the team, this method can also be used for engaging training sessions. 

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to managing high budtender turnover rates; each business must assess its own individual needs and come up with creative solutions explicitly tailored towards its workforce. 

But despite all these measures, no one can really control employees from leaving.  So what can dispensary owners do moving forward? Attracting and hiring the right set of talents can save you time and money on constantly building a team for your dispensary. Here are some tips to get you started.


Work with Cannabis Recruiters

It can be expensive to hire and retrain new employees on your own. Fortunately, there are cannabis HR agencies available to help businesses with their recruitment and retention needs. 

These agencies specialize in helping businesses find qualified candidates and provide guidance on how to retain them once they are hired. They also provide services such as onboarding assistance, employee management systems, and compliance support to ensure that all applicable laws are followed. The fee for these services will vary depending on the size and scope of the business’s needs but can be significantly less than what it would cost to rehire and train new employees without professional help. Utilizing a cannabis HR agency can help reduce costs while ensuring that businesses have access to qualified candidates who are more likely to stay with the company long-term.

You can check out these cannabis recruiters:


Ask the right questions

If you prefer to hire and train on your own to save up on fees, you can find the right talent by asking the right questions during the interview. 


  • Do you have prior work experience in the weed industry?
  • What made you interested to work in this industry?
  • Can you tell me more about your relationship with cannabis?
  • What are your expectations coming into this job as a budtender?
  • What cannabis trends or news have you heard of recently?


  • How do you plan to share product knowledge with a customer?
  • How do you handle customer complaints? Can you share your experience managing unsatisfied customers?
  • What would you do if you find a colleague or customer stealing from the store?
  • Working retail can be very hectic. What is your time management style? 
  • As budtenders, you need to be able to make proper recommendations to a customer regarding products. How do you handle rejections or disagreements if the customer did not like your recommendation?


  • How do you go about giving dosing recommendations?
  • How do you plan to give customers a great shopping experience?
  • Do you have previous cannabis education or certifications?
  • How do you plan to make product suggestions and upsells? 
  • Tell us more about how you plan to apply your current skillset in fulfilling the role of a budtender. 

To succeed in the ever-evolving cannabis industry, it is essential for business owners to stay informed on current trends and adapt their practices accordingly. With no magical formula for retaining top talents, you must strive to remain ahead of the curve if your company wants a chance at lasting success. 

All the best!

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Cannabis App Development