When Lowell (now Original Cannabis) Café in Los Angeles opened in October, it was the first U.S. restaurant to allow open consumption of cannabis.
Photos by Wonho | Frank Lee

Ah, dispensaries. Each one unique in its own way. It seems like every day there’s a new one opening in Los Angeles. With nearly 190 licensed dispensaries, the competition is fierce, which is why it’s crucial for retailers to set themselves apart early on. With most shops carrying a lot of the same cannabis products, your best bet for sustained success is to make customer satisfaction the priority from the start. Here are three key tips for elevating customer satisfaction:

1. Invest in your budtenders. Remember, budtenders are the forefront of your business, and if they’re not satisfied, they might deliver a less-than-spectacular experience for your customers. Many budtenders don’t receive a living wage. For example, the average budtender salary in California is $13.77 per hour, according to Indeed.com. (In California, the living wage is $14.61 per hour for an adult with no children, according to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator.) By compensating budtenders properly, it tells them you care about their well-being and want to see them succeed. A happy budtender equals a happy customer. As a budtender, I’m more willing to go above and beyond on the sales floor when I feel my time and effort are being valued. But it’s not just about the financial compensation. Investing in your budtenders’ cannabis education is a huge factor, too. There are great online programs dedicated to educating budtenders on everything they need to know about cannabis. It really makes a difference to consumers when they interact with a knowledgeable budtender they feel they can trust.

Photos by Wonho | Frank Lee

2. Develop a loyalty program. Think about it—if loyalty programs work for every other retailer, than why not a dispensary? People love to feel like they’re working toward something, and it can be very satisfying for consumers when they reach their goal, even if it’s just a small discount down the road. A loyalty punch card is a tried-and-true method, but don’t be afraid to try some more creative approaches, either!

3. Listen, like really listen! Let’s be honest, there’s no way of pleasing everybody, but genuinely listening to the needs of your customers is a great start. Rather than just following the latest cannabis trend or picking up the hottest new brand, decide whether or not this is something your consumer demographic is seeking. Working in the cannabis industry also signifies being of service to the collective. You can’t provide the adequate help if you’re not taking into consideration the community’s needs. Gather as much customer feedback as you can about the products on your shelves and use that insight to make necessary adjustments. I’ve seen incredible products not sell simply because they didn’t serve a purpose to enough people visiting the shop.

Bianca Blanche is a freelance writer and flower host at Original Cannabis Café (formerly Lowell Café), a Los-Angeles-based restaurant, said to be the nation’s first cannabis consumption space.