Jerina Pillert, who co-owns Seattle-based Hashtag Cannabis with her husband Logan Bowers, says that the couple has been successful by applying their engineering background to growing their business. “What we’ve excelled at is creating processes that allow staff to operate without us,” she says. “We tackle operational problems every day, create a process for doing so, and they can solve problems on their own.”
The strategy has paid off for Hashtag Cannabis, which has expanded from a mom-and-pop shop to a team of 33 people with two retail locations and plans for a third location. In fact, Hashtag is in the process of moving from its existing stores to larger spaces in the same cities. The company’s employees are growing with the business, as well.
Most of the operations, marketing and managerial staff at Hashtag Cannabis started out in sales or as budtenders and worked their way up. For example, an employee may start off as a budtender, become an inventory lead, graduate to assistant manager and then store manager, and then get promoted to a leadership position, such as marketing director.
Employees are rewarded for their efforts with perks that include health care and dental benefits after 90 days as well as paid parental leave, 100% reimbursement on products purchased from company stores up to $100 per month and a 50% discount on all other products, and assistance with commuting and parking costs.
The company also helps customer-facing workers professionally develop using customized training. For example, Hashtag Cannabis designed and implemented budtender training materials to teach workers how to educate consumers about cannabis, including clearing up misconceptions about it. “We’ve done a lot of training with staff to teach them how to ask a customer if they’re new to cannabis or a connoisseur,” she says.
Pillert emphasizes strong two-way communication. Monthly companywide and weekly team meetings are “anything but dull” because they encourage employees to engage in productive conflict over new ideas. “A concept we use a lot is ‘disagree and commit,’ which means that employees are allowed to disagree while a decision is being made,” she says. “But once a decision has been made, everybody must commit to it.”