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Monday April 22, 2019

By Paul Barach


For most people wanting to enter the cannabis industry, budtending is a great first step. There are so many draws: interesting people, discount marijuana, fun coworkers, selling a product you love, and good music. Even more, budtenders have the unique opportunity of experiencing the hustle and bustle of a brand new industry firsthand.

However, it’s still a job, and one that needs to be done well to get further along in both your shop and in your marijuana industry career. Becoming a great budtender can mean better tips, connections, promotion, and the pride that comes with being really good at selling legal weed. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to become a great budtender.

Know Your Product

While it may seem Retail 101, it’s invaluable to be able to talk to your customers in detail about the products that you’re selling. While sampling the merchandise is a major part of this – a major and really, really, fun part of it for budtenders – you can’t exactly try everything in the shop in your first week. could, but it’s doubtful you’d make it into work for your second week.

Product Knowledge
Customers enjoy budtenders who are knowledgeable about the products a dispensary carries.

Go ahead and buy some grams of bud to take back home and do your research. Find out which gummies taste best, which of the pastries have the longest effect, and what infused beverages come on the quickest. But also, ask around the shop. See what the other budtenders think about each product. Ask the customers what they thought about their purchase when they return, especially if they ask for something different the next time. Ask the product reps what they think makes their product stand out and see if it rings true with the customers or other budtenders. In the long run, it’ll benefit you when you’re helping a customer pick a product. 

Have a Sales Pitch

You don’t have to spend time memorizing home-made flash cards, but you should know enough about your products to have a short sales pitch for each one. If a customer asks the difference between brands of gummies or between similar strains, being able to give a quick two or three differences makes a huge difference.

Sales Pitch
Make sure your pitch is precise, non-pushy, and thoughtful toward the consumer.

Similarly, you don’t have to have a degree in botany when you’re selling different strains. However, knowing a little more than the standard “indica is for relaxation, because it puts you in-da-couch” really impresses both the customers and your employers. Know some of the basic terpenes, get some facts on CBD, and be able to explain how high THC doesn’t necessarily mean that a strain gets you higher. Your customers will always appreciate the extra knowledge and that usually translates into better tips and return trips.

Keep Your Register Tidy

While it may seem like a small thing, make sure your display is organized and your register is clean. It’s not as though pot smokers have a reputation for being “Type A” personalities, but customers notice. A lot of budtending is about trust between the customer and their budtender. If a budtender is paying attention to their workspace, they’ll likely be paying attention to what their customer needs, too.

Know Your Regulars

A lot of the customers coming into your shop chose it because it was within driving distance or their field of vision when they needed more weed. They’ll grab a joint or an eighth and be on their merry way. However, many customers choose their shops based on word of mouth, customer reviews, or through dispensary locating services like PotGuide.

Once a customer finds a shop they like, they’ll most likely be coming back. Especially if they get great service and if they like their budtender.

If you see a customer returning to your shop, be sure to learn their name. Ask them about their day as you’re choosing their selection, find out what they do for work or for fun as you’re ringing them up. Throw them a discount if you can. You’ll be surprised at the diversity of people coming into your shop. Be open to conversations and you’ll see your tips go up, and your customers more and more. Some might even wait to go to your line specifically.

Sell Your Customers the Right Product

The great thing about selling marijuana and marijuana products is the diversity of effects one can experience with cannabis. Alcohol, whether wine, beer, tequila, or vodka, pretty much differs only in taste (more or less. Things can get rowdy with tequila.) Cannabis, on the other hand, can be used for everything from focus to sleep to pain relief. Because of that, it’s very important for a budtender to know exactly what the customer is looking for, since that is what you should be providing to them.

Verde Dispensary
Make sure you're attentive to your customer's needs at all times. photo credit

Plenty of people coming into cannabis from positions in retail may be looking to upsell. This is the wrong attitude when you’re a budtender. Repeat customers are a shop’s bread and butter, and you’ll make more off people coming back in than you will a customer coming in once, feeling that they were overcharged, and telling their friends to avoid the shop. Cannabis is also a product that relies on trust. A customer is trusting you that their experience with the product will be pleasant and beneficial. If you can provide them that, you’re as golden as Golden Goat.

Find Out What Experience or Effects Customers are Looking For

It’s always important to ask your customers what experience they’re looking for. Or, more directly, what kind of high are they hoping to get? What are they looking to do while using their product? If they’re not sure what they’re looking for, rattle off some options. Ask them if they’re looking for focus, uplift, energy, calm, couch lock, sleep, or pain relief. See what situations they’re looking to use it for. Maybe they want something energetic to head out for the night, or something focused and relaxing for video games. Be sure to suggest a range of products, unless you’re certain you know the one that they want. That way, you can narrow down what they’re looking for and they’ll leave happy.

Have Fun Budtending

Remember, you’re working in a cannabis dispensary. While it’s not Willy Wonka and the Marijuana Factory, most budtending positions are still cool, laid back jobs. Enjoy your time. The customers always like working with someone who’s upbeat, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be having fun. It’s a great job and probably the best experience you’ll have in retail. It’s laid back, everyone’s pretty cool, there’s industry nights, and hey, discount weed. What more could you ask for? It’s important to have the right attitude, and to do your job the best that you can. It helps out the shop, the customers, and you (tip-jar-wise). Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a great budtender.

Do you have budtending experience? Are there any tips you would add to help people become better budtenders? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons (license)


Paul Barach Paul Barach

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.

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