First Steps to Opening a Dispensary

July 5, 2022

You successfully completed your cannabis retail license application. You wrote your business plan and celebrated the approval of your application. Now, you’re eager to open your doors to the customers who are also eagerly waiting. Like many, you may want to be the first dispensary in your neighborhood to open.

Opening Your Dispensary

Opening your dispensary on the right foot can set you up for years of success and save you the headache of correcting missteps. Repairing damage takes more time, effort, and capital than doing it right the first time.

This is why experts and consultants that specialize in pre and post-license cannabis consulting emphasize taking it slow and steady. This stage in the dispensary lifecycle is often overlooked...especially in emerging markets, like the East Coast medical and recreational market. Three of the most frequent challenges retailers face are not enough product, not being staffed well, and limited hours of operation.

How to Know When You’re Ready to Open Your Dispensary in Any Market

It’s more important to be the shoppers' best dispensary experience than their first dispensary experience. Especially in emerging medical markets, customers will want to shop around and check out everything that’s out there. But if you can create a memorable experience for them, your store will be the one they return to after they’ve checked all the others out.

There is, of course, a lot that goes into creating a “destination dispensary.” To get to this point you’ll need to complete many tasks before that “open” sign goes up.

Steps to Opening a Dispensary

These are the items you’ll want to check off before opening. Doing each of these will bring you a step closer to providing your desired customer experience.

1) Build Industry Relationships

Anyone with experience in the cannabis industry will tell you that we are a close “community.” After all, we all have to come together to fight the stigma. This means that relationship-building within the industry is key to running your business. You’ll want to immediately begin exploring the cannabis landscape in your area. You can ask for introductions and attend industry events to meet potential strategic partners, vendors, software providers, compliance regulators, and even staff.

2) Build Your Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure

The first step will be to hire someone to head all IT. This person will help you in the software vetting process. The three most important pieces of software for dispensaries to set themselves up for success are a point of sale system (POS), an integrated e-commerce solution, and customer relationship management (CRM) software.

You’ll always want to make sure you have your website and e-commerce covered. Before making software purchasing decisions, we recommend that you download and read “Why Every Dispensary Should Have Online Ordering” and reference our Blackbird Integrations Hub to maximize your point-of-sale and e-commerce solution.

3) Begin Building Your Customer List

Your marketing and advertising efforts to build brand awareness and anticipation will drive potential customers to your website. Use the customizable Blackbird collect widget to capture this information and begin building a customer list, which you can use to build customer loyalty from the start and also get to know what product types are desired by your shoppers. Right off the bat, you should communicate to your list when your open date is, your hours of operation, and any other promos you’ll be running for opening day.

4) Hire Staff

Most successful dispensary owners and cannabis consultants describe how important it is to carefully select your staff. These are your brand ambassadors that will create the first impression your community has of budtenders. Their prime strength should be knowing the cannabis plant, and knowing your product well.  

5) Order Product

Finally, it’s time to order inventory. This is a tricky step when there is absolutely no inventory data. There is a concern you will run out of product – after all, we always see lines out the door of dispensaries in emerging markets. There is an equal concern you will order too much –after all, you need enough capital to keep you going until you become profitable.

The First Few Months

This will be a learning experience. The biggest thing to keep in mind during this time is to make decisions that will set you up for long-term success. Set yourself up for expansion now, so you won’t have costly and time-consuming repairs to make in the near future.

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  • Cannabis should be legal. Blackbird believes that all adults should have safe access to cannabis for medical and responsible recreational use.
  • Be the best. Blackbird strives every day to service our clients and customers as efficiently and humanly as possible. We are a customer service company first and foremost. We want you to be happy – we do this together or we don't do it at all.
  • People are everything. Blackbird's value is derived directly from the happiness of our clients and fulfillment of our staff. We believe there is value in treating our employees with dignity and respect.

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