10 Things that every good budtender should know

Published Dec 17, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Rick_Thompson

Budtender jobs are plentiful these days as hundreds of brand new dispensaries open their doors to the public each year. Still, these positions are often highly sought after, which means that there will be a lot of competition when you apply. Here we're going to do our best to help give you an edge by providing a list of things that you should make sure to know long before you apply.

If you aren't here because of a potential job and more curious about the experience you should expect from your local weed shop, this is an excellent place to start. Of course, you can't always expect every vendor to be 100% on point because that takes experience, but if your budtender goes out of their way to show that they know about at least most of the points on this list, then you can rest easy knowing that you're in good hands.

1. Patience is essential

Cannabis was never meant to be something that was rushed for the good of the almighty dollar. Unfortunately, not all budtenders get into this line of work because they care about the people, resulting in awkward high-pressure sales that will ultimately scare away potential consumers. If you want to be the best budtender, you need to help the customer find exactly what they need for the experience they seek, and to do that; you'll need to be kind, understanding, and patient.

2. One size does not fit all in cannabis

Once you've been a budtender for a while, it might seem natural to fall into reliable patterns by offering broad recommendations based on experience with past consumers rather than the ones that are seeking your assistance right now. Of course, learning about what works should influence the products you offer, but it's important to remember that not everyone will succeed quite so easily. It's essential to treat every customer as a unique individual and be ready to adapt to higher needs.

3. Listening is just as valuable a skill as sharing information

Budtenders often feel like they know what they're talking about, so rather than listen to confused customers drone on about concerns or issues, they are fast to spout off potential solutions. This seems to make a quick sale and get them out of the way. Still, for many consumers, the ability to openly communicate small details about past experiences or concerns is enough to give them the confidence to move forward towards successful results, and it's on you to provide them with that morale boost.

4. The power of both primary cannabinoids

If you're going to be a budtender, then you need to know how to make the simplest of recommendations, at least to start, because you can't go around treating all pot products as if they have equal benefits or effects. You'll need to be able to explain why various strains or methods of consumption might work for the consumer, and you can't do that without brushing up on how THC and CBD work both separately and when combined.

5. Physical interactions with products can help to sell them

You need to care about the customer, but the priority will always be the good of the company, and to be an invaluable asset as a budtender, you'll need to be able to make sales. This means having all of the skills that we're touching on here, but it's important to know that physical interaction can have an almost as significant impact on a sale as anything you could say. It could be a nice view of some nugs or a sniff of a cannabis extract. Whatever it is, this will make them more likely to buy it.

6. Recommendations should always accommodate the consumers budget


Depending on the region you live in, some budtender positions may focus on sale numbers, and some companies may encourage that by limiting your pay to commission-based. Sadly, this might force you to recommend products that you wouldn't otherwise. To some extent, you might not be able to control that but to be the best, helpful budtender, you'll sometimes need to be able to put all of that aside so that you can direct the customer to an affordable product that is more suited to their budget.

7. Do not perpetuate old cannabis stereotypes

Working at your local weed shop might not seem like an overly serious gig, but the truth is that the folks in these positions are forging a brand new path, and as such, they have a huge responsibility moving forward if they want to maintain the public trust. A budtender who implies or suggests something based on old stoner stereotypes will quickly lose respect in a consumer's eyes once they learn the real truth, so put away the Indica and Sativa myths and stick to only the facts.

8. The provable facts

Many interested consumers out there are looking for someone to convince them to start or, at the very least, how to solve recurring problems with pot products, and they usually end up asking a budtender. This is tricky territory, and these individuals might just hold you responsible for the results; if your advice turns out to be wrong. This is why it's a good idea to stick to the facts. Anecdotal evidence is ok to mention, but concrete facts that can be backed up with research are what you'll truly need to help.

9. How to grow cannabis

No one expects their budtender to be a professional at cannabis cultivation. After all, it's their job to make recommendations on products, not to help them figure out how to pull off a stellar crop, but if you're working at a weed shop, then chances are pretty good that you'll be selling cannabis seeds to consumers who have no idea what they're doing. This is why most budtenders seeking to be the best should be familiar with the basics, like how long a cannabis plant takes to flower and what it needs to make it there.

10. Resources for those who need help

Budtender jobs can be a whole lot of fun, but it's also a huge responsibility to take on, as most who walk through the doors of a dispensary are looking for help with something. Since they can't all be walking libraries, and it would be unreasonable to try, it's generally recommended that budtenders maintain a list of helpful cannabis-related resources that can fill the voids. Be it for addiction assistance or connections to the best scientific research that's out there. It will pay off to be prepared.

Most budtender jobs aren't going to require the majority of what you'll find listed here as necessary skills. However, like with any job, if you want to make the most difference, you'll need to stand out, and in this case, that means bringing invaluable skills and knowledge to the table that can truly help consumers.

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