Prepared by Emma Chasen
There are now 33 states in the USA that have approved medical cannabis programs. This marks significant progress in the fight for access to a potentially life saving medicinal plant. However, even with the wave of acceptance for medical cannabis programs sweeping the nation there is still stigma attached to cannabis consumption coupled with a blatant lack of accessibility to evidence-based cannabis information for curious patients.
Due to continued stigma and lack of educational resources, purchasing cannabis can be an intimidating and confusing experience for many. Retail cannabis outlets have an immense responsibility to successfully and empathetically advise people on how to integrate cannabis into their lifestyle. And this responsibility almost entirely falls on the patient advisors employed at dispensaries. Not only do these employees drive the consumer market, but they also interface with many novice consumers who seek advice on cannabis consumption and its medicinal properties. To properly advise patients, dispensary employees must be trained thoroughly on cannabis brands, products, ingestion methods, fundamental elements of cannabis science as well as empathetic patient care and the art of consultative sales.
While the need to train dispensary staff may seem like common sense, few businesses have valued cannabis education and hardly any have implemented robust training programs and continued education for staff. These dispensaries operate under the mentality that cannabis is a novel commodity, so it does not matter how well trained staff is in service or science. This is a major flaw in their business model.
With cannabis legalization spreading across the country, purchasing legal cannabis in a dispensary will only remain a novelty for so long. Dispensaries can only source product made within their state, therefore product differentiation among dispensaries is out of the question. This is unlike any other industry. Theoretically, dispensaries in the same state could stock the exact same products with the exact same prices. To achieve success in such competitive markets, dispensaries must find ways to differentiate themselves from the pack and thereby retain loyal customers. So how does a dispensary differentiate itself? The answer lies in the staff. The key to retaining customers and increasing revenue comes down to how well the staff can interact with the consumer population. Investing in employees through education makes sense for both patients and business.
And yet still few dispensaries have unlocked this door to success. Whether it is due to limited capital, bandwidth or care, in all my travels to the many burgeoning cannabis markets across the globe, I have not come across a retail cannabis brand that is fully committed to the integrity of their products, experience of their patients and advancement of their staff through education, community outreach and team building opportunities. That was until I came across KIP.
KIP is a dispensary brand cleverly titled by the acronym Knowledge Is Power. Their practices reflect their belief that cannabis knowledge equates to a powerful and successful business model. KIP has partnered with premier training services (like Dr. Sulak’s Healer and Shep Hyken’s Service platform) to not only educate their staff on cannabis science, but also high level boutique customer service. They take the time needed to fully onboard all new employees with their lengthy, comprehensive training guide that covers fundamentals of cannabis science as well as boutique level customer service, patient care, and retail/business philosophies. They invest in their employees not only through education, but also through an employee investment plan that creates a familial environment by making sure every employee feels taken care of by the company. KIP fully embodies the business ethos that customers and patients will be happy if the employees at the helm of the operation are happy. And if that’s not enough to entice new patients, KIP has a brilliant pharmacist, Dr. Alex Dix, leading their patient care team. Dr. Dix offers all patients one-on-one consultations to make sure they are getting the most out of their cannabis medicine.
KIP is truly cannabis optimized. Whether it be through educational efforts, community building or continued pursuit of knowledge, KIP is creating the ideal dispensary model – one that offers the highest quality products and services to patients while investing in their team. If you are a medical cannabis patient in Maryland, KIP should be the only dispensary you shop with.
Emma Chasen is a widely-respected cannabis educator and consultant based in Portland, Oregon. To learn more about Emma, check out
this insightful interview.