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I can’t tell you how very cool it is to be writing this. It’s been five years. Five years of market research to bring you this first blog post. It’s been a wild ride so far. We’ve got a lot to share with you, but first…introductions are in order. My name is Pete Pellizzari and I am the creator of Budtender. Nice to meet you.
I know it sounds corny and played out, but Budtender is truly a solution that was created for dispensary owners by dispensary owners. We’ve taken the time to work in the very same field that we sell our software in; your field. At one time we might have even done business together.
During the early years cutting our teeth in the delivery market we started with pen and paper, literally. I had a computer that I started to keep track of patients with and each order I’d diligently write on a Post-it note all the details of the delivery. One particularly busy day I sent my driver out with several orders. Each bag had a nice Post-it note stuck to it with all the details. It was beautiful.
Driving down the road he rolled down the window and the notes went flying everywhere! After an hour of sorting things out the deliveries were finally made (late!) and he got back to the shop telling me “We need a new way.”
Budtender was born shortly thereafter. From this moment on it slowly began to take shape. The feature set growing by what our team and the market demanded of it. We found so many ways that Budtender can really jump in and assist, rather than just dumbly storing and retrieving information like other systems do.
The idea began to shift from simply having a system that kept track of inventory, customers, orders, etc. you know…like every other POS out there, to a system that did all of that plus added some intelligence and acted as a personal assistant in many ways taking some heat off the dispensary manager and staff to remember everything.
As this idea matured, Budtender was designed to assist the dispensary owner with the operation of their business, but be intuitive and easy to use. What that means is we’ve created ‘virtual employees’ in the system and given them jobs that they do automatically 24/7/365 and they don’t have a paycheck, benefits, and sick days. Bonus.
Now Budtender has matured enough to begin offering as a free pilot to select dispensaries. It’s an exciting time! As new features are being developed, they will be released on a regular schedule to continually improve this revolutionary platform. Come see for yourself how smooth your business can run when Budtender is managing your operational process flow.
Medical Marijuana Budtenders have been hearing those words shortly after dispensaries starting giving free gifts to new customers. The free gift registration has become so commonplace in most areas that to open a shop and not give a gift means you’re probably missing out on a lot of new customers.
Dispensaries that do offer free gifts to new or returning customers are often managed by well-meaning owners who offer gift but fail to make good on these gifts a percentage of the time. It’s not that they’re bad people, it’s just that they sometimes forget to include the gift in the order. It’s one of a hundred mistakes any dispensary owner will tell you that can and do happen all the time.
During my time managing my delivery service, the number one complaint from our customers was forgetting the free gift on the first order. This problem wasn’t just about my team forgetting the gift, but about a consistent pattern of delivery services that offer gifts and don’t always follow through with them. This particular problem with delivery services is seen up and down the state of California even at the time of this writing, and I’m sure it’s the same in other states too.
I saw this as a great opportunity to shine. After listening to the trend of disappointed first-timers, I made it a mission in my own service to ensure that the free gift was always included in every order. After all, if everyone else was letting people down, we look that much better when we don’t. We posted signs near phones and would check each other’s orders. It worked, for a while. Then things started to sort of creep back to old habits and before long we were missing the occasional free gift, among other things.
We realized the problem wasn’t really us, it was that we needed someone to keep track of that kind of thing. We needed to hire a person whose only job was to check for free gifts. We needed to hire this person to work every shift, every day. Oh, and we quickly realized we couldn’t afford to do that, and the job would really, really suck.
Instead of hiring a full time person, we decided to let Budtender handle it instead. It’s called Freebies. The Freebie system knows when your customers are new and/or re-registering and can be set to automatically include a free gift of your choice. Bam, no more falling down on the free gift job. That’s right rock star, bask in the limelight.
Freebies are a lot cooler than that though. They can be configured to drop free stuff on orders in a number of cool ways. How about stickers or business cards? You don’t want to give the same marketing materials to your regular customers every day, do you? Set those stickers, business cards, or fliers up as freebies and Budtender will manage their distribution ensuring that everyone only receives one of them. You can even set the frequency in which they’re eligible for it. Set the frequency to monthly and you’ve got yourself a built-in subscription engine for industry mags and other monthly pubs. Dope. It’s just another way that Budtender is different from any other platform out there. We live this stuff and we write software to handle things. Now you can have it too. Cheers.
I know exactly what you need. Yes YOU. How do I know what you need even though I’ve never met you? I don’t. How can I? Yet so many dispensary owners try to push their service onto their customers and expect that if they simply ‘bring the fire’ then they can run their service any way they choose. Maybe for some, but for the mass majority of us regular mortals we have to do a little more.
There are a number of ways to get a read on your customers’ needs. The number one way? ASK them! Open your mouth and be vocal, send emails, create polls. Do whatever it takes to get that golden information about exactly what it is that your customers expect from their dispensary. The business who gives them that consistently will be the one they consistently give their business to in return. It’s a law, I think. Someone wrote that somewhere and if not, then I just did!
“If you sell what people are buying, then you don’t have to sell at all.” These words of wisdom are true here. The problem comes sometimes from the fact that getting the information can be difficult and can also feel intrusive as well.
In Budtender we’ve built in a few things initially to help out in this aspect. The first is reviews. Every time a customer places a delivery order, we have an opportunity for the customer to rate the order right on the spot. If the customer is unhappy with something, a manager can be notified instantly to address the situation in real time, long before the bad review shows up on Weedmaps or Yelp. During these customer interactions, the opportunity to simply have a conversation about your service, products, or anything else is there. Take advantage of it.
In addition to the reviews on every order, we also have reviews on every product that can be a great indicator as to which products should be restocked and which should be moved along.
The second thing we built in is a feature called the Manager Call. You can read more about it in another blog post called “Gift Hopper to Regular Customer”, but in a nutshell the feature creates another opportunity for you to have a conversation with your customer and find out what s/he is looking for in terms of product, service, and other expectations. It’s just another way Budtender works to keep you right on the pulse of your business and not just watching on the sidelines, reacting to whatever the day brings you.
“Anything for first timers?” See my other post “Do I Get a Free Gift for Signing Up?” for more on this topic. Most new customer registrations are one-hit wonders. I like to call them Gift Hoppers. People who place orders simply to score the free gift. They do all the hassle of registering with you, place a single order, and you never hear from them again.
They made up a good portion of our monthly sales for a while, especially in the beginning. As you begin to increase the number of regular customers your dispensary has, you don’t really notice the hoppers as much. They just sort of come and go while you focus the greater amount of your time on your regulars.
During one particular night I was with one of my more junior operators and I overheard a call between him and the customer. The customer was very excited and happy about our service and wanted to share his experience with him. I don’t think the operator really felt all that good because he really didn’t respond the way I though he ought to in that case. Just sort of acknowledged the customer but with no enthusiasm. I could just hear it in the customer’s voice the sort of trailing off of excitement “oh…um…well anyway yeah I just wanted to tell you that” and then on to placing his order.
I’ve been in customer service a long time and I cringe in those moments, however like most things I try to see the positive in things too. I waited until the order was complete and about 10 minutes or so later, I called the customer back and said the following:
“Hi Bill, my name is Pete and I’m one of the managers here. One of my jobs is calling new customers after their first few orders to see how things are going, and if there’s anything you think we should be doing.”
Man, let me tell you. He opened up. It was like all of the cool stuff he wanted to say to that operator he could now say to me. It was awesome, I felt like a weed delivery god. He got to say all these cool things and then afterward he told me “You know I thought you guys were cool before, but now I’m going to tell everyone about you!”
No joke that customer has probably referred 50 new customers to our service. Many of them are now regulars.
When Budtender was being developed I remembered this story and built in an automated way to keep track of doing the same thing with every one of your new customers. It’s called the Manager Call feature. If enabled, it will automatically alert the manager to make a courtesy call to a new customer to welcome them into the service after a set number of orders are placed. If you follow that advice I’m sure you’ll convert a lot more Gift Hoppers into regular customers.