Business leaders in the cannabis industry look to technology to improve their team productivity and efficiency. However, merely purchasing new software isn’t enough to accomplish this. Onboarding your new technology the right way, so that your staff can use it effectively, is key.
Deploying a new technology is of course, easier said than done. As an Onboarding Manager for Baker, I help cannabis businesses and their teams adopt new pieces of software. Thus, I see the best practices...and the worst. In this article, I will share with you some of the common mistakes that are made during onboarding and how you can avoid them. I will also share some of the tricks that we’ve found help dispensaries ensure a seamless adoption of technology.
The nine common mistakes that we will review are:
- Not Allocating Enough Time and Resources to Training
- Preparing Staff for the ‘How’ but Not the ‘Why’
- Not Recording an Onboarding Training Session
- Not Assigning a ‘Dedicated Champion’
- Rushing to Adopt All Features Right Away
- Rushing to Adopt a Single Feature Right Away
- Not Setting Achievable Goals
- Not Creating an Onboarding Checklist
- Lacking a Single Trusted Source for Help and Resources
Mistake #1: Not Allocating Enough Time and Resources to Training
Many cannabusinesses are often worried about dedicating too much time and resources to software training. This is likely due to the high turnover rates that the cannabis industry faces. After all, each team member may only utilize this knowledge for a short period of time. However, reducing the time and resources dedicated to training results in under trained staff. Undertrained staff will often bring about operational inefficiencies – making many mistakes or requiring additional time spent on answering a multitude of questions. Ultimately, this will have a negative effect on the customer experience. Additionally, not understanding how to use a technology may even be a source of frustration that would exacerbate turnover.
Instead, I suggest looking at other solutions that will allow you to properly train your staff in the more efficient ways. For example, you can designate a ‘dedicated champion’ to help facilitate training and record your onboarding training sessions. I will cover both of these in greater detail later in this article. Another thing you can do is to encourage staff to want to learn and adopt the tech tool. Your efforts in training them will only be wasted if their effort does not match yours.
Mistake #2: Preparing Staff for the ‘How’ but Not the ‘Why’
Two of the best ways to encourage your staff to dedicate their time and effort into learning a new technology is to: 1. inform them that it’s coming and 2. explain why the technology is needed, and how it will help them in their day-to-day work. While the ‘how’ to use the technology is important, don’t forget to explain the ‘why.’
Explaining the ‘why’ behind the technology is key. Clarify how the technology will affect all those who are involved in your dispensary. For example:
It enables customers to shop online: It’s important for cannabis retailers to have an online presence and to enable their customers to shop online. It also makes things easier for your team members. Online ordering will: streamline operations, reduce the number of phone calls coming in (about product inquiries), and allow the team to spend facetime with only those customers that need and want it.
It will make your interactions with customers better and easier. Understanding your customers will help you guide your conversations and even help determine what you should keep in stock to keep customers coming back. Offering special deals to just your top customers, or only those who prefer sativas, for example, is a great way to build loyalty and keep customers happy.
In the end, proper training and troubleshooting put your staff and customers in a better position to maximize the ROI from the platform.
Mistake #3: Not Recording an Onboarding Training Session
Recording your training with your onboarding specialist is very important and beneficial to your team. You may not feel that you need in-depth training or maybe you tend to just learn better on your own. But it’s important to keep in mind that the recorded in-depth training isn’t just for you – it’s for your entire team. A recorded training will serve as a valuable internal resource for your existing team, and future team members.
As a result of high turnover in the cannabis industry, new staff members are constantly joining your team and require software training. While one on one training might be great, it’s not always feasible nor is it very efficient. Luckily, you can automate the training process by repurposing the recording from your original onboarding session. Additionally, any existing staff members that need a refresher, or consistently ask questions will benefit from re-watching the recorded training.
Mistake #4: Not Assigning a ‘Dedicated Champion’
Perhaps you may ask, “What is a dedicated champion?” Simply put, dedicated champions are select employees that are dedicated to helping your team learn the software and utilize it to its full potential. Whenever there is a question or task concerning the software, they follow through, find solutions, and ensure software optimization. In many cases, this centralization of responsibility is lacking in an organization. In some cases, someone with too many hats takes on this role, only to drop it a short time later. In other cases, the responsibilities of a dedicated champion are silently taken on by someone, but are never officially assigned. As an onboarding manager, I highly recommend that you select and assign the role of a dedicated champion to 1-2 trusted individuals within your organization.
I suggest that you designate two dedicated champions to the technology. One champion might not be sufficient, especially if you have several teams. The two can always exchange ideas and support your teams even better.
From the get-go, your dedicated champion can help you schedule the onboarding session and sit in on the training to prepare themselves to fully utilize the platform. Beyond the initial onboarding training session, they can do the following:
Help train other staff members that need additional assistance.
Be the go-to source for staff with questions – this will eliminate any confusion and miscommunication that is likely to occur in the absence of the onboarding manager.
Monitor the progress of the onboarding period.
Create goals and ensure these are met.
Implement new features that you are not yet using or that the technology company has just released.
Maximize the potential of the software – utilizing resources from customer newsletters or knowledge base articles, and meeting with customer success managers that will help you strategize.
Mistake #5: Rushing to Adopt All Features Right Away
You’ve just committed to investing a significant amount of time and money into this new piece of technology and you’re so excited to get it up and running, just like you saw it run in the demo. Nonetheless, it is critical to slowly transition into fully implementing the new technology across your business. This will allow your staff and customers, alike, to adapt to the new technology.
A new piece of technology often means a transition in operations, processes, and staff responsibilities. Even if the technology will automate and simplify things, you have to keep in mind that it still takes time to adapt. I recommend that you identify one or two of the available features to implement first. To help determine which features to roll out first, your customer should be top of mind. Which of the features will have the greatest positive impact on customer experience? Also, consider how easy those features are to use and adopt – from the perspectives of both staff and customers. You should start with the simplest and most impactful features, then slowly build on the foundation by implementing more advanced features.
Mistake #6: Rushing to Adopt a Single Feature Right Away
Even when you implement a single feature, it’s smart to roll it out in several phases. This will give your staff more time to fine-tune things on their end, and begin promoting the feature to your customers. Let’s take Baker’s online ordering as an example.
Upon the launch of the online ordering menu, you can expect your staff to make a few mistakes while they get used to using it and making it a part of their day-to-day operations. Immediately turning it on for all customers to use can be overwhelming for your staff as they are still trying to adapt. But if you roll it out in phases, once that flood of orders comes in, they will be better equipped to handle the volume and will appreciate the time it saves them. Here’s an example of how you might roll out online ordering in phases.
Phase 1 – Allow just your dispensary staff to place online orders. It will give them a better understanding of how the technology is used from a customer’s point of view. Additionally, it allows them to practice using the new software from the fulfillment side. They can make mistakes (which is inevitable) without it affecting your customers.
Phase 2 – Next, introduce online ordering to a select group of customers, such as your ‘VIP club’ customers. Not only will this make your most loyal customers feel special, but it will also allow your staff to take the next step up and start adjusting to a higher volume of orders. Meanwhile, you can use this time to promote to other customers that online ordering is ‘coming soon!’
Phase 3 – This is when you will introduce the software to all prospective and existing customers. Promote that you now offer online ordering on your website, social media pages, on signs and collateral in your dispensary, and by sending out a text blast to your customers. To encourage customer adoption you can even give special discounts and bonus reward points for online ordering.
Mistake #7: Not Setting Achievable Goals
Achievable goals are not merely the features and benefits listed on the technology website. That said, when you first implement a new technology, it can be difficult to determine what those goals might be. After all... you don’t know what you don’t know. But don’t just give up! Your onboarding specialist or customer success manager can work with your dedicated champions to identify a set of attainable goals. Considering that we work with many cannabis businesses of all types, maturity levels and sizes, we can provide you with insights into the goals of other comparable businesses.
Mistake #8: Not Creating an Onboarding Checklist
You might be surprised and think it’s too simple, but I have found that a checklist is a powerful tool for dispensaries undergoing onboarding. Not only will it help you stay organized, it will help you stay on track and incentivize your team to complete all tasks during the onboarding process. There is just something about being able to click ‘check’ in a checkbox!
Your checklist, first and foremost, should include each of the tasks that need to be done before you complete onboarding. It’s also a good idea to list the goals that you identified with your onboarding or customer success manager. This checklist is especially important for enterprise businesses or chains, where organization is a notable key to success when onboarding a new technology across all chain locations.
Enterprises can use this checklist to inspire competition among their internal teams to incentivize successful completion of the onboarding process. Whoever finishes the checklist first gets a celebration party!
Mistake #9: Lacking a Single Trusted Source for Help and Resources
Where do you plan on documenting your achievable goals and keeping your checklist? Where do you go if you need help from support or need to call your customer success manager? For many, the answer is, “I will look through my email or search their website.” While this is an option, it’s certainly not the easiest option. I recommend that your dedicated champions organize all useful information in one designated place, such as a Google drive folder. Here, you can upload your recorded onboardings, your checklist and goals. You can also keep all support-related resources here, such as contact information for your customer success manager and support team, as well as links to the knowledge base articles you use the most.
Use the information from self-serve resources provided by the technology vendor to create an FAQ document specific to your company and staff. You can use knowledge base articles, templates, or even newsletters to help you create it. Then post or hang this document in a location that’s easy for all staff members to access. This can also be the same place you let your staff know about any software updates that they should know about.
Even with the best testing and training, you’ll likely still experience some hiccups during onboarding. Some processes will not work as planned. Your staff might get frustrated, and questions you had previously not thought of will arise. Just remember that these are all a part of the process and are completely normal. Do not let these inevitabilities discourage you. Being realistic about how much time you really need to deploy the new system is the key to the long-term success of your dispensary.
Here at Baker, we take our 90-day onboarding process seriously and ensure our clients have all the training, tools and resources they need to make their use of the Baker CRM platform a success. That’s one of the reasons why over 1,000 dispensaries across the nation trust Baker to help them build relationships with their customers and generate revenue. Request your personalized demo to see how the Baker CRM platform can transform your dispensary.