6 Ways Small Dispensaries Can Compete With Large MSOs

Not all dispensaries are created equal! Below you’ll find dispensary tips for the small guys trying to compete for their stake against some heavy hitter.

While massive multi-state operators may have sizable budgets and revenue streams with which to grow and expand their business, smaller dispensaries have significantly less to work with. But that doesn’t mean that smaller dispensaries can’t thrive in today’s highly competitive legal cannabis industry. 

On the contrary, by staying small and lean, smaller dispensaries actually have several advantages that they can leverage in order to better compete with multi-state dispensary chains.

What can smaller dispensaries do to remain competitive with major multi-state operators?

Stay Lean! 

Operating lean is a business strategy that is all about doing more with less. Lean operating principles strive to cut down on variance and waste while promoting a standardized workflow that gets things done.

How can small dispensaries take advantage of lean principles? By making the most of the resources and technology available to them to drive sales and spur growth.

For instance, dispensaries can use analytics and data collection practices to track their customer base and gain a better understanding of who they are and what they expect. Afterward, they can use this data to provide a better selection of products and promotions to their customers, eliminating waste and increasing efficiency.

Having fewer resources doesn’t mean that small dispensaries can’t compete with multi-state operators, it just means that it’s gonna require a little more creativity!

Cross-Train Your Employees To Do More

Having a reliable team of cross-trained dispensary staff can be crucial to the success of a small dispensary. Hiring talented staff that is knowledgeable, experienced, and reliable is a no-brainer. But it’s also important to cross-train your staff to perform a variety of duties around the dispensary.

If your small team is trained to handle all of the duties of a shift, you won’t ever have to worry about over-staffing your dispensary. Do-it-all employees can be a lifesaver for small dispensaries that just don’t have the budget to screen, hire, and train a multitude of different employees for different positions.

If you’re going to train your budtenders to handle nearly every dispensary-related business task, you should probably also think about paying them more than the industry average, or at least more than your closest competitors. Investing the time and resources necessary to cross-train a team of talented budtenders just to lose them to local competitors can be a bitter pill to swallow. 

Personalize Your Dispensary Shopping Experience

Dispensary Shopping Experience
Smaller dispensaries may be tempted to compete on price, but a race to the bottom is rarely the path to success. Instead, dispensaries should take advantage of their small stature to better connect with customers by personalizing the shopping experience.

Smaller dispensaries are not tied down by corporate guidelines or major branding initiatives that span across numerous storefronts in multiple states. This gives them more flexibility when it comes to personalizing the shopping experience to appeal to the specific kinds of customers that tend to frequent their specific location.

Being free of corporate oversight gives smaller dispensaries the freedom to create memorable shopping experiences by offering unique promotions, stocking unique products, and even by featuring a unique store design or layout. 

Deliver Outstanding Customer Service

Small dispensaries may not have the brand value and recognition of a multi-state-operator, but they do have the opportunity to make a name for themselves by delivering excellent customer service.

Smaller dispensaries have the opportunity to develop deeper, stronger, and more personal relationships with their regular customers. Excellent customer service is key to establishing and growing these kinds of relationships that can lead to repeat business and free word-of-mouth advertising.

If a customer knows that a small dispensary will provide the kind of customer service that a large chain can’t or won’t, they’re likely to overlook the brand benefits of the multi-state operator in favor of doing business with a dispensary that they feel they can trust. 

Unique Product Selection And Enhanced Differentiation

Smaller dispensaries are also not tied down by long product chains, large stockpiles, or corporate influence. This allows them more freedom when it comes to the products and the brands that they wish to feature on their shelves.

Smaller dispensaries have the benefit of being able to pivot to new products and brands much quicker than larger multi-state operators. This allows them to get the jump on new products, new brands, and new trends that may appeal to their customer base.

Additionally, being free of corporate influence gives small dispensaries the ability to create close partnerships with local craft growers and producers. Smaller dispensaries can seek out the best local deals and local products without outside influence. And since people love buying local, this also gives them the ability to promote these local products to the local customers who love buying them. 

Go Local, Grow Local

Multi-state operators have much more territory to cover than local distributors. Smaller dispensaries can use this to their advantage by focusing their efforts on connecting with local shoppers and turning them into loyal customers.

For instance, instead of using valuable resources casting a wide net, smaller dispensaries can benefit greatly from local SEO efforts that make it easier for local customers to find them.

Smaller dispensaries often have an easier time connecting with their local community, since they are community members themselves. By attaching their brand to local events or charitable causes, small local dispensaries can develop a much more authentic reputation in their local community than larger multi-state operators.

Small businesses may not have the budget or marketing power of the big guys, but they’ll always have a priceless connection to their local community.