In 2023, the Cannabist Company, formerly known as Columbia Care, has been riding high. It was named as one of America’s fastest growing companies by the Financial Times and announced a rebrand in September to solidify its commitment for building a cannabis company for the future. It expanded a collaboration with a minority-owned edibles company in New Jersey. Additionally, leaders like Ryan West, senior vice president of national infrastructure, helped it open new facilities across jurisdictions in the US.
These efforts and others have not only placed the company ahead of the fierce cannabis competition but made it a shining example for entrepreneurs. If you’re looking to break into the scene and see the kind of success Cannabis has, there are a few things to keep in mind as you get started.
Real Estate Consideration
Even after you’ve gotten approved for a dispensary license in an approved state and developed a business plan, there’s still much more to consider to make your site successful. One key factor is location, according to FlowHub. Population, tourism, zoning, traffic patterns, parking, accessibility, and demographics can weigh heavily on how you attract and retain customers.
Before buying or leasing real estate, check your state and local regulations to learn about any important requirements that you should be considering.
How will your customers be experiencing your store? How will its format balance secure store inventory with an attractive layout? Companies have answered these questions in different ways.
Many follow models that offer customers an experience similar to a trip to the bank: a customer checks in, sits tight in a waiting area, then enters a secure room where they work with a sales rep to inquire about and purchase products.
Other models rely on sales reps to be mobile with tablets to record orders while leveraging kiosks for customers to self-serve.
No matter which one you choose, remember this: a strong model considers flexibility and growth potential.
Unless you’re exclusively carrying your own strains and products, you’ll need to get good at sourcing. Here are some principles to keep in mind:
- Consider product mix: What products will your customers prefer? How much flower will you carry in your store versus concentrates, edibles, and non-ingestibles?
- Consider margins: What’ll make you the most money?
- Consider who you acquire from: Reputable wholesale growers with high-quality product and fair prices are always an asset. Just make sure they carry the products your customers want, can produce enough for your inventory needs, and are in good standing with their licenses.
- Buy in bulk when you can: If you want to save a lot on overhead costs, purchasing larger quantities might be useful.
Types of Employees
A business is only as strong as its employees and the right ones will not only allow your shop to run smoothly but will put you in a position to scale and to stay in compliance with cannabis laws. You’ll need sales associates who have a love for the product and for helping customers, you’ll need a general manager overseeing daily operations, and you’ll need a greeter who checks IDs and welcomes customers as they enter the facility. But that’s not all. Here are some other roles that should be part of you organization:
- Inventory manager
- Compliance manager
- Purchasing/vendor manager
- Software/IT manager
To run an efficient and effective business, you’ll need a strong tech stack—this includes a variety of everyday things such as your point-of-service (POS) system and the printers you use. If you’re not well-versed in this area, connect with a trusted adviser who can help you choose the tech stack that’ll fit your needs.
Bergmann, an affiliate of Colliers Engineering & Design, is a proud partner of Columbia Care and its SVP of National Infrastructure, Ryan West. A full-service architectural, engineering and design firm, Bergmann has collaborated with Ryan on projects since 2015. His leadership advanced the level of sophistication of Columbia Care’s facilities contributing to their growth and helping them become a leading multi-state operator in the US. Bergmann, with our diverse portfolio of facility design experience, is grateful for the opportunity to work with Ryan and support his endeavors with dispensaries, grow and manufacturing facilities. We wish Ryan continued success.