Planning A Dispensary? Here’s What You Need To Know
It is so easy to get wrapped up in the details when trying to plan your dispensary- we’re talking to you Mississippi, New Mexico, New York! Maybe you’ve been location scouting, speaking with investors, tracking down the right people to connect with for all the necessary elements that you need to collect prior to submitting your license application. It’s a stressful time, so many question marks and details to iron out.
I talk with so many entrepreneurs in exactly your same situation. There are a few common threads everyone in this stage of planning have in common. (you’re not alone!)
So here are a few key things to remember and think about when you’re feeling the stress.
It’s ok to not have everything perfect or every answer solved before you hire a retail cannabis interior designer.
It’s part of a good designer’s process. Your designer should be able to set you in the right direction and be a sounding board for you. I frequently help people nail down the best location and can help you think about things beyond square footage and parking. It’s perfectly ok to have question marks. Think of it as starting a new job, you’re not expected to be an absolute expert on everything from day one. There is a learning curve and you’ll have to reach out to coworkers to help you navigate. Starting a new dispensary is 100% the same scenario. I think sometimes entrepreneurs feel isolated and that because their name is on the application, they have to master every aspect of the industry. Be fair with yourself and learn from other industry leaders and trusted, vetted colleagues.
You need to focus on your zone of genius and leave the rest to professionals to excel in their respective zones.
I think this super important point touches back to our last note about perfection and shouldering stuff you really don’t have to. I know this industry has some predatory types floating around in it. It is crucial to carefully vet anyone you hire to work on your brand/store/business. You need to make sure that the people you have let into your team share the same core values as you and have your best interest at heart. You need to make sure that the people you contract with are truly knowledgeable about the specific role you need them to play.
Don’t hire an insurance agent to do your electrical and don’t hire our store manager or director of ops to design your space. I am a retail dispensary interior designer. That is specifically what my zone of genius is and where I excel. I often have to tell people “No, I don’t do XYZ for you, I’m your designer.” I think it’s a red flag when someone promises to be able to do it all.
The same theory goes for you. You shouldn’t be an expert at all aspects of the cannabis industry.
Construction doesn’t have to be miserable.
We all know it has the potential to be miserable and if you’ve ever renovated your kitchen while living in your house (me, circa 2016 with three tiny kids and a toaster oven) you know exactly what I’m saying. Building out a dispensary is a very different process. Having a clear point person/responsible project manager, clear design, materials selection and ordering process makes all the difference. Your retail dispensary designer should be able to make the steps needed from demolition to grand opening smooth, easy and as hiccup-free as possible.
If your design was planned properly and thoughtfully, you should never have contractors pacing the floor waiting on materials or answers to questions they have. The layout, fixtures, lighting, and core materials are all taken care of far in advance of the installation. And when the electrician needs to know the drop length on the pendant lights, your designated point person is there with the correct answer. Lead times should be managed on the front end of the project, not when you’ve already ordered it and it’s backordered 22 weeks. So many of the frustrations associated with a build-out can easily be mitigated.
Regulations. They can sound intimidating but when your point person knows the industry and has great connections to cannabis specific fixtures and equipment and in-depth- hands-on knowledge about your local and state codes, the process becomes way smoother. You’re not going to lose time or money on purchasing something that isn’t going to be compliant or function in your space properly.
Opening your dispensary should be FUN!
Wait, what? We can make money, build a brand and have fun? Celebrate your successes along the way with the people who have backed you from day one. Your determination and grit are the driving force behind your accomplishments in this wild industry, you may as well have a good time! Blast your wins on social media, take your team for a night out and be proud of the work you’ve put in, the team you have built and the contribution you’re making to the cannabis space. This industry is NOT for everyone.