By Colette Thomas
A very crucial decision upon opening your retail store is … who will you hire? I have seen stores hiring only family and friends and others who are strictly against it. We encourage hiring locally, as this can only help your reputation in the eyes of the community. You can put an ad on Craigslist, post a sign on the front door of the store stating a specific date and time that you will be holding open interviews, use your local newspaper, or post on social media that you are hiring with an email to send resumes to.
Some key characteristics to be mindful of while making your initial selection include: outgoing personality, excellent customer service skills and a clean criminal background. Although product knowledge is a plus, keep in mind that you are not allowed to give medical cannabis advice to your customers.
As you begin to narrow the field down with your qualified favorites, we encourage doing a WATCH background check on every potential employee. You would be surprised at how many people are dishonest in an interview, when asked if there are any criminal charges that you should be aware of. They may seem like a perfect fit, only to find out that they have quite a lengthy rap sheet.
We have created an employee manual specific for each store. All employees must read it in its entirety and sign a form stating so. We also have a set of internal controls (such as in a bank/casino) explaining the procedure for all business activities. For example, what do employees do if an alarm trips, what to do in the event of a sabotage situation, if a counterfeit bill is passed, if someone has fake identification, maximum transaction amounts, etc. It allows your business to operate very smoothly, when everyone is properly educated. All employees should have knowledge of the Washington State Administrative Codes (WAC 314-55) for Initiative 502. They must be aware of the mandatory signage, allowable hours of operation, required warnings with each purchase, advertising rules and so on. Your Liquor Control Board investigator will make random visits to ensure your retail store remains compliant. They will issue the appropriate disciplinary action accordingly to the intensity of your violation.
Most of your customers will return because you made a long-lasting impression on their first visit. They will return based on their initial experience, and of course, purchase recreational marijuana. Your employees are an extension of your company and their representation is an important key to your success. Do yourself a favor and invest in your team by hiring dynamic individuals who play well with others, and have a sparkling criminal history.
Colette Thomas is a partner of Recreational Marijuana Management, which provides consulting services for I-502 retailers on licensing and compliance. RMM has assisted multiple retailers open for business.