Don’t miss Nick Jack’s and Guild Enterprises’ co-founder Claudio Miranda’s session: “What Retailers Want from Cultivators” at 11:50 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, at the Cannabis 2018 Cultivation Conference! The duo will discuss tricks and tips on how to get your products into dispensaries, form strong relationships with retailers and avoid common pitfalls to improve your chances of unloading your entire stock each harvest. For more information, visit www.cannabiscultivationconference.com.
Retailers consider many factors when deciding which cultivators’ products to carry, including compliance, branding, sales strategies and even the company’s social media following, says Nick Jack, chief retail officer of Denver-based dispensary Diego Pellicer-Colorado. One wrong move, and you could be blacklisted from a dispensary for the foreseeable future.
“Some common mistakes cultivators make in this area [include] everything from lack [of] compliance officers to sending out samples without an ambassador to repetitive email blasts, [unapproved] pesticide use, poor sales strategies, machine-trimmed bud [and] bait and switch—dropping off good samples and then when you order the product, the product’s not as good as the samples,” Jack says.
Here, Jack outlines ways cultivators can impress retailers, from transparency and professionalism to pricing and genetics, to ensure they maintain strong working relationships and secure shelf space.
1. Be transparent and passionate.
Establishing and maintaining good relationships with retailers is critical. These connections begin when cultivators demonstrate transparency and integrity to dispensaries in their market.
Diego Pellicer-Colorado is vertically integrated with two cultivation facilities, but many good products are available for purchase in Colorado, Jack says.
“I have options and I can certainly source from anywhere, but these relationships with the growers is what it really comes down to,” he adds.
The dispensary purchases flower from a small, family-owned grow in Boulder. The relationship between the two operations allows Diego Pellicer to see the transparency and integrity in the cultivation, which is more appealing than some of the bigger grows in the market that mass produce flower without having much passion for the plant.
“For us, that’s not really what we’re looking for, for several reasons,” Jack says. “If you’re not into the integrity of the product, then I’m just not going to carry you.”
Machine trimming is another dislike for dispensaries, he adds.
“In Colorado, bud that’s been machine-trimmed rather than hand-trimmed is a pretty big turnoff right from the jump,” he says.
2. Have a brand ambassador who visits the dispensary at the right time.
“I can tell you one of the most unsuccessful ways to go about it is to just drop samples off at the dispensary without a brand ambassador,” Jack says.
Diego Pellicer receives multiple samples per day, and having a dedicated representative take the time to explain the brand, develop a relationship with the sales manager and distribute samples for the budtenders to try is the most effective way for a cultivator to be taken seriously, according to Jack.
“These people come in and they start a good relationship with the staff and the staff looks forward to seeing them,” Jack says, adding that timing is everything. “It’s almost like a job interview. If you’re going in to apply somewhere, you go when they’re not as busy and you expect a better chance to sit down with whoever’s ordering, whoever’s in charge.”
Jack adds that a phone call to set up an appointment works more effectively than arriving unannounced.
3. Align pricing with market trends.
At one time in Colorado, cannabis could be bought and sold anywhere from $1,400-$1,600 per pound, but with more growers coming online, prices have dropped to about $650 per pound, and cultivators need to adjust, Jack says.
“A lot of these grows, they have to manipulate their price points and their selling points to match the market,” he says. “We have had some growers in some facilities fall off in their store because they weren’t willing to budge on what the market is saying.”
4. Carry unique genetics.
With so many strains available in today’s market, retailers are looking for flower that stands out from the crowd, Jack says. Cultivators that can offer something different have an advantage.
“I’m looking for unique genetics, something that I don’t see every day,” he says. “I think the more unique the genetics, the more chance we have of giving you a try.”
5. Maintain a good reputation.
Reputation is everything in this industry, and cultivators can be sure that retailers will do their due-diligence when vetting potential new partners. A bad reputation is hard to shake and can influence a retailer’s decision on which growers to work with, Jack says.
“If you’ve tested hot for a pesticide that was on the no-go list one time, your brand is pretty much tainted out here in Colorado, at least,” he says. “There are so many choices to choose from that staying in compliance is so, so, so important.”
6. Establish good sales strategies.
One of the most common mistakes in a cultivator’s sales strategy is repetitive email blasts, Jack says.
“A lot of the wholesalers don’t have brand ambassadors, they just send out email blasts,” he says. “With some wholesalers, I’ll get two or three emails a day, and I’d rather you send a brand ambassador over and I sit down and I meet you and we shake hands and we really start a conversation.”
7. Be professional.
Many growers that come into Diego Pellicer are underdressed and unprofessional, which can immediately hurt their chances of getting their products on the dispensary’s shelves, Jack says.
“At Diego Pellicer, we’re really trying to improve the standards of the industry and any sort of stigmatized association,” he says. “Unfortunately, growers, they bring it all the time. We really want to help them professionalize their end of the industry, as well.”
Top photo courtesy of Diego Pellicer-Colorado