For many, Las Vegas wasn’t the best place to work in 2020.
On March 20, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered the closing of all in-store cannabis dispensary operations as part of his series of executive directives during the state’s declaration of emergency for COVID-19, which nearly paralyzed the state’s industry.
For Jardín Premium Cannabis Dispensary, which caters to medical and adult-use markets on East Desert Inn Road in Las Vegas, that meant shifting the entirety of its retail business to curbside and home-delivery services, which it had already developed before the government shutdown.
Jardín CEO Adam Cohen said many dispensaries closed, but, with the halt on in-store operations, his dispensary’s home-delivery service grew tenfold overnight, pivoting the company’s entire operating model, workflow process and workforce.
“I’m so proud of the fact that during COVID, not only were we able to keep everybody employed, full-time even, we didn’t have to furlough or lay anybody off,” he said. “And our staff grew considerably during this time, because the company expanded over the last year.”
Jardín scaled from 65 employees in February 2020 to 205 employees by the end of October, a 215% increase. The staff members, who all operate out of one dispensary location, transitioned back to in-store business when Gov. Sisolak issued his reopening guidelines in late May.
And according to employee surveys distributed as part of Cannabis Dispensary’s Best Cannabis Companies to Work For – Dispensaries program, team satisfaction was through the roof, even when there was no roof to operate under.
Thriving through growth and change, Jardín was ranked No. 6 on Cannabis Dispensary’s 2021 Best Cannabis Companies to Work For list, an accolade based primarily on positive ratings from its employees on satisfaction surveys, which are weighted 75% for the award.
“We’ve received, to date, I think 12 for the “best of” awards, you know, best dispensary in the state, best in Las Vegas, best delivery service, best staff, best customer service, etc.,” Cohen said. “But, of all the awards, this is the one I’m most proud of because we care so much about our people and our culture.”
Cohen, who opened the doors to the dispensary in November 2016, offers his employees a number of perks, notably health care, paid time off, bonuses and incentive programs, and career development and job advancement programs. He also pays a $15 minimum wage at Jardín, well above Nevada’s $8/hour minimum-wage requirement for employers who offer or issue qualifying health benefits. His workers have flexible hours to accommodate school events, taking a family member to the doctor or other personal responsibilities. And employees enjoy product samples, as well as promotion of individual team members on social media and billboards – none of Jardín’s marketing is outsourced.
An in-house perk, Cohen has a company division for his employees called “Jardín University,” which is dedicated to educating all team members, regardless of position, on core cannabis knowledge, brand standards and customer service, and regulations and compliance. In addition, customer-facing staff, particularly budtenders, are put on a track that’s similar to sommelier training, where they go through levels of certification over time so they can hone their skillsets and expertise. Cohen said he encourages his retail staff to try a wide array of products, so they are as knowledgeable as possible about the various products Jardín carries. He also allows vendors to regularly come in, to train staff and provide samples.
When it comes to employee satisfaction, Cohen said what makes Jardín a great place to work goes hand-in-hand with what makes the establishment a great place for customers, as well.
“It really comes down to our culture and our people,” he said. “The culture is people, but it’s our diversity; it’s our inclusivity; it’s the fact that we really genuinely and authentically care about people, our own staff and our community.
“I mean, that is really the thing that, for me, is the biggest differentiator. We try to really provide an experience for our customers as opposed to being transactional. So, it’s that—that energy of our business and our brand that is really, you know, it’s all based on the employees. They make the company what it is.”
In an effort to reflect the community it serves, approximately 80% of Jardín employees come from multicultural backgrounds, Cohen said. Of the 27 leadership roles in the company, 18 are held by people of color and 19 are held by women, who make up about 67% of its workforce, he said.
Although Jardín is a single-dispensary business under one roof, Cohen said employee satisfaction also stems from outside the workplace.
“It’s been a little bit challenging in the last year, because of COVID, but we’re a very social group,” he said. “So, we like to take our employees out to the nightclubs and do fun activities and bonding activities with them, because they’re the company and they’re the brand.”
Without the nightclubs popping, Las Vegas as a whole wasn’t necessarily the best place to work in 2020, when government restrictions crippled the bustling tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries the city is known for. In April, statewide shutdowns resulted in a 34% unemployment rate in Las Vegas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As of November, the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise Metropolitan Area still had the highest unemployment rate, at 11.5%, among the 51 largest metro cities in the country (with a 2010 census population of one million or more), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To keep employees motivated during tough economic times in Clark County, Cohen said Jardín tries to boost energy and activity in and around the business.
“We have a lot of special guests and VIPs and celebrities that frequent our business,” he said. “So that always creates sort of a fun energy and dynamic in store. And it’s not uncommon to walk in and see somebody very notable there. We’ve kind of become that go-to destination for celebrities in Vegas.
“And we do live DJs on Fridays, for example. So, we try to keep the energy, the morale up, but, at this point, I think people are grateful not only just to have a job, but to have a job for a company where they can build a career and that cares about them.”
During its grand opening in 2016, Jardín had rapper Snoop Dogg on hand to greet and take photos with hundreds of fans and potential customers.
Other celebrity appearances include Rick Ross, T.I.P., Mike Epps, Sublime with Rome, Mike Tyson, Cam’ron, Pepa (from Salt-N-Pepa), Kid (from Kid ‘n Play) and 2 Chainz, who filmed an episode of Most Expensivest at Jardín. Other celebrities who have visited Jardín include Gunna, Method Man, Bill Maher, Lil Jon, Dave East, Morgan Heritage, Travis Porter, Fabolous, Lil Duval, Stevie J, Soulja Boy, Rae Sremmurd, Flavor Flav and N.O.R.E.
Adding to the atmosphere of VIPs and celebrities, Jardín strives to create a welcoming environment, where their day-to-day business involves building relationships through one-on-one customer service rather than just receiving an order through a fulfillment window, Cohen said.
“You walk in and it’s very sort of disarming,” he said. “It has a feel of sort of a high-end spa, with walnut finishes and glass and marble. Gone are the days of the bulletproof glass and the metal bars and feeling like you’re doing something wrong. So, that immediate ‘wow’ sense, when you walk in, and ‘this is not what I expected,’ and you’re immediately greeted by smiling faces and warm and authentic energy.”
In fiscal 2020, Jardín had an 8% voluntary turnover rate. Cohen said he and his leadership team have stressed the importance of recruiting and hiring the right people since day one, because much of an employee’s success is determined at the moment of hiring. Jardín still has several team members who were original hires in 2016, he said.
In developing a reputation as a good place to work, Jardín has a lot of interaction and connections with the nightlife, entertainment and hospitality industries in Las Vegas, he said. Since word spreads fast in the city, Cohen said Jardín is protective of its reputation by trying to do right by its employees and people in the community.“In the long run, and in general, if you don’t love coming to work here, then I’m not doing my job,” Cohen said. “And, honestly, at the end of the day, I think that’s one of the things that makes us such a special place. People want to be there.”