The cannabis industry is experiencing significant growth at the moment. New legislation, greater social acceptance, and thriving investment mean global sales are expected to hit $33.6 billion by 2025. This can make operating a dispensary a wise choice as an entrepreneur. Not to mention your business can play a key role in improving the quality of life for members of your community.
Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that engaging with the cannabis industry is certainly not an easy prospect. Indeed, there are some challenges when working in the sector you may not find in other forms of small to medium-sized businesses. Some of these have the potential to derail your dispensary. To navigate and recover from these disruptions, you need to have a robust continuity plan.
Here’s a review of some of the important considerations when developing an effective continuity plan for your cannabis dispensary.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to continuity planning. The elements that could disrupt your cannabis enterprise will not only be specific to your industry but also the individual elements of your business. As such, you need to first assess the risks so you can develop the right continuity approach for your business.
Working with key members of your staff can help in the risk identification process. Don’t just focus on the obvious elements such as cybercrime, changes in legislation, or supply chain issues. Consider also how people interact with your enterprise and the risks this can present.
You’ll find this can be especially evident if staff and customers are too confident or comfortable in your dispensary. Optimism bias can arise when people might be aware of hazards but act carelessly because they don’t think these hazards could happen to them. This is how otherwise intelligent people wind up ignoring warning signs or even cutting corners. Part of your risk assessment needs to include consideration of how people’s behavior and your environment could pose issues.
Once you’ve identified the risks, you need to research the impact they can have on your business activities should they arise. This gives you a clear and practical basis upon which to design continuity and recovery measures well in advance.
The cannabis industry is often perceived to be quite analog. After all, it has thrived through grassroots movements and is built around the benefits of organic products. Yet, technology plays an important role. This is no less the case for making your continuity plan. You need to establish what digital tools can help you overcome the immediate impact of disruption and push toward recovery.
These can include:
A significant proportion of your business records are likely to be stored digitally. This may include customer data, business plans, strategic information, and financial records among others. If these are only stored on local devices, technological issues could mean you lose access to these temporarily or permanently.
This is where the cloud can be a powerful tool in business continuity planning and disaster recovery. At its most basic, the cloud can store backups of your dispensary’s digital assets and infrastructure components that you can access in an emergency. It can also house critical emergency action documentation to be shared wherever your key staff happens to be.
Some of the risks to your dispensary operations may involve you or your staff having limited access to your dispensary. There may be natural disasters or civil unrest. We’ve certainly seen with COVID-19 how a pandemic can prevent in-person interactions. Arranging robust remote working tools can be vital in business continuity in these scenarios.
Remote project management and communication software can ensure you and your dispensary staff can keep working from home in an emergency. Your team can handle customer orders and inquiries using messaging platforms and video calls while needing only minimal staff on-premises occasionally to take care of inventory and shipping. However, it’s important to make sure you have these platforms arranged well in advance and that your staff knows how they should be using them. This must form part of your continuity plan.
Testing and Documentation
You can identify the risks and adopt the right technology for continuity, but these alone are not going to be enough. You need to make your continuity activities clear and executable by the relevant members of your staff. Set out step-by-step protocols for each type of disruption and be sure to keep the language you use simple and unambiguous.
You then need to test whether your methods are suitable for such scenarios. As a cannabis dispensary, your staff is going to be key to business continuity, so it’s often best to involve them in testing simulations. Aside from giving them practical experience of disruption response, it’s a chance for them to provide insights into what doesn’t work and why.
Create a scenario to test a specific area of your continuity plan. This could be about the discovery of contaminated supplies, the temporary failure of digital payment systems, or even transport union strikes disrupting the supply chain. You’ll usually find this testing is most effective if staff know there’s a drill but don’t know the details of the scenario ahead of time. It gives a more accurate impression of whether the response is suitable.
Remember, though, that these scenarios aren’t about testing staff. Rather, they’re about assessing your continuity methods. Be open to criticisms and suggestions from your employees. Encourage them to point out what aspects of the plan documentation aren’t clear or what tech tools didn’t quite function well. Work together to establish the most effective solutions to disruptions.
Disaster can strike any business and your cannabis dispensary will have a unique set of challenges in this regard. As such, it’s important to create a business continuity plan tailored to your specific needs. Take the time to assess the collection of risks and establish digital tools that support your response to these. Remember to create clear documentation for your staff about your protocols and test these for efficacy. You play an important role in the industry and your community; it’s worth making efforts to minimize any potential disruption.