by Tommy Truong, Director of Partnerships at KayaPush
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are the documents, protocols, systems, and procedures that your cannabis dispensary should have in place to manage day-to-day operations.
SOPs help dispensaries in many ways: From optimizing proper employee management systems such as dispensary payroll and onboarding to ensuring compliance with regulations are consistently met, and more.
What are the top dispensary SOPs to use?
There are hundreds of dispensary SOPs that could be created, and they should constantly be evolving as your store grows.
Overall the goal of dispensary SOPs is to increase efficiency and help you become more profitable in the long run. That being said, these are the 9 types of dispensary SOPs we recommend you start with as you build and scale your dispensary store.
1 – Opening & closing procedures and SOPs
All brick and mortar retail stores should have SOPs in place for opening and closing the store. But especially stores that require high-security measures like cannabis retail stores.
Opening and closing checklists for this special breed should include the following:
- Vibe check: Turn on lights, music, temperature, put out signs, clean.
- Check for any signs of a break-in or forced entry every morning.
- Make sure that all products in the display and stores are accounted for.
- Put away any orders.
- Review inventory.
- Turn on and start up all software systems.
- Ensure you are in dress code (if applicable)
End of day checklist:
- Check that the security cameras are working.
- Lock all the doors and display cabinets.
- Check and report any obvious security threats/ logbook.
- Generate sales and compliance reports.
- Cash-out protocols.
- Closing the cash registers and POS system.
- Turn off lights, music, bring in signs.
- Clean and sanitize the store.
- Lock all doors and perform security checks.
2 – Customer check-in procedures and SOPs
Many cannabis dispensaries violate their customer check-in procedures and end up facing fines and license suspensions by regulators. Due to this, it is crucial that you implement customer check-in SOPs to ensure compliance.
Customer check-in procedures include:
- Proper budtender training on protocols beforehand.
- Screen every customer entering the store to ensure they are of legal age.
- Ensure customers have a valid license to purchase cannabis.
- Scan the customer’s ID to make sure it is genuine and valid.
- Check the customer’s age, and enter these details into your customer database or tracking system.
- Check the system to ensure the customer has not already gone over their purchasing limit at a different store.
- Follow proper serving protocols.
3 – Sales transaction process and SOPs
Sales transaction processes are crucial to the business because this is how the company generates its revenues. Keeping track of these is key. Do you have the following sales SOPs?
Sales transaction processes could include:
- Greeter procedures (first customer contact),
- Boxing and packing procedures.
- Cashier procedures.
- Answering customer product questions.
- Recording product sales information into tracking systems.
- Recording shipping information.
- Processing various forms of payment.
- Gathering sales tax to submit.
It would help if you integrated your SOPs with the technology you’re using, like cannabis-compliant POS systems.
4 – Delivery procedures and SOPs
Cannabis deliveries can get complicated as they tend to include strict guidelines around logistics. This is why it’s essential there are SOPs built around these logistics.
Delivery procedures could include:
- Packaging and shipping guidelines with regards to the different types of products.
- Procedures in place to pack and mark fragile deliveries — like glass bongs — clearly to ensure safe delivery.
- Details and SOPs around third-party deliveries.
- Sop’s around management tools or software.
- Inputting data into the tracking software or POS system.
- Proper accounting and documentation of the aforementioned.
5 – Security, accounting, and cash management protocols and SOPs
Cannabis retail stores face many challenges when storing and moving cash from the store to the bank. Since dispensaries are not legal at the federal level in the United States of America, they are limited in the services they can receive from banks. As a result of those limitations, dispensaries struggle with large amounts of cash being stored on the dispensary’s premises, so tight SOPs surrounding how to navigate these challenges are crucial.
Security and cash management protocols could include:
- What employees are allowed in sensitive areas like stores and cash safes.
- How long to keep security camera recordings and how to report a robbery.
- How often armored trucks can pick up cash.
- Who gives the cash to the trucks.
- How the cash is stored while at the dispensary.
- Who is keeping track of accounting and line items?
- Who is keeping track of inventory management?
- How are taxes being filed and accounted for, and by who?
6 – Track-and-trace & inventory management and SOPs
Track and Trace SOPs are important for every cannabis dispensary. In order to comply with the regulations, you have to adopt track and trace SOPs into your inventory management system.
These track and trace SOPs should cover:
- Inventory management processes like procurement.
- Transportation to store.
- Product transfers.
- Track and trace software procedures that comply with local regulations.
Given how important track and trace SOPs are for compliance, you should automate this process if possible. Track-and-trace automation software can help you define the roles for each activity and integrate compliance checks.
7 – Quality assessment SOPs.
Quality assessment SOPs will make sure your product is up to the required standard by the regulators and that you are not violating any laws over what ingredients can be included in your products and how they are made. Failure to comply with these SOPs or pass a quality assessment could leave a dispensary owner at risk of losing their license.
Quality assessment SOPs could include:
- Purchasing products from verified sellers.
- Ensuring products are tagged within tracking systems.
- Ensuring you are selling products that you can legally sell within your geographic location.
- Product feedback requests.
8 – Product recalls and emergencies and SOPs
Product recall SOPs will come into play when a defective product needs to be recalled from the market. This can be stressful for the team as it will lead to customers complaining, and management concerned about losses being recorded. One of the most valuable assets to have in this situation would be SOPs that guide your team on how to act in this situation without losing their cool or professionalism.
Recall SOPs could be:
- How /who contacts purchasers.
- Who is on top of product updates (do you have a compliance manager?).
- Product recall script.
9 – Employee Management SOPs
Previously, these SOPs have been focused on inventory and store management, however, managing your staff is another large part of any dispensary operation.
When managing your staff it is recommended that you use employee management software to alleviate the stress of manually running operations such as dispensary payroll, scheduling, onboarding, or time clock adjustments.
Using software alone can eliminate the need for some of these SOPs but if you do choose to go the manual route you should have SOPs for the following procedures.
Employee management SOPs could be:
- How do you onboard employees?
- Who manages their forms and licenses?
- Who writes and manages the schedules?
- How do employees swap shifts?
- How do staff clock into shifts?
- How runs payroll?
- How are staff paid?
- How are taxes paid?
- How are employees’ performances reviewed, and by who?
These are the major SOPs that we believe you should have in place before opening or scaling, but don’t forget that enforcing them is just as crucial as implementing them!
The best way to run a compliant, systematic, and streamlined dispensary is to use great technology to help you succeed!
Consider using a project management tool to help you stay on top of all your tasks, a people management solution for payroll, HR, time tracking, and scheduling, and a dispensary POS solution that integrates with track and trace technology and people management solution for the best results. By using the tools paired with standard operating procedures your dispensary is sure to succeed.
Author Tommy Truong is the Director of Partnerships at KayaPush; the cannabis software helping dispensary owners manage their employee HR, scheduling, and payroll. KayaPush also integrates with leading dispensary POS systems. Tommy loves hot sauce, fried chicken, and running with his Boston terriers.