MG Magazine: Shannon Ayers Budtender Feature
Budtender Shannon Ayers Knows Cannabis Does not Sell Itself
Parlour Cannabis Shoppe’s Shannon Ayers shares three ways to be a better budtender.
Like most other retail jobs, working in a cannabis shop requires excellent customer service skills. For budtenders, customer service means helping consumers understand complex and intimidating products. That’s why people skills, more than any other, play a major role in budtenders’ effectiveness. Asking and answering questions is a big part of the work.
Shannon Ayers, head budtender for the Parlour Cannabis Shoppe in Portland, Oregon, approaches her job with all of that in mind. Ayers has been around cannabis most of her life. Her parents grew marijuana in the 1970s and ’80s. She started using the herb at 18.
Now she sells cannabis legally, using her years of experience in management to her advantage. “I spend the days educating people about cannabis, asking and answering questions,” said Ayers, 43. “And my nights are steeped in studying. Helping and educating people has become my passion.”
The best budtenders cultivate excellent communication skills so they can impart relevant scientific knowledge about the plant. Ayers explains how.
Cannabis Does Not Sell Itself
People sell cannabis. People buy cannabis. “There are many dispensary options for customers in Portland,” said Ayers. Many of Parlour’s clients, she said, are from the neighborhood, and they are the shop’s bread and butter.
“Making sure every budtender can answer questions and direct people with compassion is key,” she said. “I do that by sharing information and asking them to do the same. We talk about terpenes, cannabinoids, methods of ingestion, and share experiences. My budtenders are my customers, and I try to treat them accordingly.”
Approach Each Customer As An Individual
“Learning to approach every client on an individual basis can be challenging,” Ayers said. She’s learned seniors require a much different approach than baby boomers or millennials. “Their needs and expectations are different and they must be met at the point they are coming from,” she said. “The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work in this industry; the clientele is as diverse as the strains. Currently, seniors are my favorite demographic. As they return to holistic and natural medicine in droves, they have many questions about cannabis.”
Ask Questions And Remember Names
Ayers believes knowing clients’ names and using their name as many times as possible during a transaction furthers the connection. “Many of our budtenders remember what people order, and they return over and over again because of those connections,” Ayers said.
Parlour has a directive: Ask more questions. The first thing Ayers says to a new customer is, “How are you doing today?” Next, “What brings you in?” She’ll then ask what expectations they have. “I will ascertain if they are comfortable with combustible flower, or if they are looking to ingest or vaporize,” she said.
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