The cannabis industry is rapidly growing. The US market has a projected compound annual growth rate of 14% reaching 13.1 billion dollars in 2025, according to Cannabyte.
This interview features Mrs. Laniakea Evans, the General Manager of the California-based 365 Recreational Cannabis, a cannabis-distribution company started in the middle of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
Mrs. Evans shared her experiences with us as well as the operational tactics that she used to survive the changing market in such a trying time as 2020. Find the focus of our discussion below, as she shares all she’s learned from operating her business.
Venturing Into The Cannabis Space
How’d you make your way into the cannabis industry?
They say that a good network is essential for thriving in any journey. My adventures in the cannabis industry weren’t without one. When I began, a couple of friends helped me navigate the cannabis space. They taught me everything they knew, the ropes in their full length.
Having them as support helped me build a solid foundation upon which my career in the industry is built. As you know, a strong foundation is imperative. And as the market transitioned into what it is today, we all stood through it as one strong network. We’re still like family today.
Challenges & Insights
Since 2014, what changes and developments have you seen that make running operations more smooth and efficient?
Operations in any business have been the same since the beginning of time. We simply have to focus on moving the needle. However, thanks to technology, a lot of tools have been created to help “moving the needle” easier.
The adoption of Track and Trace technology in the cannabis industry has reduced the occurrence of missing shipments as well as improved dealers’ confidence knowing that their purchases are progressing.
Also, licensing in the cannabis market has seen quite an improvement. The legislation made it possible for the cannabis industry to become full-blown and regulatory licenses bring some sanity to the raging market.
Furthermore, POS systems significantly impacted operations. The possibility of processing transactions and receiving payments right at the point of sale really made business operations smooth.
What roadblocks have you encountered when procuring inventory?
Shortage in products, failed testing, delayed product delivery, and packaging, among many others have been major roadblocks in ensuring that our customers get the value for their money.
What solutions have you implemented to avoid those roadblocks in the future?
Although we believe that our suppliers and vendors are doing their absolute best at delivering quality, I see a need to forge new relationships with vendors to ensure our shelves are never empty. Nevertheless, our relationship with current vendors is never, in any way, taken for granted.
What was the biggest operational challenge you faced in 2020?
With the COVID-19 pandemic, our traditional in-store business model had to overcome the challenge of reaching and closing customers virtually, since usually, customers would be able to come into the store and decide what product is best for them.
Luckily, our great team came up with a great social media strategy and built a strong following on Instagram and Twitter. It was an exciting way to adapt to the changing business world.
The Key To Vendor Relationships
What is your secret to managing vendor relationships?
Effective communication is important for managing business relationships. We understand each other’s goals and how we intend to help each other accomplish our respective goals. For vendors, putting their products on shelves is a top priority while getting the products off the shelves to consumers is our focus. By making sure that everyone understands this, we all play our roles to remain in business.
Effective communication is important for managing business relationships. We understand each other’s goals and how we intend to help each other accomplish our respective goals.
Also, I respond to all queries within 36 hours just to make sure that I do not keep anyone waiting for so long. However, I’m concerned about not wasting my or the vendor’s time, so try to make my responses direct and spot on. As I do this, I maintain some level of openness to welcome their ideas, opinions, and contribution to whatever the situation might be. Of course, everyone needs to be heard.
What strategies have you implemented to make your business stand out amidst the growing competition?
We believe that customers are everything, and our focus on customer service and education has helped us stand out amidst the competition.
We treat every customer with respect and dignity. It doesn’t matter if a customer is spending $20 or $500 on products, or if a customer is “a regular” at the store or stops by every now and then. Every single customer is our top priority.
It doesn’t matter if a customer is spending $20 or $500 on products, or if a customer is “a regular” at the store or stops by every now and then. Every single customer is our top priority.
We also put a big emphasis on education. With the increasing information on the web about cannabis, even seasoned consumers find it challenging sieving credible information through. We make sure that they have the right information to make the best purchasing decision.
We ensure that our employees are given personalized training about all the products on our shelves. They are armed with enough information to help them educate the customers and provide verifiable answers to any question that may jump on them.
If you had all the resources you could ask for, what is one strategy or solution that you wish you could implement to better grow your business?
We would strive to increase our visibility to everyday consumers. However, we are extremely limited in our ability to do this because of regulations restricting us from publicizing cannabis-derived products in the same way that other, more traditional businesses are allowed to.
It is important to show that cannabis is not taboo. We have seen that cannabis is a helpful medicine, beneficial to people in all walks of life. With its benefits, giving it the visibility it needs would be worthwhile.
It is important to show that cannabis is not taboo. We have seen that cannabis is a helpful medicine, beneficial to people in all walks of life.
What advice do you have for someone who is interested in taking on an operations role in your industry?
I have two pieces of advice.
Firstly, this is like any other business you’ve seen, so run it as your own. If your business succeeds, you will succeed. You will make what you put into it.
Secondly, your team is family. You spend 40 hours a week with them. That’s more awake time than you spend on any other thing and with any other category of people. Treat them with respect and do not ask them to do anything you wouldn’t be happy to do yourself. Also, do everything you can to keep your doors open. Allow your employees to contribute to the business, to be a core part of it, and to treat it as their own. You will be amazed at what they can do for you.
Do you have a personal motto that you live by?
“Sit Down and Be Humble.”
I believe that humility is key to success. Being humble and down-to-earth can change and improve your partnerships and relationships – which make up the foundation of any successful business.
What other detail would you like to share about your company?
Availability is one of the top focuses. We are open 365 days a year within the same hours. So, our customers know where to find us and we are always there whenever they need us.
Also, educating people about cannabis is another top focus incorporated into our business model. We want the world to give cannabis and cannabis-derived products an open arm. We want to play our role in making that happen.
We want the world to give cannabis and cannabis-derived products an open arm. We want to play our role in making that happen.
365 Recreational Cannabis is a community-oriented business. So, we prioritize giving back to the community. We have done food drives and raised funds for Living Room International, a community-based HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment NGO, and we encourage employees to volunteer their time to engage in community functions.
Lastly, and most importantly, we leave the doors open for employees to contribute. We listen to them and encourage them to share ideas that could help our store grow and meet more customers’ needs.