Almost twenty years ago, Greg Gamet, now 44, drove to Colorado from in Iowa in his beat-up Cadillac to join a rock ’n roll band with Justin Jones, with whom he now co-owns Denver Consulting Group. While their love for music was strong, the pair knew they needed to earn extra money. Cannabis was all the rage in Colorado, so in 2009 they opened Dank Colorado, a licensed medical dispensary and grow operation. As the business continued to grow and earn a reputation as a customer-centric store, they added staff. Jay Griffin became one of the company’s first employees, and Bryan Sullivan came on as an investor/partner in 2010. Dan Glenn joined the now-thriving business in 2014. The dispensary became one of the first recreational stores in Colorado.
“In the years we’ve been running a grow operation and dispensary, we really learned the ropes, perils, and pitfalls,” said Gamet. “So, we started the Denver Consulting Group to help entrepreneurs start and run a successful cannabis businesses.”
To date, Denver Consulting Group has assissted cannabis businesses in almost every state. From application and license support to compliance and packaging, budtender training, and human resources issues, Denver Consulting Group has assembled a team of the industry’s top experts from all sectors to provide comprehensive A-to-Z services.
What states are you most bullish on when it comes to opening new dispensaries?
We are especially bullish on Massachusetts and believe that, once a few challenges can be overcome, the state could become the second largest market in the nation [behind California]. The state’s proximity to major population centers, and the fact that New York’s program is too narrow, means Massachusetts could become a hub for legal cannabis for the entire Eastern Seaboard.
Dispensary location is not as important as it is in other retail operations. If you build a great business and do everything right, [dispensaries] can sometimes be located in an out-of-the-way location. If you build it correctly, they will come.
DCG created the Standard Operating Procedures Manual. Tell us about it.
This book helps guide businesses and establishes protocols to protect workers, customers, and the company’s license. Additionally, virtually every issue that can be imagined is planned for and steps are outlined to correct any problem. This is extraordinarily valuable, because the time to make decisions is under calm deliberation, not stress and havoc. Our SOP Manual is customized for each business and provides them with a roadmap for operational success.
When it comes to branding and marketing what advice do you give clients?
We believe that branding, marketing, and public relations is key to the success of any cannabis business. We work exclusively with Randall Huft at the Innovation Agency and recommend him to our clients. He knows the industry and has helped many cannabis companies go from start-up to leaders in their sector.
What is DCG currently working on?
We are working on an exciting project in California which will become the largest grow operation in the nation. Details are still under wraps, but this is not only the biggest project we’ve ever worked on, it’s also literally the biggest project in the entire cannabis industry to date.
What traits do you look for when hiring a general manager or budtender?
We look for personal traits more than experience. You can train someone to do a job. You can’t train someone to be friendly, compassionate, understanding, and have a genuine desire to help others. Those are the traits we look for in any new hire.
What’s the best way for a dispensary to grow their customer base in a crowded market?
Market your business! You need to be listed on the appropriate websites and garner excellent customer reviews. Moreover, you need to create a brand identity: What do you stand for as a company? Are you a low-cost provider, or more of an exclusive store? There are many components to launching a brand, which is why we work with experts in marketing, advertising, and public relations. Of course, it’s vital to have a great product mix and personable, well-trained employees.
What are some of the reasons one dispensary is profitable and another is not?
We have helped many dispensaries become profitable when they were struggling to stay open. We find that usually the factors are one or more of the items I mentioned above: A failure to brand, market and advertise; a failure to train employees; a failure to have a great selection of products. Interestingly, location is not as important as it is in other retail operations. If you build a great business, and do everything right, [dispensaries] can sometimes be located in an out-of-the-way location. If you build it correctly, they will come.
According to DCG, the three biggest mistakes dispensaries make are…
- Not having enough inventory on hand to meet customer demand.
- Not managing cash flow, and therefore being unable to purchase adequate inventory while making payroll.
- Not paying enough attention to compliance. “We are in a tightly regulated industry, and the slightest infraction can cost a dispensary owner large fines or even license suspension or revocation,” Gamet said.