In our previous session, we discussed the importance of creating a first and lasting impression in the lobby and check-in area. This space is the opening monologue of your retail performance, an area of confluence between the outside world, this new thing called legal cannabis, and your unique brand. But when it’s time to get down to business, sometimes a little privacy is needed. Let’s talk about designing great private consultation spaces.
Private consultation spaces are staples in a medical dispensary and even a requirement in some markets. When you have the option to include it or exclude it from your store’s design, we advise that you include it. Creating the perfect place for an intimate conversation can elevate your customer service experience and leave another lasting impression in your customer’s memory, one that translates into fierce loyalty. It allows first-timers a safe space to ask questions and returning customers the time and space for an in-depth conversation about concerns or new product options. And of course, is it our humble High Road opinion that this is just one more opportunity to infuse #dopedesign and a pop of brand power into your space.
If you are invested in a superior customer service experience, then invest in a killer consultation space. Here are the 5 things we think the perfect private consultation space should be.
After your customers have been wowed in the lobby, an adjacent space for private consultations can maintain a seamless transition in your customer service model, especially for novice shoppers. You score double points when you can locate these private rooms within sight of your showroom. Consult rooms can support the sales process, allowing your staff the ability to point to and reference product that’s on display in your showroom from the comfort of this private zone. This helps orient the customer before they navigate the rest of the often-intimidating dispensary showroom. Whenever possible, try to position the room on an exterior window. This allows for natural light to enhance the experience and puts customers at ease. It also creates a positive connection to the outside world, allowing customers to see out while providing a storefront appeal that gives passersby a sneak peek of the world inside the elusive dispensary.
Drop dead gorgeous
Every space in your dispensary is part of the customer journey, so make sure that the private consultation area continues to tell your visual story and reinforces your personality, style and values. The materials, finishes and furnishings should be flawless. In some instances, people will be sitting in this space for a decent amount of time, which means they’ll have time to spot careless paint jobs or those dust bunnies that your staff has missed for the past four weeks. Making sure these small spaces aren’t wrought with quality and cleanliness issues is critical. Consult rooms are a great opportunity to be a visual showcase. These are not high traffic areas, so invest in some more luxurious accoutrements. Whether statement furnishings, custom artwork or a dramatic light fixture, infuse a savvy sense of style.
Tailored for education
Since this room is about consultation, think through the things this room will need to house in order to educate your customers. Think through your sales process and your presentation techniques. Do you need a television screen for instructional videos? Do you need an area to display printed collateral? Is it possible to bring a small stock of products and paraphernalia into the room for hands-on explanation? Furthermore, think about what type of furnishings will support this process. Do you want customers relaxing in lounge furniture? Do they need to be seated at a table so they can fill out paperwork? This is a supportive environment, so make sure the room is equipped to support your team and your guests.
While some dispensaries may have to deal with strict requirements for a compliant consultation space, others may have more freedom. If so, think outside the box—meaning, explore other options for walls and barriers. Perhaps sliding glass doors or curtain walls provide the adaptability needed over time. This allows you to open the space and create more flexibility. Or possibly bookcases, curtains, or living walls to divide the space and provide the right level of privacy. Alternative solutions give you future flexibility as your market and your customers’ needs change over time.
All about your brand
Your store is your brand, and this area is a fantastic place to immerse your people in it. The colors, materials, artwork, graphics—this is a place to be bold and have fun. Think of everything in the room as a complete branded package, all the way down to your room signage. This also includes the training of your team and their ability to live and breathe your brand while in this intimate one-on-one setting with your customers. Savor the opportunity for your customers to literally sit and do nothing but take in what you have to offer them. Whether they are enjoying the consultative process or simply walking by, make these spaces an exclamation point, a place that packs a branded punch.
We hope you will think more about this private little moment in your dispensary journey and give it the attention it deserves. Every touch point is an opportunity to captivate your customer and build a relationship. This is valuable one-on-one time with them before they head into the showroom and are able to demonstrate their brand loyalty with a purchase.
Got a design question for Megan? Submit it and she’ll answer in a future column.
A disruptor, innovator, and entrepreneur, Megan Stone is the grand dame of dispensary design. As founder and owner of The High Road Design Studio, she has helped arm cannabis retailers with the power of design to combat stigma, overcome stereotypes, and reinvent people’s perceptions of cannabis and its users. Her unprecedented work has helped usher dispensaries onto Main Street and into the mainstream and has forever changed the international conversation about the retailing of “vice.” Her work has been lauded for altering thoughts, feelings and behaviors worldwide, blazing a trail and earning awards and commendations for design excellence along the way. She is a frequent speaker and contributing editor in both the cannabis and retail design industries. In the fall of 2018, she will add “dispensary owner” to her growing list of credentials as she embarks on a partnership to open a cannabis boutique in Palm Desert, California.