Waxing on Cannabusiness with LivWell (part II of II)

Waxing on Cannabusiness with LivWell (part II of II)

Cannabis Business, Featured, POS System, Specialty Retail

Waxing on Cannabusiness with LivWell (part II of II)

By John Garvey

This month we’re talking again with our friends at LivWell Enlightened Health, one of the nation’s largest cannabis retail chains and cultivators, about the challenge, inspiration, and oddities of … well, selling weed.

In last month’s blog we spoke with three people from different departments about their backgrounds and what inspires them as cannabis industry professionals. For part II of this blog, we’re talking about the nuts and bolts of compliance and cannabis retail ops.

I. A high-stakes decision

One of the highest-volume retailers in the cannabis industry is LivWell’s Garden City marijuana dispensary in Northern Colorado.

And the busiest day

for the busiest of 14 Colorado locations

for one of the largest cannabis retailers in the state is … (drumroll)

4/20

April 20th. Always has been, always will be.
Cannabis Buds in Jars
If you’re reading this you probably already know that 4/20 is like a combination of Independence Day and Black Friday for marijuana dispensaries (except 4/20, in contrast to Black Friday, is an actual holiday as far as I’m concerned).

Illinois native Mandy Leseure, the General Manager at LivWell’s Garden City branch, had a lot on her mind the week leading up to 4/20 this year. Her store switched to NCR Counterpoint—Anthea’s point of sale (POS) system—in the midst of the holiday shopping surge.

“We got the new system two days before 4/20,” Mandy recalls, “and we did that strategically because we knew our previous POS system would not be able to support what we were going to be doing that day.”

The POS system LivWell had been using frequently crashed, no doubt causing people’s blood pressure to skyrocket even on less busy days. The risks of not switching POS platforms included not only thousands in lost revenue over a single day, but also inventory tracking errors and liabilities.

So how did things pan out with this time-sensitive system overhaul?

The day itself was exciting, but the Counterpoint/Anthea transition went just the way Mandy had hoped: boring. … At least in the sense that nothing went wrong.

“I had staff members that used Counterpoint for the very first time on 4/20, so its ability to be user-friendly was fabulous,” Mandy states. “Basically, if they were able to read they could use it, and it didn’t crash once during that entire 4/20 sales binge.”

Sorry. This story would have been more interesting if things had gone horribly wrong. If you want to learn some fascinating background on 4/20, however, we recommend this podcast:

Criminal: The Meaning of 420

  • Hosted by award-winning journalist Phoebe Judge, @PhoebeVJudge

II. Nothing says “fiasco” like a missing lollipop

Compliance and inventory tracking

Row of lollipops on purple backgroundIn addition to point of sale solutions, Anthea integrates marketing functions, seed-to-sale inventory management, accounting, and other systems seamlessly. Manager of Retail Compliance and Corporate Security, James Bauer, can attest to that. The previous system, he says, was pretty good for inventory tracking, but LivWell needed a single platform that everyone across departments—purchasing, accounting, marketing, auditing—could use. That’s important when dealing with what is perhaps the most heavily-regulated inventory in the country.

James says the State’s expectation regarding cannabis inventory tracking and compliance is perfection:

“Anyone who’s worked any retail job and has ever dealt with any inventory accounts knows no one’s perfect. The challenging part for us is we employ over 500 people—200-plus on our retail side—so to expect them to never make a mistake isn’t realistic.

“When a department store like Kohl’s would look at a missing tee shirt, they’d write it off and carry on with their day, … one medicated lollipop that we spent maybe six or seven dollars on can become a major liability if it’s unaccounted for.”

“If we have someone who forgets to scan that and it goes out the door, then during our audit our inventory catches that discrepancy. We have to launch an investigation and see where it went and how it occurred so that we can report that accurately and compliantly to the state. So, that’s one of my biggest concerns on the inventory end.”

Integration across departments

An inventory management system that can integrate accounting, auditing, and other functions across departments not only makes occurrences like these less frequent but reduces the number of hours needed to investigate if they do occur.

Counterpoint is capable of generating over 40 reports, and James’ department uses six or seven on a regular basis, providing a “huge” operational advantage.

“The reports that you guys have provided us with, including the forensics and history reports that help us track down the sales ticket and who sold those products, and the ability to search with the Metrc number are key for us,” James states. “So that’s definitely been a huge benefit of moving to this platform: the reports that are generated from it.”

Where we’re at now, it’s never been better. The audits are quicker, our inventory counts are quicker, there’s more accuracy on them, and then the reports are huge.

III. The Wild West is behind us

Wild west buildings with wagon and old truckIT and reporting

Tech savvy Danielle Biddy began at LivWell 4 ½ years ago as a budtender. Her promotions to Assistant Manager, Retail Project Manager, and now IT Systems Manager were driven largely by her technical aptitude and curiosity.

Danielle is glad to be working in a maturing industry. For her, Anthea’s solutions have played a big role, allowing LivWell to operate like a business in any other industry.

Nonetheless, industry-wide challenges, including sky-high compliance expectations, remain. That’s why you can’t skimp on tracking capabilities. Anthea’s solutions allow LivWell to track seed-to-sale with Metrc RFID tags and barcodes. Ensuring that each budtender is selling from the correct batch and being able to barcode products in-house are also extremely important capabilities. Only solutions providers with a cannabis industry specialty can offer these.

“Anthea is helping because we can specify that it’s Metrc-specific,” Danielle says. “We can make purchase orders on this product, which is not something you can do with other systems.”

Retail and inventory reports

Danielle runs numerous weekly sales reports, including sales by category, by item, and hourly sales trends. These allow LivWell to anticipate demand, reduce stock-outs and surplus inventory, and schedule staff more efficiently.

Counterpoint’s reports also make it a lot easier to keep an eye on open transfers.

“The Anthea reports that we have are a lifesaver actually,” she says. “We have so many more options in terms of what we can get out of the system, such as transfers and alerts.”

Cannabis Enterprise Business Solutions

Talk to one of our reps to learn how our industry-leading point of sale and inventory management solutions can keep the boogie man away from your cannabis dispensary.

Read Examining the Cannabis Industry with LivWell (Part I of II) to learn more about what inspires people in the cannabis industry and what keeps them awake at night.

Examining the Cannabis Industry with LivWell (Part I of II)

Examining the Cannabis Industry with LivWell (Part I of II)

Cannabis Business, Featured, Just for Fun, News, POS System

Examining the Cannabis Industry with LivWell (Part I of II)

By John Garvey

This month we’re talking with our friends at LivWell Enlightened Health, one of the nation’s largest cannabis retail chains and cultivators, about the challenge, inspiration and oddities of … well, selling weed.

Three people from different departments were kind enough to share their insights and experiences with us. We’ll start by discussing what inspires them and then talk about the nuts and bolts of compliance and cannabis retail ops in part II.

I. James Bauer, Manager of Retail Compliance and Corporate Security

James Bauer, a former combat medic in the U.S. Army, returned with an injury from his second tour in Afghanistan in 2010 after serving with the 1-66 Armor Battalion, 4th Infantry Division. He transitioned into the cannabis industry after being honorably discharged in early 2013 and joined LivWell a little over three years ago.

“If there’s one lesson I learned during my tours of service that has helped me in the cannabis industry,” James says, “it’s: be prepared for anything.”

As of January, James oversees the entire Retail Compliance and Corporate Security department. Given that LivWell has 14 dispensaries in Colorado, one in Oregon, and several large grows in Colorado’s Front Range, it’s safe to say his knowledge of cannabis goes far beyond knowing the differences between Sativas and Indicas.

What lights you up about the cannabis industry?

Brightly lite cannabis plants“It’s important to me being a veteran because I see my buddies come home and from my observations, they’re prescribed 20, 30 medications. In my experience you take one medication for one problem but there’s three side effects and then you’ve gotta take three medications for those side effects. And next thing you know, you have like 20, 30 prescriptions. I’ve spoken with so many of our patients and customers who say that cannabis can help them in ways they feel are far superior to these more traditional kinds of medications.”

“I came home diagnosed with PTSD, they had me on all kinds of medications. And since I’ve gotten out and gotten into this industry that’s been one of the biggest game changers for me.”

“Obviously I’m biased here, but if we’re willing to send these guys to the other side of the world and put them through worst-case scenarios and nightmares, and in my opinion, I think it’s important for us as a country to give them anything and everything that’s going to help them get back to where they need to be. So me personally, I would say that’s one of the more enjoyable aspects of being a veteran and being in the cannabis industry.”

“So what lights me up about cannabis? Just being a part of the industry, and specifically being a part of LivWell, because we do strive to do it right, follow every single rule and be the example.”

II. Mandy Leseure, Retail Manager, LivWell Garden City

Originally from Illinois, Mandy has been with LivWell for two years at the Garden City location. She got into the cannabis industry by accident, which she laughs about to this day.

“When I applied to LivWell Enlightened Health I thought it was a health food grocery store. … So after I got called for an interview I started really looking into the company and making sure I had all my Ps and Qs straightened out. And then I realized it was marijuana.”

Browse LivWell’s Products including flower, concentrates, specialty brands and apparel

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

“I get to sell and talk to people about weed all day long. That is just the coolest thing that I’ve ever been able to do, to actually speak openly and honestly about what I believe this product can do for people that need help.

But it’s also just fun.”

Sign that says I weed, you weed, he weed, she weed, it weed, we weed, you weed, they weed.Mandy interacts daily with people on both the medical and recreational side of the store, so she knows people who smoke or consume cannabis aren’t all party animals and concert-goers (although there’s nothing wrong with that!). Cancer patients and caregivers make up the largest patient segment at the Garden City location she manages—which is significant.

“We are the highest-volume store for the company,” she states. “We’re probably one of the highest-volume stores for the industry period.”

Mandy frequently speaks with patients and consumers who tell her that cannabis helps them cope with chronic pain, opioid withdrawal, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a laundry list of other things. Her oldest patient (adjusting for life expectancy because the patient is a different species) may be a 30-year-old elk who uses LivWell’s CBD pet tincture to manage arthritis.

“I was a flower person first, and I still am,” Mandy says. ”But I’ve really learned to appreciate CBD products in general. My favorite ones are tinctures and patches. I used both of them after my surgery because the painkillers they were giving me were making me sick. So I quit taking those and just started using tinctures and patches.”

“I fell in love with those and now everybody in my family uses them.”

Check out LivWell’s primer on CBD and browse products

III. Danielle Biddy, Systems Manager (IT)

Danielle moved to Colorado from Texas in 2013 to be part of the cannabis industry and soon found employment at LivWell, where she just completed her fifth year. She had never been in a dispensary before interviewing at LivWell.

What inspires you about working in cannabis?

Cannabis plant with drop of water on it“Mostly just seeing how many people actually use cannabis and how many people this is affecting. Scientists, artists, businesspeople, young adults, vets—it’s amazing to me how all these people are brought together over a plant. It was illegal for so long, it kinda blows my mind.”

The many challenges related to both public perceptions and the cannabis industry’s rapid growth are a call to arms for Danielle. The U.S. has come a long way in terms of accepting the industry as a legitimate business enterprise in the last five years. Still, she continues challenging herself with questions relating to those fundamentals:

“What can we do next to show people that this is a real industry, a viable product? How can we innovate and make this better as an industry, a product, as a whole?”

Anthea has been a big part of that at LivWell, helping to coordinate activities between departments, ensure compliance and keep things running smoothly at the point of sale.

“Being able to run it like a normal company has just made a huge difference,” Danielle says. “I mean we’ve just saved so much on labor costs and time management.”

“Our last system, it crashed on a daily basis. So having a system that’s reliable makes a huge difference. When the system goes down and you’re writing hand-written tickets that’s not good for business. The reliability of Anthea is just a huge weight off our shoulders.”

* LivWell Enlightened Health makes no claim regarding the health and medical benefits of cannabis

Cannabis Enterprise Business Solutions

Talk to one of our reps to learn how our industry-leading point of sale and inventory management solutions can help keep your dispensary sprouting upward.

Stay posted for part II of this blog where we’ll talk in more detail about the challenges of working with what may be the most heavily-regulated inventory in the country.