So we all know that robots are taking all the jobs and humans are becoming obsolete…but what if I told you there was an industry that was actually ADDING hundreds of thousands of jobs while sectors like manufacturing, utilities, and government are cutting just as many? That’s exactly what the cannabis industry is doing as California has taken its first steps into the recreational cannabis market with several other states lined up to follow suit.
One of the most popular and sought-after positions in the burgeoning Wild West World of Weed is the budtender. So what exactly is a budtender and what do they do? We sat down with Jay Frentsos – budtender extraordinaire at Urbn Leaf, San Diego’s premiere cannabis dispensary, and current nominee for “Best Budtender” in the “Best of Cannabis Awards 2018” – to get the inside scoop on what it means to be the face of cannabis as the industry prepares for takeoff.
So what exactly is a budtender? Is it the same as a bartender, but just serving cannabis instead of alcohol?
Jay Frentsos: Being a budtender is similar in some ways but it requires a much higher degree of personalized service and product knowledge. While bartenders have to learn the ingredients and ratios for many different drinks, at the end of the day the worst thing that can happen is the customer doesn’t like their drink. As a budtender, you’re helping customers address such a wide variety of conditions – insomnia, chronic pain, anxiety, lack of appetite, etc. – that you really need to listen to what the customer is telling you so you can provide well-informed recommendations on which products to use. There can be serious consequences if an inexperienced budtender recommends the wrong products!
You are nominated for Best Budtender for 2018 – what does it take to be a great budtender?
I think it really comes down to three things. First and foremost is making each and every customer feel comfortable in your dispensary. That starts with introducing yourself, providing that personal touch by explaining everything that your shop has to offer. Second is LISTENING to what the customer tells you they are looking for. Some customers know exactly what they want to purchase and prefer a get in, get out experience. Other customers want to learn about every product on your shelf – and in order to service these people, a budtender has to be well educated and articulate. Whatever the case may be, the best budtenders provide each customer with the experience that they want to have. And last, just be honest with your customers. If you tell them that every product they ask about is great, they will see right through it and will never come back to your shop. Have informed opinions on which products are best and steer customers to the products that are right for their needs.
How did you get started in the cannabis industry?
I’m an Ohio boy and I moved to California specifically to get into the cannabis industry – and it was hard without knowing anyone in the industry! But I was able to get where I am today the same way anyone does in any other industry – through working hard, constantly absorbing information, and taking whatever opportunities came my way. I started as a delivery driver and that’s where I first began learning about all the various cannabis products and industry lingo. I later spent time on a cannabis farm where I got to see first hand how the plant is cultivated and harvested. After that,I was lucky enough to be a part of the very first hiring class at Urbn Leaf, where I got the opportunity to both budtend and help build the best customer base in San Diego from the ground up!
So you’ve had quite the wild ride to becoming a candidate for a “Best of Cannabis Award!” What’s the industry looking like now that it’s growing so rapidly?
The floodgates are open. When we first opened Urbn Leaf we had fewer than 20 employees – now we have over 200! There are definitely positions that need to be filled and we are seeing people from all walks of life join our not-so-small cannabis community. With that being said, having extensive knowledge about cannabis products is a huge advantage and will most definitely set you apart as a potential budtender candidate.
What do you see on the horizon for the cannabis industry?
Budtending has put me on the front lines of the industry, and it has truly opened my eyes to just how big it is going to be. Everybody and their grandma – literally! – loves cannabis. And I see so much room for innovation and creativity to thrive in this industry. That’s where my passion lies and I can’t wait to apply my new and exciting ideas to bringing cannabis to the masses.
Jay Frentsos can be found on Instagram at @drjayurbnleaf
You can vote for him for Best Budtender (under Best Cannabis People) in the Best of Cannabis Awards 2018 at: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4171444/Best-of-Cannabis-2018-Voting