When the first case of COVID-19 was reported in January, most of us could not have anticipated the many ways the coronavirus would change our day-to-day lives.
For B2C businesses like dispensaries, this change has been especially surprising and has required a restructuring at almost every level. Under the current climate, MSOs have faced supply chain disruptions, a push to have corporate staff work at home, and a pressing need to protect retail employees and customers while simultaneously ensuring they can provide customers and patients with the products they need or want.
Here’s how one of our clients handled the various difficulties and COVID regulations presented by the current pandemic.
Handling Multi-State COVID Regulations
Because our client is partially headquartered in NY, the initial epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak on the East Coast, they were quick to start pulling together a plan.
Their main concern was ensuring that patients would still have access to medical cannabis in all of the states in which they operate—Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
The team thoughtfully considered the actions different states were taking and often implemented more stringent COVID regulations that surpassed those instituted by many states. This allowed them to be prepared for worst while also maintaining some uniformity across their stores.
Delivery & Curbside Pickup
Our client already delivered in New York, making it easy for registered patients to access their medicine quickly without leaving their homes. This has been especially helpful for older patients and other at-risk groups who prefer to minimize their contact with the outside world during the pandemic.
Simultaneously, they posted a blog post detailing how to order online using their platform. They understood that many of their patients would be ordering their medicine online for the first time and wanted to make the process as simple and seamless as possible. In addition, their dispensaries are still staffed so that individuals who need assistance can call in for help.
In states where delivery is not available or where they have yet to institute delivery, the company has limited in-store customers and increased cleaning procedures.
Online Consultations & Ordering
While some MSOs have stopped doing consultations all together, our client moved theirs online to make sure they are able to provide the level of care their patients expect from them. They’re able to consult with both new and current patients via an online platform.
Ordering has also been pushed online. The company asks that patients use their menu to place their orders online. This helps to reduce the number of people at any one location as well as the amount of time that people stay inside the dispensaries.
Our client recommends that patients stock up on their medicine where possible. In some states, that means purchasing a 30-day supply, while other patients are able to purchase a 90-day supply. This helps to reduce the number of times a patient will need to return to the dispensary. While this isn’t possible for everyone because patients must pay out of pocket, if individuals that can purchase ahead do so, this will help protect many vulnerable patients from possible exposure to the coronavirus.
Reduce the Use of Cash
To minimize contact between their Patient Care Consultants and patients, our client has asked that patients use CanPay, a popular debit platform in the cannabis industry.
Because of banking regulations, most dispensaries remain cash-only. However, there’s a concern that cash could carry the coronavirus, or at the least, require that a patient and a care consultant stand too close together. By using an alternative payment method like a cannabis debit payment, everyone can better abide by social distancing guidelines.
To make sure they have enough time to clean their stores and safely take in deliveries, our client instituted new hours of operations in most of its stores. This information was shared via a blog post that is not pinned to the company’s front page. They’ve also made changes to each store’s individual website or location page, their social profiles, and their GMB profiles. By sharing this information widely, they were able to ensure that patients had the most recent hours.
Communication and fast action have aided our client as they navigated these choppy waters. By using tools like SMS marketing, Google Ads, content marketing, and more, they’ve been able to keep patients informed about any changes while maintaining their commitment to quality customer service.
To learn more about how these different strategies work, make sure to check out our webinars.