Article by Shane, Cheap Home Grow
Please tell my readership about yourself. How did you get involved in the cannabis industry? How did you become a cannabis consultant?
My name is Chris Young. I’m a U.S. Navy veteran from Texas, but I have been working in cannabis management and consulting for the last 4 years. I actually got into the industry after hearing a speech by Alan Watts. The speech was entitled, “What if money was no object”. I was an assistant manager for Verizon at the time. I would help them open new locations, and I was good at it, however after listening to Alan I slowly realized that I wasn’t doing what I loved. After that I applied to about 50 different dispensaries and recreational stores in Washington. I was hired as a budtender at a recreational cannabis store called The Stash Box in Auburn, WA. There I was able to work my way up to the General Manager position and really learn how the industry operated. Our team made that store break into the top 10 in Washington. We had a lot of success. About a year later I met Ed Mitchell, the current COO of Have a Heart. We discussed me joining their team. This was a dream come true, after all Have a Heart is the largest chain of recreational cannabis stores in Washington. I accepted the offer and took over their Fremont location in Seattle. After finding some success there, they moved me to their Skyway location. Fortunately for me, this gave me the unique experience of seeing how geographic location plays a part in what products to carry. I continued on with Have a Heart for a bit, but the Seattle weather had begun to take its toll on me. Being from Texas it was especially challenging to live in a place that sees rain 9 months a year. I knew I wanted to stay in the cannabis industry, but I wanted out of Washington. As I started to prepare to leave the state, I used my new industry experience and applied to dispensaries and recreational stores all over the country. Luckily, there was a lot of interest in me having Have a Heart on my resume. I flew to Las Vegas to interview with a few of the shops out there, and did virtually interviews in New Mexico, Oregon, Colorado, and even as far as New York. Then I got a call back from Airfield Supply Company in San Jose, California. I had followed their company for a while and really like what they were doing, not to mention who wouldn’t want to live in California? After flying out to meet the founder and CEO Marc Matulich, I agreed to come aboard and made the move to the golden state. You see, California is about to undergo the transition into recreational or “Adult Use” cannabis. Having been through that transition once in Washington, I’m excited to be here to offer insight where I can.
I know on your Instagram account you mention your an influencer but what exactly does that mean?
Being an influencer, my goal is to influence my viewers to check out the companies and products that I support. With that goal, comes the responsibility of only recommending the products that meet my quality standard. Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to network with some really amazing entrepreneurs and businesses owners and I want to help those people become a household name. Right now companies typically give me products that they would like more exposure on. After testing the product I determine if the quality is high enough to recommend to my viewers. If so, I do research on the company itself and even the business owners. If I still feel the product and/or company is worth promoting, then I do. If not, I’ll offer my feedback to the company and wish them well. Some companies pay me to promote, while others (like Phat Panda) I do just because I believe in what their doing. Regardless if a company pays me or not, the product quality is the decision maker for me.
What’s your area of expertise in the marijuana business? As a cannabis consultant how do you help businesses grow? What fees do you charge?
I believe my area of expertise as a cannabis consultant lies in the realm of lean operations and guest services. Those are the two primary subjects that I consult on. The way I help businesses grow is by looking for waste in the company and eliminating it. There are many different types of wastes in the companies I work with, ranging from motion to inventory. My goal is always the same, eliminate the waste without sacrificing quality. My expertise in guest services focuses on the experience of the guest from the time the enter your parking lot, until the time they leave. As far as fees go, I generally charge $500 an hour. That sounds like a lot, however I typically only consult in about 2 hour increments. Most companies that have hired me to consult haven’t needed more than 20 hours of my time to see an increase in guest satisfaction and/or a decline in company waste. Simply fixing one process has the potential to save a company thousands of dollars a year. So it doesn’t usually take long for companies to be extremely satisfied with their ROI.
If I have an idea for the cannabis industry. What’s the first thing you suggest I do? Write a business plan? Build a website? Focus on building my social media following? Focus on financing/funding? What first steps should I take to make my idea a reality?
As a cannabis consultant the first thing I suggest is a solid business plan. Everyone has dreams, but if you can’t get others to see your vision it will be hard to get them to invest. A solid business plan is a great step in the right direction as it shows investors that you are serious about your goals. After a business plan is in place, start pitching to investors until one sees your vision. That’s my advice.
As you probably know marijuana is illegal on a federal level making conventional financing difficult for would-be cannabis entrepreneurs. What’s your advice to these entrepreneurs? How do you suggest they get off the ground?
Again I think having a solid business plan in place can go along way in getting off the ground. Most cannabis entrepreneurs are seeking capital from friends or family currently, because you’re right there just isn’t much conventional financing right now unfortunately. I know some recreational store owners that put everything on the line to pursue their dream. I’ve heard of re-financing homes, selling other business ventures, you name it.
What state(s) do you offer your consulting services?
Currently I offer consulting to Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado, Washington DC, Nevada, Florida, and Michigan. However I am open to consulting in other parts of the world as well.