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Andy Poticha, CEO of Cannabis Facility Construction – Interview Series

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Andy Poticha, CEO of Cannabis Facility Construction - Interview Series

Andy Poticha is one of those unseen heroes in the cannabis industry, offering a service we didn’t even know we needed: compliance-ready cannabis-specific facility designs for every facet of the industry from seed to sale. As not only CEO but a founder, Andy and his team at Cannabis Facility Construction have been working to fill this unique cannabis industry need since 2015.

Meet Andy Poticha: CEO of Cannabis Facility Construction – Designing the Future of Cannabis Dispensaries, Cultivation Spaces, and More

With almost a decade in business, Cannabis Facility Construction has built cultivation facilities, processing and infusion centers, and dispensaries across 14 states, including its “in progress” projects.

They handles everything from design and construction management to planning for security and ensuring you remain compliant with local and state regulations. It is a one-stop-shop that’s worked with national brands including Mission, Herbology, Nature’s Grace & Wellness, among others.

With legalization pending in multiple states before the end of the year, many existing medical dispensaries are hoping to start serving both types of clients – but what’s the best way to do that?

Over the years, Andy has become an expert in design trends for cannabis facilities – especially dispensaries that are looking to serve both medical patients and adult consumers. So, naturally we turned to him for these answers!

Giving credit where credit is due, this interview was conducted via email by My Cannabis contributor Lydia Kariuki.

As a brief intro, how did you find yourself involved in the cannabis industry?

As a design/build firm operating in the construction industry for over thirty years, we have grown our company by being opportunity-driven, client-focused, and relationship-based. In 2014, our largest retail client, who owned and managed strip malls, applied for and was awarded three medical cannabis dispensary licenses in Illinois. The client approached us about being their design/build contractor in this new venture, as our company had earned their trust. After completing their initial three projects, the client asked us to join them as they expanded throughout the country. This led to us designing/building new facilities in emerging markets as they expanded their cannabis brand. Fast forward to today, and we have now designed/built close to 100 projects in 14 states.

What insights can you share about converting “med” dispensaries to “rec” ones, particularly regarding design differences and customer expectations?

While most state regulations may not require specific design changes to the physical space, customers seek a different experience when entering a recreational dispensary versus a medical dispensary. Many existing stores still feature built-in checkpoints behind bulletproof glass and walled-off consultation spaces, which are outdated features that were previously required due to a more clinical environment and the concern of burglaries and theft. As the cannabis marketplace evolves, recreational customers seek a more experiential, product-focused approach that aligns to other retail settings. Dispensaries face the challenge of catering to at least two distinct recreational customer profiles: buyers who prioritize efficiency, and boutique visitors who value a personalized shopping experience. Dispensaries must understand what their unique set of recreational customers want, without leaving medical patients behind.

What challenges do dispensaries face when catering to both medical and recreational customers, and how can they address these while still meeting the needs of both groups?

The biggest challenge facing dispensaries serving both the medical and recreational customers is how to provide a setting that appeals to both types of visitors. Successful operators provide an environment where customers who are “regulars” and know what they want can get in and out expeditiously, alongside customers who may not know the layout, the product, or the staff and may have questions and need education, resulting in a longer dwell time in the dispensary. A major part of this evolution will come from how you train your team and lay out your space, including having an express checkout lane as well as an app for online ordering.

Could you highlight effective design features for enhancing the customer experience in recreational dispensaries compared to medical ones?

  1. Open it up!: Transitioning to a recreational dispensary means rethinking the interior design so you create a more inviting, open retail space. Removing walls and other barriers that compartmentalize the customer experience, such as consultation rooms reminiscent of a medical office, will open up the sales floor to enable interaction with product displays and staff.
  2. Create a welcoming atmosphere: The first impression is crucial, and the goal is to make every customer feel comfortable and valued. Redesigning the entry points, removing overly restrictive security features like mantraps, and designing a unified space with an open feel will make a noticeable difference. By adjusting the aesthetic —possibly with a unique theme to complement the brand — you can make the space more welcoming. Then, you have a greater likelihood of building customer loyalty as their in-store experience will create a positive memory.
  3. Plan for flexibility: The space should be flexible so many different types of product displays can be used and evolve over time. Many dispensaries sell apparel, beverages, and other related items. The more flexible the layout, the more adaptable it will be. Retail dispensaries are also creating conversation pieces such as Instagram walls, artwork from local artists, murals to represent the local culture and community, and more.
  4. Point of sale design: As the focal point of the dispensary, the point of sale (POS) setup must evolve to cater to both pre-orders and in-store purchases. This shift includes having at least one dedicated line for online orders as well as one for medical patients.

How should cannabis companies prioritize renovations for dispensaries serving both medical and recreational customers, and how does this impact cost and timeline?

The essence of necessary dispensary evolution lies in understanding that, while operational aspects vary between medical and recreational use, the core of dispensary design should be centered on enhancing the customer experience. By focusing on design changes that foster a welcoming environment and meet the needs of a diverse customer base, dispensaries can position themselves for success in the ever-expanding world of cannabis. The goal is to provide this while minimizing the impact on current operators.

What strategies do you recommend for minimizing construction downtime during renovations, and how can companies ensure a smooth transition while maximizing customer satisfaction?

One option is to allow for construction work to take place during off-hours, when a dispensary is closed. A significant amount of work can be completed between 10pm-8am. If possible, another consideration might be to partially close a section of the space to segment the construction area from the daily operations. However, this approach can be more invasive and expensive than overnight work.

What unique thing would you like dispensary owners to know about transitioning from a medical to a recreational dispensary?

In addition to the physical changes of the retail space, owners should be prepared to adjust their operating procedures to accommodate a significant increase in customer traffic when transitioning to serving both medical and recreational customers. This should include preparation for the additional questions, consulting, and distribution of products required to serve the increased customer traffic. What works best for a steady, predictable flow of clients on the medical-only side may not translate to the retail experience.

Beyond the Interview: Learn More About Andy and Cannabis Facility Construction

Cannabis Facility Construction doesn’t just work with big multi-state operations (MSOs) either! It provides building support services for all stages of the industry, offering services to start-ups and small business owners (aka independent operators), and has streamlined its processes over its years in business.

To learn more about Cannabis Facility Construction, you can visit its website here – and if you’d like to know more about Andy you can read his full bio here!

Julia Granowicz-Johnson is a founder, copywriter, and journalism blogger with a passion for the cannabis plant and its uses in personal wellness and medicine. She advocates for the reform of cannabis laws around the globe through her writing and aims to bring attention to the negative impacts that prohibition has left in its wake.