How Our Client Won 3 Dispensary Licenses in Nevada
In our recent blog post, we took a closer look into how the lucrative cannabis licenses are awarded in the state of Nevada. The application process for cannabis licenses is becoming more and more competitive as additional states adopt cannabis reforms. Putting together a cannabis application is an enormous undertaking that requires a significant amount of time, energy and resources to complete. The difference between applicants who win licenses and those who don’t often come down to pre-application preparation.
As applications become more competitive, it’s important to think about what makes you and your business model special. What will make your application stand out from the herd in a positive way? Some applicants highlight their connection to medical cannabis and how it has positively impacted their own lives or loved ones. Others highlight the importance of compliance, their success owning and operating other cannabis businesses or their intentions for giving back to the community.
Our client was one of 17 companies to win three dispensary licenses in the recent application round in Nevada. What made their application unique was the overall philanthropic theme centered on the local community and their declaration to donate a portion of their profits to Nevada charitable organizations. Together, we took a boring application and turned it into a compelling story.
DISPENSARY APPLICATION PROJECT OVERVIEW
Services Delivered: Advisement, procurement of application content, and submittal of entire dispensary application.
Situation: Helping Hands Wellness Center is a small cultivator with not much standing to compete against the larger companies. The principals of HHWC are passionate about cannabis and are community-focused in their mission: to establish a premier cannabis dispensary focusing on the needs of medical patients, integrating a workforce-training program for unemployed individuals, and generating a steady source of revenue for the non-profit sectors in the state. The State of Nevada announced it would be accepting dispensary applications for current license holders. HHWC engaged with us for application assistance from start to submission.
Results: The culmination of all the collective hard work was three dispensary licenses awarded by the State of Nevada in the Las Vegas Valley. Our client was one of 17 companies to be awarded licenses.
WHAT WE DID
Helping Hands Wellness Center, a cannabis cultivation center in Nevada, engaged The J. Whitney Group shortly after the state announced it would be accepting dispensary applications for current license holders. From the start of their engagement, HHWC was a proactive client with a strong concept, a community-driven focus, and a diverse group of executives. The principals of HHWC are passionate about cannabis and are community-focused in their mission – to establish a premier cannabis dispensary focusing on the needs of medical patients, integrating a workforce-training program for unemployed individuals, and generating a steady source of revenue for the non-profit sectors in the state.
The J. Whitney Group guided HHWC through the application process, ensuring they were focusing on the necessary elements of the application. The HHWC principals knew we had their best interest in mind and would guide them with clear perspectives and focus on the project objectives. We used our regulatory and operational experience to help the HHWC team identify and acquire appropriate real estate for their proposed dispensary locations, and investigate the foot traffic, vehicle traffic and consumer demographics for the surrounding areas.
The J. Whitney Group worked with HHWC from financial modeling and business plan development to the procurement and development of standard operating procedures specific to local compliance and tailored to their facility. We collaborated with the architect to help optimize traffic flow, back-office operational flow, and space usage for the dispensaries. Additionally, we worked closely with the security company to ensure the diagrams and security plans were detailed, thorough and compliant. We advised on choosing the right technology infrastructure by selecting a dispensary POS software that is built for cannabis compliance.
The J. Whitney Group collaborated with each owner and board member to craft compelling narratives highlighting their experience, education, community involvement, philanthropic initiatives, experience owning and operating other cannabis businesses and their distinct role and contribution for the dispensaries. The culmination of all the collective hard work was three dispensary licenses awarded by the State of Nevada in the Las Vegas Valley.
WHAT MADE THEIR DISPENSARY APPLICATION STAND OUT
Private philanthropists have thus far ignored opportunities to get involved in reshaping the cannabis industry, at least until now. Dr. Florence Jameson, a renowned doctor, and philanthropist in the local Las Vegas community, worked tirelessly to assemble the most highly qualified and dedicated team of professionals from Nevada to develop and establish a premier cannabis dispensary focusing on the needs of medical patients, integrating a workforce- training program for unemployed individuals and giving back to the community.
In her philanthropic experience, many non-profit organizations are reluctant to attempt any brave, daring, giant-scale new fundraising endeavors. She and the philanthropic board members are taking a risk in pursuit of a new idea for generating revenue for the non-profit sectors in Nevada.
Helping Hands Wellness Center pioneered the idea of a Nevada cannabis philanthropic enterprise, helping to coalesce a new movement within the industry by generating a steady source of revenue for the non-profit sectors in the state. What made their application unique was the overall philanthropic theme centered on the local community and their declaration to donate a large percentage of profits to Nevada charitable organizations. Aside from their generous declaration, they have the philanthropic experience and community involvement to validate their claim. Not only will this idea reshape the cannabis industry and demonstrate that cannabis can create a positive social impact but is the shiny needle in a haystack of applications.
TIPS ON HOW TO WIN A DISPENSARY LICENSE
Small businesses are natural Davids, the underdogs fighting against larger competitors who seemingly have all the advantages of strength, size, and resources. This means that small businesses must think outside the box and deploy “David Strategies” to overcome Goliath’s by using your built-in advantages to compete. You are going against entities that have won in other states or have been graded in the top 1-10 applications. They will take that expertise and experience from other states until they are licensed everywhere. Writing an application and winning are two very different things. You could cut the number of applicants in half and still up against long odds, which is why it’s more important than ever to distinguish yourself from the rest. This is where an “all or nothing” approach matters.
Running a successful dispensary takes a stellar team, and so does winning the license for it. Due to the enhanced legal scrutiny of the cannabis industry, dispensaries perhaps depend more on their staff for success than most other businesses. The best advantage you can have is quality and diverse team of professionals. Diversity has more than one meaning - a team that is representative of a larger community brings more creativity and understanding to your business.
Write excellent narratives. Develop a comprehensive statement about why you deserve to win, or what makes you stand out, then incorporate that statement into every narrative. This helps tie the whole application together, and it helps the reader remember what you and your application are about.
Partner with industry professionals who have been successful with competitive applications. The devil’s in the details with cannabis applications, and you are least likely to win if you don’t know all the idiosyncrasies of the application – regardless of how much you research. It’s imperative to understand technical writing and standard operating procedures to be successful, primarily because the application criteria require a significant amount of information. Items such as community engagement, environmental impact, education, and quality control plans that are taken into consideration.
The writing style needs to be cohesive, eloquent and fast-paced. The single hardest part about writing a cannabis application is presenting the information. Find a way to marry dull information with a style that keeps the reader engaged.
Applying for a cannabis license in competitive environments is an arduous undertaking, and depending on the time allotted, the process can be a bloodbath from the very beginning. Often, the allotted timeframe ranges from 30-60-90 days to assemble and submit your application. Anything you can do to eliminate unanticipated problems will serve you well in the long run.