Building the Team that Builds Cannabis Brands with ForceBrands’ Founder Josh Wand

WebJoint had the privilege of interviewing Josh Wand, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ForceBrands. ForceBrands is a New York-based recruiting firm for cannabis brands of all sizes. HerbForce, the cannabis division of ForceBrands, connects cannabis companies with talented job-seekers who specialize in sales, marketing, finance, operations, and HR roles. HerbForce’s goal: to supply fast-growing cannabis companies with the talent they need to building meaningful brands and drive scalable operations.

ForceBrands CEO, Josh Wand

What inspired the idea of creating ForceBrands and more specifically, HerbForce, to address recruitment needs within the cannabis industry?

Josh: ForceBrands was born out of my natural passion for the beverage industry and my interest in connecting people. In the early 2000s, I ran a rum company, an experience that helped me develop deep industry relationships and taught me how to hire a team, manage business development, and run a national sales and distribution network. The idea for ForceBrands came about in 2006 when I was promoting our rum brand at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival in Miami. Someone from a champagne company approached me and asked if I knew of any Regional Sales Managers. A few minutes later, someone from a different champagne company expressed his interest in changing jobs. And suddenly my professional matchmaking career was born. At the time, high-quality recruiting for the beverage industry didn’t exist. In 2007, we launched BevForce. Following its success, other forces emerged. We expanded into packaged food with FoodForce and then into beauty and personal care with BeautyForce. Most recently, we’ve formalized several years of work in cannabis with the official launch of HerbForce, which was a natural evolution of our service offerings.

How would you say HerbForce differentiates itself from other recruitment firms addressing staffing needs in the cannabis industry? Essentially, what does your company do differently to ensure high quality talent for cannabis brands?

Josh: At ForceBrands, we’re in the people business. We see recruiting through a human lens and engage with job seekers and employers in a real way — we get to know them personally, understanding that each individual is as unique as the needs of an organization. All of ForceBrands’ industry-specific divisions collaborate with clients as friends and trusted colleagues in the pursuit of transformational goals. HerbForce is unique in that cannabis is a whole new industry where hiring playbooks do not yet exist. We’ve found that there are countless natural synergies between cannabis and other CPG sectors. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to leverage more than a decade of experience and our incredibly powerful community to build the cannabis teams of tomorrow.

What are some lessons you’ve learned while building your own brand/staffing your own company that you’ve shared with your clients?

Josh: Culture is key. Building great teams goes beyond matching skill sets with job descriptions and responsibilities. I’m proud of the culture we’ve built at ForceBrands — one that is centered around our core values: people first, integrity, collaborative culture, progressive, purposeful. I always recommend to the teams that we’ve helped build to go beyond filling a role — hire candidates who fit the role not just professionally, but personally and culturally as well. 

Considering ForceBrands has staffed businesses in multiple industries, what industry would you say cannabis brands can learn from the most? (Food, Bev, Beauty, overall CPG businesses?)

Josh: There are a lot of natural synergies between cannabis and the beverage alcohol world as they’re both highly regulated industries. Even though alcohol is federally legal in the U.S., the laws are complex as they vary at the state and local levels. Cannabis brands should look to the bev alc industry and to those with experience cooperating with legal restrictions as determined by federal, state, and local laws.

How important is the connection between your brand, your staff, and your company culture when building a team for your cannabis brand?

Josh: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to team building. Understanding that each organization is uniquely different helps us approach each brand differently. Cannabis is a new industry, and even though there is not yet a hiring playbook for this sector, we’re able to take what we’ve done building beverage, food, and beauty brands and apply that directly to cannabis companies.


Scenario: It’s 2019 in California and you’re building a cannabis brand currently with a team of one (you). What are the first 3 positions you would hire? Where would you start looking for these people (what industry)? How much would you expect to invest in the hiring process?

Josh: The first key hires I would make would be Head of Operations, Head of Finance, Head of Revenue, and Head of Field Marketing. I realize that’s four positions but they are all incredibly valuable for getting a cannabis brand off the ground. And when it comes to sourcing talent for these roles, I would look toward the CPG industry as cannabis essentially is a consumer good. I would invest a lot in taking the time to find the right people — not just the people who meet the desired skill sets necessary to succeed.  

What should cannabis brands look for in their applicants? What are a few common mistakes brands make when hiring?

Josh: Hiring is about looking at the whole picture. As mentioned above, brands should consider looking at their hiring strategy beyond just filling roles. It takes patience to find the right fit. It’s not an easy feat and there are no shortcuts when it comes to making great hires. Brands that take the time to hire right will be rewarded with long-term growth and success.

Where do you see the future of staffing in the cannabis industry going? What trends should brands pay attention to ensure they have a top tier team building their brand?

Josh: Cannabis is already an incredibly crowded and competitive space, and I don’t see its momentum slowing down anytime soon. When it comes to building top teams, employers should look to their benefits and compensation packages to attract and retain top talent. ForceBrands’ 2019 Talent Market Report, a comprehensive analysis of benefits and compensation packages across CPG, found that the cannabis sector was among the most competitive, with average annual raises the highest across CPG at 14 percent. When it comes to benefits, paid leave policies have gained in popularity in recent years and as a result, we’re seeing cannabis companies offer more extensive leave policies than established businesses across other industries. Cannabis brands should pay attention to their employee offerings to ensure that they’re building the best teams possible.

What are a few overlooked positions brands should consider implementing into their business to ensure the success of their business?

Josh: Some key overlooked positions are Head of Operations and Head of Finance. Both of these roles are critical to ensuring the business has what it needs to succeed.

What are some of your favorite resources (books, podcasts, software, etc.) that you can share with our audience that has benefited your personal and professional growth in this industry?

Josh: I’m all about additional resources that help personal and professional growth. I highly recommend reading “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh and “The Alchemist” by  Paulo Coelho. I also love the Peptalks app that offers daily motivation.

4 Ugly Truths: Signs You’re Using the Wrong POS for Your CA Cannabis Delivery

The truth will set you free…

There’s no doubt that California cannabis delivery services are the future of the industry. With their ability to act efficiently and integrate in a seamless way for the end consumer, cannabis delivery services are shaping the future of business-to-consumer relations. Not only do delivery services get cannabis products to the end consumer in a fast and painless way, they take advantage of the paradigm shift in the digital age.

In a world where everything can be bought from your iPhone or mobile device, cannabis certainly fits into the mold of technology. It’s no surprise that delivery services are taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity in the California marketplace and absolutely crushing it when it comes to convenient business models. But what keeps a delivery service on its feet? Partnering with the correct point-of-sale system.

Related: 7 Questions to Ask When Purchasing Software for Your Cannabis Delivery Service

I. Lacking METRC integration!

METRC is the chosen platform for California’s CCTT.

METRC is the State of California’s seed-to-sale, track-and-trace system. All businesses in the cannabis industry need to utilize METRC in order to track seeds, clones, individual cannabis products, and batches from the time in which they are conceived to the time in which a consumer buys them. Your point-of-sale system should automatically report to METRC as soon as the system goes ‘live” in California (said to be in January of 2019). This means that partnering with a point-of-sale that lacks METRC certification and does not have the capabilities of automatically tracking batches as they enter your inventory is not maximizing the potential of your business.

Let’s be clear here—keeping a culture of compliance is everything in a regulated market. METRC integration is absolutely necessary. Without metric integration, the state of California‘s Bureau of Cannabis Control has no way of ensuring that you are keeping track of all sales and has no way of acknowledging that your product has been laboratory tested per BCC regulations. Make sure that when you are partnering with a point-of-sale system, that METRC certification is fulfilled.

Related: A Definitive Guide to Compliance – California Dispensaries 

II. Not capable of automatic delivery dispatching.

Two-communication and automated dispatch is made easy by using Tookan on WebJoint’s platform.

Delivery services are mandated per the BCC to have automated GPS location on each and every single delivery vehicle that is utilized within the business. What this means is that all drivers must be able to be tracked in real time and the location of each driver to be recorded as deliveries are completed. That’s not only to keep you compliant, but is an accurate way to ensure that the safety of your drivers and customers is well taken care of. The cannabis industry is certainly a dangerous one considering the fact that cash is the only method of payment that is technically allowed currently.

With the lack of central banking systems available for the cannabis industry in the state of California, delivery services are forced to not only except large amounts of cash from consumers but also carry this large amount of cash with them throughout the duration of their delivery. New regulations state that a minimum of $2000 worth of cannabis product must be pre-ordered prior to dispatching of any delivery driver.

A point-of-sale system that does not alert you of this mandatory minimum and allows you to dispatch orders prior to meeting this requirement is simply putting your operation at risk. Making sure that you partner with a point-of-sale system that keeps you up-to-date with your dispatch limitations and dispatch requirements could make a world of difference to the success of your cannabis delivery service.

Related: 4 Things to Look for in a Cannabis Accounting Firm

III. Lack of proper inventory management? Big problem!


A sleek & intuitive back-end makes inventory management a breeze!

Poor inventory management is one way to make sure that your California cannabis delivery service fails to operate within maximum potential. This is to say that keeping inventory is one of the most important aspects of delivery service success. Operating a delivery service is not an easy task nor is it a model for everybody that is interested in the cannabis industry. Being able to account for all of your inventory prior to a BCC inspection through the best practice of inventory reconciliation at least every two weeks can help make sure that your inventory or stock rooms fall under compliance.

The latest BCC regulations only require inventory reconciliation once every 30 days. Although this is a rather new regulation, it is a firm belief that inventory reconciliation and inventory management should be completed as often as possible. Having a point-of-sale system that automatically pulls and live-syncs inventory as sales are made is one way to impress customers as you never have to let them down due to lack of inventory. The most powerful POS systems are the workhorses of delivery services. As sales are made, your inventory should adjust on-the-fly and sharing that you can satisfy customers by being able to give them the product that they are looking for as quick as possible.

Related: 4 Obligations of a California Cannabis Delivery Service Inventory Manager

IV. Confusing & inaccurate sales reports!

Sales reports don’t have to complicate your California cannabis delivery service.

What’s the point of partnering with a POS system if you are not getting the mandatory analytics and necessary tools that are needed to successfully run your business in an optimal way? With this being said, it’s ultimately up to you as to which analytics and metrics are the most important to track for your California cannabis delivery service, but basic reports such as daily sales reports, tax reports, inventory & staff management, and performance reports and number of customers Serviced on a daily basis, are all examples of reports that can shift and optimize the operations of your delivery service.

Partnering with a point-of-sale system that automatically generates these reports for you at the click of a button instead of manually entering CSV data eliminates the possibility of costly errors. Make sure that your point-of-sale system can generate these reports and offer various options for illustrated reports. Such illustrations and forms of reports include, but are not limited to: bar graphs, pie charts, and bell curves. These reports should be easy to understand, aesthetically pleasing and ultimately give you any in-depth look at your day-to-day operations.

It’s ultimately up to you!

Choosing a point-of-sale partner to use for your California cannabis delivery service is no easy task. If you are partnered up with a delivery service POS that doesn’t include the features listed above, you might want to reconsider the method in which you are processing sales. It’s important to note that all-in-one cannabis solutions for delivery services do exist. WebJoint is one of those solutions. Schedule a demo to see how WebJoint can take your business to the ultimate level of success!

Related: The Future of Cannabis Banking by Aviva Spectrum

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