Presenting to the Board of Selectmen, City Council or Town Meeting is nerve-racking. There’s a lot on the line when you introduce your company’s plan for a Registered Marijuana Dispensary (RMD) or grow facility in Massachusetts.
Having watched many presentations – some were home runs while others could have benefitted from some coaching – here’s my list of Top 10 strategies for getting your project approved:
If you have worked on or been part of a RMD or grow facility, it’s important to establish that fact in the beginning of your presentation. Boards want experienced teams bringing cannabis to their community. Articulate what you have done in the medical marijuana industry and stress how that experience is going to make your project successful.
If someone on your team is a native of the community (or still lives there), make sure that person plays a prominent role in the presentation and is articulate about how the facility can benefit the community. Not only can having local connections go a long way, but showcasing a familiar face can validate your team’s experience. Also make sure everyone on your team knows whether the host community is a “city” or “town.”
When you are called on to present your proposal – be prepared! This seems obvious but you would be surprised how many teams stammer and step over themselves in a presentation because they didn’t take the time to prepare. Make sure your presentation materials are professional and compelling. You should practice as a group in front of people that can comment on your content and continuity. Make sure your team clearly understands the local regulations and agencies involved, in addition to the state requirements. Anticipate the questions you may hear from the board and public. Be prepared to respond appropriately to the questions, especially if they are not covered elsewhere in your presentation. Surround yourself with a knowledgeable team of consultants. Take time to coalesce with them before the team makes its first public appearance. Understand each of the team member’s strengths and design the presentation so it is clear what each person’s role will be throughout the process.
Make sure members of your team are familiar to the boards and are not meeting them for the first time at the public meeting. Set up informal meet and greets with board members who hold your fate in their hands. And if they won’t meet with your team, attend a regularly scheduled meeting and introduce yourself and the team either before the meeting or at the conclusion—a little friendly face time never hurts.
Don’t copy your projections from a previous facility. Remember, all documents are public knowledge, so expect that the Board has researched previous projects you have worked on. Be sure to know the demographics of the new city or town so that your projections match the particular situation. Be sure to arrange a post meeting follow-up to facilitate feedback and to foster a good relationship with decision makers and opinion leaders.
Make sure your projected revenue numbers can be supported. While the cannabis industry is new, there are benchmarks to establish potential sales. If you can’t support your numbers and are fumbling for the rationale about how you arrived at them, you erode your credibility and put into question whether your project and company will be a stable revenue source for the community.
Read other host agreements. Rest assured Board members will have talked to officials from other communities and studied their host agreements. They will be asking you for concessions that are equal to or better than what the other communities have received.
Security is a big issue. Reassure the Board you are going to work with the local police department, recruit security people from the local community, and will be using a security company that has experience in providing security to RMDs and grow facilities. And when the Board asks you what their track record has been with other cannabis facilities the company has secured, make sure you know the answer!
Have people stand up in your favor. When the Board asks if anyone is in support and all you hear is “crickets”—that is bad for your project. Find people—patients, doctors, counsellors, parents—anyone who has the need for or prescribes medical marijuana to stand up and support your locating a RMD/grow facility in their community.
Even if your location is in an industrial area, someone is going to ask you about traffic, noise, odors, or other neighborhood nuisances. Make sure you understand the impact on the local neighborhood and surrounding areas. Be prepared to discuss the questions in a non-confrontational manner.
As one Council member said in a recent meeting I attended, “Don’t forget, people are walking in with cash, and walking out with drugs. This is serious business and we want to be sure we select the best company to provide medical marijuana to our city.” Make sure your presentation is buttoned up and demonstrates your professionalism. Be respectful of people who ask tough questions and if you don’t know the answer, say you will find out and let them now. If you need help, give us a call. Community relations and communication strategy is our business.