How to scale a commercial cannabis grow operation

Running commercial cannabis growing is quite a feat. The need to scale shows you’re already on the right track, keeping up with the ever-changing legal and market requirements. How do you go about expansion? Strategy is key. Cannabis sales are on the rise, but so is the competition. You must consider everything, from strain selection to cannabis nutrients, to differentiate yourself and thrive. Kyle Kushman of Homegrown Cannabis CO shares five areas of attention for scaling operations seamlessly and successfully.

Consider existing human resources
Learning how to set up commercial cannabis growing teaches you the importance of a dedicated team. The same applies when it’s time to expand. After all, scaling hinges on replicating business practices that work.

The caliber of your team ultimately determines product quality. It’s better to rely on existing staff than hire outside help. Plus, growing the team from the bottom up gives employees additional incentives to remain loyal to your company.

You can’t avoid new hires growing your business, but you can make tactical decisions regarding their roles. Your existing employees know the ins and outs of your business, and they can translate that knowledge to new hires. Promote front-line workers to management positions and have them train additional staff.

Set clear performance standards
Maintaining product standards is among the biggest challenges of any commercial cannabis grower looking to scale. It’s also pivotal. Many ops let quality drop when focusing on expansion. However, development is impossible without excellent products. How do you avoid this frequent pitfall?

Establish clear and accurate standards and apply them across the board. This plan should include:
- Roles and responsibilities—people who trim, water, feed, inspect, and manage the crops; managers who divide tasks
- Environmental requirements—temperature, humidity, air circulation, pest control, light flipping
- Protocols for changing the life stage, managing plant health issues, and harvesting flowers
- Processes for planning your inventory and acquiring extra resources if there are shortages

Don’t be afraid to get detailed. Outline each growth stage and explain your employees’ roles in-depth. Have each team member master your ‘go-to guide’ and use it to keep everyone on the same page.

Turn to efficiency and yield boosters
Expanding the commercial cannabis grow system makes people consider renting new facilities. While that’s one way to scale, it’s not the safest or most budget-friendly option. Today’s cannabis technology lets growers produce much greater yields in limited spaces. Many old-school operations now upgrade their gardens rather than expanding them to boost output.

Vertical farming is the most notable. Racking plants on shelves allows you to double or triple the number of crops under your care. Prioritize short and stocky strains that produce plenty of buds, and you can increase output without moving your base of operations.

These technologies also improve flower production without massive investments:
- Spectrum LEDs—shifting light spectrums from blue to red ups the harvest potential
- Hydroponics systems—water-based cultivation increases yields
- CO2 supplementation—supplementing carbon dioxide may encourage bud production

Maintain a level of consistency
When acquiring new space, you might think about implementing high-tech solutions that came out in recent years. Cannabis machinery is constantly developing; why not employ modern solutions?

This idea has some merit, but new equipment and nutrients are expensive. Even if your budget can handle it, they introduce extra variables to the picture. Keep the enthusiasm for the post-expansion period and stick to tried-and-tested routines while scaling.

Tend to your crops as you always have, use the same tools, and maintain the feeding schedule. Small mistakes in your commercial cannabis grow setup can harm yields and your bottom line.

That said, scaling does bring an opportunity to boost efficiency. Growers see desirable outcomes from updating these systems:
- Irrigation and fertigation—automated systems reduce human error
- Environmental monitoring—modern meters provide more precise information
- Management—cultivation software lets you streamline daily operations

You can level up with technology, but don’t introduce too much at once. Take it one step at a time, focusing on efficiency boosters first. Only change the equipment once your team is familiar with existing standards.

Don’t forget about business marketing
Many grow ops are wholesalers, cooperating with other brands rather than consumers. As a result, very little energy goes to branding. However, even B2B companies can profit from solid marketing strategies. A strong brand doubles in importance when scaling. It lets you use your existing clout to build a new customer base. 

Branding is about sustaining your market presence. Be sure to:
- Determine mission and value statements. What does your operation provide? How?
- Expand marketing assets. A quality website and outward messaging make people trust your services. Grow diaries, forums, and customer-centric platforms drive sales.
- Build local name recognition. Visit local events and become a part of the community, especially if moving to an untapped market.

Watch your commercial cannabis grow
In the end, scaling is all about strategy. You must take a long, hard look at your existing operations and make informed, intelligent decisions.

Take advantage of existing technologies before making additional purchases. Track progress and adjust your plan with new developments to maintain stability in your commercial cannabis grow operation. The time is ripe to buy seeds, cultivate cannabis, and make your ambitions come to life.

For more information:
Homegrown Cannabis CO 
Kyle Kushman 

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