Mission-driven businesses drive community growth and opportunities in Canada and the United States. It's easy to see why mission-driven has become a growth engine for attracting employees and new customers. We are drawn to mission-driven causes because it says a lot about who we are as people and who we aspire to be as a community.
Being a mission-driven business is not just about having a great mission statement for marketing or employee onboarding. Being mission-driven means the entire company aligns their work and goals to a purpose and outcome that benefits customers and the community. Mission-driven implies transparency which builds trust, loyalty and differentiation in the market. Mission-driven is being called to a higher purpose of infinite limits.
Most charities and non-profits are mission-led, as with healthcare and educational institutions. We trust these organizations because we value their mission to improve our lives and communities. Private companies that adopt mission-driven philosophies build trust, loyalty and community while serving their employees and shareholders with sustainable growth.
Phil Bradbury and Greg Kazarian started Higher Limits Cannabis Company with the realization that underserved communities were being left out in the early days of cannabis legalization. Residents of smaller communities in Southern Ontario were forced to travel up to 100km to access legal cannabis. This was a problem for Phil and Greg. Having both grown up in small communities, they knew first-hand what lack of access would mean to many Canadians in small towns.
We put a lot of effort into developing a positive and inclusive culture at all the Higher Limits locations.
Higher Limits was founded to serve local communities in Amherstburg and Blenheim and has adopted a local first approach to doing business. Higher Limits is committed to shopping locally for supplies and supporting community-based initiatives alongside local advocates.
Their vision is to serve the needs of southern Ontario's underserved communities with the #bestselection, price, service, and employee experience while staying deeply rooted in the community. Higher Limits is a welcoming place for anybody, new or old, and even our pets. As a pet-friendly dispensary, you're welcome to bring your dogs, cats, rabbits, and cute adorable raccoons like Emma and Bow anytime you come in for a visit.
Higher Limits also has a pet bandana giveaway as part of their Fur Twenty Club when visiting with your animal best friend.
Phil and Greg are faithful supporters of local. They were the first Canadian dispensary to support the educational book Kids of Cannabis. They genuinely care about their community and exemplify why mission-driven businesses are crucial to our neighbourhoods.
I had an amazing opportunity to interview Phil Bradbury and talk about what's driving Higher Limits and why they're so vital to the success of the cannabis industry in Canada.
A higher purpose calls Phil, Greg and the employees of Higher Limits, and we love it.
What is your background, and how did you come into the cannabis industry?
Greg and I met about 10 years ago when the technology company I was running hired him to run the accounting department. Recognizing that Greg was a smart and driven individual with similar goals to myself, we quickly became friends. Both of us had a long-time desire to be working for ourselves, where we could control the environment and ensure that meeting the needs of both employees and customers was priority number one. The legalization of cannabis in Canada provided us with an opportunity that we felt was rare and needed to be taken.
What motivated you to start your current business?
The motivation for our current business model was due to our observation of the early store openings in Ontario. We closely watched, not only the winning locations of the first two Ontario store lotteries, but also the levels of applications that were submitted for various areas. What we saw, was hundreds, even thousands of applications for large urban centers, while small to mid-sized communities were barely being looked at. As two individuals from small towns, we could see there was an opportunity to ensure that these smaller communities were well-served when it came to purchasing legal cannabis.
Describe a previous failure that was instrumental in developing you as a person, business owner, and entrepreneur?
Although I wouldn't call it a failure, our experiences working together in the past with a much larger company, helped us realize how important it is to build a winning team from the get-go. We understand, in an industry like this, where great customer service is absolutely required to help our clientele make informed decisions, that no store is stronger than the team that represents them day in and day out.
What have you and your company done to develop your culture?
We put a lot of effort into developing a positive and inclusive culture at all the Higher Limits locations. We stress the importance of continuing education, both through self-learning as well as by providing resources made available by Licensed Producers and the Ontario Cannabis Store. We ensure that our team members learn and understand each other's strengths so that we can create synergy and provide the best experience we possibly can. We also understand that our budtenders are on the front line every day, speaking to customers and getting real-time feedback, so we value their opinions and encourage them to speak up.
Why do you think your employees like working at Higher Limits Cannabis Company?
Above all, we value patience and understanding. Our stores have a core set of customers who come in knowing exactly what they want, but growth comes from providing a positive and enjoyable experience for those who are new to our shops, or whose knowledge of what products best suit them is limited. We know there are people who will come in with a lot of questions, and we understand that it is imperative to take the time to answer these questions for them and to understand that their needs are not the same as everyone else's. New customers often spend upwards of half an hour in our stores asking questions and being shown products that we carefully select based on their needs. Instead of pushing these values through meetings or statements, at Higher Limits, we attempt to instill them through leading by example, taking time to serve customers ourselves, and being available to our staff for whatever reason they might need our attention.
How do you engage with your customers?
I think our employees can see that our motivation for entering the industry was not to make a quick buck. It's hard not to see that. Most of our competitors offer price matching where we do not, the reason is that they are matching our prices. I often look at other stores' inventory online, and I can see that they are stocking multiple products from a single source that cost the same amount, yet the more popular products are significantly more expensive. We refuse to inflate the price of these popular products. Our employees can see that we care about them and our clients. They can see that we are invested in providing them with the knowledge they need to perform their job and that we encourage them to continue to learn and advance their knowledge of cannabis. When you work for Higher Limits, you quickly learn that your opinions are valued and that you are respected for the knowledge you bring to the table.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into the cannabis industry?
All stores in Ontario have the exact same products available to them. We do however feel that we put more importance on ensuring the products we bring into our stores exceed the standards that our customers are looking for. Greg and I are constantly reading real reviews of products, testing products, encouraging our staff to test products, and providing feedback to producers about what could be improved. The real difference at Higher Limits is the service we provide. We are not in a rush, and if you come in with questions, you will get our full attention for as long as it takes to give you the confidence that you need to make an informed decision.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into the cannabis industry?
Personally, I think it is a very tough time to want to get into opening new cannabis stores in Ontario, the current landscape puts you in a situation where you have no idea if other people or companies are looking to open a store right beside yours, or down the street until you have already made a very significant investment. For those looking to start a new career in Cannabis sales, your most important assets are the knowledge you bring to the table and your ability to actively listen and understand the needs of those you serve.
How can customers, potential employees and fans engage with your brand?
The best way is to come in and see us; we are always happy to engage with new people. Visit our website, higherlimits.com, and join our mailing list. Reach out to us via email. Visit our social media pages and keep informed of what we have going on.
Our company's biggest strength is its people, so come to any of our locations and see the difference that quality customer service can make.
Phil Bradbury, CEO
Greg Kazarian, CFO
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