Get a Second Set of Eyes When Writing Your Own Licensing Application

Caroline
March 23, 2020

Contributing writer: Bob Wagener

Now that some form of cannabis is legal in 33 states, more and more existing operators are expanding by applying in other states or in other towns within their home state. This is a natural progression of the industry and often provides a more economical path to expansion versus acquisition.

Expanding companies usually have experienced team members running a successful business. They should be well-positioned to win additional licenses. And, why not? They already do a good job running a cannabis business, after all.

In the past year, Canna Advisors has helped newcomers to the cannabis industry secure local licenses in several highly-competitive municipalities in California and Massachusetts. Our clients, who were aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs, beat out many large experienced operators pursuing the same licenses. As a result, we’ve had several of these larger operators ask us what we do differently that wins licenses. The simple answer is, competing for licenses is our core focus. We’ve gotten good at it. However, if you read on, we’ll dish out some of the secret sauce.

Licensing Application Process Compared to… Dishwashing?

Navigating the complex process of applying for a cannabis license can be daunting. The process varies greatly in every state — often even within individual municipalities of a state. At Canna Advisors, we’ve seen criteria that would get you disqualified in one jurisdiction that actually earns you more points in another (yes, really!). The goal of any license application comes down to one thing — convincing the reader that YOU are the best applicant to win that license.

A properly completed submission includes an incredible amount of detailed information ranging from financial modeling to operating plans. For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to reduce everything down to one process that everybody can relate to — handwashing the dinner dishes. And you thought this was going to be boring!

Process Pitfalls

Pitfall #1

Everybody washes dishes. Everybody understands the process of washing dishes. Some people are really, really good at it. However, just because you’re good at it, doesn’t mean you’re good at writing about it. That’s the first pitfall for potential applicants: the assumption that being good at something automatically makes you good at writing about it.

Pitfall #2

The next potential pitfall is assuming you can use all of your existing materials. You likely have some form of financial model along with written standard operating procedures. For our example, we’ll peel the directions off the back of the soap bottle. These might be amazingly written procedures that could turn a complete novice into a champion dishwasher. However, these materials will not be in the correct submission format and may not address the specific requirements of the application. In many cases, a well-written standard operating procedure from one state will get you instantly disqualified in another state if you mention a product or procedure that is not allowed in that state. In short, your existing material may be a… wash.

Let’s assume you’ve written beautiful dishwashing policies and procedures in the correct format adhering to the regulations of the application’s jurisdiction. You’ve had your dishwashing expert include the proper water to soap ratio and intricately describe the rinsing technique. You’ve had your dish dryer describe the proper circular towel motion. Your director of dish storage described how each dish fits properly into a specific cabinet. Now you’re feeling pretty good about your submission.

Pitfall #3

Many applications in which information has been gathered from different sources are disjointed. Sections written by different people may be written in a different style or voice. In many cases, different sections may even contradict each other, causing confusion and leading to a loss of valuable points. It is important that the entire application flows properly with uniform information (or the dishes may end up in the wrong cabinet, which raises hell in my house).

Pitfall #4

This time, you’ve gathered all of that great dishwashing material. You’ve ensured it has proper continuity. Now you’re ready to submit and win a license. Maybe, maybe not. A winning application is not just about convincing the reader you’re the best at dishwashing. It’s about convincing the reader you are the best to be awarded the limited, sought-after dishwashing license.

Application writing is all about convincing the reader you are the best, in every way, to be awarded that license.  It is much like arguing a court case. You need to build a compelling argument for your team that starts with the team members, moves through the specific plans, your available resources, and then goes above and beyond to show how you will positively impact the community. You need to paint a picture of why YOU should win. The application format is the canvas on which you need to paint your picture.

Application writing, like dishwashing, is not rocket science. Many organizations successfully generate their own submission material and do win licenses. However, many more spend time and resources only to get frustrated when they do not win. If you are an existing operator actively pursuing new licenses or thinking about expansion, you do have a variety of options.

Options for Licensing Application Pursuit

    1. Generate your Own Submission: You may have the proper resources and experience to generate your submission and win a competitive license.
    2. Engage an Application Expert: If you are not confident you have the proper resources, or your team is too busy to put forth the required effort, you can engage an industry expert to generate a submission written specifically about your team, your resources, and your plans.
    3. A Second Set of Eyes: And, finally, #3 — a second set of eyes (which is what this blog is all about, just in case you forgot). If you choose to go down the path of generating your own submission, it is a very good idea to engage an expert to review your materials and provide guidance as to any potential weak points. Using a second set of eyes is a great way to maximize the use of your own resources while minimizing expenses and ensuring you are putting forth the best possible submission. As one of our own internal procedures at Canna Advisors, all application materials are reviewed by multiple resources in multiple phases of the process with multiple varieties of specific, advanced knowledge. We can put your materials through the same multi-layer review process and provide guidance based upon our extensive experience competing for, and winning, licenses across the United States and beyond.

Bob’s Writer Qualifications:

-VP of Business Development

-The best, and apparently only, licensed dishwasher in my household.

Our team of cannabis experts can review your licensing application to ensure a successful submission. Contact us today to get started.

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