by John-Martin Meyer
Making the most of your tech staff’s schedules
During his 20 years in gaming, John-Martin Meyer has held director positions in major casino properties such as the Grand Victoria in Illinois and the Excalibur on the Las Vegas Strip. His work within the Mandalay Resort Group provided valuable experience in several majorjurisdictions. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (702) 373-7758.
In this world, there are hundreds of theoretical methods by which you can schedule and organize your tech staff. The main drawback is their lack of insight of how to apply their methods to the gaming industry, and, in particular, slot tech staff.
For most of us, this segment of your slot labor dollar is that costliest on a per-hour basis. Therefore, we wish to make sure that we receive the greatest return for each man hour expended.
The first step to any productive tech staff is scheduling them to be available to complete the daily maintenance as well as accomplish the goals of the projects. For most properties, their staffing logic is too linear to meet both needs. By linear, I mean that all shifts are either eight or 10 hours with the bulk of the staff scheduled as part of the day shift.
This distribution of hours may work to please the staff but is the least productive for the property due to the fact that the business levels grow consistently during this shift so any attempted work will impose on the players experience and negatively affect revenue generation.
After many experiments, creating a “project crew” who work four, 10-hour shifts from Monday morning through Thursday morning, has proven to be he most effective. This “project crew” works from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is fully independent from the “shift” techs whose responsibility is to keep the floor running.
This is not to say that the shift techs do not play a role in projects. In actuality, they play a very important role in the preparation and completion of the projects—they place the games out of service and complete any procedures necessary to secure the games funds. On the back end of the project, the shift techs load the games and work with the audit department to place the games on line and open to the players.
Measure twice, move once
The “I thought it would work” lament is the most amusing but costly. This occurs when you either do not complete any form of filed inspection or CAD diagrams. This also occurs when you do not take your CAD drawing or plans to the actual area to be updated. It is not worth the grief or tarnish on to your image to be questions by your superior as to why you are rearranging the same section multiple times.
A very simple procedure to verify your thoughts is through the use of cardboard templates. Using large sheets of card board, prepare game base footprint templates of the various bank shapes you have installed on your floor.
During a slow period, place these templates in the potential position of the projects changes. Once you have the layout you wish, use duct tape to mark the corners or other such distinctive angles.
The ABCs of steps
As with most business endeavors, communication is the key. For the tech projects, informing all those involved is the strongest way to achieve a successful project. To ensure all parties are on the same page, a listing of the steps being completed is the key. Since most of our projects are very similar in scope, creating a standardized list of the steps will expedite the information dissemination portion and make it easier for those completing the work, as well as those observing the work to ensure consistency and adherence to procedures.
These standardized lists will be distributed to all appropriate departments so that they have their foundation to understand your project out lines. Instead of listing the 1,000 words of the standard operating procedures for each project, you simply note that “all standard steps apply.” With this in place you only need to note the exceptions.
Key to these lists is to note the affect the procedures will have on each department and then distribute the complete listing to all departments. This will provide general information so that all departments involved have insight to the other departments’ responsibilities.
Focus on the details
Details do not need to be intimidating. As noted earlier, the overwhelming majority of our projects are basically the same so a standard set of procedures can be prepared. Reusing a basic format allows us to get very detailed. By achieving a high level of detail, you head off the majority of potential oversights and problems.
To take this to the next level, you can modify the list of procedures into check lists with spaces to insert the name of the responsible party. These checklists will be distributed to the tech staff the day of the project. Next to this name and task, you create a space for that responsible employee to initial when completed. To ensure that all facets are covered, create a portion for “special” instructions to note any deviations from the standard operating procedures.
Putting the pieces together
To quantify the suggested paperwork, the following outlines an actual 2,500 machine property’s program:
The calendar was a single page created on a Word template.
On average, the projects listing contained between five and eight projects consisting of a one to two paragraph outline each. The total listing was usually four pages long.
The calendar and projects listing were combined into a single e-mail sent out to a mail group established within Outlook.
The tech checklists consisted of a single page for the pre-work, a separate page for the project crew, and a single page for the shift techs completing the process.
With the entire process placed into perspective, you will understand how straightforward it can be once you get past the initial implementation.