THOUGHTS FROM THE FLOOR: Professional resolutions for the New Year
The coming of the New Year has always been a time for looking back to the past and more importantly, looking forward to the coming year. The promise of a future with boundless possibilities instills within us confidence, optimism and a sense of resolve to follow through on the changes we wanted or needed to make, but set aside during the chaos of the past year.
While we often make resolutions related to improving our health, personal relationships and financial well-being, we often neglect those same issues as they relate to the happiness, comfort and security of our professional life. Frankly, the reality of casino management dictates that we interact with our co-workers far more than we do our own family members. That said, doesn’t it stand to reason that we should make the effort to set professional resolutions for the coming year regarding our occupational success?
In an effort to make this both painless and easy to remember, I have put an industry-related spin on a few of the more popular resolutions that seem to resonate in our consciousness.
SPEND MORE TIME WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS (time management)
Although we value our positions related to the management of our properties, it’s safe to say most of us would like to spend more time with our loved ones instead of mired in the administrative details of our departments. If the idiom “nature abhors a vacuum” is used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural, it holds double for time management in regards to casino operations. How many times have you come in to work with a series of specific tasks to accomplish, only to find that after ten hours of work none of them have been completed? The key is proactive organization as opposed to reactive management. There will always be unplanned events that we have to address while managing an environment as diverse as a casino, but the key to shorting your day is working around these events by setting a schedule for your routine duties and sticking to it. There is merit in working smart as opposed to just working hard.
CUT THE FAT AND EXERCISE (reduce non-essential costs related to the operation)
The Tax Policy Center is reporting nearly 90 percent of Americans are expected to pay more in taxes during the coming year, primarily due to increases in Social Security taxes when many of the 2001/2003 tax cuts are set to expire. When we combine this with an uncertain economy and higher prices for the services we offer, it becomes clear that 2013 will be another tough year for our industry. Make a resolution to cut non-essential items from your budget to manage your costs, rather than increasing your hold percentage. Your players have a long memory when it comes to value for their entertainment dollar and they won’t forget those businesses that demonstrate loyalty to them.
GET OUT OF DEBT (manage your costs versus revenue)
When you developed your budget last August, you could not have predicted the extent of the fiscal uncertainty we are facing today. Remember that your budget is basically a model of how the business might perform, financially speaking, if certain strategies, events or plans are carried out. Even though you have a specific line item for capital reinvestment, it certainly doesn’t mean that your outdated revenue projections will match the cost outlay for the new gaming machines you plan to purchase. The cost reductions you implement today will pay dividends in the future. Focus on increasing the customer service levels of your floor rather than the replacement cycle of your hardware. This is a perfect economic climate to increase your game conversions and limit your capital expenditures.
HELP OTHERS (training for your staff)
Increases in competition within our industry from expansion, sweepstakes and charity markets combined with dwindling interest in the products we provide, forecasts an extremely competitive market for 2013. If the product you offer differs little from your competition, you must make your number one goal exceptional customer service if you hope to grow your market and keep your current customer base loyal. Make a resolution with yourself to increase the customer service standards throughout your floor and facility. Quality customer service is a result of superior training. The majority of our employees want to perform at a high level but lack the tools to do so. Quality training programs are expensive and take time to develop, but there are some methods and tools that you can employ that will result in immediate changes on your floor:
• Practice what you preach. If you are expounding the virtues of superior customer service, you must lead by example. Model the behavior you are looking to create floor wide and your staff will follow your example. You must be diligent and consistent in your efforts because there is almost always a staff member watching what you do and how you accomplish it.
• Take the time to listen to your employees and review the work you have requested of them. When an employee accomplishes a task at your request, your input and recognition are important. Otherwise, it becomes immediately clear to the employee that the requested task was not all that important to you, if you do not spend the time to review the results they spent hours or days to achieve. How you respond as a manager to their hard work will directly affect their efforts the next time you require their participation. Ignorance can make an entire organization appear disoriented and ineffective, especially if you ask for specifics about a plan that you have not reviewed or request enhancements to a project that currently exists.
The tips that I have shared in this article are simply a compendium of lessons learned over my tenure in the gaming industry. It is my hope that these easy to remember tips make the transition into 2013 successful for you staff and facility. I wish you all the best in the coming year and hope you have a prosperous and safe 2013!