MARKETING: The Certified Dealer
Slot operators in the gaming industry, with the help of numerous slot vendors, have done an incredible job of creating efficiency - bill validators, redemption kiosks, player-tracking and CRM technology, downloadable credits - all of these innovations and more have made an already efficient operating environment even more efficient and profitable.
Table games, however, has been another story. Granted, many efficiencies have been achieved with “no-peek devices,” chip stackers, automatic shufflers and the like, but table games have always been challenged because efficiency so squarely involves that business element called “employees”. Yes, table games are all about people.
Efficiencies around this people component have mostly involved getting table game employees to work longer and harder around additional tasks. Dual rates, multi-game dealers, flexible scheduling, early outs and extra board employees, now so common in table game operations, are mainly about staffing and scheduling efficiency.
But there has been very little done to improve personal efficiency among table game employees, addressing the myriad duties that speak directly to table game revenues and profitability. (Game pace audits would be a notable but misused and heavy-handed exception.)
In my opinion this lack of personal efficiency innovation falls mainly in three areas: service skills, sales skills and procedural skills Let’s use the example of the dealer, who is the employee at the heart of this efficiency matter.
If you are lucky your dealer might be nice but is probably unskilled at things like creating an environment that maximizes play time and effectively dealing with conflict, which can cost you in play time or in player’s intent to return. (Service skills.)
If you are lucky your dealer might ask a new player for their players club card but probably won’t do things like ask browsing players to sit down and play, actively and effectively teaching new players how to play, or actually selling the benefits of getting a players club card. (Sales skills.)
And if you are lucky your dealer might generally follow procedures but probably won’t have a skills package of specific tactics to keep games humming along at maximum efficiency, like delivering dice pre-set to dice-setting shooters or announcing blackjack hand totals to novice or confused players. (Procedural skills.)
Now allow me to introduce to you the concept of the Certified Dealer. (A very few progressive casinos, like Barona Resort & Casino near San Diego, have instituted this concept, but I believe nowhere near to the level I am about to describe.)
Certified dealers will always ask players for their players club cards when they sit down to play and always effectively sell them on getting a card if they don’t have one. Certified dealers’ games will always move at the right speed, not so fast as to inhibit relationship building and not so slow as to negatively impact game decision rates. Certified dealers will always ask wandering players if they want to sit down and play and always welcome them to their games before they do anything else (especially before taking that ubiquitous counterfeit bill highlighter pen to the customer’s money). Certified dealers will always be selling - cross-selling the amenities at the property, up-selling the bets at the game, introductory selling to new players, “package-selling” the game itself with the experience at the game.
I hope you are beginning to see my picture of a Certified Dealer. Now envision your entire team of dealers being certified and imagine the impact it would have on table game revenues, not just in concept but in a clearly measurable way. To me, certifying your dealers has the most potential for positively impacting your table game revenues -more potential than new games, table game promotions and entertaining table game environments.
So how do you get started implementing a Certified Dealer program? First, I would suggest that you clearly define the “certified” behaviors that you want to see happen in your table game pits. Choose behaviors that will enhance table game revenues. (Having dealers call out “Change $100!” each and every time is nice, maybe even necessary, but the behavior doesn’t drive revenue.)
After you have identified the behaviors you want from your dealers, then you need to train for them and have measurements for them. Did your dealers ask players for their players club cards every time? That is measurable behavior. And you can even measure the players’ theoretical win and number of new player sign-ups from that behavior.
Finally, you need to recognize and reward those dealers that achieve “certified” status. Being a certified dealer should be a real honor, carrying prestige as well as financial benefits. And if your certified dealers really are driving revenue they should be paid for it. Just like good sales persons.
And then, when you are sure you have an army of certified dealers, it will be time to start on your Certified Floor Persons program.
Hey, you didn’t think this would be easy, did you?