(Published by Infinity Gaming Magazine June, 2020)

Understanding the key reasons why your slot operation might fail is the first step toward taking proactive action and achieving the kind of success that you always knew was possible.

 The bad news is that your competitors are hard at work, and even as I type they’re concocting ways to add more clarity to their brand message, to solve all your customers problems and to add more “wow factor” to their slots experience. Their aim is to, quite simply, transform your slots customers into their raving fans so what are you doing to make sure that never happens?

With all the pressures of running a day-to day operation it can be easy to lose focus on your top priorities which are understanding your customers and adding the value they need, when they need it and even before they realize they need it! The good news is that you can deploy tactics that will keep the wolves (your competition) from the door and outpace them on a consistent basis. However, there is a catch, and they call it “learning from the past!”

I’ve seen to many operators fail to learn from past lessons on how not to run a casino, a slot operation or even a car, and the end result is usually not something you would want to brag about at your next gambling convention. There are many reasons that so called “managers” don’t make the effort to learn from past disasters such as, ego, lack of basic project management skills, or even because that they would rather be out playing golf. However, the reality is that without reflecting on the past, there is a greater risk of failure. Some say that avoiding failure is the most essential job function of any manager and learning from past catastrophes is equally as important because it is how we grow stronger, more successful and become industry leaders. Below are 8 reasons on how your slot operation will fail, what to do about it, and how the past can give you something worth bragging about as you pick up the manager of the year award.

  1. Leadership Breakdown – This maybe a hard one to swallow, but the top brass can also fail to effectively communicate and clarify the message of their brand and their strategy for success. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as simply being too busy or when confidence becomes ego, determination becomes inflexibility and delegation become chaos. Add the extra slots killer of when vision becomes obsession, and you know your leadership is about to implode. How to fix it? You can start by clarifying your vision (and make sure it’s a shared one), banishing micromanagement, keeping your ego in check and last, but not least, trusting your employees to do their jobs. Without strong leadership, there can be no strong argument to support your soon to be failed slots operation.


  1. Micromanagement – I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “people don’t leave their job’s, they leave their bosses.” I couldn’t agree more with this phrase, and the micromanager is one of the greatest threats to progress. The relationship between a boss and an employee is quite a simple one whereas a boss hires an employee to do a job, the boss clarifies expectations, lets the employee do their job, holds them accountable for results and celebrates success as a team. What’s not to understand? How to fix it? Trust your employees, and give them the opportunities, the tools, and guidance they need to maximize their potential. When you build a relationship based on trust, transparency and professionalism, anything is possible and who knows, your best employees might even want to stick around.


  1. Out of touch with your customers – If you’re selling lemons when your customers need oranges then you’re not solving their problem and you’re not adding anything of value that will help them thrive and survive so the odds are that they will go and shop at your competitor who has already anticipated your lack of oranges. The operator that fails to feel the pulse of their customers needs and engage them in meaningful conversation will end up investing in nothing of value which in turn, will produce failure. How to fix it? Ongoing customer service training and evaluation, customer and employee feedback surveys, online social media platforms, mystery shoppers, daily reports, and staff briefings are just a few of the channels available to proactively show that you care for you customers as if they were your family.


  1. Disengaged staff – Treating your staff like robots and, in some cases, ignoring them completely will never, I repeat never achieve you the success that you are looking for and this is a fact that has been proven in many a scientific experiment and on many a casino floor, Yet so many people in a position of casino power continue to use their staff like pawns on a chess board. How to fix it? Your staff need motivation, they need to feel safe and they need to feel that what they are doing is important and for a cause bigger than themselves. Investing in your staff, showing appreciation, and helping them become even better than they imagined will help you create a culture of ideas and the leaders of tomorrow. A simple “good morning” will also help.


  1. Confusing brand message – Without a clear brand message that adds value to your customer experience and solves their problems your customers, and your staff will be confused as to what it is you are trying to sell and will inevitably encourage them to shop at your competitors resulting in the collapse of your slot operation. How to fix it? Clarify your brand message, communicate your message effectively so that it adds the value that your customers are searching for and transforms your staff into passionate brand ambassadors that live, breath and dream about delivering and exceeding your customers’ expectations.


  1. Absence of Innovation – Not so long ago I walked into a local casino and I immediately got the impression that I was in a struggling Las Vegas gambling joint about 30 years ago. Everything from the carpet to the slots through to the customer service and the employees look tired and out of touch. This is just one of many examples of how lack of innovation can condemn your slots to failure. How to fix it? Keep up with industry trends, implement a feedback system for your staff and customers, keep an eye on the competition and introduce innovation as part of your work culture, reward its success and learn from its failures.


  1. Procrastination – How many times have you had a good idea that ended up on the shelf of procrastination along with the lost books of success? I hope not very many, but the truth is that procrastination and the fear of failure can have a crippling effect on your slots ability to generate revenues and can possibly result in their (and your) ultimate failure. How to fix this? Stay away from the demons of procrastination which include: the perfectionist, the idiot, the dumb listener, and the excuse maker. Use analytics to produce more accurate reports that enable faster and better-informed decision making.


  1. Lack of Planning and processes – Before the age of computers everything was done by hand but even back then they were planned, designed, developed, tested, approved, and measured using some of the methodology that we still use today. Bad planning and no follow up will end in slots failure whether you’re building a casino from the foundations or planning your next game conversion. How to fix it? Project management is just one of many skills that will help plan and control everything from the concept phase of your next big idea, through to the benefits measurements process post project so investing in the relevant qualifications for key employees will benefit your organization, your employees and your customers… but not the competition!


Conclusion – Failure is easy to come by if you stand still in time, throw money away at projects that could never realistically produce a benefit, ignore your staff and look down on your customers. Your competition doesn’t intend to be involuntarily vanished into the realms of the casino almost remembered, but now completely forgotten, and are working hard at change by embracing it and could, at any moment, overtake you on the final bend. With that in mind, I wish you nothing but success.


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