We all toy with the idea of new years resolutions, but how many of us actually turn our thoughts into actions and how many of us end up making the wrong ones?
published in Infinity Gaming magazine – January 2021
At this time of year slot managers all over the globe look at their personal lives and dream of a brighter future for themselves and their families. They may consider any variety of ambitious and spirited undertakings such doing more exercise, eating better, spending more time with their families, taking up a new hobby, or even setting the ultimate goal of a dry January! New year is traditionally, without a doubt, a good time to dream of such bold initiatives regardless of whether or not we follow through with our sometimes over enthusiastic aspirations. After all it’s the thought that counts right? The dedicated slots managers may even dream up some wild new year’s resolutions for their department that will, beyond a shadow of a doubt, elevate them to legendary status, transform their operation into the envy of their competitors and make their customers queue up for miles for the mere privilege of playing on one of their magical slots. However, despite all our good intentions, thing’s can and will go wrong so be aware of these classic slots new year’s resolution blunders:
Let’s not change anything – Some less competent slot managers might feel comfortable maintaining the status quo simply because they are happy avoiding problems instead of making their goal the achievement of excellence. My question is do these managers really manage or are they just slot technicians with an inflated title? Others might be fortunate enough to have reached a certain level of success and live under the illusion that once you get there all you have to do to maintain a successful operation is to do the exact same thing that it took to get there only to find out (much to their disappointment) that success is a moving target and that takes 24/7 effort, analysis and innovation because it’s constantly redefining itself with every customer interaction. If you think that you’ll survive by using the same old suppliers, the same old tired marketing campaigns, obsolete technology and overzealous procedures then don’t be surprised if you don’t last beyond the end of 2021. If you start the new year by asking yourself “how can I make my slots operation better today than it was yesterday?” then you’ll be taking the first step in the right direction towards making your new years resolution work for you, your slots department and your customers without anyone even asking. Change also refers to regulatory organizations who, in certain jurisdictions, need to level the playing field between online and land based operations.
Let’s increase our slots hold percentage – a classic blunder that, more often than not, comes from some high up executive that’s under budget related pressure because the original projections have been changed 10 times and, before you know it, you’re expected to pull off a 200% increase in annual revenues by whatever means necessary just to keep your bosses looking good, while magically adding extra value to your customer experience!!! How does that work? This is where it all goes wrong and we realize (after the fact) that in reality increasing the slots hold results is adding a negative value to the customer experience which, in turn, translates into less customers, less revenues and the high up executive pointing the blame finger at everyone but themselves. If you must change your hold percentages, start by clearly defining the project focus, identifying and prioritizing which percentages to change, analyzing the impact of the changes, selecting and implementing the solutions and creating a control plan that will help prevent the high up executive from making any such demands in the future. Your customers will thank you!
Quadruple the minimum ADT required to qualify for slots comps. This may seem like a bit of a crazy new years resolution blunder to avoid because it would never happen right? Wrong! I witnessed this happening and without being asked for even a basic risk analysis. This all happened from one day to the next and the effects were immediate. We lost some of our best customers and by the end of the first month coin in was down significantly. If you do wake up on the first day of the new year dreaming of implementing this kind of temporary insanity, my advice is to discuss it with your management team first, and I don’t mean only with the player development execs. Some casinos do fall into the trap of over comping player’s simply because it’s so easy to give away money that’s not yours but unless you manage comps carefully your casino can easily accumulate excessive risk from both sides of the spectrum with very little return on investment. Be flexible but introduce clear guidelines and limits.
Increase you F&B prices – If your casino F&B department is seen as an extra service for your slots player’s then why would you sell your products at an over inflated price that, most probably, will alienate your local player’s. I’m well aware of the 80/20 Pareto law that states that 80% of your revenues comes from 20% of your player’s but I know of very few casino executives that would be willing to purposefully alienate 80% of their player’s. The ideal casino accommodates all their customers and tailor’s each experience based on the volume of their play. If someone bets $50 a spin on your high denom. slots I’m pretty sure they don’t care about the paying $10 for a drink (which is still wrong by the way) but if your regular player has a $50 budget for the entire day, then they will hesitate to pay and it automatically diminishes their entertainment experience. Add the fact that the waitress doesn’t smile or look them in the eye, then you have a serious problem. F&B is part of the experience and not a separate one so it’s important to know the difference and use it for the customers benefit.
Adapt the leader-follower style of leadership – Part of running a successful operation requires a highly competent team with strong technical skills who know how to follow procedures, fix slot machines and service customers within the guidelines set by the company. The other, sometimes overlooked part of the equation is emotional intelligence without which success will remain an illusion. It’s a well-documented fact that leaders that engage and empower their staff greatly increase the odds of achieving the ultimate goal of adding essential value to their customer experience and increasing revenues. So why is it that many bosses still adopt the leader-follower approach to leadership? If you have to make all the decisions yourself, you are not an effective leader so isn’t it better to ask your well trained staff how to approach problems instead of solving them all by yourself? Isn’t it better to hear different opinions that lead to better outcomes as opposed to only your solution will work? And isn’t it better to create an army of leaders that work together instead of oppressing initiative and punishing anyone who deviates from your narrative? If a leader-leader mentality can work on a nuclear submarine, shouldn’t the casino business at least try it?
Conclusion: The only thing I know for sure is that 21 beats 20 in a game of blackjack and that change is inevitable in 2021. The future might seem bleak at the moment but if we use our new year’s resolutions wisely and stick to them, we can and will improve ourselves, our relationships and become more effective ambassadors for the casinos we work for. I’m looking froward to the roaring twenties, are you?