Published by Casino Life Magazine – Ukraine – Issue 006 (2021)
Business consultants are often viewed as an expensive and unnecessary replacement for a management team that should be, by expectation, already running the company on the basis of perpetual success. However, some management aim to always please their bosses and that can be a recipe for disaster.
Potentially catastrophic problems such as a decline in customer counts happen more frequently than many would care to admit and can either appear out of nowhere, or they can just creep up over time without being noticed until disaster strikes. Whichever the case, management can’t always see the immediate root cause of a problem and don’t always have an immediate long or short-term solution which can lead to even further operational and financial decline. Without, focus and dedicating the necessary time and resources needed to properly define, measure analyze, improve and control problems, it can be easy to lose control over much more than just your dealer’s break times. Some decisions can have a gigantically negative impact on revenues if the solution turns out to be wrong and this kind of indecision can force even the calmest executive into anxiety overdrive and make them involuntarily focus more on job preservation than proactive and objective problem solving.
When our imbedded self-preservation instinct kicks in a quick fix such as cutting the marketing budget or reducing staff levels looks so much better than making the effort it takes to produce long term solutions. Such short term fixes may bring your P&L statement some temporary relief, but the bad news is that short term solutions can end up causing you more damage than doing nothing at all. Fear takes over, focus goes out of the window, revenues start to decline, clients jump ship and department heads begin the blame game. What’s the solution? The answer could be that you need to hire a consultant, and following are a few reasons why:
A second unbiased and honest opinion – You’re considering buying a new car, you do your research, pick a make, model and colour, but before you purchase it, you ask for a second opinion from a trusted family member just to reaffirm your initial preferences, but they don’t like your choice! Still convinced that your pick is the right one, you sleep on it and end up asking a good friend for an alternate opinion who, if they are a true friend, will give you an unbiased, and honest opinion whether you like it or not. From there, at the very least, you can make a better informed choice. If you ignore everyone (like so many do) then you only have yourself to blame when you end up hating your car two days after paying for it. Internal managers may give an opinion when asked but despite good intentions bias can creep in and sometimes unconsciously affect their decision making process. This kind of bias can happen especially if the decision goes against their interest or put’s somebody else’s department into the spotlight. A good consultant will first seek to understand why you want to buy a gold plated slot machine, analyze the possible outcomes and benefits, challenge your ideals and give you an answer based on a thorough, honest and unbiased assessment that you need to hear, and not what you want to hear.
Effective communicators and facilitators – Poor communicators may have a good idea of what they want to say, and inside their head, every change initiative and project plan runs perfectly. From their perspective, all they need is the bosses approval and success will be theirs. However, when they finally talk, they often forget that convincing the boss to invest in their ‘next big idea’ is only the start of what it takes for real business changes to succeed. This kind of short-sighted communication can often mean failure before your project even starts. A good consultant is an excellent communicator and uses political acumen to create trust, listen in a non-judgmental way, ask the right questions, understand the work that needs to be done and how it will add value to the customer. Armed with this knowledge, they will facilitate information and challenge your project team to step out of their comfort zone and develop several realistic project outcome options in a quick and concise way that makes sense and includes a clear communications plan designed to enable others to positively influence all project stakeholders to buy into the project and ensure your plans success.
Specialized, knowledgeable, and analytical – Running a casino operation is a full time job. With the constant juggling of priorities and with the rate of business and technological change constantly on the rise, it’s easy to lose track of industry trends, new technologies and process improvement methodologies. A specialized and knowledgeable consultant may cost you money in the short term but when your revenues are in a state of perpetual decline, the cost of doing nothing and adopting the ‘business as usual’ modus operandi while simply ignoring the cold hard facts can put you out of business, it’s really that simple. Part of being a consultant is keeping up with industry innovation and learning new management and technical competencies and effectively using their knowledge and analytical skills to define prioritize and improve operational processes, increase your revenues and add value where it matters the most in a comparatively short time period.
Focused on the big picture – If you’re too busy choosing wallpaper to be bothered with a fifty percent year-on-year drop in customer counts, you may be missing the big picture. Sometimes we get so bogged down with the day to day running of an operation and the putting out of fires, that we lose focus of our priorities, and this kind of ‘lost in the fog’ attitude can produce disastrous results. A good consultant knows the importance of prioritizing and delegating responsibilities and can help you shift direction and re-define your proprieties with greater clarity while freeing up some of your time to focus on creating memorable experiences for your customers, your staff and your shareholders as opposed to agonizing over the size of their new computer monitor.
Motivated, organized and productive – A successful consultant knows the importance of motivation and uses it as a driving force to proactively focus on helping their client, rather than themselves (unlike the management team I mentioned earlier). They believe in providing quality experiences and are prepared to take personal risks with clients (as opposed to avoiding them) in order to add value and create trust where it truly matters. They are organized and focus on problem definition and resolution rather than becoming entrenched technical mastery. By nature, consultants are competitive and use this attribute as a stimulus for constantly finding new ways to be of greater service to their clients. They use their knowledge, analytical and influencing skills to delegate responsibilities and focus on providing valuable operational insight by using the kind of data and cooperation that enables greater productivity.
Conclusion – The problem with doing thing’s the same way you’ve done them for the past thirty years isn’t so much that ‘if it isn’t broken don’t fix it,’ but rather that with no change, no innovation, no sense of urgency, and no real plan for moving forward, complacency sets in and your risk of failure greatly increases on a daily basis. If you deal with problems by using the same tired and tested solutions given by the same management team you may well temporarily stall your inevitable decline, but this is not a long-term solution nor is it one that any credible senior management team would suggest. Cutting costs can be necessary but risking your operation because you don’t think a reputable consultant is worth their fee, is a totally different story and could cost you your business. The cost of an alternate unbiased, honest and non-judgmental opinion that comes with several well informed, flexible and perfectly viable solutions for the way forward is, in my humble opinion, a small price to pay compared to the bleak alternative of permanent closure. So when in doubt, call a consultant.