Published by Casino Life Magazine – Ukraine – Issue 005 (2021)
In such challenging times for the land-based casino business, many operators will already be cutting costs in order to survive. Operators who don’t face the cold, hard facts and adapt could end up on the scrap heap of forgotten casino disappointments.
As anyone who has built a casino will tell you, it’s not a cheap endeavor and the cost can go into millions and even billions of dollars. With weather delays, poor planning and the occasional unwanted surprise (such as having to demolish and rebuild your ‘just finished’ cash desk!), it’s far too easy to add a few million extra to your already over-stretched budget. For those who reach the finishing line and get their operation up and running there is a brief sigh of relief, a moment for celebration and an opportunity to thank stakeholders for their hard work and support. But guess what, you still have to run the operation, and this is where the fun begins. Slot machines cost around $21k, casino management systems can cost millions. Even more money can be wasted on poorly devised marketing strategies and overspending on underperforming customers… and the list goes on. Part of being successful means recognizing the importance of and embracing change. Following are a few strategies that can make change your new best friend without sacrificing the quality that your customers demand:
Slot machines – Not many companies can afford to purchase brand new slots when opening a casino, and it’s really not necessary to do this to be able to meet your financial targets because, to put it simply, there’s much more to slots management than simply placing slot machines on stands and switching them on. Alternative deals to cash up front include participation, lease to purchase and fixed minimum daily fees. Some companies will give you great terms with zero deposit and up to 2 years financing. Many companies will include a game performance warranty, as it’s in their best interest to keep you buying their products, so they want their games to perform. Premium slots can’t always be purchased but the most successful ones are a must if you plan to impress, and I highly recommend this option. Used slots are a great way to economize and are often a viable alternative to buying new. Using revenue analysis is a must to remain competitive, as a simple max bet, location or percentage change can make a huge, cost saving difference to your revenues as do game only conversions.
Staff and training – Staff turnover can be an expensive headache for operators who don’t live up to their employees expectations. Hiring the right person for the job is essential, especially in a customer facing role, but what many companies choose to forget is that if employees are expected to work at a high performance level, then they need to feel that what they do has meaning and that it makes a genuine difference to people’s lives, including customers, colleagues and communities. Happy employees make customers happy, it’s really that simple. So why do so many companies fail miserably? A great leader understands the importance of listening to employees, giving them the tools for the job and providing ongoing training, support and career advancement opportunities. Great bosses go the extra mile to make employee retention one of their top priorities. Showing respect, demonstrating trust and just saying a simple thank you will save you money and make your company the one that everyone wants to work for.
Planning, breaking down goals and KPI’s – If you don’t have a plan, a goal and measurable outcomes, then you may as well open your window and start throwing your profits into the wind. Coming up with an idea to build a casino can be accomplished by practically anyone but turning a concept into something real that will meet proposed targets for scope, time, cost and quality, requires a whole different set of skills. Successful projects are planned by stages and focusing on one priority at a time. This approach allows for greater focus while leaving less room for risks to escalate out of control and for time to be managed more efficiently. The same basic principles apply to performance data where KPI’s are used as opportunities that can easily be identified by breaking down the data into manageable segments such as average bet, coin in and player visit frequency. When properly used, KPI’s will tell you what you have to much of, to little of, what you should modify, what you should try that’s new to the market. If you’re not sure of where your pain points are, consider using the DMAIC roadmap used by Lean Six Sigma practitioners which can give up to a 99.73% certainty that your idea will work or not. One last thing, plan ahead!
Communication and feedback – As a former slots manager I once heard about a new, active slots promotion from a floor supervisor who had in turn heard about it from a slot attendant who, when asked about it, had to tell the customer that, ‘they didn’t know about it!’ This is a classic case of miscommunication from the marketing department that ironically should be communicating better than anyone! Part of a project initiation includes a communications management approach which basically describes the means and frequency of communication with both internal and external stakeholders. Amongst other criteria it describes procedures, tools and techniques and the timing of and the roles and responsibilities for communication. Without good communication, clear expectations and well defined levels of accountability, your promotions will never be successful, your machines downtime will go through the roof, your staff won’t understand what you’re selling, and your customers will quicky flock to your competitors due to your anemic entertainment experience. Feedback from customers and your staff are forms of communication that are, in many cases, undervalued but without them, your company will never reach its full potential and you will end up throwing money at initiatives that nobody fully understands.
Best Practices and Automation – Standard operating procedures are the standard way to capture best practices and they serve as a user manual for employees and management alike to make sure everything is done according to the governing rules and regulations. Monitoring industry trend is another form of best practice as, like your operating procedures, the gambling industry is constantly changing and anybody who dare not take notice is doomed to fail. Keeping up with trends can involve huge investments but the cost of leaving thing’s as they are and ignoring change are much higher. Doing the same thing, the same way for the past thirty years because that’s the way you’ve always done them isn’t always the best way. Change is how we evolve as individuals as communities and as companies, and you should embrace it and make it part of your M.O. Automation is a best practice of increasing popularity that can be used as a great way to cut costs, save time and eliminate the use of many manual paper based check lists, compliance requirements and cumbersome asset management procedures. NFC cloud-based uncopiable tag technology offers multiple asset management and compliance solutions at a very affordable price. This kind of automation will free up your time to focus on your top priorities and save you money. Analytical, organizational and project management software tools have been available for a while and are also affordable tools worth considering.
Conclusion – Cutting costs can be a daunting task especially when expectations are always high and constantly changing. The good news is that cutting cost doesn’t have to mean compromising on quality and by using planning, communications, analysis, best practices and automation, you will have more time to concentrate on adding value where it counts, to your customers and your employee’s. Saying thank you is for free and will almost always improve performance and save you money.