Feature article in Casino Design: Align the Cherries by Seth Makowsky

Casino Design | Align the Cherries

Casino Design | Align the CherriesAlign the Cherries. Turn your Casino Restaurants into Progressive Payoff
Machines by Seth Makowsky

You’re all in. You’re investing heavily. And you’re committed to working it every day. Now elevate your restaurant and bring guests back more often. To achieve that goal begin with the end in mind and create special experiences that people love. Each restaurant should be another reason why guests come back.  Pull the right levers and pull away from your competition… with one critical caveat. Just like hitting a progressive jackpot you need complete pay-line alignment. One cherry on the wrong row is like having a zero multiplier in the equation and you get nothing. For example, a beautifully designed space with great food, but with a messy bathroom, may just kill all that work and disrupt the entire formula for success. Below are 3 key focus areas to design and line up. Done right and you’ll create a lollapalooza with fantastic emergent effects.

1)    Optimal Design

You’ve got a great space, solid marketing, and a unique product offering. Guests are lined up out the door. But can you deliver in a way that delights your customers 100% of the time? You’ve done so many of the right things right. Now it’s about operational excellence and throughput focus. Visit Earl of Sandwich at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. I know this one pretty well! It’s a machine. Running 24 hours. Service and ticket times are critical to handle those ever-growing long lines of hungry guests. Now you’ve got to be continuously assessing. Can your equipment handle the long lines? Are their contingency plans in place? Is your design and flow smart and getting smarter to handle the increasing demand? Can your employees not only handle but continually improve?  Think like a manufacturer. Look for the bottleneck and figure out how to relieve the pressure points – always think ahead. How can you do it better? How can you drive optimal performance?

2)    Superstar Service

When was the last time you felt fantastic?  Now, close your eyes and imagine being at Spago. You’ve just been greeted wonderfully and gracefully served the most delicious food. Then, from the kitchen, the chef comes out. It’s Wolfgang Puck himself.  He comes to your table and with a smile introduces himself.  To you! Now open your eyes.  And make reservations at one of his restaurants. This well-orchestrated team effort happens regularly! It’s an experience to cherish and talk about.

Having the right concept is important. Having superstar service is the equivalent of having an expert driver for Ferrari. If you get the service and culture right, you’re going to win. And sales can double in the same concept and space. As a leader, it’s our job to unite the team and drive morale. What’s the best way to drive morale? Take good care of your employees and in turn they’ll take good care of your guests. The best server is a happy stable one. Treat your employees better than your competition. People who feel great about themselves and where they work are happy. They’re energized, and excited to serve others. They’ll be happy and can expertly focus on their work without distraction or noise. It translates and is magnified. And will differentiate from what everyone else seems to do.

There’s no limit to what a team of thoughtful and committed people can do. Now it’s your job to design a system to create that. You’ve already taken on all the risk and made all the capital investment in the space. Now ignite it with a team of highly motivated A-players. A team of thoughtful and committed people can accomplish remarkable results.

3) Word of Mouth

Great space. Fantastic food. Superior service. Check, check, check. Now make a name for yourself through advertising. But not through expensive billboards or ads. The best form of advertising is word of mouth. And it’s free! Let’s take an off-the-strip example to really highlight this point. Skinny Fats restaurant, located in a warehouse area off-the-Strip took over a failed generic cafeteria restaurant.  The menu is delicious and composed of both healthy and more decadent offerings. The design is very gritty and authentic. In fact, the walls are covered with 2×4’s that the owner and his team cut themselves. Guests really seem to love the food and the experience. And they love talking to others about how much they crave the food.  So much so Skinny Fats was selected to handle food and beverage for the 2014 Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas. Exposure to over 100,000 people!

Can you imagine the word of mouth required to be selected for the event? And how about all the social media and shared stories after EDC? The answer can so clearly be found by waiting in line at their new second location!  Opened up gangbusters with long lines before the sign had even been installed. They’ve turned lead into gold through great service, an authentic approach, and die-hard fans spreading the word. You can too. Look at those poor performing sectors in your casino with a fresh pair of eyes. What would Skinny Fats do?  Do it right and give your customers another reason to visit and tell their friends.

Now it is your turn to align the cherries and win big. Focus on optimal design, superstar service, and word of mouth. You may just find yourself with the makings of a landmark that creates an environment with special experiences people will love.

Article by Seth Makowsky

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