What can you tell us about your background with Sycuan?
I’ve been here at Sycuan over 23 years and have appreciated the opportunity to watch this organization develop into the property we have today. Prior to becoming the General Manager in October of 2014, I spent most of my career in slots. My outlook on operations and the importance of our front-line staff is from first-hand experience. As a GM I aim to continue to be just as responsive to questions from them as I am to tribal council while fostering a culture of sincere and supportive leadership.
What can you share about the culture of your company and leadership style?
Our organization works hard to provide an environment for our employees that we want them to provide to the guest. If we provide a positive, responsive and encouraging environment, that bleeds into how our managers and department heads lead their teams and how our staff treats our patrons. It’s also important to me personally to show stability and flexibility as a leader. I make a point to be on the floor as much as possible and lead by example. What allows us to constantly rise to the challenge against our competitors is our level of customer service. We actually have “ON AIR” signs at the exit of our back of house into the front of house that reminds our employees to bring their “A game” to our customers every single time they walk through those doors. Gaming is a demanding 24-7 environment to be in and it’s important to remember that it’s the people (both employees and guests) that matter. We engage in employee satisfaction surveys to be sure we stay on point with the needs of our team members and providing the desired level of support.
How important is technology to you as a tribal gaming executive?
Technology is critical for us in several ways. In the last couple years I would consider myself to have become a more data driven leader. We can all make more informed business decisions when we are able to collect the data and ensure that it matches the intended outcome or goal. It’s not just about making decisions off the data, it’s seeing if we made the RIGHT decisions by evaluating again after we’ve done something to impact the results. Another area of importance is with the guest. Everywhere we interact with them, technology is in play. No one (including me) has patience anymore. I can’t remember the last time I stood in line for more than two minutes and didn’t take out my phone to connect to something. Our guests expect a rich multi-media experience and it’s a devastating impact on their experience when technology isn’t in play. By catering to these needs we are also allowing them to multi-task how they want but also give them more time on the gaming floor. Rather than waiting in line at the buffet, they can download our mobile app and use our “Rapid Reserve” feature to be notified when their table is ready. Win-Win. There is also the positive impact technology has on operations. We are constantly improving operational efficiencies and streamlining workflow and processes with technology, something extremely important for our bottom line. Although people will always be the heart of our organization, I can’t think of many areas that technology doesn’t come into play at our gaming facility.
What do you think tribal gaming GM's should be focused on now and in the future?
I can’t say for others, but for me it’s about a balance of solutions and relationships. I foresee a lot of tribes continuing to expand their enterprise portfolio to include more non-gaming business opportunities. It’s important for us all to remember that we aren’t just driving the bottom line of the business, but the long term self-sufficiency of the tribal government and tribal community. Sycuan also works with over 700 charities in a given year. The importance of our tribal gaming contributions to state and local communities should not be overlooked.