Davis Tripp

Catch Your Employees Doing Something Right


If you want to do one thing today to make your employees more productive, then go to the casino floor and catch them doing something right.  We’re all busy – it’s easy to get in the habit of quickly walking through the facility on the way to the office, pointing out the things along the way that are wrong.  You know you’ve done it:  “Why is that trash overflowing?”  “Pat’s uniform looks like she slept in it.”   “John, how about a little enthusiasm?”

There’s no doubt that these types of things need to be corrected (more about that in the next installment), but what are you doing to keep the majority of your staff, the people who are already doing it right, motivated?  It’s easy once you learn the steps and get in the habit and it will definitely inspire your team to keep up the good work.   Here are the steps to praising employees in one minute or less:

  1.  Be Specific:  Tell the person you see doing it right exactly what they are doing that you want them to continue.  Don’t just say “Good job, Jan”; say “Jan, wow, I noticed the way you got those blackjack players fired up about their game!”
  2. Be Immediate:  If you are trying, you’ll catch people in the act of doing things right every day.  That’s when you mention it; don’t save your praise up for a rainy day.
  3. Share How You Feel About It:  Back to Jan and her blackjack table, add to the power of your praising by saying “When you work the table like that, I am thrilled because I know that those customers will be back!”
  4. Encourage the Individual:  Make sure the employee knows that you want them to keep behaving the same way in the future.  End your praising with a comment like “Keep up the good work, you are treating our customers exactly right.”

So here is the entire thing:

“Jan, wow, I noticed the way you got those blackjack players fired up about their game just now!  I love it when you work the table like that because I know that those customers will be back.  Keep up the good work.  You are treating our customers exactly right and they are having a great time.”

How easy is that?  How motivated would you feel if someone said something like that to you?

Learn those four steps and just do it!

Based on by The One Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Blanchard (Author), Spencer Johnson (Author)

Want to teach your entire team?  Contact rebecca@yourcasinocoach.com for great training that your team can use tomorrow.



Caught You Doing Something…WRONG!?!?!

Now that you have been practicing “catching people doing things right” for a few weeks you have probably come smack up against someone who isn’t doing things right.  Now what do you do?

Pat is constantly standing by the entrance to the casino talking to other employees instead of greeting guests as they walk in.  The next time you witness this behavior (which will probably be tomorrow since he seems to be doing this every day when you arrive) try this:

  1. Be Specific:  Pull the employee aside and tell the person what they are doing that you want them to stop.  Don’t say “Pat, you are driving me and everyone else crazy with all of your talking and ignoring customers!”   Instead, pull Pat aside and say “Pat, I have seen you talking to coworkers and ignoring customers every day this week when I have come in.  I expect you to limit your conversations with coworkers, especially when customers are around.”
  2. Be Immediate:  Just like praising people, don’t save up your reprimands.  When you see something going wrong, address it!
  3. Share How You Feel About It:  Back to Pat and the front door, let him know how you feel about it by saying “Pat, it really makes me mad when our customers are being ignored while you have conversations with other employees at the front door.  It also irritates me that you are keeping your coworkers from doing their jobs when you have long conversations with them.”
  4. Encourage the Individual:  That’s right—just like praising someone you end a reprimand with encouragement. This may seem counterintuitive, but you want to make sure the employee leaves the conversation thinking about what they did wrong rather than thinking about what a mean boss you are.   Focus on the behavior rather than the individual to reduce defensiveness.  End your reprimand with a comment like “Pat, I wouldn’t even bring this to your attention if I didn’t know that you can do better and fix this.  You are a valuable employee and the role you play in greeting our guests when they first arrive really sets the stage for the experience they will have at the casino.  I know you can do it!”

So once again, here is the entire thing:

“Pat, can I talk with you for a minute?  I have seen you talking to coworkers and ignoring customers every day this week when I have come into work.  I get really irritated when you ignore guests and keep other employees from doing their jobs.  Going forward, you need to limit your conversations with coworkers, especially when customers are around.    Now Pat, you really know how to make our customers feel welcome, and I wouldn’t even bring this up to you unless I knew you could fix it.  I know you can do it!”

That won’t take you long at all (that’s why it’s called a “One-Minute Reprimand”!)  and the results are almost always instantaneous.  People want to do the right thing, they just need a little direction from time-to-time and using a one-minute reprimand really works.

Same four steps as the praising.  Easy.  Problem solved!

Based on by The One Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Blanchard (Author), Spencer Johnson (Author)

Want to teach your entire team?  Contact rebecca@yourcasinocoach.com for great training that your team can use tomorrow.

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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 Lead Right Now 1 Comment

In A Dark Hole

Scroll down to read the continuing saga…

Installment #1

T and T Logo CroppedWith half a dozen inches of snow falling on glazed ice I had made my way to the Chickasaw Nation’s Newcastle Gaming Center. As the Marketing Director for this casino and through my years in the gaming business one thing I’ve learned is to count on people finding their way to the casino even when most businesses are closed.  Still, I found myself amazed on this night, joking with the skeleton staff and wondering how our guests had made it.

This little casino was made up of two buildings that were not connected.  A cantankerous P.A. system, always too loud or not loud enough, served as our communication between buildings.  Running promotions took some creative effort from all casino staff, but it worked.  In some ways it helped to connect all of us.  We recruited everyone to help. From security to office staff, everyone was a part of this effort. 

My leather shoes became soaked as I made the trek back and forth between buildings picking up player’s club members entries for the night’s promotions.  There were 7 entrances into these two casino buildings, and one thing I will always remember is that all 7 always had staff ready to greet guests.  It made an impression and I still compare this level of service to other casinos around Oklahoma and the nation.  Rarely have I found a casino that met the same standard.

I was proud to work for the Chickasaw tribe.  Growing up in northeastern Oklahoma I had been raised with a genuine respect and pride in the culture, heritage, traditions, and beliefs important to preserve the future of tribes.  For many tribes sustaining this history is the greatest challenge, and all too often it is clear that their futures are at risk.

The Chickasaw tribe helped restore my faith that the best was still possible, that somehow tribes around the nation could find their way, could restore pride, would preserve their cultures and teach their children.  The Chickasaw’s stable leadership created the Chickasaw Enterprises and for me represented the benchmark for other tribes.  I was not a Chickasaw tribal member but the tribe and its leadership made it clear to all those dedicated to the success of these tribal enterprises that we were valued “members” of the tribe.  My style of management and commitment to these basic concepts fit perfectly.  I knew that I was part of an organization that walked the talk.  It was refreshing.

The customers kept coming on this snowy night that would prove to have very special meaning for me.

      –Copyright 2009 Davis Tripp.  No portion may be reprinted or used without permission of the author.  Contact davis@yourcasinocoach.com

Watch for weekly installments of Trials and Tribe-ulations.


Installment #2

By 10 p.m. the storm was raging. It was just a few days until Thanksgiving.   I was hearing that many casinos around the state had shut their doors and even the Oklahoma City airport had closed.  Having worked in lots of other casino environments, including the mountain towns in Colorado, the concept of closing was unthinkable. T and T Logo Cropped

A decade before as General Manager of a high stakes Indian bingo hall I told the staff that we would be open Christmas day, a holiday that they had traditionally been closed.   I heard from most staff that “nobody will show up.”  I knew differently; Christmas day and others to follow were some of the biggest days of the year.

When there is nothing to do, when nothing is open, the casino is a place for entertainment, everyday, 24/7.  The “black hole theory” is what I teach and work towards.  It’s simple:  prepare to meet every possible need of the customer.  Give them every reason to come in and no reason to leave.  If you’re hungry there is food; if you’re thirsty you can get a drink; if you’re bored there is entertainment.

Well, on this particular night when the snow kept falling and the customers kept playing, I received a call that would change my course and would introduce me to something different.  I could barely hear the voice on the other end of the cell phone but someone was driving to the casino, a few days before Thanksgiving, in a late fall ice storm, to meet me.

By 11 p.m. I was preparing to complete the final promotion for the night.  I received a call that a customer needed to speak to me.  I learned that the customer was very concerned that he might win the drawing but had forgotten his player’s club card.  What would happen?  I told him not to worry that IF he won everything would be alright. 

Casino employees can easily solve customer issues like this.  Your job as a manager is to teach them how and then empower them to do it.  One training technique that I like to use is to walk with an employee or two on the floor, look down a row of slot machines and ask them to tell me “who needs something?”    If you look you can tell, and if you can teach your employees to look they can tell too.  It’s in the customer’s posture or look.  It’s a dollar that the machine won’t take.  Over the years I’ve watched many staff members significantly increase their tips applying a concept as basic as this and practicing their awareness.  For me, it comes naturally, but what I have learned is that for lots of people it’s something they have to learn and practice.  It’s like planting seeds: eventually many will blossom.

It was second nature for me to scan the casino floor even when solving a problem with a customer.  As I finished reassuring this customer, I saw a tall, lanky gentleman strolling through the casino.  I knew this guy had to be the voice on the other end of the phone.  We made eye contact and he walked up as I continued to talk with the customer.  Right away I thought that there was something special about this guy.  He looked at the customer with a reassuring look of approval and even had some encouraging words.

–Copyright 2009 Davis Tripp.  No portion may be reprinted or used without permission of the author.  Contact davis@yourcasinocoach.com

Watch for weekly installments of Trials and Tribe-ulations.

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Sunday, August 23rd, 2009 Trials and Tribe-ulations No Comments

News and Views

soapboxGaming is adult entertainment.  There are tribes that struggle with meshing their tribal culture and beliefs with gambling environments.  While certain aspects of casinos and gaming involve the potential perpetuation of some of the ills that are suffered in Indian country, tribes have to understand that gaming is for adults and is not designed to prevent or cure social problems.  

An example of this dilemma is when a small tribe decides to add a full-service bar to their casino property.  In many communities the casino can provide some of the best entertainment in the safest environment, attracting a broad range of guests.   Revenues from bars in casinos are good.  Liquor is a high-margin product that can add to the spend per player in a small casino and provide a way to get people to the casino who normally might not go there.   Once there, they stay and play. 

Operational problems can arise when tribal factions, worried about problem drinking in their communities, attempt to limit the sale of liquor in the casino.  Again, a clear vision of why the casino exists must be shared and supported by all involved.  Tribal leaders and casino operators must come to the obvious conclusion:  if your casino is going to survive and thrive, tribal politics and a morality-police mentality cannot be part of the mix.

What you must commit to as a casino manager is providing a clean, safe environment, having well-trained staff, eradicating any illegal activity and trouble-makers, and creating an enjoyable entertainment experience for adult gamblers.  Successful casino gaming will never be bingo in the church basement.  I know from experience that with about 100 tribal gaming facilities in the state of Oklahoma, the competition for the customers is fierce.  Tribal leaders and casino operators must understand adult entertainment and commit to giving customers what they want, even when it may not fit exactly with the values of individual tribal members.

All this being said, it doesn’t mean that creating a positive image and being a positive influence in the communities where tribal casinos operate isn’t of paramount importance.  Participating in the community in a positive way can be successfully accomplished through a variety of means.  More about that in future installments.

–Copyright 2009 Davis Tripp.  No portion may be reprinted or used without permission of the author.  Contact davis@yourcasinocoach.com

Watch for weekly installments of Trials and Tribe-ulations.

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Sunday, August 23rd, 2009 News and Views No Comments

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Trials and Tribe-ulations

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Visit often to keep up with the continuing saga of  living and working in Indian country!

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Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 Trials and Tribe-ulations No Comments

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Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 Coaching Services No Comments


Davis TrippDavis Tripp

With 20 years of gaming industry experience, Davis Tripp has worked in a variety of capacities from poker dealer to consultant to general manager.  He has had the unique opportunity to be involved in the start-up of the gaming industry in both Colorado and Oklahoma.

Davis has worked in senior casino operations and marketing leadership roles for the Apache, Absentee Shawnee and Chickasaw tribes and served as Director of Marketing for MultiMedia Games. As a vendor and consultant, he has worked with many additional tribes across the United States.   In the past 2 decades Davis has participated in a variety of capacities with the NIGC, NIGA, OIGA and NTGC/R.  He has been a guest speaker at numerous conferences including the NIGA national conference.

Davis is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma.  His high-energy, collaborative style of management and commitment to staff and customer service has resulted in powerful and profitable results.

You can contact Davis at davis@yourcasinocoach.com

Rebecca Perot-TrippRebecca Perot-Tripp

Rebecca Perot-Tripp is an innovative business leader with more than 25 years of leadership experience in the Human Resources and Learning and Development fields. She has worked in a variety of industries including oil and gas, retail, call center and communications. Her high-energy, optimistic and collaborative style achieves results!

Rebecca earned a BA in History as well as an MA in Human Relations-Organizational Development from the University of Oklahoma. She has extensive experience in business start-up, executive coaching, assessment, selection, and leadership and team development.

You can contact Rebecca at rebecca@yourcasinocoach.com

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Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 Management No Comments