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CR88-p38&39-Branner Interview:SJC-Casino Review 21/1/10 21:01 Page 1
Interview
CHRIS BRAMMER
Freedom to excel:
total quality
management for
casinos
Inside the City of Dreams, the Melco Crown resort in
Macau where Chris Brammer and his team used principles
of Total Quality Management to bind the staff together and
help them achieve superb customer service
A casino’s employees are at the pivot point between the corporation and the customer: in a service-based organisation they represent all
that a company is and have first hand experience of when the concept is working and when it is not. Chris Brammer, who has a
quarter of century’s experience in developing casino resort operations and their cultures, including most recently the City of Dreams in
Macau, argues that a healthy organisation strives to do things right first time but leaves headroom for its people to innovate and improve.
totalqualitymanagement ing point for service training. and services that satisfy their “I’m just a mushroom”, which be creative, and an operation
FEATURE Many managers I’ve met needs rather those of the translates to “I’m kept in the committed to creative achieve-
believe it impossible to get company. It is an approach dark and fed on crap”, is ment must first be an operation
’ve spent most of my 25 such a potpourri of people that requires all aspects of amusing but carries with it a committed to the identification
I
years in the casino to coalesce into a harmo- the company’s operations to poignant message that the and nurturing of the latent
industry working in nious entity capable of giving come within its ambit and employee really doesn’t know, talent that lies within it.
resorts with around 500 the high service standards also calls for processes to be or care, what’s going on. Talent is rare, hard to iden-
to 1,000 employees; that are needed to make a done right the first time and Such a situation stifles busi- tify and, it must be said, only
when I was given the resort a success. But then I’ve for malpractice and waste to ness, as the potential of getting moderately useful in its raw
chance to help develop been told the same thing in be eradicated. valuable ideas and essential state. To realise a talent’s full
one of the most radical casino South Africa, Greece, the UK The objective of TQM, feedback from your employ- potential, those responsible
resorts in Macau, City of and other countries and have simply stated, is: do the right ees is lost. Given the number for the success of the opera-
Dreams, which opened last found that if you treat people things, right first time and of employees in a resort tion must provide an environ-
year with 7,000 employees, of like they should be treated every time. casino, there is likely to be at ment that encourages
which 2,500 are croupiers, it and integrate them into the These principles have least one person with an excit- creative accomplishment: this
required a deep breath just to business, it can and will come been interpreted and applied ing concept that just might means creating freedom and
think about the scale. Chris Brammer together. across a wide range of resorts make the difference between the first step towards that is
The wardrobe department Creating a service ethic and the guaranteed result is your operation and the guy to eliminate fear: if the
alone, which issues and main- was that a Chinese employee and being the best on the that customers will be served next door. The problem is how employee is afraid there is no
tains some 40,000 pieces of is not just a Chinese street is certainly not impos- to the high standards that to access this information: if starting point.
clothing and includes an employee. With some coming sible. The way to do it is management expects by a the boss is unapproachable, if In 1987 Keith Reinhard
automated conveyer system, from Macau itself, some from through total quality man- willing employee: that gives the employee is uncommit- authored and circulated the
covers an area greater than Hong Kong, some from main- agement – TQM – a multi- you not only a happy cus- ted and feels unimportant, Four Freedoms, principles
most European casinos. land China, there are huge functional catalyst that tomer but also a satisfied that killer idea will remain that stand at the heart of
There are 7,500 lockers, a cultural differences: the edu- makes even so daunting a employee. Using this locked away. unlocking talent and creat-
staff restaurant with five dif- cation and mindset of an task a pleasure. methodology, both manage- Think about it: who is the ing the service standards we
ferent food counters, rest employee from freewheeling TQM is a systematic organ- ment and employees person who is always talking to require. We have changed
areas (including hammocks Hong Kong is quite different isational approach that origi- become involved in a contin- the guests? Who is the one them slightly here to fit into
for taking a quick nap); the to another educated under nated in the 1950s and has uous cycle of improvement hearing their comments? It’s our industry but they remain,
back area of the venue alone the mainland Communist steadily become more of product and services. It’s your employee and to get the at heart, true to his thinking.
is immense. system. Then add in a sprin- popular over the last 30 money in the bank. employee to come forward So take a moment to con-
Scale is one thing: under- kling of others from around years. It is a way for a We have all worked in with those comments and cre- sider critically the following
standing and dealing with the Asia, incidentally bringing company to devise a culture, organisations where the boss ative ideas can be difficult. and see if your organisation
diversity of so many employ- the total number of different attitude and organisation is either someone unap- Talent is the ultimate resource measures up:
ees is another. One of first languages spoken up to that strives to provide its cus- proachable or even a feared of any creative enterprise, and; If I suggested that a suc-
things we had to recognise perhaps six. This was the start- tomers with the products figure. The old expression to survive a resort casino must cessful manager makes good
38 February 2010 • interview
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