Secret Agent

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 16, 2010 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

I was wanting to know how my employees were handling business day-to-day. It didn’t matter how many times I watched, I employed “secret shoppers” who approached them and made transactions. After which, they would meet with me. I would call a meeting with each of them separately, and reward them, or offer constructive advice for bettering themselves.

It was when I was watching the hit show “Undercover Boss,” and how neat it was watching the C.O.O.  from Churchill Downs, that I wanted to take him a little further.

How about let’s take an exec from a different track, and have them switch with our president. They could stay a couple of days at the others track and play a role as the most important person: The Patron….

They could dress down and walk from the back of the parking lot. Did they like paying? Was the staff helpful?  Then, as they made their way in, they could monitor how the experience was for purchasing a high priced program… They don’t have a suit and tie, but just sweats and a pal just coming with them. Did they get good directions? How could they find seats?  Was it clean?  How did the employees treat him?  All important questions, but the biggie was yet to come.

As a track makes daily money from the wagering, did the clerks treat them with kindness? If you had a question, did they offer advice or direct you to a first time customer window? This interaction will be the factor that makes the decision for many to come back, or just stay home and wager. If it was poor, they will never be seen. If they are treated fairly, they will feel welcome.

While they are there, grab a dog and a beer and sit with the regulars. Introduce yourself if you like, but listen to what is going on around you… Is the video quality good? Are your seats free, or are they worth the cash? Were the restrooms clean?  When you made a wager, did anyone wish you “good luck”?  All of these little factors make a player’s experience. Some managers forget when they get their office, and tend to overlook the player. Funny thing. They are the most important people at the track. Without them, there would be no game.

So, as I watched this great show and felt good at the end, I wondered what it would be like to have an “Average Joe” who would report a day at the track. A detailed report that would be addressed just as I used to do the secret shopper. Well, the show is over and I guess we’ll never know if this information will ever be gathered. Or, could it be happening right now as tracks are looking for any way to stay afloat in the face of competition?