Doing More With Less
By Beth Standlee, CEO, TrainerTainment
In 2012, venture capitalist and entrepreneur Marc Andreesen predicted that jobs will be divided between “people who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what to do.” *
This prediction is no longer theory. The efficiencies in our cashless systems, kiosks, and “one-click” economy make it possible to do more with “less” people, time, space, and maybe money.
I came into the industry as debit card systems were making their debut. Note: This was way before 2012 so Andreesen was a little late to the party with his hypothesis! In 1994, I helped open a grand place in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area called The Bronco Bowl. Bruce Springsteen rocked out the 3,000-sq.-ft. arena while families bowled, played in our 100-piece arcade that took tokens, and/or hung out at the swanky bar and restaurant. No doubt, this was a night that changed my life forever as I became “addicted” to the entertainment industry. I worked at The Bronco Bowl selling parties and events for about 6 months. That’s where I learned how much time it took to count out $5.00 or more in tokens and bag them up for a full Saturday afternoon of birthday parties. Time really is money!
Just across town, Neil Huphauer opened a place called Fun Fest. They had bowling, laser tag, a bar, a café, a lot more games and also this weird “debit card” thing. About six months after entering the family entertainment game, my career took me to Fun Fest. What a difference this time-saving system made. With this cool card system, the majority of my “token prep” time now fell to operations, which meant I could keep selling more events.
I share this story because it is one of the simple things I really understand and know about the technology advantage. For someone who prioritizes people, training and coaching, it feels like hypocrisy to focus on how to do more with fewer “people.” However, I never want to count tokens EVER again in my life!
If you were at Bowl Expo, you saw the very cool Bella robot that can deliver drinks with the click of a button. Bella shows up on time, never calls off or has a bad day!
Earlier in the year, I was visiting with a friend of mine, GameTime CEO Mike Abecassis. He shared with me the tremendous pressure of finding the right people who he now needs to pay almost twice as much money to do the same job today as yesterday. He did note that revenue was better than ever but the business was difficult to maintain with only 65% of pre-pandemic staff. He explained that service is strained and he is forced to find solutions that give way to “frictionless” experiences where technology replaces human interaction. He has implemented Semnox equipment throughout his centers. “They are the right partner for us,” he told me. “They knowingly went into the partnership with an understanding that I was going to push them. Initially, the self-service kiosk experience was an eight-step process for the guest. In the ‘do-it-yourself’ system we must move to, the guest interface had to get better! Semnox rose to the occasion.”
Point of sale systems, reservation software, CRM tracking, bookkeeping software, and other automated systems continue to minimize the amount of human interaction needed to get the job done more efficiently and correctly.
I guess the real moral of the story is we must find people who can work the technology systems and, in my mind, train the few to deliver service in a bigger, better way. I’m unwilling to believe that the cashless, frictionless, buy-everything-on-your-phone-with-one-click society, will ever replace the service-based business we all know and love. However, I do think those who are willing to coach and train the few will stand out from the competition. Top-level service in the “frictionless” society may be your most competitive advantage. Cashless systems alleviate some of the theft temptations and allow your staff to serve guests in other ways.
I’m interested in what you are doing to broaden your technological resources to right-size your business’ staffing needs. Email me at [email protected].
* www.brookings.edu/ blog/techtank/2019/08/29/ emerging-technology-can-replace-workers-or-train-them-for-new-work/
Beth is the CEO of TrainerTainment LLC, a training company devoted to the family entertainment and hospitality industries. Beth and her team are focused on helping the companies they serve to make more money through sales, guest service, leadership and social media marketing training. Training products and services are delivered in person, through books and DVDs, and virtually with e-learning courses, webinar development and 24/7 online access. Visit her company’s website at www.trainertainment.com.