Time Is Money; Spend It Wisely

“Time is money.”

This profound statement is commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin.  If Ben indeed coined this phrase more than 200 years ago, then he was a wise man.  These words are amazing and true.  For example, the time you spend reading this article has a cost to you.  Thus, if you could do something else more valuable with 10 spare minutes, then reading this article is a waste of your time and, as the quote says, your money.

Let’s fast forward to the 21st century and see how Ben’s thinking applies to our modern world so troubled by a faltering economy.  Let’s see if there’s a lesson for the gaming industry.  (Hint:  keep reading because there is a lesson here.)

I recently read a Forbes magazine article about the “Distress Bus” airline flights from New York to Detroit.  Planes on this route are filled with a variety of experts who work with auto manufacturers and suppliers to help them survive the current downturn in the auto sector.  The article estimates that the Big Three and their suppliers spent more than $500 million in the last year on fees for advisors and experts.

Half a billion dollars!  That certainly caught my attention.  How do General Motors, Ford and Daimler Chrysler justify spending that kind of money?  How do they explain this to their directors, stock holders and employees?

GM is the world’s largest auto manufacturer and has been the annual global industry sales leader for 76 years.  Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 284,000 people around the world.  It manufactures cars and trucks in 33 countries.  In 2006, 9.1 million GM vehicles were sold globally.  So why does a company that has almost 300,000 employees and the ability to churn out millions of cars and trucks need to hire consultants?  Couldn’t a few of these GM folks develop an internal solution to the company’s woes?  Doesn’t GM have the bench strength?

Old Ben has the answer to all these questions.  Time is money!

Of course GM and the others could blaze a trail to renewed success on their own.  Of course they have talented people.  But they know that time is money.  GM generated $181 billion in revenue in 2007.  That’s almost $500 million a day.  At that rate, it would cost GM more than $347,000 per minute to create its own solutions.  Perhaps outside consultants could devise some answers much quicker and cheaper while GM focused on running the day-to day business.  Obviously, the Big Three have decided consultants are the way to go.

Now let’s turn to the gaming industry.  It is becoming increasingly clear that the slowing economy is trickling down to gaming, where casino revenues are declining.  What is it worth to your casino to find solutions to this problem faster?  Do the math and you maybe shocked.  There are many excellent consultants in the gaming industry that cam help your casino find better solutions faster than doing it on your own and that can mean real savings.  Time is becoming more expensive for casino executives.  Journalists write about the cost of crude oil, gasoline, food, etc., but they never mention the cost of time.  I think if you are a casino CEO, president or GM, the cost of your time is much greater than it was a few years ago.  I know some of you are thinking you deserve a raise!

The cost of your time has skyrocketed because gaming has changed forever.  The casino market is ultra competitive and becoming more so every day, while the soft economy makes each decision even more important.  The right decision regarding your employees could save your casino thousands of dollars this month.  It could create more employee and guest advocates at your property as the months roll by.  Decisions concerning your guest experience and how you manage it could make the difference between your casino surviving or not.

Call me a drama queen, but I think this is critical.  During these challenging days, there are no small decisions and time is of the essence.  Each moment you spend trying to find a new way to succeed could cost you future rewards.  Believe me, I’m all for new and better ways.  If I wasn’t, we would never have created our Advocate Development System.  We would have continued providing guest service training and been happy to leave it at that.  As I see it today, the risks are potentially too great to ignore proven systems.

“You may delay, but time will not.”  It appears Benjamin Franklin also said that.  If time is money, then delay is the loss of money.  The time it takes you to take action costs you money and opportunity.  

The Big Three auto makers invested $500 million in consultant assistance because they knew it was too costly to develop solutions internally.  Here’s a simple way of explaining their decision.  I could make repairs to my home’s heating and cooling system if I was willing to learn how HVAC works.  I could brush up on the subject, talk to experts and buy the right tools.  Of course, I probably would make mistakes, break something and have to buy new parts.  Still, I could do it.  But how much would it cost me in time spent learning, in time spent doing the work, in time given up that I could have devoted to my family?  How uncomfortable would we become until I finished the job?

Here we are a couple of hundred years later and old Ben is still as profound as he was while alive.  Time is money.  In today’s gaming world, your time is very expensive.  How will you spend it?

This article originally appeared in International Gaming & Wagering Business.

Martin R. Baird
Robinson & Associates, Inc.