Training for the big night

Mar 1, 2013

The saying goes, "Preparation is the key to success."  In part five of our Casino series,  WVXU's Mark Heyne says Horseshoe Cincinnati is taking that to heart as it readies its workers for the casino's opening.  Employees have been training for weeks,  in some cases months, to be ready for the big night and beyond.

Depending on the job at Horseshoe, employees will have trained anywhere from one to twelve weeks. Table games dealers received the maximum, 240 hours.  They started back in November and finished in January.   This week, they've been practicing more with opening night for the public right around the corner.

The training has involved a little of everything-- classroom, hands-on, role playing-- but the casino's Vice President of Human Resources Lisa Rexroat-Steele said it all comes down to a key element.

"Customer service is absolutely the number one thing for us, and what we really try to instill in all of our employees from day one,"  she said.  "If our employees don't make our customers happy, we don't have customers and, therefore, we don't have a business."

To that end, the training is extensive, especially for dealers.

"We are very proud of what we've put together from a table games standpoint and that's really where most of our customers will be spending the majority of their time, either playing slots or on the table games themselves," said Rexroat-Steele.

She said she'd stack Horseshoe's dealers up against anybody in any other casino in the country or the world.   About 450 people graduated from Horseshoe's Table Games Academy.  And the reaction to the training they received has been positive.  Rexroat-Steele said the employees were asked for their feedback when they finished the academy.  She was expecting a few sentences, but ended up with lots of paragraphs.

"We got over 400 sheets of paper back that a lot of them were the full page or front and back of just how much it had meant to them to go through this process," she said.

One afternoon  she sat in her office and read every one of them.

"We have a lot of retired people who are now dealers with us, who spent so many years in another career, and now in their golden years they've come to be something where they're having more fun than they've ever had in their life," she said.

The list also includes people who were unemployed and are glad to be back in the workforce and the underemployed, who have an opportunity to make more and advance in the company.

Rexroat-Steele said the training process has resulted in a nice cross-section of Cincinnatians who will be working at the casino.  And the training doesn't end when the casino finally opens.

"We will be doing a lot of ongoing training, keeping people's skills fresh and keeping them up to date with the technology that we use," said Rexroat-Steele.  "And making sure that we are showing them new and innovative ways they can delight their customers as they come through our doors."

The casino opens officially Monday night at 8:30.