A collaborative culture enhances the guest experience.
Thirty miles east of downtown Seattle, Washington, you’ll stumble upon a cavernous Northwest-style mountain lodge. Snoqualmie Casino’s architecture is impressive, reflective of the beauty seen in the surrounding lands of the Snoqualmie tribe.
The Snoqualmie people have been a part of these lands since “time immemorial”. Today, the tribe of approximately 500 members owns the casino, a major revenue source and employer for the region and the tribe.
Over 50,000 square feet of casino space hosting 55 table games, five poker tables, six restaurants, and two bar lounges creates an atmosphere of exhilaration or relaxation, depending on the getaway you’re looking for.
Guests of the casino will definitely notice the clean environment, friendly staff, and quality service. But what they may not be privy to is how Snoqualmie Casino’s culture shifted to one of collaboration to create these unique and high-quality guest experiences.
A Culture of Collaboration
Collaboration among team members in a service-oriented organization like Snoqualmie Casino is paramount to success.
A management change in 2012 created an opportunity within the organization to build a new foundation for collaboration between different departments. Before that could happen, however, trust and respect had to be earned.
“Culture starts at the top with the c-level team,” said Robert Crowe, CFO. “There is always a little bit of a challenge when setting out to do new things or change the way things have been. But by building respect and trust among our different departments and department heads, we created opportunities for them to work together.”
By focusing on getting the leadership team on board first, Crowe helped initiate a trickle-down system that has successfully seen the entire organization adopt this culture of collaboration.
It’s supported through communication circumstances that include detailed correspondence and in-person meetings—Crowe said that getting out and talking to people face to face is the preferred delivery method of new information.
“It’s important to get people in the same room on a frequent basis.”
Through this new culture , leadership has been able to convey new pillars and goals for Snoqualmie Casino to hit.
“We have a global guest standard to uphold. Some properties get too complicated with their guest service standards or mission statements—we wanted to keep ours simple to understand. This way, we can make sure we’re reaching the goals we want to hit.”
Although simple, these three pillars—paying attention to the details, delighting guests, and helping each other succeed—apply to every employee at Snoqualmie Casino. Crowe believes this approach to success has made it more fun to come to work, and creates a family atmosphere where employees look out for one another.
“This leads to better guest service and satisfaction scores. If the employee is happy and feels supported in his or her role, that will shine through with our guests.”
Collaboration in the Chain
When Crowe and the leadership team initiated its changes in culture, the collaborative benefits reached far beyond the confines of Snoqualmie Casino. It has also improved the organization’s supply chain, increasing communication with vendors and partners, and has even led to a reduction in waste.
“When we started this culture of collaboration, one of the first things we did was move from fully stocked shelves for our restaurants to just-in-time food. This required a lot of work upfront and a tremendous amount of work with our vendors, specifically Food Services of America (FSA).
“Switching to the just-in-time model reduced our inventory carrying cost with spoilage or having obsolete inventory sitting around,” he shared. “We were able to reduce staffing from a logistics standpoint. It’s meant a lot of collaboration with our chefs to make sure they are stocked, and working closely with the warehouse, and the folks at FSA. They are very hands-on, and have spent a lot of time at the property, talk to our different chefs and the purchasing department to make sure things are being done right.”
Instead of having to move product from warehouse to restaurant and back again, the just-in-time approach has lessened the footprint of this process: each restaurant outlet places an order, which is then delivered straight to that property.
“It’s meant a fresher product on a daily basis,” Crowe shared.
Snoqualmie Casino has recently put both its culture of collaboration and its just-in-time food model to the test with two large projects that were completed at the end of 2017.
“We had been open for eight, almost nine years, and it was time to freshen up and inject some more life into a few of our restaurants,” Crowe said. “The challenge was that we had to close down the locations and displace or inconvenience our customers because of it.”
Through collaborative efforts with its partner in this venture, I-5 Design, Snoqualmie was able to structure the construction and remodel so that work was done late in the evenings or early in the mornings in the middle of the week.
“They did a fabulous job, and allowed us to reopen the buffet while the remodel was going on busy days. This was the biggest challenge: making sure the project was staying on schedule so we could have the buffet open on the weekends.”
I-5 Design also did the work on Snoqualmie Casino’s Mist Bar.
“We has the same type of challenges—construction going on in the middle of a casino,” Crowe said. “But the company prefabbed all of the remodel in a warehouse. All they had to do was take it apart and assemble it on site.
“They did the complete remodel in three weeks. We recently created the Vendor of the Year award because of I-5 Design and their contributions to our business.”
The guest experience motivates every decision and every strategy at Snoqualmie Casino—whether it be shifts in culture or renovations.
“Customers drive the bus,” Crowe said. “They are why we are here. Our guests see the casino as an escape, and it’s our main goal to provide a place where people can have fun, relax, feel like they are getting a good value, and want to keep coming back.”
Close, yet spectacularly beautiful, Snoqualmie Casino offers a one-of-a-kind gaming and entertainment experience. It’s all here, just minutes from Seattle.
Snoqualmie Casino HQ
37500 SE North Bend Way
Snoqualmie, WA 98065