FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Downtown Las Vegas was the perfect training ground for Phil Madow.
Madow's 24 years in Las Vegas, including 18 years in key executive positions with the Four Queens downtown, prepared him to oversee the Seminole Indian Tribe's flagship resort.
While there are obvious differences between downtown Las Vegas and Florida, lessons learned in lean operations and service have paid off.
"We certainly have far more capital resources available here," said Madow, 52, who has been president of the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood since 2008. "Operating downtown on a shoestring budget helps hone your skills. You learn how to deal with pennies and not dollars. It makes you become more attentive to service. Service is something we stress here."
Lack of customers and support from the tribe isn't an issue for Madow and his 3,000 employees.
The 500-room Hard Rock Hollywood runs at roughly 98 percent occupancy year-round. Besides casino guests, the Hard Rock draws thousands who frequent the adjacent Seminole Paradise, a 350,000-square-foot outdoor retail, dining and entertainment center that is part of the 100-acre property.
Madow estimated that 90 percent of the Hard Rock's business comes from South Florida residents. The property has a "significant penetration" in its home of Broward County and also draws customers from adjacent Dade County, which includes Miami.
"Our goal has always been to be a one-stop shop for the casino, dining, retail, entertainment, clubbing, or anything a customer might be seeking," Madow said. "We consider ourselves a locals establishment."
Before joining Hard Rock, Madow spent three years as the top executive with the Pala Casino in northern San Diego County. Like the Hard Rock in Florida, Pala and other Southern California Indian casinos are spread out geographically.
The biggest difference between operating in California and Florida is the cost to advertise. Media is consolidated and cheaper in South Florida.
"It's much more expensive in California because you potentially had to look at five different regional areas with unique media," Madow said.
Still, the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood has many of the same compliance requirements found in Las Vegas and in California. The market is young and evolving, Madow said.
In Las Vegas with Four Queens, Madow reported to the key corporate executives and shareholders of the publicly traded company that formerly owned the casino.
In Florida, as in California, the casino executives report to the Seminole tribe members.
At the end of the each year, tribal members receive a share in the gaming operations' revenues.
"We have the responsibility of protecting and growing the assets of the tribal entity," Madow said. "We're not just simply looking at the bottom line of an SEC statement."
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.