Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Very upset a Yelp

I was one of the best supporters of Yelp. Yelp statistically represents 40% of our reservations and have used it extensively over the course of the past 4 years not only to find the best restaurants but more importantly to keep a forever improving eye on our family owned operation.

As you may know by now, the efforts that we did put into our Mountain view location were, to say the least, nerve racking, from the physical efforts to put the place up to par to copy, adjusting and pasting the processes we learned from our san jose location...our mission was pretty simple, to hit the ground running and we did count on yelp to help us spread the word that we indeed strive to ensure that every single one of our guests is having an exotic culinary experience and care about them....we are genuinely excited to share with them a complete different culture!!!

We just celebrated our first month in business and god i was remembering all these happy guests that were hitting me with rounds of: "We were waiting for you in Mountain view", "You are here to last", "You are the only venue that has exciting live entertainment", my reply was pretty much consistent: Your comments mean a lot to me and really a source of happiness that keep us going despite slow nights!! please write a review for us on yelp.

The typical Yelper in my book is meticulous, enjoys a pleasant dining experience and is open minded. It is true that we do strive on bad reviews but the truth of the matter is that we have always been able to have more happy guests than upsets ones!!!

So here i am checking the reviews on regular basis, not only on yelp but other review sites as well. We have been consistently scoring an average of 4 out of 5 in all the others but Yelp has a mediocre 2.5 stars?! I took the time one night to pay close attention to the reviews and noticed at the bottom that some reviews have been filtered, 27 of them to be exact, i saw a video on the yelp web site explaining how Yelp filters reviews to ensure that only the legitimate ones are kept following a mathematical algorithm that is "secret"...I was really surprised that out of the 27 filtered reviews: 26 were 5 star reviews and 1 was a 1 star review!!!

Where is the fairness in this system where i was the one serving pretty much each and every single of those reviewers that gave us 5 star reviews?

I understand now these phone calls from Yelp headquarters inviting me to pay $300 a month for me to be featured in, i do not want to even think that the filtration is an extra incentive for our family owned operation to use their services...

When i called the headquarters, i spoke to a gentleman that comforted me and said that most of those reviews will find their way back within the next 3 weeks and suggested for me to place my advertisement $$ with them...My response: let's talk about this in 3 weeks where my legitimate reviews are finding their way back!

This episode reminded me of the actual impact of how the way information is presented to us can be misleading...What is actually filtered out of all the information we are exposed to everyday to make our day to day decisions?

Monday, August 15, 2011

A new approach to the restaurant industry that is triggering a buzz

How do tips get distributed? Well, the server gets say $20 and pretty much bribes the other team members, the host for giving him large parties, the busser for taking care of his/her table fast enough to seat more people, the water person for paying close attention to the waters at its table, the bartender for being quick to fix drinks...the result: bad inhouse politics where people play favorites thanks to their ability to help another team member more than another...this was quite revolting to me!

What about the busser / server or other team member whose only desire is to give its all regardless of who tips him better or whose ego he should rub to feed his/her family accordingly?

That is without even talking about the kitchen crew!! I find it unfair that a server can make the big bucks for being charming while the kitchen crew, in its super loud environment, surrounded by fire and being under the pressure of serving 30 dishes with a scientific precision, not to be rewarded?

I then created the following program. I will collect an automatic 15% service charge!! It will allow me to provide quarterly bonuses to the best performing front of the house and back of the house employees. It will also allow me to offer benefit and even above industry average wages and salaries.

Do i still have to tip my guests scream? Well, since the 15% service charge is included, should you feel that the serving team that took care of you went the extra mile! Yes!! I personally always tip 20% if i am delighted and witnessed parties giving a 25% to 35% gratuity as they were super if you wish to give another 5 to 10%, sure thing!!!

Now, the difference at Morocco's is that the extra gratuity left by our guests is split evenly among all the serving team for that specific shift, whether you are a busser, a water person or the person taking the orders, i believe that all deserve a fair part of the reward. This has worked wonders where it helped me put together a team where it is not about my section, my table, my tip but our restaurant, our guests, everybody is trained to do everything and i will not undermine a person because they were diligent to keep all waters full where another had the ability to serve wine accordingly...

I know it is new, our yelp reviews have been reflecting that. I recently printed a form on the table to explain that but the truth of the matter is that people can care less of the behind the scenes mathematics and have a better, quite understandable, selfish interest to have the best time possible...from writing a manifesto in their table to keeping it simple stupid (Keep It Simple Stupid KISS!!), a concept a kind regular share with me: the simplest form has been working better. For the guests that want the full blown explanation, my line is pretty simple. You are here to enjoy the company of your guests! Indeed the 15% service charge is already included. Should you feel that your serving team went the extra mile to ensure your satisfaction, extra tips are appreciated. For further details about our service charge, read the manifesto on our web site!!!

Happy dining!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Belly dancing showcase

Tonight at Morocco's Restaurant Mountain view is going to be special. Belly dancing instructor invites her guests and allows them to drink before a live performance. Not to be missed, i will be there to host  and make sure everybody enjoys the how do you do to never get bored of belly dancing they say...well, the show is not for me but for my guests...mmm....on the other side, it is like ice cream, many people are open to try new flavors but have one they really like hehhehe.
Come see what i am talking about on Castro street.