Service 101: Slow Down and Vision Your Life (or Business)

Brooke Burton Service Leadership Visioning workshop
Leading a Visioning and Branding Workshop with the Ra Pour leadership team

The faster our society gets, the looser we get with our systems. We cut corners. We text and walk. We don’t read the recipe through to the end before we start cooking. We go to the grocery store without a shopping list. We show up to popular restaurants without a reservation. We don’t prof proof read. We start a blog without knowing what we’re really blogging about.

We let the sparkly light-show of the PROMISE OF SUCCESS blind us to the realities of the work required to achieve victory. We get distracted by the siren song of PROFIT and FAVORABLE OUTCOME and forget to create a set of guidelines or a structured plan to get us where we want to go.

The famous movie tagline “Build it and they will come,” is a great first act twist, but it isn’t what you’d call a solid business plan.

Look, most people don’t find the words “actionable objectives” and “sustainable culture” sexy. But I do. Because if you want to be successful in life or business, you have to know the steps that are required to get you where you want to go.

Not planning, organizing, creating a set of guidelines, or charting a course for success is why many great people and wonderful ideas fail. Businesses collapse. Movies with great first acts fall apart by the end of the second act. Restaurants shutter after a year. Overnight successes crash and burn under the pressure. Blogs are born, go strong for months with an unending steam of daily posts, and then spontaneously die.

Brooke Burton shows teams how to build strong organizational systems
Strong systems and clear objectives support a thriving culture

Often in the rush to go to market, The Big Idea steals the focus. Budding leaders and excited makers of art or commerce write showy business plans that stress profit and cool, but forget about the need to create strong systems, set clear objectives and expectations, and a sustainable culture that supports the internal structures of the business.

Because if you want to be successful (in your life or business), you have to know what it’s going to take to get you there.

Being a Service Coach

My work as a Service Coach takes me to some rather extraordinary places nowadays. I develop systems to help restaurants define and teach principles of great service. I grow leaders, cultivate service cultures, and nurture seeds of ideas into thriving visions. I teach leaders how to transform their customer service programs by investing in their people and exceeding their customers expectations. I coach teams on how to serve their customers and their staff with radical hospitality.

Brooke Burton Service Coach Visioning Service Workshop Los Angeles
The visioning process in action with the Ra Pour team

This week I have the great pleasure to work with a group of innovative restaurateurs and entertainment professionals preparing for the opening of RaPour, a soon-to-be-opened restaurant and lounge in the Inland Empire.

This eclectic group of accomplished and pioneering young industry pros have been in the business for a long time. But they aren’t so overconfident that they think they’re above building a solid plan of action. This week I’m leading the team through a five-day workshop to help them create a solid vision for the future, reliable systems, and a sustainable service culture for their high-end dining destination. I’ve been incredible impressed with their work, their vision, and their insights.*

The people behind Ra Pour may know their market and what customers want (a high-end restaurant with a modern cocktail program and service that makes every customer feel like a VIP), but they aren’t cocky. They’re smart enough to know the importance of integrity, strong leadership, radical hospitality, action plans, calculated cool, and reliable systems. The more I work with these competent men, the more I’m reminded how important the planning stage of a fledgling business or emerging idea is.

Planning and organizing may not be the sexiest of the stages of opening a restaurant, but the results certainly will be. Their team will be confident, the systems will be strong, and customers will feel like they were they’re the biggest VIP’s in Southern California.

Because when you embrace the ideals of measure twice, cut once  you are creating efficiencies, rather than wasted time. By approaching a methodical approach to your work, you save time by investing wisely up front. The more thoughtful you are during the creative process, the more rewarding the final product can be. Apply mindfulness to your business and personal life, and you’ll watch the results multiple.

See? Turns out being sensible and smart really can be sexy.

So if you want to be successful, take your time. Plan things through. Draft a strategy. Get clear on your intentions (beyond profit and money). Invest in coaching (HINT HINT). Listen. Observe. Breathe.

What is it you want?

What are the steps that it will take to get you there?


*In truth, one of the best things about teaching is learning a lot, too. These guys from Ra Pour are SMART.



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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.


  1. August 3

    Interesting how you morphed this info to blogland… GREG

    • Food Woolf
      August 3

      Interesting good, I hope! It all applies, no?

    • Food Woolf
      August 3

      Thanks, Bee! I’m especially glad you liked it! See you tomorrow!

  2. Brooke, I am so proud of you and everything you are working towards and learning. Some of the greatest ways to enjoy success in life is to be able to teach, give back and of course as you say listen to others. Love these powerful teams you are helping to grow 🙂

  3. August 4

    There are some great points in this post that I would do well to listen and adhere too. I have so many goals and dreams, but no solid foundation for them to take foot on. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Wonderful post. So much of our world today feels a sense of entitlement and aren’t willing to do the hard work to get where they want to go. This is a great reminder to look over my goals and the steps to get there – my main goal is to help others. I overcame health issues through food and I want to share that hope and help people make changes. I’ve learned that being patient and not jumping at the first opportunity that comes knocking really pays off.

    I’d love to come attend one of your workshops someday!

    Btw, are you familiar with David Scott Peters (restaurant coach)? He has some really amazing information that you might find interesting. 🙂

    • Food Woolf
      August 5

      I can’t take credit for the term. Robert Schnase, a Methodist minister, came up with the term and wrote the book FIVE PRACTICES OF FRUITFUL CONGREGATIONS in which he speaks about “radical hospitality.” I couldn’t help be adopt it. I love the term, too!

  5. August 5

    I appreciate you being specific and consistent with your message (the need to undergo the process), the thorough system you’ve developed to facilitate it, and the steady/knowledgeable/kind-hearted/professional way you’ve delivered it. Kudos!

    • Food Woolf
      August 5

      Thank you Karim! I thoroughly appreciate your dedicated leadership, integrity, and commitment to your vision. Thank you for bringing me in to help facilitate the visioning process!

  6. Wow. I really needed this, Brooke. Would you fly to NYC and do a visioning workshop with me? You’re so right. To come out with a half-baked idea? Not smart. You basically get one chance to wow people with your business, your idea, etc. Leave the gates strong – know where you’re going. Have a plan. It seems so darn obvious…and yet, it’s so often overlooked or at the very least whizzed through. As always, you inspire, Brooke. Thank you. This is what I needed to hear. Today.

    • Food Woolf
      August 6

      I’m there whenever you need me Maggy. For realz.

  7. August 6

    I knew, from our first cup of coffee together at BLD, that this was your passion, thus your path. You have such clarity about how it should be done yet you don’t advocate it in a way that is authoritative. You do it with love and kindness and practicality. This is why you are the voice of reason when it comes to service. So proud of you, Brooke. You visualized it and now here it is. There is no greater gift in life than doing what you love and getting paid for it! x

    • Food Woolf
      August 6

      Thank you so much Susan. I really appreciate your kind and supportive words. Thanks for believing in me!

  8. Richard
    August 6

    Brooke – you wrote a great argument for using both thinking and feeling skills to follow through on a dream – full of truth about the high value of planning to take the time for real planning. There is an old saying that fits here also: “Well begun is half done.”

    • Food Woolf
      August 10

      Thanks Richard! I’m so glad you enjoyed the piece, identified with it and saw a key piece that needed to be added! Well begun is truly just the beginning.

  9. Dan Gilbert
    August 10

    I have a quick question for you about your site. If you could please get back to me as soon as possible I would greatly appreciate it. Have a great day!


    Dan Gilbert
    Communications Coordinator
    Primrose Schools

  10. Excellent points Brooke!! In my prior career, I had a number of clients who would have benefited tremendously from your expertise!!

  11. […] I am in the business of service. I help restaurant owners and leadership teams focus on their long-term vision for their business, empower staff, and educate teams on how to give great service to customers. The […]

  12. […] As a Service Coach, I observe restaurant teams in action and coach them how to win the game of earning customers for life. I take groups of service professionals from being average–and sometimes minor–players to being highly coveted members of an award-winning team. I help shape natural talent into something special. […]

  13. johanna
    January 9

    thank you for this timely post–EXACTLY when i needed it-

  14. […] want to build for themselves. This book is designed to be a guide that will lead readers through a proven business-building process that allows each individual to define and create a solid infrastructure for a unique and successful […]

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