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Where Is The Service Business Going?

Leadership Series
Original "Our Changing World" Radio Transcript, 1964
by Earl Nightingale

I received a telephone call one day and it made me think. I was working in my study and as usual the phone interrupted my work (I was reading the sports section at the time). A charming voice asked, "Is this Mr. Nightingale?"


"Mr. Nightingale, Mr. Spelvin can speak to you now."

I thought it was interesting, Mr. Spelvin must be pretty important. I wondered what he wanted to talk to me about. There was a short but impressive delay at the other end of the line and then a man's voice.

"Mr. Nightingale?"


I do not mind admitting I was pretty excited by this time.

"Mr. Nightingale, this is Mr. Splevin and I believe someone at your house called my office."

I racked my brain and wondered why anyone at my house would call a Mr. Spelvin. I had that feeling of when you should remember someone's name, but can't. So I decided to take an embarrassing chance.

"Mr. Spelvin, could you tell me what type of office you're calling from?"

There was a pause and I began to sense that I had really put my foot in my mouth when he answered.

"I'm the plumber."

"Well then, I have a leak in my basement pipe."

"Okay, I will put you in my schedule and will see you in a few days."

Now I realize plumbers are very important people and without them we would all be up to our necks in problems, but is the service business in this country getting too big for its britches? When the service business gets straightened out, a lot of people are going to fall a long way. A big percentage of them are giving poor service and charging outlandish prices. It cannot last.

In fact, if you are a plumber, electrician, carpenter, TV repair man, an automotive mechanic, painter, or just about anyone in the service industry you could really build a fine and lasting business for yourself simply by providing good old-fashioned excellent service and charging fair prices.

An auto-mechanic went to Florida and started calling on all the people in his new town to ask them if they were happy with the way their cars were being serviced and with the prices they were paying. He then offered to personally take care of their cars on an annual basis—do excellent work—and charge prices for parts and labor that would be honest and fair. To make a long story short, he netted about five hundred dollars his first month in business and went on to become a millionaire.

We have come to accept sloppy, half-hearted, mediocre service in this country which means an honest, hardworking, conscientious person stands out like an elephant in a herd of field mice. Maybe this is your big chance to start providing service like the good old days and build yourself a good business. All you have to do is start operating as though we are in a normal economy where people are only paid for their work measured by its quality and promptness. These days, service is so poor that you could almost go door to door and pick up enough business to get started. The excellent service will encourage enough word of mouth to build your business in a hurry. There are still a lot of fine service people in the country today...but they are a minority. Let's reverse this trend and run those who do not believe out of business.

Earl Nightingale (1921—1989) was once one of the world's foremost experts on success, having been credited for his own personal definition as much as defining 'success' for others. Visit for a most comprehensive range of products and services based on self-development.


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Tuesday, 20 Mar 2018 03:45 AM


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