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Service That Leads to Early Retirement

A few days ago, I was tasked with the duty of selling my aunt’s car. She has now reached an age where driving is no longer safe (for her, or for anyone else within a block’s radius) and so I agreed to take care of fixing it up and finding a buyer. But I soon realized that before I put it up for sale, it needed a good cleaning—in fact, it needed a remarkable cleaning.

A few days later, I dropped by a detail shop near my office to arrange a cleaning appointment, hoping the process would be quick and easy. Once inside, a receptionist and several employees lingered about in the waiting room and just looked at me as I explained that I wanted to set up a time for my car to be detailed. The receptionist shrugged and told me she didn’t have access to the schedule, that I would have to call the owner to get more information. Seeing the confusion on my face, she then glanced back at one of her coworkers sitting in the waiting room—but he didn’t know the schedule either. “We’re busy,” he said. “He needs to call Fred.”

I thanked them and left with no intention of calling Fred. What kind of detail shop hires a receptionist that can’t help me get my car detailed? Safe to say, it wasn’t a very good first impression.

Frustrated, I decided to call a guy who had detailed cars for me in the past. I remembered he had always done a great job, though it had been years since I called him and I had no idea if he was even still in business. But I tracked down his number anyway and gave him a call. I wasn’t even sure if he would remember me, but before I could even ask about his business, Sheldon greeted me enthusiastically.

“Kevin! Is that you? How the heck are you, man? It’s been a long time! How is the family? How are your restaurants? It’s great to hear from you!”

After a few moments of filling him in on life, I asked if he was still detailing cars.

“Man, I don’t really need to do that anymore,” Sheldon told me. “I picked up several large corporate accounts and actually am considering retiring soon.”

That surprised me—how on earth could someone do so well washing cars to be able to retire so young? Before I could ask, he went on.

He told me he would come clean my car. Despite my protest that he didn’t have to, that I could find someone else, he pushed on.

“Nobody does it like me!” he said. “I’m coming tomorrow morning. Where will you be?”

We arranged a time and place to meet and the next morning he showed up right on time. Before he even got started, he asked me again about my life and we laughed as we chatted about our children and reminisced about old times. Then he went about the much-needed cleaning of my aunt’s Dodge Caliber.

Sheldon worked on it for over four long hours in the heat before calling me and letting me know it was finished. When I arrived, I was amazed. It was beyond clean—it was sparkling! He even detailed the engine compartment and made it look brand new. He gave me advice on how to sell it, suggested a price, and told me about the Mercedes he had bought new and sold himself.

Again, I thought to myself how crazy it sounded that he could afford a Mercedes by washing cars. It doesn’t seem possible—but evidently, it is… If you treat customers the way he treated me. I even paid him $25 more than what he asked for. Why was I willing to do that?

Because he wasn’t being just a car detailer, he showed genuine care for his customer and his service was simply remarkable.

You might think of yourself as just a restaurant employee or just a retail worker. But Sheldon just washed cars—and he made great things happen for others and for himself.

I want to be remarkable like Sheldon. How about you?

What are some ways we can be remarkable at work?