Do you remember when…

Do you remember when an attendant, often the owner, cheerfully pumped gas, cleaned windshields, checked oil, fluids and tire pressure, and emptied ashtrays? If something was wrong with the car an affordable mechanic in the back would take a look at that, too. Full Service

Full service meant exactly what was advertised: Full service!

Then came self-service stations in the mid-’70s and the business model changed. At first, stations offered self-service at the pump at a slight discount, but it wasn’t long before all of the services of the local “Service Station” disappeared, making not only the gasoline attendant obsolete but also the automobile expert who offered the routine mini car-physical.

I wonder, “Is self service really cheaper?”

Many industries have suffered from this devolution to self-service.  Even real estate companies have tried self-service or limited service plans.  Companies like have cut services to the point where the only service offered is placing your home on the electronic website or into the MLS, leaving the sellers to do the balance of the job.  Well, this self-service method didn’t work for the founder of, Colby Sambrotto!  Josh Barbanel reported in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal titled: “DIY Guru Gets Help from Broker”.  Mr. Sambrotto eventually resorted to hiring a full service real estate broker after his own “self-service” company failed to get the job done. He spent six months trying his own system then finally gave up and decided “Full Service” might work better. As a result, the full-service broker sold Mr. Sombrotto’s condo for $150,000 more than the list price Sombrotto had previously offered through his “self-service” company!

Yes, I miss full service gas stations.  I loved my windows being washed, my hands being gas-smell free, oil and tires being checked and the privilege to ask the attendant, “What’s that funny noise I’m hearing in the front end”?  I wonder, “If someone were to check my car’s oil and tire pressure every time I filled up, would it pay for the higher price at the pump?  Would I get better mileage and wear from properly inflated tires?  Would unanticipated mechanical problems be caught by an expert’s mini-physical?  And… would the investment of a few cents at the pump actually save me money in the long run?”

I don’t know about the cost-return analysis on full service gasoline, but as Mr. Sombrotto can attest, a full service Realtor® is certainly worth the investment!

Established in 1906 as a full service real estate company Coldwell Banker has provided over a century of service to be remembered. “Full service” in 1906 and “full-service” today!  For service to be remembered contact a Realtor® at Coldwell Banker Bain.


About Bob Call

Robert M. Call, RB, CRS, GRI
Principal Managing Broker, CB Bain South Sound Region

First licensed in 1973, Bob has been a salesman, a managing broker, a broker owner, a fee appraiser and a property manager.

Bob is a past president of the Tacoma-Pierce County Association of Realtors (1996) and the Tacoma Multiple Listing Service (1992). In 1993 and in the year 2000 the Tacoma-Pierce County Association of Realtors acknowledged him as the "Realtor of the Year". Professionally Bob is accredited as a Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB), a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) and a Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI). In addition, he is a certified DRS Mediation officer.

  • Diedre

    I love this Bob! I too miss the days of full service and I think the majority of people do. If I travel into Oregon I will put off buying gas until I am over the border because they pump it for me, and will do all of the other things you mention if I ask. and yes, I am convinced that for most the full service model in real estate is far better for the consumer!

  • Ron Sparks

    Great blog Bob…there has been such a big push to reduce service in the interest of lowering cost over the past 10-15 years, we’re truly begining to reach the point of dimishing return.  I recently read where many supermarkets are doing away with “self-checkout” lines, and instead converting them back to full-service lanes.  Service, convenience, expertise and advocacy is most often worth the investment.

  • Debra Trappen

    Fabulous post, Bob.  When I went back to visit my Gram in the Midwest last year I actually experienced the exact Full-Service experience you described above, tire pressure check and all… it was wonderful. Especially considering it was snowing (with 3+ feet of snow already on the ground)… all during a wind storm!   I am definitely with Diedre, I always wait to fill up in Portland when I am near the OR border too!