thinking has been responsible for a large part of the world's more successful
ventures - ranging from small-time operators to the corporate and university
scale. The "War Years" were notably difficult for a lot of businesses not
directly involved in wartime production and/or service due to the shortage of
supplies and workers. Radio News magazine and others of the era printed
many stories to both inform and encourage electronics industry participants.
This October 1945 story tells of how radio service and sales shop owner Pat
Murphy, of Carthage, New York, devised a system to successfully tap an otherwise
avoided customer base - rural farm and home owners. His scheme made a lot of
people happy and provided a source of income to others as a reward for
facilitating the endeavor. "Reaching the Ruralist" is a great, short read.
Reaching the Ruralist
"Tell Alvin to keep up the chatter - I think we're getting to
the root of the trouble."
By John Latimer
How a rural serviceman maintained a profitable enterprise regardless of wartime
Pat Murphy, Carthage, New York, goes after the rural inhabitants - rather than
the city folks. It's true that he can't personally visit the farm house to service
an offending farm radio, but he does the next best thing.
He has arranged with a nearby feed mill to allow farmers to leave radios needing
service attention there. Murphy visits the mill once weekly, picks up the ailing
sets, repairs them and returns them to the mill for pickup by the farmer. The farmer
pays the miller who, in turn, turns over the money collected to radioman Murphy.
Murphy pays the miller 5% on all money collected - not an unfair commission, nor
an extravagant one. Murphy and the feed dealer have a cooperative advertising setup
as well. On all postcards and direct mailing pieces the miller sends out - mention
is always made of the fact that radio repair can be speedily arranged for at the
Murphy uses a series of radio spots just before arid after the daily noon-time
farm program. In addition he parks his service-shop truck at the public market thrice
weekly in the spring and summer. Farmers bringing produce to sell can lug along
their radios for prompt service.
He is the first radioman in this section of the country to build up a wartime
business in farm intercommunication sets. He has actually designed and constructed
to meet individual farmhouse specifications over a score of such setups with outlets
in farmhouses, barns, and other strategic farm points. Murphy sends each farmer
a letter outlining the advantages of a "farm radio hookup" and follows up the letter
with a personal visit to the farmhouse. He spends one full day a week in paying
visits to farmers - the purpose of which is to persuade them to install an "inter-communication
outfit" with all the trimmings. Also he has been an enthusiastic seller of "radio-ear"
units, to place in the barn so that intruders would be spotted with ease. He secured
a large number of such items just after the war broke out and consequently can still
Murphy does provide credit for the farmer on all radio service. Half of the service
bill must be paid when the set is returned, and the balance in 2 or 4 weekly installments,
depending upon the amount outstanding. To date Murphy reports he has lost less than
5% due to poor credit risks. In many instances farmers place their radio service
bill on their feed account. Under this plan the feed dealer pays Murphy spot cash
and lets his rural customers pay him as they can.
Murphy finds that a "record rental library" works well for him. He rent a collection
of 50 records to a farm family - 2 weeks for $1.50, 4 weeks for $2.50. 100 records
are loaned out - $2.50 for a fortnight, $4.00 for a full month. Murphy has several
thousand records on hand which he purchased for a few pennies each in past years.
Rental of these platters to ruralist assures him of a small and steady profit and
at the same time provide him with an entry into their homesteads.
This radioman has a bulletin board in his shop on which are placed photographs
of rural lads and lassies in the service. Farm folk come into the servicenter on
Saturdays and weekends to leave photos of their loved ones for insertion on the
board and also to inspect its contents.
He changes the board's photographic display every other week. He finds it a source
of steady store traffic so far as rural patronage is concerned.
Each rural service patron is provided with an itemized list of all repairs made
and the date of such repairs - stamped in so that no changes can be made. The farmer
must bring or send in that invoice the next time the set refuses to play. If the
cause for the set's defunct condition is traced to any item listed on a previous
invoice and the interval between service calls is less than thirty days the second
repair session is free. A 30-day period is all that Murphy can guarantee, what with
the quality of replacements he's getting these days.
Murphy has an unusual sideline worth mentioning - the rental of 16-mm. motion
projectors and accompanying films. Because his is a small town, there is no photographic
dealer available. Murphy has a number of 16-mm. projectors and several sound outfits.
Farmers can rent either silent or sound installations for a week at very reasonable
rates. With country roads as they are, Murphy finds that farm families enjoy holding
several brief, but entertaining shows on their premises during a "snowed-in" period.
Also Murphy cooperates with the local Farm Bureau who will loan the farmer agricultural
films while Murphy provides the visual sound apparatus.
He also makes sound movies of farms which can be shown later on and as
a matter of record has made a dozen or more such epics during recent months. A number
of farmers band together and finance such a "celluloid record" of the "farm front."
Summing it up, radioman Murphy makes his living from "down on the farm" and is
doing nicely at it. Farmers need radios in tip-top operative condition so that they
can keep up with news, weather, and crop reports. Murphy provides efficient radio
service to meet this situation.
Posted December 8, 2021