Don't Hide Your Gold
By DON ARCHER
On more than one occasion, it's been mentioned that what I write about the towing industry may help my competition. It's not quite a scold or a reprimand, but a curious attempt to understand my motives.
I admit that on occasion I wonder if I've gone too far. Will my competition be able to take what I've written and run with it—to my detriment?
But, then I'm reminded of Aesop's fable of the miser. The short version: A guy sold all he had and bought a lump of gold. To keep it safe, he buried it deep in a hole and did nothing with the gold. One day he went to the burial spot and someone had dug up his gold; it was gone. He became upset and pulled out his hair.
A neighbor attempted to console him by suggesting that he find a rock, bury it in the hole, and pretend it was the gold. He reasoned that the rock would do just as good as the gold would, since he hadn't invested it in anything.
I think our unwillingness to talk about our business is akin to hiding our gold in the hole.
I believe when we're open about our industry and honestly discuss the problems and opportunities that exist, we're making an investment. It may take decades to see a return; however, it's one that will eventually result in an industry that millions perceive is as valuable as others in the public safety arena.
When we talk about the challenges we face in the industry, it alerts our competition to things they might not have considered. Sure, this may give them a shortcut or upper hand, but it's also slowly moving the ball forward.
What do I mean by that?
When we move the ball forward, such as teaching tow operators that it's no longer acceptable to have a surly attitude when dealing with paying customers, it's like clearing the forest floor so that only quality trees can grow.
Customers will eventually come to expect a higher level of service. When customers continually expect a higher level of service, they'll respect us more ... and despise us less.
When some towers refuse to provide this now-expected higher level of service, they'll wither on the vine. Those who want to continue in the business will make the necessary changes, thrive and grow. Our industry will then move forward.
Many are skeptical. They hear what I'm saying, but don't believe change will ever happen. They can't see it, because they believe the forest floor is littered with those who will take their gold should they mention its existence.
Why give anyone information? How's that going to help me?
As far as I see, there are two choices: Sit tight-lipped with fear or open up and see where it takes you.
There's one thing you can be sure of in life, and that's change.Don Archer lives and works in Jefferson City, Mo., where he and his wife, Brenda, own and operate Broadway Wrecker, a 12-truck operation that's been in business since the 1950s. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.