Do we want Ironton to simply survive or truly thrive?

Published 11:49 pm Saturday, March 10, 2012

I know that Ironton is in a real tough spot right now and I don’t envy the council at all for having to make some hard decisions about the fate of our city. I really do feel for them.

As I reflect on the issues that the city is presently having, I cannot help but reflect on a similar struggle that my dad and I had with our Johnny on the Spot business years ago.

After our Johnny on the Spot business had survived the poor economy of the 1980s, the business was in the “survival” mindset instead of the proactive, “offense type” business mindset for a number of years.

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We thought that it was a way of business life in Ironton to just “keep the wolves away from the door.”

We did everything that we could to cut corners and make payroll and keep the lights on and did not spend much at all trying to grow, invest in high caliber people, invest in good equipment etc.

Why? Because we thought that we could not afford to spend the money because times were hard and we did not have the money to spend.

When actually, years later reflecting back on it, we couldn’t afford not to spend the money and grow and be proactive and aggressive.

I can say with a fair amount of certainty that Johnny on the Spot would be closed today if we had not changed our business mindset to one of an “offensive” position.

Johnny on the Spot, a 60-year-old company, has grown 800 percent in the past 14 years that it has been applying this new business model. This 800 percent does not include the other spin-off business opportunities that have presented themselves because of this proactive mindset.

We now realize that your employees and your customers will respect you more if you:

1) Insist on a fair price instead of a discounted rate.

2) Give your customer at least as much or more than they expect.

3) Don’t be afraid to insist that your employees work and always pay them well and see that their quality of life improves as the business grows

4) Set rules for your employees and then make sure that management enforces those rules (believe it or not the employees will really respect you more for holding them accountable)

5) Have pride in your business.

6) Don’t be afraid to take on any opportunity that makes sense when it presents itself.

The quality of life for all of us who work at Johnny on the Spot improved and we had a lot more people (new customers) interested in us once we started following these rules. We lost no, or very few, existing customers when we imposed these new rules.

Your employees and customers will be happier with you as a business owner and respect you more if you give them good equipment to use and provide the best service around.

Ironton City Council, the citizens of Ironton are your customers. I think that in the long run the citizens will be much happier with and much more proud of their town if they are charged a fair price for the services that the city provides.

The Ironton city employees will have more respect for management and will take more pride in their jobs if you expect more out of them and give them firm rules by which they are to work and conduct themselves.

Make sure that the city managers enforce the rules. Managers are leaders. That is what a leader’s job is, to hold people accountable.

I truly hope that this analogy/comparison between the business issues that we at Johnny on the Spot faced years ago and the issues that the city is having now helps in some way.

I truly don’t want this note to be taken as anything but sincere constructive advice.

Good luck to the council. I don’t envy their position and the decisions that they are faced with making.

Robert Slagel