The Week's Features
Agency finds using four tie-downs for light vehicles sufficient
Johnson's Heavy Towing creates a novel idea for unit
Agent's work helps stop Georgia crime spree
Trailer is 54' when open, 32' 6" when retracted
Truck goes over an embankment and is recovered in Texas
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingMay 15 - May 22, 2017

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How Do You Achieve Safety Compliance?

floridasafety 5a2beBy Randall C. Resch

I'm always watching the actions of tow operators to see what they're doing that's acceptable and what they're doing wrong. I consider it a self-test in towing and recovery awareness and make it a learning lesson in arrival assessment to see how I would have responded to the same or similar situation.

On one such occasion near Louisville, Ky., a tower had his carrier tilted and readied to winch a vehicle onto the carrier. His customer was standing on the traffic-side talking on his phone. At the moment I drove past, I immediately observed a number of infractions to the way I felt this tow operator should have been conducting safe load techniques.

1. Tower was working the traffic-side controls
2. Customer not secured; he was also on the traffic-side
3. Tower was not wearing an ANSI III vest
4. Tower also was talking on his cellphone at same time loading operations were taking place

These are typical problems that are commonly demonstrated by America's towers. I believe they occur for three specific reasons.

One, the towman might be a one-owner company who makes his own rules as he goes along. Two, the towman is away from company management. Thirdly, there's no written company policy and procedure that prohibits these kinds of towman violations.

When I got back to my office, a quick internet search turned up a tow operator fatality with exactly the same details.

In February 2005, a 34-year-old Michigan tow operator was attempting to load a vehicle onto his carrier. As he stood at the traffic side controls, he allegedly was talking on his cellphone while in process of working the winch.

In that one moment of time, a DUI left the roadway and traveled into the right-hand shoulder first striking the disabled vehicle and continuing on to strike the tow operator.

The tower was pronounced dead at the scene.

Every company policy and procedure manual or employee handbook must specifically address actions by tow operators. Policy narratives must state the company's requirements as it applies to a driver and an employee work actions.

Beyond what's written in PPMs and employee handbooks, management should be constantly monitoring tow operator safety. Safety is a primary topic that starts at the top of company ownership and should be aggressively passed down through every employee and tow operator. In order to gain company-wide compliance, management must:

1. Ensure that the attitude of consistent and ongoing safety is solid and required
2. Write and deliver effective safety policy
3. Demand safety compliance of all employees
4. Hold all employees accountable
5. Initiate disciplinary actions to employees who fail to adhere to company policies and procedures

While it's known that not all employees can be entrusted to follow policy to the letter, gaining compliance is a function for managers and supervisors to instill in subordinates. But, if yours is a small company, you must take time to see what your drivers are doing when they're in the field.

Every tower, regardless of position must be aware of company policy and procedure. A big part of that is setting the tone through setting an example that exudes safety. If it's not clearly written in the company rules and guidelines, how can you expect compliance?

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line. Randall was inducted into the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame in 2014.

Reacting to Incorrect Data

adwords 8defbBy Don G. Archer

Our flight from Las Vegas to Denver took longer than it was supposed to; this put my wife and I in a pinch for time. We'd just landed and learned that our next flight was already boarding.

We walked as fast as we could down the concourse, dodging oncoming traffic and passing other slower moving folks. Out of nowhere comes this pregnant lady pushing a stroller. She just wheeled around us like her plane was on the runway waiting. With not a word spoken between us, my wife and I instantly stepped up the pace.

Something primal caused us to react to this obvious affront to our abilities. Catching our flight now took a backseat to keeping up with "Super Mom."

When choosing a course of action, the human brain has been conditioned over millions of years to rely on wide and varied sources of information. External and internal data is presented to us; but rather than looking at the facts, we often let our ego take over and react out of fear. Fear of getting old, fear of loss—or fear of letting "Super Mom" beat you.

With towmen, this fear can manifest itself in many ways. Fear of not being able to meet customer demand might cause us to retain help that should be let go. Fear of damages may cause us to not allow eager, competent young operators to expand their horizons and do more recoveries. Fear of being burned in regards to marketing may cause us to recoil at any mention of AdWords, or social media marketing.

With the demise of Yellow Pages advertising, AdWords is now one of the most cost-effective ways to get your phone ringing. Many towers shy away from it because they think it doesn't work. We've been let down and lied to so many times that many of us have started to believe that the whole thing is a scam. If you're gun-shy because of this, you might be allowing the fear of being "taken again" to keep you from benefitting in this arena.

As with any marketing medium there are challenges with AdWords. I hear them all the time. It's not worth it because of: out-of-the-area calls, "Do you have my car?" calls, and complaints of "My competitors keep clicking on my ads."

If you're having these challenges, they can be very frustrating; but with proper campaign optimization and ad placement you can still see a return on your investment.

Rather than spending your time frittering about who's clicking on your ads, you should use one of Google AdWords' reports to determine if your campaign is actually working. What you really want to know is if the $2,000 you spent in March actually brought in $5,000 in revenue.

AdWords' Call Details Report provides the date and time of the call, the time it was initiated and terminated, the duration of the call and the area code of the caller. Google doesn't give us everything we wish it would, but if you use this report in conjunction with an elementary call-tracking system, you can know if you're making money.

Regardless of the system or software you use to record calls, you can easily use it and the Call Details Report to perform an audit on your AdWords campaign:

1. For every completed call, record the time it was received (a completed call is one where money is exchanged for services rendered.)

2. Record the phone number of the caller.

3. Record the dollar amount paid for services received.

4. Then daily, weekly or monthly, check your completed calls against the information provided in the AdWords Call Details report.

5. Match the area codes and call times on the Call Details report against what you've recorded previously

6. Use this information to determine the exact amount of revenue received from your campaign during that period

7. Then compare your revenue to your ad expenditure for the same time period. This will definitively let you know if it's working or not.

Now you're in the driver's seat.

If your campaign isn't working and you're spending more than you're getting back, now's not the time to throw the baby out with the bath water. There may be changes that can be made to turn this thing around.

American Towman Field Editor-Midwest Don G. Archer is also a multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. E-mail him direct at
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