Prepared for any Contingency
By Don G. Archer
One of the biggest obstacles each of us deal with is our unwillingness to do things that on the surface may seem unpleasant, but will ultimately benefit us. We go to ridiculous lengths to avoid participating in these activities, while simultaneously placing our focus on things that do nothing to advance our business.
As towers we pride ourselves in our ability to prepare for any contingency. Our trucks are equipped with extra straps, plenty of chain, multiple pairs of gloves and a full tank of fuel. When the unexpected happens we want to be ready.
But I have to admit I've fallen.
Partly due to a misunderstanding of the facts, I found myself in over my head and out of my element.
It all started as an innocuous conversation with my wife, Brenda. I was working at my desk when she mentioned that a friend of hers had invited us to an event that was happening in a couple of weeks. Admittedly I was only half-listening, so while in work-mode I agreed.
As the day grew closer, I asked Brenda about the details of the event. This time she was too busy, so all I got was, "Her sons are playing." A clue as to some type of sporting event, I gleaned. I nodded my head and she went on her way.
A few days later I was able to extract more; time of day, and a general location.
Feeling sufficiently prepared, I waited for game day. But I would soon learn that I wasn't prepared at all.
The day of the event came and Brenda was engrossed in an unusual frenzy of activity, shopping, and a three-hour hair appointment; her preparation. All I had to do was pick out a shirt and I was ready.
The time finally came we headed out the door.
We were about an hour into our drive, when I learned that Brenda's friend, the one whose sons were playing, had twin 21-year old boys. They didn't play soccer—they were in a rock band. We were headed to a music festival out in the woods.
We've all been there. A desperate call from an underinsured motorist providing misleading information just to get you to come out and take a look at their smashed car. Upon arrival, you get out of your truck and trudge a thousand yards across a muddy field, then 300' up a once-swollen creek, to find a mangled car wedged beneath a fallen mighty oak. Short of waiting for the vehicle to rust, the only way that thing's coming out is lots of cash or calling out the National Guard.
You had no idea what you were in for and now you've wasted fuel and your time.
After a lengthy discussion about communication, we arrived and settled in, and the first thing I realized was, we should have brought chairs.
No seating was provided and everyone around us had those tailgate fold-out chairs. At a music festival consisting of six bands each playing an hour set, we were going to be standing for a long time.
Secondly I didn't bring any cash. It's 2016 and even guys who drive tow trucks accept credit and debit cards out on the roads. But not here. Entrance to the festival was free; but if you were going to eat or drink anything, you had to have cash. We were out in the woods—so no ATMs.
Frustrated, I tried to make the best of it. We met Brenda's friend and quickly struck up a conversation. Her husband owned his own business and we talked shop for a while. And as it turns out they had brought two extra chairs and a cooler full of drinks and food.
I was then introduced to their friends, one of which owned a dealership.
We talked for a while and made arrangements to talk again, about business.
Overall, we ended up having a great time.
What I'd expected to be a horrendous night in the woods with strangers turned out to be one of the best times of my life. I not only made new business connections—I made new friends.
Although it was a painful experience in the beginning, it did help me to grow. I came away with a better understanding of the value of relationships and making new connections.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 TheTowAcademy.com. Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. E-mail him direct at email@example.com.