The Week's Features
Tow Expo Dallas' winning trucks are highlighted
Towman Scott Shover is being called "a guardian angel"
Redi-Letters' lighted signs easily mount on wreckers
Suspending auto repos of clients impacted by Hurricane Harvey
Or, do government controls actually work?
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingSeptember 13 - September 19, 2017

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Damages vs. Hold Harmless Agreements

judge fda76By Randall C. Resch

Many scenarios aren't ordinary load-and-go operations, and there's always potential for secondary damage. When it comes to working the beyond-the-norm scenarios we're commonly faced with, the need to obtain a signed Hold-Harmless Agreement is sometimes necessary before working on someone's car or beginning that difficult recovery.

While I feel HHAs are a necessary evil, they often hold little to no value in court.

One incident in the news reported, "When we contacted (names deleted), a spokesperson told us the company isn't responsible, but, then agreed to, 'cover 100-percent of the costs of the damage sustained to the car as a result of the towing,' calling it, 'a unique case.' "

What does that tell you? Why would the insurance company pay if this resulting situation were cut and dry?

The consumer's attorney in this claim told reporters, "It was the insurance company's decision on who to hire to come out and tow the vehicle. So they should be responsible." He thinks the motorist's insurance company should help her out because, "After all, they hired the tow company."

If you require a motorist to sign a HHA, they typically cry to a judge that they were coerced into signing the document only to get their car off a rock. The owner knew the possibilities going into this and agreed. Why should the tower be responsible for a compromised vehicle?

I believe vehicle owners have a right to choose or deny service. From the rock scenario, I believe the tower made sufficient up-front, verbal warnings regarding the hazards of recovery. Could their recovery methods have been conducted in a different manner? Perhaps, but that's only part of this argument. I don't pass judgment on the tower's techniques, as I wasn't there.

While HHAs aren't overly effective, I've used them as a component of my honest and truthful testimony. Additionally, I've presented a signed HHA as secondary evidence to my testimony that I provided explicit warning to the vehicle's owner. I don't rely only on signed agreements, but also testify that I made my customer fully aware of all "what if's" long-before a hold-harmless was ever discussed.

If, at some point, a judge asks your side of the story, be adamant regarding your honest and complete explanation as to what you advised your customer regarding potential damages. The HHA is one component of the vehicle owner's understanding and subsequent agreeing with you before work ever commences. To me, that's a reasonable and prudent way to conduct business without creating that "I got bullied into signing" syndrome.

Author's Note: This opinion isn't intended to be legal representation. It's recommended you contact your company's counsel as it relates to your business operations and hold-harmless agreements before any situation arises.

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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