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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Tow Expo Dallas
Dallas, TX.
August 17-19, 2017
AT Exposition
Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 17-19, 2017
AT ShowPlace
Las Vegas, NV.
May 9-11, 2018
Don't Miss It!
In his seminar, "Dispatching, GPS and Mapping Innovations," Todd Althouse of Beacon Software will take a look at how a dispatch office has changed in the last 20 years. He'll review modern tools available to dispatchers, such as GPS locations, PTO activity, computer-assisted dispatch for driver recommendations and much more to improve efficiencies. This Management Conference seminar will take place at the American Towman Exposition, November 17-19 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland–register today!

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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingSeptember 13 - September 19, 2017

City, State
RATES
Midwest:
Waterford, MI
$140
(Pop. 72,166)
South:
Auburn, AL
$85
(Pop. 56,908)
East:
Terre Haute, IN
$75
(Pop. 60,785)
West:
Loveland, CO
$135
(Pop. 72,651)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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Eternal Optimist

DSC 2455 1e14fBy DON ARCHER

Mike is a hard-working family man and a Baltimore local can't get on the city's rotation—and he's been trying for more than 40 years.

Will and his son Anthony choose not to be contractually obligated to the motor clubs—and they feel sorry for people who pay for "roadside assistance," thinking they really have something.

Stuart's boss, a tower from a city that'll remain unnamed, is a crook—he's been caught, numerous times, gaming the system; but for some reason he's still allowed to operate.

These are just a few of the towers I met while partaking in the 26th annual American Towman Exposition in Baltimore, Md., this year. And while it may seem that, by mentioning these difficult cases, I'm seeing the glass as half empty—I assure you I'm an optimist.

What else could I be?

Attending Festival Night, I was impressed by the numerous stories of towers overcoming adversity. There was the duo that risked hypothermia and their lives to rescue a motorist from a flood-swollen river, while a sheriff's deputy waited in the warmth of his cruiser. Then there was the Canadian ex-cop-turned-tower, Garry Leach, who almost lost his head when a heavy recovery went way wrong ... causing his rigging to almost do him in. There was another who beat sure-death when he uprighted a wrecked and leaking tanker filled with highly flammable isopropyl alcohol, saving countless lives.

But more than optimistic, I was inspired, proud, and at the same time ... disappointed.

Yes, disappointed.

I was disappointed because, as we honored these, not-so-unusual, towers—towers who risked everything to help the traveling public—I couldn't help but be reminded how we're continually treated as pariahs.

You see, here was a ballroom filled with hard-working men and women who continually sacrifice their time, sleep and sometimes their lives to help motorists—again sacrificing their time to honor fellow towers recognized for the "Simple Act of Bravery." This is done while the traveling public, cities, states and other outside interests do everything they can to cut into our profits—curtailing our ability to respond to their needs in a timely manner.

How can they not see that having a well-trained, well-equipped and motivated assemblage of towers in their town is just as much a matter of public safety as having law enforcement, fire and EMS?

As I listened to each story and told my own, I couldn't help but think that we've got a long way to go. From the new guys running for nothing to the battle-weary looking for the exit, our issues are all over the map. What's a problem for one tower ... is a boon to the next.

How can we begin to move our industry forward without common goals?

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 don@broadwaywrecker.com
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Calculating the Lifetime Value of Customers

1 7cd92By Don G. Archer

Most would agree that the life blood of any business is the ability to quickly and inexpensively acquire new customers. This is especially true in the towing business where customers only need you when they need you.

Studies show it costs between 6-7 times more to gain new customers than to retain existing ones. While it is true that having a steady stream of new customers can have a great impact on your bottom line, knowing how to measure what marketing channels provide the best return on investment and how to increase the lifetime value of each customer can be a little tricky.

To make your marketing work you must weigh cost versus return. For example, if you spend $1,000 per month on radio advertising you need a way to track that investment. This can be done using a dedicated phone number or a special "radio-only" offer. You can then begin to measure what it costs to get customers, which is called your Customer Acquisition Cost, (CAC).

To measure CAC, divide the dollars spent during a specific period of time by the number of new customers generated from your campaign during the same period of time. Let's say that over a six-month period you invested $6,000 and were able to determine that your radio ads generated 300 new customers. Your CAC would then be $20.

To know whether a $20 CAC is a good investment you must first know how much you are profiting from each call. One fast way of doing this is to simply add up all the towing revenue generated throughout the year, subtract your expenses for the year, and then divide that number by the number of tow calls you did for the same period.

Because towing businesses provide a variety of services to a wide range of customers and invoice amounts can vary greatly, the best way to determine profit per tow is to use some sort of towing software that allows you to segment calls into categories (such as motor club calls, cash calls, police calls, etc.) and gives you the ability to apply expenses accordingly.

Here's a formula to use: annual towing business revenue - annual towing business expenses ÷ number of tow calls performed = average profit per tow.

Sample Company: ABC Towing—$1,000,000 Annual Revenue from Towing
Annual Revenue From Towing $1,000,000
(Minus) Annual Towing Expense, Not including radio marketing $600,000
Annual Profit $400,000
(Divided) By Number of Towing Calls Performed 10,000
(Equals) Average Profit Per Tow Call (PPT) $40

Now that ABC Towing knows their average Profit Per Tow (PPT) they can subtract their CAC from the radio ad example above.

Average Profit Per Tow (PPT) $40
(Minus) Radio Ad Campaign (CAC) $20
(Equals) Net Average Profit Per Tow, From Radio Campaign $20

Whereas all ABC Towing's other tows were generating, on average, a $40 profit, due to a $20 CAC the tow calls generated from the radio ad campaign only netted $20 profit. Doesn't look too enticing does it?

Now, let's calculate lifetime value.

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is defined as the projected revenue that a customer will generate over the lifetime of their relationship with your company.

One rough way of estimating average CLV is to look at the amount of times repeat customers have used your services.

For example: If ABC Towing started keeping accurate records five years ago and they have documentation to support that there were 100 repeat customers who used their services an average of six times during that period, then they have a point at which to start. They already know that the average Profit Per Tow (PPT) is $40, so they can assume that the average CLV is $240.

Now that we know that the average profit of gaining a new customer is at minimum $240--then the sting of the cost of customer acquisition doesn't hurt so much.

The next step is customer retention, and we'll tackle that in an ensuing article.

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 don@thetowacademy.com.
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WreckMaster President Justin Cruse said that the WreckMaster Convention will bring together towers from all over North America to provide a unique and beneficial opportunity to broaden knowledge.
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