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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

City, State
Waterford, MI
(Pop. 72,166)
Auburn, AL
(Pop. 56,908)
Terre Haute, IN
(Pop. 60,785)
Loveland, CO
(Pop. 72,651)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.

Principle of Legitimacy cacaeBy DON ARCHER

He hadn't been working for us for very long but within that short period of time he constantly complained about every call he was dispatched to claiming that others were getting the gravy calls while he was stuck with the s---. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Within a few short months he succeeded in ruining one tow truck by filling it with gas instead of diesel, and then driving it he caused an accident at an accident, blaming it on the police on scene. Even after being placed on probation for these violations, he was totally unrepentant and continued to blame everyone around him for his woes.

He wasn't the first ... we've had our bad apples before. They'd slam doors and complain, break things and yell, not answer their phones and make excuses and on and on. But because I reasoned, that I might need this rotten fruit at some point they were allowed to stay. I kept them because (when the SHTF) all men on deck is a necessity. I just sucked up their bad behavior believing that I was the only one being harmed. I was all about getting the job done and my ego could take it.

It took one of the other guys, a longtime employee and friend, to finally break through my thick skull to get me to understand that allowing one employee to continue unscathed after committing numerous infractions was bad on the morale of all the others.

He'd made attempts in the past to get me to understand the importance of this parity. For example, mentioning how unfair it was that bad employee A was allowed to get away with not setting dollies and calling for a flatbed at an accident scene. I'd explain that employee A's behavior had nothing to do with his behavior and question why he was so concerned? After suggesting, ever so politely, that he worry about his own work habits, I'd hustle him out of my office and back to work. Afterwards I'd have a talk with employee A, explaining why what he was doing was unacceptable. He'd nod in the affirmative and I'd feel heard, thinking it was fixed.

But, it turns out, I'm a softy because that talk would last about three days then he'd be right back to screwing up again. Which would mean I had a decision to make: Do I fire him or have another talk in the hopes that it'll take?

Maybe because I'm lazy and don't want to have to go through the trouble of hiring and training a new guy, I usually opted for the talk. But what the other guys saw was an employee being allowed to constantly get away with not doing what they were required to do. I believed I was taking one for the team, sucking it up (and losing a little bit of my soul) ... all for the sake of having the manpower to respond when necessary. I didn't realize I might be alienating a good portion of the manpower needed, in the process.

Recently I read something that reinforced what my friend was attempting to impress upon me. In Malcolm Gladwell's book "David and Goliath," I came across his Principle of Legitimacy. Basically this principle says that for any person or group to grant authority to anyone, all three of these things must be met:
• The people who are asked to obey authority have to feel like they have a voice—if they speak up, they will be heard;
• The law has to be predictable;
• The authority has to be fair. It can't treat one group differently from another.

I was doing none of that. It wasn't that I was purposely ignoring the principle, I just didn't know it existed. I was completely ignorant of what was necessary to gain compliance on a regular basis, basically reacting only when there was a problem instead of putting in place solid guidelines.

I was going about the entire process wrong, telling one group of people that they shouldn't be concerned how management handles an employee who lacks the proper work ethic. And in the process I was probably turning good people away.

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

Selling Your Services

EMD aceb4By Don G. Archer

Over the last two years I've had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of tow company owners looking for a way to grow their business. The one thing that stands out among many of these companies is a lack of attention given to making the sale.

The phone rings and it's a potential customer who is unsure if your company is a good fit. Their concerns are like a wide-open canyon separating what they need from what you provide. Your job as the call-taker/dispatcher is to be a friendly, helpful voice, empathetic to their situation. You want to narrow the gap and let them know that you are on their side.

However, many times this is not what comes across.

While you can't be everybody's best friend, regardless of how many sales opportunities you have each day, making some positive changes to how your phone is answered and how the information is delivered can dramatically affect your ability to close more deals.

Below are a few things you can incorporate into your business to get more sales:

1. Proper Greeting: Have you ever called your accountant or your attorney's office and been greeted with an abrupt phrase like, "accountant," or, "lawyer?" That's just lazy. When answering the phone speak with a genuine upbeat tone and say, "Thank you," then say the name of your towing company. "Good morning, thanks for calling ABC Towing, how can I help?" Some variation of this goes a long way and makes a great first impression.

2. Ask About the Situation: Motorists don't understand how towing works, and what we see as straightforward is foreign to them. Many times they're only concern is the cost, and if you just shoot them a price right off the bat, you might lose them. Asking about the situation lets the motorist know that you care about their plight; additionally, more information may come to light that is helpful, allowing you to make the sale. Learning that their car is at their place of business, but the keys are at another location entirely can lead to you offering to pick up the keys. "You'd do that?"

3. Provide A Solid Price: If they don't know you, chances are they start off not trusting you. Although myriad issues can arise once your tow operator arrives, providing a solid price for the services requested is a must; but don't make your customer do the work. Throwing out enroute mileage costs, tow miles, and hook fees is hard to digest over the phone. After you've gotten all their information and done the work, shoot them your best price and be done.

4. Create a Stranded-Motorist Avatar: Answering the phones all day can be mundane, and sometimes an otherwise happy dispatcher may become listless and uninterested. Creating an image or avatar of someone in need of your services can help them stay engaged for a longer period. How about a woman with a flat tire who's worried that her child might get home from school before she arrives? Or a young mother with a toddler locked inside a car on a hot day. Think about her feelings of shame, guilt and inadequacy.

5. Be Truthful and Follow-up: Always tell the truth and do what you say you are going to do. If you promised to have a tow truck to the customer within a certain timeframe and you can see that it's not going to happen, give them a heads-up prior to the expected arrival time. Explain what happened and provide an updated ETA. If you're telling the truth, most of the time they'll understand; but if you're being less than truthful, that's when problems can arise.

If you want to differentiate your business from the competition and make more sales, taking control of the front lines of communications is a must. It is said that 38 percent of the believability of face-to-face communication has to do with your tone of voice—how much do you suppose tone matters over the phone?

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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