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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Events
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.
homediv

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 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.
hd-rates

Are You Ready for Paperwork Inspections?

buried.under.paperwork e62aeBy Randall C. Resch

A California tow company owner called me recently, disappointed that his company was being disqualified by the highway patrol. Not because his company didn't meet the tow truck fleet requirements or facility requirements; but because his administrative paperwork was not in order.

He felt the highway patrol tow boss was being too sensitive that the company's paperwork wasn't in the order he expected. He was disgruntled and felt the tow boss was picking on him due to perceived problems from an earlier rotation situation that resulted in his company being suspended.

After listening to him for some time, I came to the opinion that the tow boss may have been justified.

If you're seeking to participate as a first-time rotation tower or if you're a long-time rotation provider, there's tons of paperwork required by the highway patrol. It takes due diligence and attention to detail to stay on top of the paperwork pile.

While applying for any highway patrol or police rotation bid, knowing the amount of paperwork upfront is the difference between acceptance and denial, or acceptance and eventual removal. When required paperwork is lacking or not up-to-date, you're history.

Here's a simple description of what's minimally required for most new applicants or renewal applications:

• Permit Application. Every bid has a date of deadline application in the contract. Most contracts typically do not roll over annually and must be re-submitted every year or when stipulated.

• Driver Lists. Indicates all drivers who will respond to calls for services have completed a LiveScan or acceptable background investigations.

• Tow Operator Training. Proof that all tow operators are sufficiently trained in towing and recovery procedures. Proof of training may include a requirement that tow drivers have attained TIM training separate from tow operator's training.

• Drug Testing. Proof that all responding drivers are enrolled in an employee drug/alcohol protocol.

• Insurance. Company to provide evidence of minimal liability, worker's compensation and business insurance coverages, typically naming the agency as insured.

• Inspections. Proof that each tow truck and flatbed carrier has been inspected by the state and or agency of contract.

• Hours Worked/Logbooks. For companies providing big-rig or upper class tow operations, drivers who spend time behind the wheel must have an accurate accounting of time driving vs. recorded periods of rest.

Paperwork is an endless process that requires complete documentation and archiving. Most likely, each RFP or bid offering will include the requirement that the contracting city or entity has the right to request a review of the company's records with appropriate notice during work hours. There's potential of a surprise paperwork review somewhere down the line.

I believe it's the tow company's responsibility to have and maintain complete, accurate and honest paperwork that's ready for an inspection at any time. Accordingly, if paperwork isn't in order, suspensions of 30 days or more are possible to include possible removal from the contract for violation of performance.

Owners, keep in mind that if you have an operations manager, drivers, manager or shop supervisor you've tasked with keeping paperwork up-to-date, ultimately you still are accountable to ensure that all paperwork is in order. The agency isn't concerned with an excuse that you weren't aware that the paperwork wasn't complete, archived or readily available.

Remember, law enforcement will hold you to a higher standard than other kinds of contracts. It's not a matter of personalities or them not liking you. If you're not playing by the varsity rules, it's your choice. If you're not up-to-date as to what paperwork is required of your company, perhaps it's time to attend some tow coursework or consult your attorney.

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, and is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame.
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