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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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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
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.

Promoting the Right [b]Mindset to Advance Skills

images 47a9dBy Don Archer

I watched a friend and skilled tow operator walk out the door and onto greener pastures. I now had a position to fill.

That's when Charles walked through my door.

Charles was a 20-something kid who had no problem asserting his confidence. In first-date fashion, he put on a show that said he was happy with everything he'd achieved in life, so far.

But anyone within a mile could tell that he was as unsure as an out-of-work high school graduate with no plans for college.

He sat in my office and we talked. I had a job, and he needed one. He spoke quickly, telling me of the varied jobs he'd held. He worked in a zoo, delivered papers, worked at a Subway restaurant, and most recently was laid-off from his job as a heavy-equipment operator.

It was good that he held a Class A license, but I'd seen other hopefuls come in excited for the opportunity; and after getting a taste of towing 30,000-lbs., they'd be gone.

The Class A license could mean many things. It could mean that you could stand the rigors and boredom of an over-the-road trucker. It could mean that you knew how to push dirt, break rocks or drive a dump truck. Yes, most likely it meant that you could drive a heavy wrecker.

But it most certainly didn't mean that you were qualified to be a key player in incident management, perform recoveries, and tow with a heavy. To do that you needed a particular skill-set.

In most cases, it can be taught.

I gave Charles a chance, because I knew that if I could provide the proper training and promote the right mindset, he'd develop the necessary skill-set to fill the job. At least that's what I hoped.

What is the right mindset?

Psychologist Carol Dweck believes that everyone has one of two basic mindsets: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A person with a fixed mindset believes that their talents and abilities are fixed in stone and cannot be improved. A growth mindset believes that talents and abilities can be learned over time.

Charles offered some clues.

First, he told me about the various jobs he'd held: working at a zoo, delivering papers, and fast food. The willingness to learn from job to job was a good start. The choice to go in a completely opposite direction, get a Class A license and drive heavy equipment told me that he wasn't afraid of a challenge.

Lastly, the mere fact that he was able to summon up the guts to walk through my door told me something. It told me that either he had no idea what he was getting himself into, or he was willing to learn and try something new again.

A willingness to learn was all I needed.

A person with a fixed mindset has the ability to change to a growth mindset, according to Dweck. A tow operator who believes that he's just a rollback driver and does nothing to step outside that role and grow can still make a change with proper urging.

Proper urging is properly educating and training, coupled with the belief that the person being trained will absorb the material. A hands-off—but watchful eye—approach.

That was my plan for Charles.

But, I have a confession to make.

When I first started training employees, I didn't know anything about different mindsets. I'd take a new guy and show him how things worked. I'd explain everything as best I could and expect him to get it. When he didn't immediately get it, I'd repeatedly step in and do it for him rather than let him figure it out for himself.

Training him that way wasn't exactly wrong; however, I would do it in a gruff manner. When it took him more than a few tries to get it, I'd become frustrated and it showed.

I eventually realized my mistake. When I impatiently stepped in, I was unintentionally reinforcing my trainee's belief in his own ineptitude. I was relaying the message that I didn't think he could do it right.

Change didn't come easy for me, but the value I got out of promoting and cultivating a growth mindset in everyone helped them develop the necessary skill sets. It also created empowered employees that became confident in themselves because of the confidence I held in them.

Charles worked out. He not only turned into one of my best tow truck operators, but also became a good friend.

Don G. Archer and his wife, Brenda, own and operate Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. Don is also multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country. E-mail him direct at


Hiring Smart: Making the Change

Millenials cfa70By Randall C. Resch

What changes can you make to your company's attractability to meet the needs of today's emerging generations?

In today's market of technology, higher education and specialization, towing and recovery is destined to fall short like all other hands-on trades. Accordingly, there must be some kind of creativity in hiring, or tow companies will suffer. While it may sting a little to meet the change, it's something tow owners should openly evaluate for their future.

"Forbes" magazine estimates a full 86 million millennials will fill the workplace by 2020. That number represents an estimated 40 percent of the total working population.

Work values and expectations differ for sure. As far as millennials are concerned, consider these four expectations:

1. Millennials want shared responsibility. Millennials have a sense of entitlement looking for opportunities to advance. Does your company provide employees a chance to take on responsibility and find success on a micro level before moving on to larger roles? Can you offer potential growth?

2. Support for work and life balance. Millennials describe an unwillingness to sacrifice off-work time or to make other lifestyle compromises in return for pay. They argue that they've watched their boomer parents delay happiness in return for career advancement; a concept they're not willing to accept for themselves. For them, career satisfaction must be nearly instant.

3. Let them work for an ethical organization. If run in a proper and acceptable manner, your tow company should be recognized in your community as competent, professional and ethical.

4. Millennials seek ongoing feedback. Management should provide open communications via an open-door policy offering frequent face-to-face contact between employee and employer.

Millennials also have simple expectations:

• 72 percent would like to be their own boss. If they must work for a boss, 79 percent would want their boss to serve more as a skills coach or mentor. While I like the idea of mentorship, this industry demands applicants who are self-starters and capable of producing with minimal supervision.

• 88 percent prefer a collaborative work culture, rather than a competitive one, by balancing focus and partnership. They're geared toward working on individual tasks and gathering with colleagues to brainstorm and interact in a group setting. However, for small tow companies with one dispatcher and a few tow operators, working separately and alone is the industry's nature. Rarely are there opportunities to collaborate except for special projects or employee safety meetings.

• 74 percent want flexible work schedules. The towing and recovery work environment is based on 24/7 availability; flexible schedules are difficult based on minimal staffing requirements of contracts and accounts.

• 64 percent desire to make the world a better place. While that's a noble consideration, our industry's service is oftentimes challenged for necessity, ethics and professionalism.

• 88 percent want "work-life integration," which isn't the same as work-life balance, since work and life for (them now) blend together intimately.
Don't Follow the Leader

I've watched tow owners follow the path of others with stifled pay because that's what the competition does. While that may be a solid practice to follow by testing the waters, there's nothing wrong with developing a pay and benefits packet that's better than what the competition is paying. Offering higher pay and benefits is a way to attract potential employees.

Obviously, your company's good reputatiton should precede itself, and be backed by favorable reasons to come to work. Because the workforce now sees baby boomers leaving and other generations gaining momentum, there's got to be new strategies in meeting their needs.

To learn what the emerging workforce desires may be key to creative hiring for the future. Understanding these needs are crucial for tow companies wishing to grow. If the industry doesn't change and adapt to meet the desires of these emerging generations, tow businesses are destined to flounder and die.

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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