The Week's Features
Three-time cancer survivor is doing what he loves
App, web-based service provides lien-holder contact information
Digital Recognition Network CEO lays out company's vision
Unit designed to bring greater awareness to Move Over law
Buddy's gets farmer's tractor with corn silage in open field
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Join Mike Stevens of AAA Texas for foundational training on lockout basics with a focus on damage prevention. Topics include: basic lockout guidelines, discussion of locking mechanisms, safety around airbags and more. It will take place as part of the Towing & Recovery Conference taking place at Tow Expo Dallas, August 17-19, 2017 at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas.
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingAugust 23 - August 29, 2017

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Bronx, NY
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Charlotte, NC
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Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.

Your Presence Via Inclusion

sleepinonjob dde4cBy DON ARCHER

When I was growing up I had to put up with many things including "the rules," like, 1) don't talk back; 2) be nice to you little brother, and the big one; 3) treat others the way you'd like to be treated.

One thing I learned is that treating others the way you'd like to be treated is the only way to go. You see, when you do unto others the way you'd like to be done unto, most of the time you're much better off.

In the towing business, that starts with the first ring of the phone. Imagine that you're the guy on the other end—let's call him Bob. Bob is calling because he locked his keys in his car and needs help. If you were Bob, you'd want to talk to someone who's concerned with your needs, someone who believes and practices Rule Three.

Bob found you by way of your Google pay-per-click ad, and he's ready to buy ... maybe. Before he agrees to have you come out, he's got a few questions. Bob's got options—a lot of them.

He could call the 800 number on his insurance card and use his roadside assistance. He could go right back to Google and choose someone else who unlocks cars. Or, if you treat him with care, concern, and respect, you'll have the privilege of servicing him and accepting his money.

So what are Bob's questions?

Bob is in a hurry and wants to know how long it'll take to get service and how much it's going to cost; two very reasonable questions. He's used his roadside insurance in the past; but it's taken over an hour to get service, so he's exploring alternative routes. He's willing to pay out-of-pocket if it'll save him some time. But if the cost is prohibitive, he'll call the 800 number and wait.

Here's your opportunity to reap what you've sewn through years of hard work and ad dollars spent—and all you have to do is practice Rule Three.

However, you're not there.

It's 8 p.m. and you're paying a dispatcher to answer phones who may or may not care about Bob's plight. Sure, when you're around, the customer comes first. But as soon as you walk out the door, she's texting, on Facebook, or watching a movie on Netflix ... and a customer's call is merely an annoyance—a distraction from her nightly agenda.

Bob asks, "How long will it take to have a driver come out?"

Your dispatcher responds, "Not long."

Bob asks, "How much will it cost?"

Your dispatcher says, "$35 plus mileage."

It doesn't sound like the dispatcher is treating Bob like she'd like to be treated does it? Unless she prefers to receive ambiguous answers to questions that are important to her, the answer is no.

Having dealt with minimum wage workers and hard-hearted receptionists in city government before, Bob tries again. He explains, "You see I have roadside assistance; but if you guys can get here pretty soon, I'll just pay you instead of calling them."

The dispatcher's response: "Okayyyy..."

Bob: "So about how long will it take to get someone out?"

Dispatcher: "Not long, sir."

Bob: "OK, I'll call back."

He's not calling back.

"Not long" is not a measure of time, it is a non-answer that might as well mean "We'll get to you when we get to you." And when you fail to give an exact price, for something as simple as a lockout, you're inviting your potential customer to have thoughts of "bait and switch." Not a good way to start a relationship.

As the owner, the fix is simple. When you're operating under Rule Three and Bob asks "How long?" and "How much?," you ask his location, determine where your available drivers are, estimate the amount of time it will take and mileage you'll charge (taking into consideration traffic and other factors), and you give him a price and a timeframe.

But again, you're not there-—and you don't want to have to be. You want to go home and get some supper and relax without the constant ringing of phones. So, you put up with more than you should. You put up with employees who don't care.

There is a solution that doesn't include yelling and firing. However, you must employ it proactively. You've got to include everyone in the company in your plans for success. When they know why Rule Three is important, and how it directly affects sales and directly affects their employment status, they'll come around.

Including everyone in your plans for success means developing key performance indicators, and showing how the work that each employee does influences the outcome of those indicators. Key performance indicators are those things that directly affect, positively or negatively, your top line and your bottom line (your sales and your profits). Things like marketing, advertising, answering the phones, response times, and quality of service.

When your employees know that the quality of the work they provide directly affects the dollars that come into the business, they'll gain a sense of belonging and want to do better.

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

Do You See the Light?

Flare 0 9d3b7By Randall C. Resch

Part of tow operator survival says that training isn't necessarily the key issue why towers are being killed, but how tow company owners and towers themselves approach survival and safety with blindfolded eyes. It wasn't until I was struck while outside my tow truck on a recovery during an El Nino rainstorm that I gained a mentality of tow operator survival. I guess pain sometimes is a powerful motivator.

In light of several tow operators killed on dark rural highways, many towmen feel that more should be done to eliminate them. However, adding streetlights to millions of miles of darkened stretches of America's highways will never happen.

Since data proves that a high-percentage of tow operator crashes and fatalities happen during night hours, brightly identifying the scene with flares make most sense and is very simple to deploy. What fascinates me is flares are hardly, if ever, used. Making the excuse that it takes too long to set up or they're too expensive is crap reasoning as far as I'm concerned. The investment in a case of flares is chump-change vs. losing a driver.

While I like the idea of having a blocker truck on-scene, look at the history of having either a blocker truck or other police vehicle on-scene. Somehow, distracted motorists continuously crash into the blocker truck or police vehicles.

Let these lessons lead us to a smarter way of defending our actions other than doing nothing at all.

You're not going to eliminate distracted or intoxicated drivers, but a proactive stance may save your company's hide somewhere down the road. If you look at the majority of tow operator fatalities, there are a gigantic number of reported fatalities where NO flares, cones or traffic controls were present. This isn't rocket science, but it requires a change in survival mentality.

At the very minimum, do something to illuminate your presence and STOP THINKING that the motoring public is going to move over for you. Flares, cones, ANSI III vests, blocker trucks, colored lightbars, police on-scene—they're nothing more than a false sense of security. Why should you trust your lives to nothing more than a placebo to distracted motorists?

I honestly don't understand a tow company owner that says, "It's gonna cost me more dollars to staff that tow truck with extra flares,"—but isn't that something owners should be doing in the first place to save lives? Owners, aren't you responsible to provide all necessary safety equipment to protect the wellbeing of your employees?

What safety-specific directions do you mandate that you're tow operators follow? Should you not be directing and leading your operators to smarter techniques and methods? I believe you owe your tow operators the ability to go home safely to their families every single night; not die in some unfortunate accident on some dark rural highway. Even going as far as wearing a $15 red, strobe LED light provides some additional level of safety beyond nothing at all.

I'm convinced that towers across America don't prepare themselves to take on a defensive state-of-mind, and they settle with a, "Ho-hum, it's never happened to me before," attitude. If you're not aware of what's going on in the towing and recovery industry, we ARE under fire from America's motorists ... and it's a battle that we're certainly losing.

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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