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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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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingAugust 23 - August 29, 2017

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Save Them Brakes

brakes2 3126cBy Randall C. Resch

When drivers ride a tow truck's brakes, it becomes a costly factor in total truck maintenance. In today's environment, replacement costs for tow trucks can run into the thousands when rotors, pads, calipers and labor costs tip the proverbial scales at today's truck repair facilities.

Savvy tow owners now trust computer software when keeping track of maintenance costs on a per-truck basis. Doing so allows management to monitor dollars spent as well as influence better ways to increase wear and replacement.

Another benefit of data collection sometimes fingers the employee who may not be the best driver on the company's roster.

In a managerial sense, it makes perfect sense to first recognize when a problem exists, isolate the problem and then find ways to eliminate the problem. Eliminating the problem could be as simple as re-training or having a discussion with the truck's driver.

Here's one story where my getting out of the office paid off in the company's best interest:

I suspected one driver's bad driving habits were unintentionally causing pre-mature brake wear. I thought it best to see if there was a way I could approach this maintenance issue in a hands-on manner; so sometimes I'd follow my drivers when I was out running errands. I wanted to see first-hand their not-so-good habits was a means to concur or negate my feelings.

Seeing one driver's actions confirmed my suspicions. He would ride his brakes or follow traffic too close, promoting premature brake wear as well as presenting a potential for accidental rear-end collisions.

End-of-the-quarter statistics proved his tow truck's brakes required servicing sooner than most of the fleet's other 26 trucks. There was a benefit of combining report data with a bit of eye's-on evaluation. Raw numbers don't lie.

It was time to have a talk as a means to adjust his driving habits.

When operated properly, drivers who use their tow truck's engine during downshift and braking usually don't ride the truck's brakes. When drivers are trained to utilize the truck's engine as an operative way to slow the truck's speed, most trucks attain higher indicators of low brake wear vs. those who'd commonly ride the brakes.

Safe vehicle operations include learning and practicing how to increase safety spaces when in traffic.

Saving the brakes is one topic worth discussing at driver safety meetings. Doing so may extend the longevity of your fleet's brakes while reminding drivers that following too close or speeding are just two primary causes of tow trucks crashes.

Because my driver accepted a bit of constructive criticism, his driving habits changed for the better where the shop immediately documented less wear on his truck's brakes; now, that's what I'm talkin' about!

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. Randall was inducted into the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame in 2014.

Reacting to Incorrect Data

adwords 8defbBy Don G. Archer

Our flight from Las Vegas to Denver took longer than it was supposed to; this put my wife and I in a pinch for time. We'd just landed and learned that our next flight was already boarding.

We walked as fast as we could down the concourse, dodging oncoming traffic and passing other slower moving folks. Out of nowhere comes this pregnant lady pushing a stroller. She just wheeled around us like her plane was on the runway waiting. With not a word spoken between us, my wife and I instantly stepped up the pace.

Something primal caused us to react to this obvious affront to our abilities. Catching our flight now took a backseat to keeping up with "Super Mom."

When choosing a course of action, the human brain has been conditioned over millions of years to rely on wide and varied sources of information. External and internal data is presented to us; but rather than looking at the facts, we often let our ego take over and react out of fear. Fear of getting old, fear of loss—or fear of letting "Super Mom" beat you.

With towmen, this fear can manifest itself in many ways. Fear of not being able to meet customer demand might cause us to retain help that should be let go. Fear of damages may cause us to not allow eager, competent young operators to expand their horizons and do more recoveries. Fear of being burned in regards to marketing may cause us to recoil at any mention of AdWords, or social media marketing.

With the demise of Yellow Pages advertising, AdWords is now one of the most cost-effective ways to get your phone ringing. Many towers shy away from it because they think it doesn't work. We've been let down and lied to so many times that many of us have started to believe that the whole thing is a scam. If you're gun-shy because of this, you might be allowing the fear of being "taken again" to keep you from benefitting in this arena.

As with any marketing medium there are challenges with AdWords. I hear them all the time. It's not worth it because of: out-of-the-area calls, "Do you have my car?" calls, and complaints of "My competitors keep clicking on my ads."

If you're having these challenges, they can be very frustrating; but with proper campaign optimization and ad placement you can still see a return on your investment.

Rather than spending your time frittering about who's clicking on your ads, you should use one of Google AdWords' reports to determine if your campaign is actually working. What you really want to know is if the $2,000 you spent in March actually brought in $5,000 in revenue.

AdWords' Call Details Report provides the date and time of the call, the time it was initiated and terminated, the duration of the call and the area code of the caller. Google doesn't give us everything we wish it would, but if you use this report in conjunction with an elementary call-tracking system, you can know if you're making money.

Regardless of the system or software you use to record calls, you can easily use it and the Call Details Report to perform an audit on your AdWords campaign:

1. For every completed call, record the time it was received (a completed call is one where money is exchanged for services rendered.)

2. Record the phone number of the caller.

3. Record the dollar amount paid for services received.

4. Then daily, weekly or monthly, check your completed calls against the information provided in the AdWords Call Details report.

5. Match the area codes and call times on the Call Details report against what you've recorded previously

6. Use this information to determine the exact amount of revenue received from your campaign during that period

7. Then compare your revenue to your ad expenditure for the same time period. This will definitively let you know if it's working or not.

Now you're in the driver's seat.

If your campaign isn't working and you're spending more than you're getting back, now's not the time to throw the baby out with the bath water. There may be changes that can be made to turn this thing around.

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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