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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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Dallas, TX.
August 17-19, 2017
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Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 17-19, 2017
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Las Vegas, NV.
May 9-11, 2018
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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 20 - September 26, 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.

Handling Interviewing's Slippery-Slope

IMG 2013 42e03By DON ARCHER

Hiring new employees to train as tow truck drivers is not a task to be taken lightly. How can you know who'll work out? You want pliable individuals who'll listen and take instruction; at the same time they need to have the ability to think on their feet and make their own decisions. You want employees who understand the sporadic nature of your business and know that the needs of the customer must come before their desire for free time. And, at a minimum, you want people with a positive attitude who'll show up on time and do their job with little supervision.

Many business owners place an ad in the newspaper hoping that, of the dozens who stop by, they'll find a few who'll work out. But did you know you might be asking inappropriate questions during the interview process? Yes, there are some things that are off limits when discussing your applicants' potential employment.

An article at about "Avoiding Employment Landmines," says, in part, "The interview can be one of the most dangerous minefields an employer faces. Many federal, state and local laws limit the questions that can be asked about an applicant's race, gender, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, age, family plans or other personal issues. These topics should be strictly avoided, as asking questions in these areas can give applicants who are not chosen grounds for a discrimination claim."

It's obvious to most that questions about race, gender, nationality and sexual orientation should be avoided and really have no role in determining an applicant's ability to do the job.

But if you ask a question about marital status for the purposes of learning an employee's potential availability, you could be setting yourself up for a visit from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It doesn't matter what your reasons are.

If you want to be sure your applicant doesn't need to run off every day at drive time when school lets out, you might want to ask a question designed to learn if he or she has school-age children. And if so, do they have adequate after-school supervision? However, if you ask this "personal" question, you could be violating the law.

If you choose to limit your liability by asking questions about an applicant's ability to perform the required duties, like lifting a set of dollies onto the bed of a wrecker, you might learn that they cannot. But if you learn that they cannot due to a disability, and you choose not to hire that person because of this, are you then discriminating based on that disability?

It's a complicated topic that, by design, only attorneys and a court of law can determine what's lawful or not.

So what do you do?

Other than having a pre-scripted list of questions, screened and approved by your attorney and conducting every interview with a witness in the room—there's no way to cover yourself completely.
A good plan should include having the applicant fill out a standard application. One purchased from an office supply store will suffice, and ask these four questions:

• What's your date of birth? (A very reasonable question, as your insurance company has a minimum insurable age requirement.)
• What class is your driver's license? (A valid driver's license is required.)
• How's your driving record? (This helps to determine how they might represent your company while on the roads and helps to determine insurability.)
• Do you have a criminal background? (Do they meet or exceed your company's standards?)
• After you've asked these questions, inform your interviewee that you will be running all the necessary background checks to determine if they meet your company's guidelines. Then do it.

Run a criminal background check and a motor vehicle record to get an accurate account of their driving history. Contact your insurance company to be sure your applicant is insurable.

If everything comes back positive and you like what you've seen, you can finally make the call to set up a time for the interview.

During the interview it's best to explain what you're looking for and the requirements of the job. Spell it all out, and don't be afraid to scare off your applicant. Let them know that the work is hard and that, due to the nature of the business, you'll be unable to know when the work will come in. This means that many times they'll be expected to work past their regular scheduled time.

Ask them what they're looking for in a job and explain, in detail, the one you have available. Use more than a few different scenarios to alert the applicant to the difficulties that might lie ahead. And then shut up and listen to their responses.

Of course, many will say whatever they believe needs to be said in order to get the job. Don't let this deter you from your mission to separate the wheat from the chaff; because once the honeymoon period is over and the petal is off the rose, your job ... this job ... their job ... will take a back seat and you'll be searching once more to fill-in where they've left off.

So if you're blunt and don't pull any punches, you'll steer clear of inappropriate questions and you won't discriminate against anyone. And, even though you'll run off some, you'll save yourself a lot of time and headaches.

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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