Spending Your Money On Tow-Search Sites Versus Doing It Yourself

I advertise on a few search sites on the web because the benefits have proven to outweigh the costs. I know that they’re trust-worthy because my listings receive calls that turn into cash. But lately there have been a number of new tow-search sites popping up wanting my business. Maybe it’s because I advertise elsewhere that I’m receiving emails and phone calls asking that I join this one or that one…I’m sure you get them too. What I don’t understand is how a company, I’ve never heard of, can have the gall to ask that I trust that their site’s getting all the traffic.

Without any proof, they ask me to believe that there are hundreds, possibly thousands of motorists in my area who are already using their site to search for towing.

Contrast a tow-search site such as towing.com with any other company you already do business with…say your cell phone company.

  • You choose a cell phone company based on price and the services offered. They know you have choices so they work hard to provide value.
  • You’re not required to pay up-front, you pay at the end of each month, after you’ve used the services.
  • And you don’t need to take “on-faith” that the service will work. You’ve seen others using the same service and can be reasonably assured that if it works for them, it’ll work for you.
  • And although their support is not without its flaws, if you do have problems…say your phone isn’t working, you can contact customer support and get the problem solved fairly quickly.

Now towing.com; They ask

  • That you choose their site based solely on the traffic their name commands.
  • They require a monthly fee of $45 or more, up front. You pay whether or not you experience a return.
  • For that fee your company is listed on their site. And they allow you to advertise their site on your businesses website.
  • The unspoken promise is that when someone lands on their site, searching for towing in your area, your business will be displayed and you’ll get calls that turn into cash.
  • They don’t limit the number of towing companies that can be listed from any one area. So if everyone in your area is listed it does you no good.

But what if it doesn’t work…say no one calls?  Or you get some calls but none of them turn into cash? There’s no 800 number you can call to solve the problem. It’s pretty much up to you.

Make an Informed Decision

Every site on the web has the ability to track a thousand of pieces of information about their visitors. They know how you landed on their page, what links you clicked, the time it took (down to the seconds) for you to “bounce” somewhere else. And they know exactly where you are in the world. If they have that information they need to provide it…so we can make an informed decision.

But they don’t because if they did you wouldn’t advertise with them.

You know what you’re going to get with your phone service provider, you’ve weighed the costs and decided that having the ability to communicate with others is much preferable to keeping that extra $100 or more in your bank account each month.  But what do you get from advertising on these unknown sights?

Dirty Little Secret

You see the dirty little secret is they want you to advertise on their site because once you’re there you’ll be bait. They’ll use your listing as a hook to go after all the other towing companies in your area. They’ll say, “Hey look Don’s towing company is getting all the business.” And they’ll campaign hard with phone calls, emails, and postcards to get as many towers in your area on their site.

They do this for a couple of reasons: Because they want the added revenue of course. But mainly because, once everyone’s advertising with them, no one individual company will dare stop advertising. Due to the fear of losing customers everyone will “hold-their-ground”. They use fear as a tool to keep advertisers from straying.

Then where will you be? You’ll be nestled next to all the other guys, just like in the yellow pages or on Google’s search results. The only difference is towing.com will now have $45 per month from all of you.  And there’s still no proof that anyone’s even using their site.

Advertising Power

You’re a specialist, one of your areas of expertise is towing. You have the ability to safely move a disabled vehicle from one location to another. You wouldn’t expect some guy in a 3-piece suit to immediately hop in your truck and do what you do. In that same vein you might assume that the guys running search engines are experts in their field. And of course they’ll reinforce your beliefs.

They’ll tell you that they have the ability to know what customers are looking for and can bring them to your business more efficiently than you could yourself. Besides that they’ll tell you that; due to quantities of scale, their buying power affords them cheaper rates. But is that really the case?

When advertising on-line, those tow-search sites have no more buying power than you do. Sure they may tell you that the quantity of ads they purchase allows them to be seen more often and in more locations across the country. But ask yourself this. If you’re operating in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for example- would you care if someone in Florida needed a jump start?

And if your $45 dollar ad is diluted by the same competitors, only in a different place, is it really worth it?

About the Author:

Don G. Archer is the former owner of a 12 truck, 20 employee towing business. He now spends his time helping others build and start successful towing businesses around the country. Don is a multi-published author, educator, and speaker and is known as the tow-evangelist, www. thetowacademy.com Want to learn more? Email him direct at don@thetowacedemy.com


  1. oklahomatowing April 12, 2015 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Don, I always ask customers – especially out of town people passing through my area – where they found me. I’ve been advertising on Towing.com for about 2 months. Last week I got a family of 5 from Tulsa whose transmission took a dump on their way to Lawton. We hooked their car, took them to the airport to get a rental so they could continue their trip, then stored the car for 4 days while they got a relative to meet them at my place with a superduty truck and a uhaul trailer. The total bill on that tow was $312. That’s $312 that would have gone to my competitor, who is already on the site, and they also left glowing yelp and google reviews.

    I’ve gotten two other local tows from towing.com. I understand that the results may vary by market, but it’s working for me. I feel it’s a good supplement to adwords, plus having the backlink on towing.com and their affiliate sites can only help my organics on google.

    • Don Archer April 14, 2015 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      Well I’m glad to hear they’re working for you. And I like that you’re asking your customers where they found out about you. It’s especially good if you have some sort of system in place to track it.
      You do make some good points, if Google allows some of Towing.com’s juice to flow to your site then you may show up more organically. I just know that in my area my site is very relevant to the customers’ search terms and I believe that Google looks favorably upon on us because we’re local, we’re adsense advertisers, and our site has longevity. Of course things can change hedging your bets can’t hurt if you can afford it. The other thing is, who knows where people find these sights? As you said Towing.com has affiliate sites, they could be hooked up with any number of insurance assistance programs. My point is that if you spend $45 on 10 sites you might as well spend $450 on your own and be better off.

  2. Bob Little July 26, 2016 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    There’s so much nonsense out there when it comes to marketing online (actually offline as well for that matter). Thanks for this info!

    • Don G Archer July 27, 2016 at 8:10 am - Reply

      Thanks Bob
      There are basically 4 ways customers find towing companies, Referrals, Motor Clubs, Law Enforcement, Google Search. Of those 4, the greatest source for new, cash-paying customers, is Google. If you create an easily updated website, then optimize it for the keywords you’re looking for, connect social media, connect Google reviews, connect your Google plus page, actively solicit reviews (the best kept secret on the internet)…And then use Google AdWords to draw attention to your site…You’ll have a huge advantage.

  3. Bob J. December 27, 2016 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    Finding out where your customers found you is one of the best things you can do as a business owner. It’s easy to take the call, quote the job, and go do it, without ever figuring out where they got your number from. Take the extra few minutes to ask them where they found you, and then you can even ask if they’d give you a nice review. every little bit helps and you have to be thinking about what you are building long term.

    Great article, thanks for taking the time to share this valuable info.

  4. Jeremy December 29, 2016 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    I’m not all that tech savvy, but come to think about it…Other than checking my emails(and writing this comment), the only thing i do online is search for stuff, and google is always the go-to.

  5. Thomas Moore January 19, 2017 at 8:34 am - Reply

    Really good article on how much it’s not easy to advertise today in the online marketing area, especially in our Towing Business, you need to pick some company’s or services that you trust them, but you need to check them for long run, and analyze the data all the time. And don’t forget to ask your client from where they find your business, this is the way to know if the money you invest in all these services worth it.

    • Don G Archer January 19, 2017 at 10:31 am - Reply

      Thomas thanks for the comment. Tracking and measuring the effectiveness of your marketing is highly important. For any type of marketing to reach it’s maximum effectiveness you need to have all your ducks in a row. A strong digital presence is a must for every business, but for the towing business it’s especially important. Because, for the most part, most towing customers only use your services once every 5 to 7 years, and even if you did do right by them last time, they might not remember your name the next time. You need a properly structured website, customer reviews, an engaged social media campaign, ongoing SEO, and a large quantity of accurate online directory listings. 9 out of 10 towers aren’t doing this. Even if you’re doing just a few of these things right, it’s possible to get listed first on Google’s front page organically. Directory listings are HUGE in Google’s ranking algorithm right now. They want to be sure and present only the most reputable towing companies out there, and in their estimation the way to know who’s most reputable is by the accuracy of their directory listings. You can scan your business to see how accurate your listing are here. Thanks again

  6. Paul January 29, 2017 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Great Article. I think I will be able to learn lots from this website.
    Keep posting good content.

  7. Peter Harris March 9, 2017 at 5:44 am - Reply

    Hi Don,

    It’s really great article on a problem that we deal with it every day, advertise towing niche on the internet marketing. I just want to tell you this article is really deep and interesting. pls keep writing, You do it wonderful


  8. Landon April 2, 2017 at 12:59 am - Reply

    Hmm I notice, “glowing ” used twice, same person playing 2 roles?

    • Don G Archer April 10, 2017 at 3:26 pm - Reply

      I’m not sure what you are talking about. Please elaborate.

  9. Alex Taylor April 9, 2017 at 6:01 am - Reply

    Hello Don,

    The article so great, advertising online in towing niche is a tough business. we as owners of towing companies need more useful information like you give us in the article, this is the best and interesting why to learn and be more clever when it’s come to online advertising in local business (Like Towing). Again thx a lot for this article :).

  10. John White June 13, 2017 at 4:51 am - Reply

    Hi Don,

    really informative article, Many things you’ve talked about are felt in our business every day. This article gave us a more comprehensive view of things and the possibility of making more informed future decisions regarding Internet advertising.

    thx again,

    John W.

    • Don G Archer June 20, 2017 at 3:50 pm - Reply

      Thanks John, I’m glad to have the opportunity to help.

  11. Donahvan Robello July 23, 2017 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Google by far is the best source for customers to find you. I run a pay per call marketing company and we sell calls to towing companies and Google is our only source. When someone performs a Google search for a tow truck many times they go with one of the companies on the first page.

  12. Jim October 12, 2017 at 11:18 am - Reply

    I agree! Google is the best source for making your business visible to the public. By getting ranked high on Google, my business has thrived more than ever.

  13. Tom Martin June 5, 2018 at 4:19 am - Reply

    I agree too! Google is the only source for making your business visible to the optional clients. If you have good ranking positions on main keywords on Google, your business will rise.

    • Don G. Archer June 5, 2018 at 3:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the comment.

      Gaining greater visibility for your business online must start with a properly structured website, but it doesn’t stop there. For your website to achieve improved visibility for the various keywords people are using to search for the services you provide, your site, as well as your overall web presence, needs continuous attention.

      A properly structured website is one that is built following the more than 200 on-page factors that Google recommends. Unfortunately, 99.9% of the companies who build websites do not follow these guidelines. If you would like me to take a look at your site and tell you if it has been built following Google’s guidelines, please respond.
      Thanks again

  14. Jay October 24, 2018 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Hi Don
    We just started a tow company in hawaii. Plenty of work but I can’t seem to get any. My physical address does not get mail. I have only a po box as we live in a rural area. Google will not accept anything even business docs. I’m at a loss and need help. Even Google says use a friend’s address even tho they are the ones hell bent on verifying my business as legitimate. Thanks. Jay

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