How Towing Companies Generate Sales Online.
In this article, we’re going to discuss how towing companies generate sales online, why it’s important for you to have a strong presence online, and what’s required to establish yourself as a legitimate business. My hope is that you are reading this well before you’ve even thought about buying a truck and signing contracts with the motor clubs. Motor club work should be considered a supplement in your towing business, not a staple. Getting your business established online and utilizing all the tools available there will help you avoid becoming dependent on the clubs.
Unfortunately, most startup towing company owners begin by working for motor clubs exclusively. The thrill of getting paid any amount of money for the privilege of providing towing services to motorists gives newbies a sense of having attained a modicum of success. Of course, once they realize that the amount of money the clubs pay isn’t worth their time and see that the wear and tear on their equipment are beginning to add up, the thrill begins to wane. And while it’s easy to point the finger at the motor clubs and call them dream killers, the reality is most tow company startups aren’t created for sustainability.
Rather than doing the work of establishing themselves and building relationships with people in their communities, most beginners in the towing industry want the whole enchilada immediately. And they think that by partnering with motor clubs, they can bypass what many deem the unnecessary work of business development. Unfortunately, many have learned the hard way that if you build your house on sand, it can be swept away in an instant. Motor clubs pay horribly, the work is inconsistent, and it can be taken away from you at any moment.
Visionary towing companies generate sales online.
Before we talk about the right way to set your business up online, I want you to ask yourself why you started your business, or if you’re not in business yet, why you are thinking about starting a business. To many, the easy answer is to make more money. But you’ve got to go deeper than that. Most likely, you want to make more money – so that you can take care of your family, buy a house, get married, have peace of mind, or something else besides the actual money itself. The point is money is just a vehicle to get you somewhere. A means to an end.
I wanted to create a business that would provide me with time freedom. A business that wouldn’t require my butt to be in a tow truck for 10 hours every day. It didn’t materialize overnight. It took years before that happened. But it happened because I planned for it. I had a vision for what I wanted and took action to get there.
If you want to build a business that’s sustainable, you first need a vision of where you want to be in 5 to 10 years. Do you see yourself hustling on Craig’s List, appealing only to people looking for something for nothing? Or do you see yourself having the time freedom to relax and enjoy life with your family because you’ve built a business that practically runs itself? Personally, besides spending time with my family, I enjoy helping the next generation of entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Whatever your vision of success looks like, to get there, you need to begin with the end in mind.
So, to create a business that practically runs itself, you need to think big. And while you may have a small budget now and can’t outspend the big companies’ ad campaigns, you can do almost everything else that they do online. And even do it better. So, let’s get started.
What’s required to generate sales online?
- Google Page
- Facebook Page
- Optimized Website
- Directory Listing Management
- Online Reviews from customers
- Google Ads
A verified Google Page is vital to your success.
Nowhere in the list above did you see the word “phone book.” As I’m sure you are aware, advertising in the phone book is no longer a good idea. Nobody’s reaching for the phone book when they need a towing company. They’re grabbing their phone and Googling “tow truck.” What Google provides are Google Pages (AKA Google Business Listings) of the towing companies that meet these three criteria.
- Closest: They are the closest in proximity to the person conducting the search.
- Prominent: They have the most reviews and have been vetted by Google & others.
- Optimized Website: Their website is properly structured and continually updated with fresh, search engine optimized content.
So, the first step to generating sales online is to create and verify your Google Page. Ensure that you follow Google guidelines, as they have become much more discerning in their verification process. And, if you’re worried that you cannot get a Google Page because you operate your business out of your home, Google gives you the option to set your business up as a Service Area Business (SAB), where your address will not be shown online.
Once your Google Page is verified, you can start collecting reviews, as this will also help you show up higher in the results. Of course, just having a Google Page is just the first ingredient in your online sales generation recipe. But the good news is, when done right, the other ingredients will boost the visibility of your Google Page in your market.
Using Facebook to generate sales online.
The second thing I suggest you do is to create a Facebook Business Page. This is also very easy to do as you simply input the same information that you used for your Google Page. To help build your brand, you’ll want to use the same logo and cover art on your website, Google Page, and Facebook page. Of course, branding isn’t going to get your phone ringing anytime soon. And the reality is nobody goes to Facebook when they need a tow truck. People go to Facebook during downtime, after work, before work, heck, even at work. But when they need a tow truck, they go straight to Google.
Facebook can be used for two things.
- Getting clicks to your website (which improves SEO)
- Creating Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) for your business in the minds of the people who see your posts in their feeds.
To get started using Facebook, the first step is to create a “Like” campaign and target the areas you serve. This is a paid campaign, spending around $3 per day. Let this campaign run forever and never stop. The next step is to create regular posts (three to five times per week) and boost each post for a minimum of $1 for one day. In the post, ensure that you include a live link back to some content on your website.
In case you haven’t noticed, Facebook’s algorithm has changed to favor paid advertising. So, even though someone has liked your page, they may not see your posts unless you boost them. Also, you can and should use these same images and posts for your Google Page updates. The key here is consistency. You must discipline yourself to post regularly. Of course, there are scheduling tools, such as Hootsuite and others, that can make these tasks easier.
While having good reviews on Facebook is a plus, I don’t suggest you put much effort into getting people to leave you a review on Facebook. Google reviews are much more valuable. Lastly, all the online components that I’m talking about become much more prominent when attached and associated with an optimized website. So, you’ll want to ensure that your website is linked to your Facebook Page and vice versa. Then, with regular posting and a successful like campaign, your business can show on Google’s front page in more than one location.
An optimized website generates sales online.
While it may seem like a passive endeavor, the creation of an optimized website will greatly increase your ability to generate sales online. It is true that most towing customers don’t spend much time on towing websites. But if your content is structured in a way that Google’s algorithm believes will satisfy a searcher’s query, then the time spent on your site will not matter as much. Of course, a lot of work goes into satisfying Google’s algorithm.
Each page must contain content based on the specific key phrase you want the page to rank for. We’re talking about written content with a minimum of one thousand words, including images optimized for the target keyphrase. Also, each image should be optimized for optimum viewing as well as faster page load times.
The proper use of H tags, adjacent key phrases, and including the primary key phrase in the title, permalink, and meta description is also important on-page search engine optimization components. Of course, internal linking, structured data, and ongoing SEO are also essential ingredients that help to ensure your web pages remain relevant in search results.
The way that I like to think about Google and its indexing system is like the library back in high school. The Dewey Decimal System card catalog categorized books by subject. So, if you were looking for a book on snakes, you would look in the biology or zoology section. And then, when you found one you wanted to check out, the numbers on the card you chose would tell you exactly where the book was in the library.
Of course, for the library system to work, someone had to ensure that the cards and the books were all put back where they belonged. And when new books were added, the system needed to be updated. Well, when you build an optimized website, you’re basically telling Google (the librarian) what the book (website) is about. When you add new pages of optimized content, you’re adding new content to Google’s library. Content that must be indexed properly for it to be found when someone conducts a search for your services.
The point is if you structure your web pages in a way that makes it easy for Google to categorize what your site is about and continually provide fresh, new, and optimized content to Google, your website will remain relevant. And your Google Page will benefit from this as well.
Grappling with your online directory listings.
In a perfect world, every detail about your business that helps people find you, learn what you do, and when you’re available – would be listed perfectly on every online directory listing. Unfortunately, since life happens, directory listings come and go, and people use tools to scrape the internet for information; outdated and downright false data about your business exists in many online directories.
Maybe your business was located at another address. Maybe you changed your phone number or the name of your business. Maybe your hours changed. Whatever the case, there’s probably information about your business floating around the internet that isn’t correct. So, is this something you should be concerned about? Yes.
One component of online optimization is ensuring that the information about your business is 100% accurate in the directories that Google cares about. Since there are literally thousands of online directories, and growing all the time, Google has chosen to work with only a small number of them. And, if your information in the directories that Google partners with is not consistent and accurate from one directory to the next, Google considers your business less prominent. And, therefore, less valuable to display in search results.
While you could hire someone to go to all these directories and input the correct information, there’s no guarantee that it wouldn’t eventually get changed again. The best way of ensuring that your information is 100% accurate across the board is by using one of the directory listing management companies to lock in your listings. We partner with both YEXT and Birdeye for directory listing management services, which are part of the SEO services we offer. Of course, we do more than simply ensure that your information is accurate. We also optimize your listings and update them regularly so that Google knows that the lights are still on and that you’re still a viable business. This way, your business is more likely to be presented in search results.
Wrangling online reviews from customers.
The sad truth is that, in general, motorists don’t trust towing companies. Either they’ve heard anecdotal stories about motorists being overcharged for services, don’t understand the costs incurred by the towing companies who provide towing services, or they’ve seen news reports depicting unscrupulous towing company owners ripping people off. Whatever the case, the consensus is that towing companies are not to be trusted.
With this fact about motorists’ sentiment toward towing companies firmly in place, you can understand part of why I’m always harping on you people to do whatever you can to wrangle online reviews out of your customers, friends, relatives, and whomever else you know. Motorists, i.e., potential customers, want to know what other people are saying about a towing company. And, if it’s all bad, they’re not going to call you.
The other part of why reviews are good for your business is that Google loves them. When you consistently rack up two to twenty positive online reviews every week, this entices Google’s algorithm to show your Google Page higher in search results. Also, concentrate your review gathering on Google alone. You want to send people to the review section of your Google Page. Don’t waste your time on Yelp or other listings.
Of course, asking for and getting reviews is an art and a science that I’ll leave for explaining in other articles. For now, just know that Google loves reviews, it helps your Google Page appear higher in search, and customers read reviews. So, get more Google reviews.
When done right, Google ads generate sales online.
If you were stung by a wasp as a child as I was, you probably steer clear of wasps as an adult. Me, I was eight years old and looking through the end of one of those hollow T-shaped clothes hanger poles in the backyard, and a wasp got me right on the lip. Hurt like hell. Well, that pain taught me not to mess with wasps anymore.
Unfortunately, many tow company owners feel the same way about Google ads. They’ve tried running ads, but when they experienced the pain of spending money and not getting a decent return, they decided it wasn’t worth it.
The truly unfortunate part, if this is what happened to you, is that you probably didn’t do it right. Most people trust Google, which is a mistake. Trusting Google’s customer “support” is like trusting that a Carnival Barker has your best interest in mind. Google AdWords, now called Smart Campaigns, are worthless. Not only do they not allow you to access the tools you need to make Google Ads work, but they only allow you to use broad-match keywords. Yes, broad match keywords have a low cost per click (CPC), but they also produce calls from people looking for products and services you don’t offer.
Here at The Tow Academy, we create real Google Ad campaigns that give us access to every tool necessary to generate cash calls. Our campaigns have proven to be very beneficial for our clients. We incorporate various types of campaigns, depending on the type of customer we’re appealing to. For example, we use a different strategy running ads for property owners looking for parking enforcement services than we would for stranded motorists needing a tow immediately.
Of course, Google Ads only work in areas where there is sufficient search volume. While you may get calls running ads in a town of 5000, most likely, you’re better off investing in SEO. If you operate in a large metropolitan area and your ad campaign is set up properly, you’ll get more calls as there is generally more search volume.
Regarding your monthly ad budget. If you had a magic goose that regularly laid golden eggs worth thousands of dollars each, would you kill the goose and eat it for dinner? No. Well, the same logic holds for an optimized ad campaign. While you can overspend on your budget and waste money, in most instances, decreasing your monthly ad budget will only decrease the number of cash calls you receive.
Another common mistake towing company owners make is pausing their ads. Creating a set schedule where your ads run from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM, seven days a week, works perfectly fine. But, arbitrarily pausing your campaign for four hours one day and then eight hours the next diminishes the campaign’s effectiveness. Rather than pausing your ads, we control the number of calls you receive by adjusting the budget. This allows us to decrease the costs while getting more cash calls.
You should have a way of determining return on investment for your ad campaign. To do this, you need a separate phone number that forwards to your business line. And you need to record the calls. We use CallRail for this. Not only does CallRail record the calls, but it displays the phone number of the caller and the duration of the call and gives the time and date the call came in. Once a week or so, our clients go over the call logs in CallRail and compare them against their records. The easy way to do this is by comparing the phone numbers of paying customers to the calls received.
Lastly, on Google Ads, you’ll want to ensure that whoever is answering the phone for your paid ads is of the highest quality. This person will be able to close more calls if they are energetic, understanding, and can reassure the motorist that their car problems will soon be a thing of the past. I suggest that you create a script and practice it with the call receiver(s). This way, they’ll be battle-hardened (if they aren’t already) prior to receiving the calls.
Consistency generates online sales for towing companies
If your goal is to generate sales online, the key to your success is to be disciplined in your approach. The writer, John Maxwell, says, “Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.” For you, this translates into…
- Running a non-stop Like campaign on Facebook, then regularly creating and boosting Facebook posts (three to five times per week) that include a link to your website.
- Posting updates on your Google Page (three to five times per week) also include a link to your website.
- Creating optimized content on your website (monthly) and getting the search engines to index it.
- Adding updates, content, and keywords to your online directories
- Gathering Google reviews. Ask every customer for a review and set a goal of five per week (never stop gathering reviews). Getting five reviews consistently every week and never stopping is better than getting 100 reviews in one week and then dropping the ball.
- Stay away from Google’s Smart Campaigns. If you want a goose that lays golden eggs, get a professional to run your ad campaign.
There you have it. Now you know the same methods and procedures the successful towing companies use to generate sales online. Persistent action taken over an extended period will inevitably lead to increased visibility online. And as you gain this visibility and the phone begins to ring more and more often, you’ll want to remind yourself to treat each customer as an individual.
With a glut of seemingly endless calls, you may begin to feel flush and become complacent with customer service. You may even find yourself growing arrogant as your business grows. This is a mistake. Every customer, regardless of where they came from, is an opportunity to grow your business exponentially. When you treat people with courtesy and respect, they will, in turn, generate referrals and reviews and become repeat customers for your business.
An eighty-five-dollar tire change can turn into a life-long repeat customer who refers you to ten friends. Those ten friends may refer ten friends each. And on and on it goes. Rather than thinking about your business transactionally, think about building relationships and where you want your business to be in 20 years.