Is providing roadside assistance a waste of your time?
Recently, I learned that some tow company owners believe that providing roadside assistance is a waste of their time. They want their business to be successful but think that doing jump starts, lockouts, tire changes, and gas deliveries doesn’t fit into their business model. In this article, you’ll learn why I believe that if you want to grow your business, providing roadside assistance is a must.
To those of you who stay away from roadside, I say yes, towing for cash customers, doing accident recoveries, repos, and parking enforcement tows are more profitable than changing a tire. But depending on only one or two streams of income might eventually come back to haunt you when circumstances change. And if your goal is to build a business that grows exponentially over time, then roadside assistance services should also be included in your offerings.
Providing roadside assistance is not a waste of your time.
Besides being quick and easy in most instances, responding to a call for a jump start can sometimes turn into a tow. Most motorists are unable to diagnose vehicle problems and don’t know the difference between a dead battery, faulty ignition switch, or bad fuel injectors. And even if the battery is the problem, it may be too discharged or too old to take a jump. These and other jump start related issues can quickly turn what you thought was a waste of your time into a very profitable tow. The motorist will still need their car problem solved once they learn a jump start will not do the trick. And you’re already there with a tow truck, so…
Have you ever responded to a call for a tire change but, upon arrival, noticed that the tire wasn’t flat? The motorist mistakenly believed it was flat because the car was resting on the tire, giving the illusion that it was flat. But the problem turned out to be a broken ball joint instead. How about cars without spares? Many vehicles made today come without spares, and most motorists don’t have a clue. These issues and more can quickly turn a tire change into a tow service.
As mentioned, most motorists are unable to diagnose problems with their cars. So, a car that stops running or dies while driving might be misdiagnosed as out of gas when the real problem is something else completely. Clogged fuel filters, overheating, or a host of other vehicle components can malfunction, turning a gas delivery call into a tow.
So, before you turn down a roadside assistance call, consider that it may just turn out to be more profitable than you think. You never know when a seventy-five-dollar jump start 2 miles away might result in a seven-hundred-dollar tow back to the motorist’s home.
Of course, the benefits of providing roadside assistance services don’t stop here. You can also take advantage of what I refer to as the 3 Rs of business development, reviews, referrals, and repeat customers.
Generate reviews, referrals, and repeat customers
In my experience, motorists need roadside assistance more often than they need towing. A cold snap brings a flurry of early morning jump starts. Torrential downpours cause people to hurry inside and mistakenly lock their keys in their cars. Headlights are left on, batteries die, and people forget to fill up their tanks. Calls for roadside assistance happen every single day and much more often than those for towing.
For the industrious business owner, all these roadside assistance calls create the opportunity to generate online Google reviews, referrals, and repeat customers. Smart guys and gals know that rather than thinking transactionally, treating each call as a one-off service for a customer they’ll never see again, providing roadside assistance can help grow their business.
Think about it from the point of view of the motorist. Their car won’t start. Which means they’re already behind for the day. They’re going to be late to work, the kids are late for school, and calling for roadside assistance is an unexpected time-suck and expense. So, the last thing they need is a tow truck operator treating them like dirt (which many motorists fully expect to happen), and it’s why YOU should treat them with respect.
When you provide exemplary service to someone who’s experiencing some level of difficulty, you’re interrupting their pattern of thinking. If a motorist expects you to be rude and judgmental and provide only the bare minimum service, but what they get is the exact opposite, in most instances, they will notice and appreciate it.
Barriers begin to come down, people relax, and the opportunity to ask for referrals, reviews, and repeat business arises. I don’t think I need to stress the importance of the three Rs. What I will say is that capitalizing on them is exactly how the big towing companies think about business.
Someone may need a tire change today, but tomorrow it might be a tow. What if the person you’re changing a tire for owns a fleet of delivery trucks and needs a dependable towing company to provide towing and roadside assistance? Do you think they’ll remember you and consider your company if you’re surly? No. But if you have a good attitude and treat them right, there’s a possibility they’ll give you a shot.
Asking roadside assistance customers for reviews.
If you haven’t heard, online reviews for your business are an important part of local search engine optimization. Not only does Google like to see positive reviews on a consistent basis, but potential customers use reviews when making buying decisions. When someone is looking for towing, and they see your listing with 45 reviews and a 5-star aggregate and other listings with 8 or 12 reviews with less than five stars, they take notice.
Of course, to get online reviews for your business, you’ll need to ask for them. And yes, I know that the biggest problem with gathering online reviews is customer follow-through. When asked to leave a review, most customers say they will but fail to do so because they forgot or didn’t take the time. So, the best way to get compliance, to get customers to leave you a review, is to ask them while you’re with them. Ask for a review while you’re in their presence before you leave.
When I say that roadside assistance customers are the low-hanging fruit for review gathering, it’s because if you do it the way I suggest, you can get seven out of ten to comply. Of course, the technique described below also works with towing customers.
Here’s how you should ask for a review. Let’s say you’re on a jump start call. You’ve just got their car started, and you’re ready to wrap it up and leave. But before you shut the hood, gather your tools, and load up your truck, you need to ask for a review. Try saying something like, “I’m trying to grow my business, and I’ve heard that getting reviews helps. If I’ve done a good job for you today, would you mind taking 30 seconds to leave me a review?”
If they say yes, immediately provide them a link to the Google Business Reviews section of your listing. Text the link to their phone and then thank them as if they’ve already left a review. Then begin gathering your tools and loading your truck. This way, they’ll have ample time to leave you a review while you’re still there… and before you’ve provided them with a written receipt. (Always create a physical written receipt regardless of how they are paying. Doing so gives them time to leave a review.)
Lastly, if the customer fails to leave you a review by the next morning, send them a reminder text with the link again. If they still haven’t left you a review by the morning of the third day, while you don’t want to be a nuisance, some towing companies have had success sending up to three reminder texts.
Online reviews are so valuable in many ways. Besides the fact that potential customers and Google’s algorithm like them, when a customer leaves a positive review for a business, in a small way, they’re endearing themselves to that business. This good feeling about your business means they may be back for repeat business in the future and even refer your business to their friends and family.
In summary, providing roadside assistance can increase your revenue in myriad ways. Jump starts turn into tows, happy customers refer their friends and family, and when done right, you can gather hundreds of online reviews from these people. While challenges will arise, like spare tires that won’t come down, batteries that take forever to charge, and other difficulties, the benefits of providing roadside assistance far outweigh the troubles you’ll come across.