Motor Clubs A Shortcut To Mediocrity.

Before we begin the discussion as to why I, as a seasoned towing company owner, believe that working for motor clubs is simply a shortcut to mediocrity, I’d like to set the stage and explain how we human beings allow ourselves to fall into such traps in the first place. Of course, this explanation is not designed as a means to provide you with cover and excuse your culpability in the decision-making process. Rather, I want to give you a little insight into how and why we humans do the things we do so you can make better choices going forward.

You see, thousands of years ago, there were two monkeys who were born minutes apart. (Yes, I’m going to talk about monkeys)

These two monkeys were cousins who were similar in many respects—they were the same size, the same level of intelligence, and seemingly the same personality type.  But as they approached adolescence, living in the wild with the rest of the troop (monkey community), there soon became a noticeable difference.  While one monkey was cautious and withdrawn, the other was outgoing and took risks.

On many occasions, the risk-taking monkey would go out on his own, alone, to the river to gather delicious dates from a tree.  He would then tempt fate further by washing the dates in the river among the numerous crocodiles that lived there.  But the cautious monkey would not go along on these trips to the river.  Although he loved the taste of dates, as he’d eaten very few from the limited supply available close to home, he wanted nothing to do with the river and the crocodiles.

Then one day, while the risk-taking monkey was splashing around, enjoying the dates, in the river alone, a hungry crocodile snatched him and ate him…he was gone.  And the cautious monkey lived to tell the tale. He grew fat and lived a long boring life, and was able to pass on his genes to generation after generation of cautious monkeys.

In psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow, he dives into why the choices we make are guided more by the fear of loss rather than the potential for gain.  He explains that as organisms evolved, the ones who placed more urgency on avoiding threats than on maximizing opportunities were more likely to pass on their genes.  It’s simple—if a crocodile ate you, you were erased from the gene pool. The monkeys who witnessed these horrific events from the trees above lived and learned to take fewer risks going forward.

It’s the same with humans. Kahneman says that because those who survived did so due to their aversion to loss, like other organisms, they were able to pass on their genes. But here’s the kicker…because this loss avoidance is now ingrained in our DNA, we unconsciously accept that avoidance of loss is of higher value than the potential for gain.

Because loss avoidance is now ingrained in our DNA, we unconsciously accept that AVOIDANCE OF LOSS is of higher value than the potential for gain.

See where I’m going here?

Avoidance of loss has become our knee-jerk reaction to most things. Over time, we’ve developed an automatic and unconscious system for determining what to do when making decisions…without thinking too much (because it takes so much energy…Yawn). So much so that when a potential for loss arises, we unconsciously take a shortcut (less thinking) and err on the side of caution.

Sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it?  Avoiding loss? But do these knee-jerk reactions decrease our ability to see the bigger picture?

What worked for early humans in avoiding being food for predators on the Serengeti by engaging our fight or (mostly) flight mechanism might not be such a good way to make decisions today.  But some of us still do it this way.

Take, for example working for the motor clubs. Most towing company owners would agree that providing roadside assistance for motor club rates is less than desirable. And when presented with the true cost of doing business with the clubs, many would admit that being so close to breaking even isn’t ideal.  Astute reasoning tells us there are too many unforeseen variables for things to work out in our favor on a consistent basis. But we continue to work for the clubs anyway because our caveman minds convince us that some dollars are better than zero dollars.

Is Working For Motor Clubs A Shortcut To Mediocrity?

Grok, your inner caveman works it out this way;

“Ugh…Some Money…or…No Money?”

“Which do Grok take?”

“Grok, no dummy, he take some money.”

Regardless of the built-in or future costs of getting that money.

When presented with the idea that the profitability of providing services to the clubs is minimal to negligible, we rationalize our actions by arguing, “I don’t want the competition to get a foothold.” Or “At least it helps to pay the fuel bill.” But the worst and most modern excuse given is this, “Motor club calls are convenient. The calls come straight to the trucks via my towing software.”

Great, your towing software has become the new Matrix. It’s the “New and Improved” method motor clubs use to take advantage of you.

How? Well, hidden somewhere in the software company’s digitized terms of service, you’re still only getting between 40% to 60% of what retail towing customers are paying.

But you don’t care because software-dispatched calls are convenient, Right?

In other words, you don’t really care if the steak doesn’t exist…as long your brain thinks it’s juicy, and you have the illusion that you’re getting ahead. That’s all you need.

Hopefully, this isn’t you.

It’s sad, due to our unconscious and automatic aversion to loss, we don’t stop to think that working for these companies long term is not ideal, regardless of the new-fangled bells and whistles they use to attract us.  So, stop it already…profitability should be your main concern.

Of course, motor clubs aren’t all bad (no, I wasn’t paid to say this. I’m going somewhere, so stick with me). They do have their place.

Motor Clubs can be good when you’re just getting started, as they can provide much-needed exposure and experience providing services. You can use club members to gather online reviews, which helps push down bad reviews—and shows both Google and potential cash-paying customers that your company is the right choice. Motor clubs can also be leveraged to build relationships with repair shops.  Or…you can simply use the clubs as a filler between cash calls, kinda like the unnecessary ingredients in hotdogs, which provide no nutritional value whatsoever but do add bulk to your franks, making them seem more desirable.

Seriously though, aversion to loss can be a good thing.  It can help you to stop and think before making a decision to work for the clubs.  But if your aversion manifests itself in an unconscious knee-jerk reaction to the risk of properly marketing your business, it will keep you from being successful.

So as you embark upon a new year, do yourself a favor and consider what you really want for your business. As a business owner, you’re automatically a risk taker.  They say the bigger the risk, the bigger the pay-off.  So is that what you’re getting right now with the clubs? A big payday?  Or are you taking what they’re giving due to an unconscious reaction to the fear of loss?