The Roadside Assistance Business Model
Every day in the United States there are 100’s of thousands of calls for roadside assistance, and the demand is ever increasing. Just look at the chart below from Google Trends. It represents interest over time in the search term “Roadside assistance.”
On the far left you can see that going back to January of 2004, interest in the search term “roadside assistance,” was minimal, but since around 2010 interest began steadily increasing. And it’s continuing to rise at a steady pace.
While Interest In The Search Term “AAA” Is Going The Other Way
Why is this happening?
Advancements in technology have changed the way people behave.
Before the advent of the smartphone, stranded motorists in need of roadside assistance were required to walk to the nearest pay-phone (does anyone remember these?), or flag down a passing motorist for help.
Due to the lack of immediate gratification, people had much more patience, because they had no other choice. Now it’s much easier for motorists just to pick up the phone and call.
Pew Research Data confirms that by 2022 more than 270 million Americans will carry smartphones. Which is one reason why we believe that there is a tsunami of calls on the horizon.
Just as Ray Kroc transformed the eating habits of millions around the world with McDonald’s fast-food drive-thru in the 60’s and 70’s, new technology, in the form of Smartphones, Apps, and Algorithms, are changing the habits and expectations of motorists traveling throughout the United States today.
Regardless of whether you are already in the roadside assistance business, or are looking to get started, a great opportunity lies ahead.
Using The Retail Roadside Assistance Business Model
In this article, we’ll discuss the Retail Roadside Assistance Business Model and show you how you can use it to take advantage of this opportunity, and the glut of calls that are on the way.
There are basically four ways in which Retail Roadside Assistance Customers find help. They are;
- Law Enforcement
- Google Online Search
- Motor Clubs (Insurance Companies)
We use the comparison of a table with four legs, with your business sitting on top.
Each leg represents one of the ways in which these people find you when they need your services. To have the best chance of receiving more calls and growing your business, you need to make the most of each leg.
When a call for roadside assistance comes in, most of the time, it will come from one of these four sources. To get the maximum number of quality calls from each, you need to first understand how the determination of which company to call is made, and then how you can leverage lower-paying calls into higher-paying cash calls.
A referral is when someone who knows you and the quality services you provide, tells someone else about you, and then that person uses your services.
These can be Automotive Repair Shops, Body Shops, Friends, Relatives, and Other Businesses you frequent.
Referrals are very valuable for your business. When you have one or more people who truly value the work you do, so much so that they are willing to put their reputation on the line, you know you are doing something right.
One quality referral can, in some instances, be as valuable as twenty online 5 star reviews.
Getting others to refer you to their friends, family, and customers doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. You must be patient and understand that building a roadside assistance business is a marathon, not a sprint, and if you want to cultivate referrals, you must first become someone who others would refer.
Understand this, you are not in the Roadside Assistance Business serving people, No. You are in the People Business, providing roadside assistance. All people…customers, business acquaintances, partners, family, and friends, they all want to be around people who genuinely care about them. Quality people like to be around other upbeat, happy, authentic, quality people.
Give first. The number of referrals will be in direct correlation to the value you have provided to those who refer you. Value here does not mean that you should offer your services for free. Money is an issue of course, but it’s not the main reason people do business with you.
People do business with other people who they like, know, and trust. Be someone others will want to like, know, and trust. Give first, and cultivate relationships with people.
You are not in the Roadside Assistance Business serving people, No. You are in the People Business, providing roadside assistance.
Regardless of whether or not you are on police rotation, you should get to know your local law enforcement agencies. Just as with referrals, when law enforcement officers come to like, know and trust you, they may call you to assist stranded motorists.
Start by introducing yourself to the Police Chief, the County Sheriff, the State Patrol Lieutenant, Campus Security Chief, and any other law enforcement agency that comes into contact with stranded motorists.
Let them get to know you and a little about your background. Remember those who work in law-enforcement have been profiling people for years, so don’t think you can go in there and be anything other than genuine.
Ask if there is anything you might need to know, in order to be of more assistance down the road. Defer to their expertise and do not go in there with the mind-set that you know everything. If you do they’ll be gracious in your presence, and even shake your hand when you leave, but in the end, you will cease to be even a blip on their radar.
After you’ve made your initial introductions, monitor the newspapers and online City Council websites to get an idea of what’s going on in your city. Pay attention to everything that’s happening, and start attending City and County functions, and picnics. Attend open forums, and be involved with social events in your community.
Doing these things will inevitability put you into contact with community-minded law enforcement officers who attend these functions as well. These connections, if you are genuine in your desire to help your community, will aid in cultivating relationships, including valuable friendships for years to come.
Just as with referrals, when law enforcement officers come to like, know and trust you, they may call you to assist stranded motorists.
GOOGLE ONLINE SEARCH
One of the reasons you’ll want to exploit every one of the four ways in which motorists find roadside assistance, is because not everyone uses the same method. Some will ask a friend, some will call 911, and some will call their insurance company. But the power motorists now yield, in the form of their smartphones, has had some interesting effects on their behavior.
Smartphones have provided motorists with a higher degree of autonomy. This sense of self-sufficiency coupled with impatience may mean that, rather than relying on others to find help, many motorists will take matters into their own hands and search Google for “Roadside Assistance.” This is evidenced by the Google Trends chart above.
If you’ve been a regular reader of The Tow Academy, you know how much we believe in the power of a greater visibility online, to get your phones ringing. If you are new, however, then please go here and read this article.
In the roadside assistance business, greater visibility online is the best way to acquire a steady stream of customers. Strictly because customers only need you when they need you. You need increased visibility, and to learn how to ask for reviews. Taking control of and improving your presence online is a must for every towing business.
Unless you’ve done something that has blown them away in the past, there’s just too much information out there, traveling at the speed of light, for them to remember who you are. To ensure you get the call when they need you, be where they are looking, Google Online Search, and you will prosper more than you can imagine.
Many motorists will take matters into their own hands and search Google for “Roadside Assistance.” This is evidenced by the Google Trends chart above.
MOTOR CLUBS (INSURANCE COMPANIES)
One of the ways that insurance companies retain valued customers is by offering them roadside assistance at a discount. We in the roadside assistance business refer to the companies who administer these services as “Motor Clubs.”
When one of the insurance company’s customers needs the help the insurance company has promised them, the motor club must provide it. But most of the motor clubs don’t have employees based all over the country.
Rather than getting involved in the operational side of the business, motor clubs contract with individuals, and businesses all around the country to provide motorists with assistance. And, due to the advent of the smartphone and ever-increasing demand, they’re always looking for help.
That’s where you come in.
Now that motorists are becoming increasingly aware of the roadside assistance that they’re already paying for, they are using it more and more often. And using it for things they might have done for themselves previously. Like walking a block or two for a couple gallons of gas, or changing a flat tire.
Increased demand has created more opportunity. But you must be careful what you do with this opportunity. Like looking a gift horse in the mouth, some squander the opportunity and complain about the low-rates these companies offer, while others leverage these relationships into higher-margin cash-calls, and use them to get quality online reviews
Now that motorists are becoming increasingly aware of the roadside assistance that they’re already paying for, they are using it more and more often.
If you use this roadside assistance business model properly and take advantage of all 4 ways in which retail roadside assistance customers find the services of a roadside assistance company, and then simultaneously cultivate relationships with decision makers, you will be on your way to building a highly profitable business.
Building any business is like building a home, you must have a solid foundation before you can put up the walls. Your business’s foundation consist of the relationships you create along the way.