A guy I knew a while back (whose real name I’ll not divulge) got way, way in too deep with the clubs.

Darren and his wife, Christie were good people. They had three kids and were well-known in the community.

Darren was motivated and wanted to get ahead and provide for his family, but one time, he did something that had the opposite effect.

He was competitive, which isn’t a problem. But, you see, he was determined to have the biggest, bad-assiest towing company in the county.

Of course, others wanted a shot at the brass ring, too.

So, in an effort to thwart the competition and get ahead, Darren devised a “plan” to beat ‘em.

He decided to sign contracts with as many motor clubs as possible by coming in with low-ball rates.

Well, in a short time, his company became Primary for many of the clubs.

Then…to ensure he met each club’s righteous quality standards and avoided losing any contracts down the road, he made some drastic changes.

You see, what he did was unintentionally train his dispatchers and drivers to prioritize motor club calls over other calls.

Oh, it started off innocently enough, but as time went by, things began to change…and not for the good.

Before starting on this crusade, his business was running around 800 calls a month.

Now, servicing the clubs, his dispatchers were fielding nearly twice that many.

And, being creatures of habit, they soon grew accustomed to receiving motor club calls in tight little packages. Club calls came in quickly, with all the information provided in a similar manner.

If they needed to get on the phone for a motor club call, it was a fraction of the time spent on cash calls.

Cash-paying customers also had all kinds of questions and concerns.

They always wanted to know, “How much?” And extracting necessary information from them, like location, vehicle type, and where they wanted their car towed, was like pulling teeth.

Well, in a short time, unbeknownst to Darren, his dispatchers began to view cash customers as a troublesome waste of time.

Then, a few loyal repeat customers began leaving negative reviews about the service they’d received.

The next shoe to drop was an increase in damages, which Darren attributed to the increased workload on his tow truck operators.

Nine months into it, with the bulk of the company’s work coming from the clubs, he began to see an increase in truck repairs. This was around the same time that a discussion with his accountant revealed his margins had substantially decreased.

With increased fuel, insurance, repairs, and labor, things were getting really tight now.

As the pendulum swung toward decreased profitability, rather than ditching the clubs, Darren decided to put a hold on driver performance reviews. As they usually resulted in pay raises.

The halt on pay raises and the increased workload caused a couple of his A-Players to leave.

In an attempt to fill the void, Darren hired new drivers hastily. The new guys had little, if any, experience operating a tow truck.

Of course, hiring inexperienced drivers requires time and labor for training while increasing the likelihood of damages occurring once they’re in a truck on their own.

And as his troubles persisted, his vision for the viability of his business grew bleaker.

Now, I could go on and on and take you on the entire journey of despair that ensued.

I could explain in detail what caused things to spiral so out of control that Darren’s wife, Christie, had to return to her job as a paralegal.

I could further describe the fallout that resulted from that decision. But that’s none of our business.

So, for the sake of brevity, I’ll just say that things deteriorated rapidly.

Contrast Darren’s story with that of a tow company owner I’ll call Richard.

Richard started off with one truck with the idea of growing his business via word of mouth.

But it didn’t immediately take off as he’d hoped.

So Richard dabbled in contracting with motor clubs as well.

And since he was getting three or four calls a day from them he figured he was doing alright.

That is, until his bank account balance told him otherwise.

He then realized he needed to do something different.

So, he read some books, talked with his wife and began thinking about what he wanted his business to look like five and ten years into the future.

His first “must have” was a business that would provide a sustainable income to support his family and lifestyle.

Richard wanted a bigger house, and to send his children to the best schools so that they would have a bright future ahead of them.

All this thinking eventually brought him to the understanding that to get what he wanted he needed to have help.

And operating on motor club revenue with an occasional word-of-mouth job thrown in was not going to enable him to properly compensate and motivate his crew.

The next question that popped into Richard’s head was, where was he going to find enough customers for this type of business?

Previously, Richard had assumed that towing companies didn’t need to market their services.  He figured that the people who knew him would just call him when they needed help.

The problem, of course, is due to the sporadic nature of the needs of motorists, he couldn’t rely on his word-of-mouth strategy for a constant flow of new customers.

Upon more investigation, he learned that his business needed to be VISIBLE to people WHEN and WHERE they were LOOKING for help.

And it wasn’t on billboards, YouTube, or worthless Yelp ads that generate calls from other states!

So, with this newfound understanding and insight, he decided to hire a marketing company to help.

The company built him an optimized website and provided ongoing SEO, PPC, and social media marketing services.

They optimized his GMB profile and FB page and began posting regular updates to all of his online properties.

Plus, they helped him learn the value of 5-star reviews, and how to motivate his people to ask for them.

But the biggest thing they taught him was that consistency is the key to success.

In the short-term, he bought a second truck and his family helped out when the calls began to trickle in.

But soon after, he got so busy he had to buy a couple more trucks and hire some help.

Of course, this is the shortened version of Richard’s journey.

His success didn’t happen overnight.

And he didn’t do it by himself.

He had to grow and learn, as we all do.

One challenge was learning to lead and motivate his team to provide above-average customer service.

Above-average service demanded above-average compensation and a solid work environment where people feel needed and know their job is secure.

Which Richard knew he couldn’t provide if he was too reliant on any single source of revenue, especially motor club revenue.

Fast forward eight years and Richard’s business has grown into one of the most profitable and stable towing businesses in a major metropolitan area in Texas.

He’s added heavy duty towing, has more than 30 trucks and tow truck operators. He even expanded his operations to another city a few hours away.

Yeah, sure, he still dabbles with motor clubs, but for the most part, they’re a very small sliver of his business.

___

Both tow company owners had a vision for their business and a desire to get ahead.

They also both made mistakes.

However, one realized sooner than later that to win he needed to market his business consistently.

Because winning isn’t about doing everything all at once. It’s about making the right decisions consistently over a long period of time.

Don Archer

https://thetowacademy.com