What’s a Tow Boss Looking for when Hiring Tow Truck Drivers

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What’s a Tow Boss Looking for when Hiring Tow Truck Drivers

Written By Don Archer Connect with him on Facebook

I’ve made some horrible hiring decisions in the past. I once hired a young man who was born and bred into the towing business. I mean…he must have caused his mother considerable pain during the birthing process, because I swear he was born with a recovery chain wrapped around his neck. He was a great tow truck operator, he knew how to recover most anything, but he had one flaw, and unfortunately, it was one I couldn’t abide. He didn’t know how to control his anger.

Early on it became apparent that he didn’t work well with others but it didn’t come to a head until I lost a good customer because of it.

Since that time I try to be a little more discerning. Take Terry for example. Looking like he just rolled out of bed, Terry wandered into my office one day looking for a job. I handed him an application and a pen and asked that he fill it out in the break room. They say first impressions are crucial in getting what you want. Well, Terry must have wanted to remain unemployed because as he took the items from my hand I noticed he was wearing flip-flops.

Unfortunately, many would-be tow truck operators don’t understand what employers are looking for when hiring. The problem isn’t that they’re stupid or that they lack the necessary skills to be good operators, it’s just that an employer doesn’t have time to start from square 1. To be employable in any opportunity you must place yourself in the position of the employer. Put on your boss-hat, try a little introspection, and ask yourself three questions.

  1. What qualities do I have that a boss might be looking for?
  2. When applying for a job, what first impressions will I make when I walk in the door?
  3. If I owned the business, would I want me showing up to take care of my customers?

There are other questions you could ask but let’s deal with these three. The qualities a towing company owner or hiring manager is looking for start out quite simple. Are you presentable? Do you take pride in your appearance or did you show up to the interview wearing you prized SlipKnot t-shirt? Or worse flip-flops?

Many potential new-hires harm their chances from the outset by assuming that the clothes don’t make the man or the woman, and wear what they would if they were going over to a friend’s house to play Halo 3. I believe this is because many assume the position that: “If they can’t take me as I am then I don’t want the job.” And that’s good because you’re alerting your would-be employer to the fact that you’re immature and believe that you’re deserving of some sort of street-cred respect.  If you’re more concerned with yourself than serving the employer’s needs, guess what, you’re not going to get the job.

But let’s now assume that you’ve gotten past all that. You’ve dressed reasonably, in jeans without holes, a clean button-down shirt that’s tucked in. You have the same amount of holes in your head that you were born with and your tattoos are concealed. You’re showered and look like you would if you were going on a date, minus the cowboy hat and 6-inch silver-plated belt buckle. You walk in the door and it begins. First, know that the interview process starts as soon as you open the door.  Actually before that. As soon as you call the number that wasn’t included in the Help-Wanted listing that plainly stated: NO-CALLS-APPLY IN PERSON, you’re being assessed.

So as you walk in the door to greet the boss or hiring manager you need to be assertive but subservient. You want to give the impression that you want the job but if you come across as too desirous you’ll be seen as a rube.

You must understand what a tow-boss is looking for. He wants someone who’s pliable, but at the same time has confidence.

Pliability refers to a person’s ability to learn and adjust. Can this person be taught? Will this person listen to me when I tell them something?  Confidence has to do with a person’s ability to think on their feet and look within themselves when something outside the norm happens.

The towing business is full of unknown quantities. A tow truck operator can be taught how to hook up a car, they can be taught how to throw a set of dollies, and they can be instructed on the proper way to use a winch to extract a vehicle from a ditch. But try as they might, there’s no way a trainer can engage a new-hire in every scenario they’ll encounter while on the roads. Confidence, not cockiness, tells the boss that you’re a good gamble.

And if you look at it from the boss’s perspective, every new-hire is a gamble.

He’s required to pay you during the training process, knowing full well that there’s no guarantee you’ll work out. And just your being there is an opportunity cost. Meaning he’s invested resources and time in you that he’s not investing in someone else. So if you don’t work out he’ll be required to start the hiring process all over again.  So while you’re working on that introspection ask yourself what you can do to alleviate the boss’s apprehensions when making a hiring decision.

Here are a few pointers

  • Be realistic and not over-the-top. Many times I’ll have an applicant walk in the door and say, “I’ve wanted to be a tow truck driver all my life.” And each time I’ve hired that person, they were gone in less than 3 months. Youth and exuberance are great but only if they can be corralled and focused.
  • Be flexible. Part of understanding what the hiring manager is looking for is knowing how the business works. Towing is a needs-based business which means there will be times when you’re not scheduled that you’ll be needed. If you can work just about any time there’s a higher chance of getting the job. But if you say, “I can only work 14 hours per month and it’s got to be cash because I’ll lose my disability.” You’re probably not going to get the job.
  • Be trainable. There’s a fine line you must adhere to here. If, when you apply, you’re lacking confidence you’ll most likely be smiled at and waved on. But if you assume that you know everything, the hiring manager may, himself assume that you’re untrainable. One of the biggest and most avoidable expenses towing companies have is damages. Most damages are caused by inexperienced operators who thought they knew the correct way to do something but caused damage because they didn’t listen while being trained.
  • Be the ideal employee. The ideal employee shows up 10 minutes before he’s scheduled. He answers his phone and returns texts promptly. He’s available to help out after hours and fill in where others leave off. During lull periods he’s constantly training himself, asking questions and working on things that he hasn’t quite mastered. He’ll sweep the shop, clean his truck, change oil, replace brakes, and basically help out wherever there’s a need. He does this not because he’s a suck-up but because he values his job and understands his employer’s plight.

Why do I refer to it as an employer’s plight? A plight is a sticky situation and finding the right person for the job can be tough at times. An employer must interview, hire, and retain quality employees to service customers so that sufficient revenue for sustaining those employees is generated. It’s a chicken and egg type of quandary. If he hires the wrong people, people who cause him to lose customers, he’ll have less revenue with which to pay employees. With less revenue to pay employees, he’ll be unable to retain quality help. And if he doesn’t have sufficient help to service customers, customers will look elsewhere for his services.

So if from the beginning, you understand what an employer is looking for and can be a valuable asset you’ll stand a greater chance of getting hired.




About the Author:

Don G. Archer is the former owner of a 12 truck, 20 employee towing business. He now spends his time helping others build and start successful towing businesses around the country. Don is a multi-published author, educator, and speaker and is known as the tow-evangelist, www. thetowacademy.com Want to learn more? Email him direct at don@thetowacedemy.com


  1. Cory March 25, 2015 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    Very informative. Thanks Don.

  2. oklahomatowing April 12, 2015 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    I have an employee who needs to read this. This will have a permanent place in my training materials.

  3. chief915 April 19, 2015 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    Great points and advice for those looking for a job.

  4. April Cook July 20, 2016 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    This was interesting to read. As a customer it makes me feel more comfortable to know that these things are considered when hiring drivers. I’m looking for a towing service to use in the town I just moved to, and these things are just as important to me as being able to get the job done. I feel more comfortable working with someone who looks professional and is friendly. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. siaosi August 25, 2016 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    I am interested on what to look for in a tow man. I am glad to know that they keep the drivers to a high standard. I would want to have someone that is trust worthy.

    • Don G Archer August 27, 2016 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Tow Truck operators must take care of their customers’ cars, which means they’re being trusted with, not only a large investment on the customer’s part, but also the customer’s source of transportation. And to many, when their ability to move freely is stripped away, they feel vulnerable. When tow truck operators understand this vulnerability and treat each individual customer with understanding and care, that’s when they become a trusted resource.

  6. Bernard Tyler September 15, 2016 at 1:02 am - Reply

    Beautiful words u have sheared in your article.Thanks Don Archer

  7. eric October 3, 2016 at 1:49 am - Reply

    Informative Post about Tow Truck drivers Details……! Wondeful

  8. Mark Wiliam October 3, 2016 at 4:38 am - Reply

    Thanks DON G
    Wonder full things

  9. Sunny John October 23, 2016 at 4:35 am - Reply

    DON G Archer ! Its best Word for shared Thanks

  10. Zahid Ali December 10, 2016 at 3:49 am - Reply

    Oh That’s Best words you have shared DON ! GOD Blessed You

  11. Gary McClung January 25, 2017 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    Thanks Don, Got any ideas on the best way to find tow truck drivers in a small town. GB

  12. Braden Bills April 10, 2017 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    I want to make sure that I’m ready to be saved if I get stranded on the side of the road. It makes sense that I would want to get professional towing services! That way I can get help wherever I am.

  13. Nick Hunter July 20, 2017 at 2:41 am - Reply

    Your blog is so informative for me.I really like your post about Tow Truck drivers Details.Thanks for sharing Don Archer.Please keep it up.

  14. Noel Asmar August 24, 2017 at 2:26 am - Reply

    Finding a good truck driver is not an easy task to do, especially when you are running a noted towing company and don’t want to lost your customer. Many Towing companies have experienced one of these dilemmas and would have made it even worse by choosing such truck driver.

  15. Braden Bills September 26, 2017 at 9:11 am - Reply

    It’s interesting to see what kinds of people that towing companies seek to hire. It’s good to know that they look for people who are responsible and respectable! That’s good to know, since I would want those qualities in a tow truck driver if they came to help me.

  16. Tomer Mishali October 7, 2017 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Being an experienced towing professional and an owner of a Towing Company, i strongly agree with the recommendations made in this article. I would be keeping these in my mind as well.

  17. BobbyL February 5, 2018 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Bingo. Hit the nail on the head.

  18. Jack March 7, 2018 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    Thanks Don, always pretty to hard to find good help I feel.

    • Don G. Archer March 7, 2018 at 5:23 pm - Reply

      Yes, it can be difficult. A lot of good people are put off by the stigma that’s always surrounded the industry. It’s unfortunate that a few bad actors spoil it for everyone. Look what’s happening in New York right now. Thanks for the comment Jack.

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