When I first started in the towing business, I was constantly on edge.  I thought I needed to have control over everything.  I wanted to control when the calls came in and all my costs.  I stressed over damages and customer complaints. And I wanted to be able to compete, on an even plane, with other companies.  And sometimes, this desire to compete caused me to do things that went against what was right for my business.

And when I found that those things weren’t working and would not sustain my business, I made choices that those other companies refused to make…and because those other companies didn’t make these changes as well, many of them ceased to exist. And much of the reason for their demise was their desire for control.  It caused them to make decisions to price their services so low that it wasn’t economically feasible.

There are a lot of challenges in the towing business. There are employees, damages, competition, marketing, insurance, repairs, and all the rest. But the biggest challenge is quelling an unreasonable desire for control.

But you’ve gotta have control, right?

You have to look in the mirror every morning and face the guy who’s responsible for making it all work…and that means staying in control…doesn’t it?

Well, while I agree that, as an owner, you are 100% responsible for what happens in your business, there is no way you can possibly control everything that happens during the course of a day.  And the problem with striving to reach what some believe to be the pinnacle of success is that you’re constantly beating yourself up when things inevitably go wrong.

You’re sending guys on calls, you’re fielding non-consent customer complaints, and you’re juggling it all, hoping that it’s not all in vain and that a damage claim doesn’t cause you to lose all you worked so hard for that day.

And…when something does happen, you take it personally.

But that’s the nature of this business, isn’t it?

Yes…stuff happens. But when your desire for complete control causes you to take things personally, you eventually begin hating your business.  Is that what you want?

The reason you’re doing this is that you saw a light of hope where everyone else saw too much risk…Isn’t that right?

But here’s the deal.  Because you want to control what cannot be controlled, you’re always stressed out.  And because the towing business is a highly reactive business, you’re conditioned to act or respond to whatever you’re presented with at the moment. And you’ve become a honed decision-making machine.  And every decision you make aimed at maintaining control takes energy.

Here’s the problem with all that. With all the demands on your time, you now have little energy to work on the things that used to get you excited about your business. So much so that you probably don’t even remember what those things are anymore.

So I ask you, are you more excited when you’re gaining ground and moving forward or when you’re attempting to control everything out of fear of loss? It’s like the old question, are you running your business, or are you letting your business run you? Into the ground?

As I said, I was there too.  My desire for control made me do things I shouldn’t have done…and it caused me to be miserable.  And it wasn’t until I realized that I was happiest when I was moving forward that I decided to look around for another way.

And what I learned was this.

There’s no way on earth you can control others, which means you can’t make your drivers show up.  But you can…compensate them properly and reward them when they do well.

There’s no way you can stop accidents from happening.  But you can…recruit and hire quality drivers and then train them properly so that you decrease instances of damage.

And although you can’t curtail the competition…You can work on providing better quality service. You can decide to work for a better class of customers.  And you can market your business in a manner that renders your competition irrelevant.

The idea of control is very seductive, but it’s a lie.  It’s better to strive for specific benchmarks you can work on rather than some ideal like control.   In another post, I spoke of managing chaos.  And that’s what I do now rather than trying to control everything…I just manage the chaos.