Article Categories Archives: Fuel for Thought

Close More Sales by Listening

Listen & Learn

When God was forming the world and creating human kind, He gave humans two ears and one mouth. Why? He could have easily given us two mouths and only one ear. Even though we look more uniform or balanced with only one mouth and an ear on each side of our face, God was really hinting at something important. He carefully dressed our faces with only one mouth because He wanted us to do twice as much listening as talking.

Seriously, how many towers have even attended a course on listening skills? If you can’t remember, then you probably haven’t attended one. “Listening, 101” wasn’t offered as part of my formal education. Sadly, the skills we need the most are never taught in school.True in the medical field! A doctor must endure and survive loads and years of training to establish him before he can even meet with his patients. Many times, doctors aren’t taught how to deal with people. I’m sure you’ve seen one of them in action. I certainly have. Our families, friends, business associates and customers don’t listen well either. Some people feel drivers don’t listen to dispatch and dispatch doesn’t listen to customers.

How often do you hear, “you weren’t listening to a word I said?”Do you half-listen? Half-listening happens when someone is doing something while someone else is talking. Don’t know about you, but it’s irritating to me. Maybe a person’s mind is somewhere else. It’s my observation that lots of people don’t really listen. They’re busy and really waiting for their next turn to talk.

Some important tips on listening are:

  1. Don’t interrupt (but….but…but)
  2. Ask questions. Then be quiet. Do your best to really listen.
  3. Listen without pre-judging. Don’t jump to the answer before you hear the entire situation.
  4. Listen to what is not said. Implied is often more important than spoken.
  5. Ask questions to be sure you understood what was said or meant.
  6. Use “listening noises” (um, gee, I see, Oh NO!, I understand) to show the other person you’re listening.
  7. Ask questions, making sure the person has said what he or she really wanted to say.

In today’s fast and busy world, lots of us have so many things on our minds that we’re pre-occupied during a conversation. Multi-tasking is good but not good when you’re supposed to be listening. Some people are just rude; we don’t want to hear something from them because they have a tendency to get on our nerves. During our work days, some of them just had an accident and had to rearrange their whole day. There are many secrets of becoming a good listener.

However, the listening secret that simplifies them all is summed up in three little words. JUST SHUT UP! If your mom is like my mom was, you know shut up isn’t something you say to someone. However, in towing, “shut up”is an action. All of us have known to “shut up” after asking a closing question. You are supposed to” shut-up” because the next person to speak looses.
The next time you have to ask someone to repeat what they said, think about it first. Really think. Were you really listening? Remember, people like to hang out with friends that really listen. I truly believe that the best towing person is always the best listener. He or she certainly should be! If you’re not already applying some of these listening secrets, start now. It’s not too late. You’ll learn to be a better listener. Hope to see you at some of the tow shows this year.

Until next time.

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Nothing Happens Until You Take Action

Nothing Happens Until You Take Action I have been speaking in the towing industry since I had hair (and brown hair at that). Now my hair looks like I served at the Last Supper. Over those years I’ve tried different techniques to inspire audiences to achieve success. Systematically, this one works very well. Results are always the same.

In my seminars to demonstrate the power of taking action, I sometimes hold up a $100 bill and ask “Who wants this $100 bill?” Lots of people will raise their hands. Some will shout out, “I want it!” or “Give it to me!” Eventually someone jumps out of their seat and races to the front of the room to take the $100 bill from my hand. After the person sits down with my $100 bill, he or she is a little richer for the effort. I always ask the audience “What did this person do that no one else in the room did? He or she got off their butt and took action.”

One time at a Tow Show in Baltimore, I put money under the seats just to get towers up off their assets. It was proof that to get money, you’ve got to get up and take action.

Jonathan Winters, a Grammy award winning comedian, was the Robin Williams of the 80’s and 90’s. Winters once said, “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it.”If you want to succeed in life you must do exactly that, “GO FOR IT!”

What prompts people, the select few, to run and take my money? Furthermore, what hinders the others from running to get it? Were they too embarrassed to run to the front? Perhaps people might think that they were greedy or needy? Here are some real answers I get when I ask people why they didn’t come get the money. I really wanted to know what stopped them from this action.

Just as I thought, some said, “I didn’t want to look like I needed it that bad.” Understandably one or two will say, “I was too far back in the room”. “I didn’t want to look greedy”. I get that one! Here’s one that surprised me, “I wasn’t sure if cheap, DJ would give me the money.” Another said, “I was afraid I might be doing something wrong, and then people would judge me or laugh at me.” One tower said, “I was waiting for further instructions.” Their answers are always the things they say to themselves to stop their own successes.

One thing my Dad told me and my 11 brothers and sisters (yes, 11 brothers and sisters with same Mom and Dad). He said, “How you do anything is how you do everything”. If you are cautious here, you are probably cautious everywhere. If you hold back because you don’t want to look funny or out of place, you more than likely will do that sort of thing in other situations, YOU WILL HOLD BACK.

I have been teaching a long time. What separates winners from losers more than anything else is winners take action. Winners are the towers that get up in the middle of the night and just take action. Winners are the towers who get to the vehicle that just caught on fire and pull the person out. They take action. Mr. Dunn’s son did that in Virginia a few years ago. He just took action…he is a winner in my book.

I believe that successful people are highly action-oriented. It’s the tower who starts a savings account for that new truck or started putting money aside for more land to extend the yard from which they work.

My wife and I went to attend a reading in Atlanta last year. My friend Gene Griesman was the playwright and he was performing the role of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. Gene plays Lincoln so well. One of Lincoln’s lines was, “Things may come to those who wait, but ONLY the things left are by those who hustle.” If you’ve studied history surrounding the passing of the 13th Amendment then you know what I’m about to say is true. If Abraham Lincoln had waited for someone else to get that Amendment passed and hadn’t taken the action he did at the time, then most likely the slavery issue wouldn’t have been settled until much later in history. Lincoln TOOK ACTION.

All towers need to take action. In some cases, towers get bogged down in analyzing, planning and organizing, and what they really need to do is take some action. Let me end with this. When you take action, you trigger all kinds of things that will carry you to success. You let the people around you know you are serious about your intentions. Then people around you wake up and join you with similar goals, and they, too start to take action.

Thanks for reading this article. Tow Professional magazine is an informative publication. You need to read each page and then TAKE ACTION on that project you’ve been considering. As the manufacturer Nike says, “Just Do It”. Just do it….take action.

See you next time or at the next tow show. It’s a pleasure to hear from many of you that you appreciate my articles. Thank you for the encouragement.

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Growing Your Business with “User-Friendly” Techniques

Have you ever asked yourself, “When will my business finally take off? Newsflash!! Most towing business owners would admit to asking similar questions before they finally made it. When you first started your business, whether you inherited it or not, your goal, no doubt, was making it successful and watching it grow. There were things you did at first that sprouted your business. You got excited because you saw some results. You focused on getting customers in the door because you needed continued growth. You tried different techniques. Some techniques worked and some didn’t.

There are some simple and “user-friendly” techniques that you can do to generate sales and growth. Some of my favorite ones are listed here. Bear in mind that this list is only a snippet of what could help you increase your sales volume and are being discussed to get your “towing” creative juices flowing. What works for you might not work for someone else. Before introducing my short list, let’s review some activity that you might have done in the past to jump-start your business.

No doubt when you first started, you probably spent money carefully, rationing dollars between marketing ads, discount coupons, banner ads, giveaways, cold calling, etc. You purchased pens in bulk and your towing company’s name and phone number printed professionally. You had to get your name out there, and you did whatever it took to make it.

Now your situation has changed. You’ve had some success but you still want to more growth. You’ve discovered that your attention needs to be focused on building and maintaining relationships while you’re attracting new customers. A faithful clientele is always important for maintaining consistent sales. Keep building RELATIONSHIPS. Are there techniques that will keep your customers coming back in today’s market? Absolutely! And they’re easy to do too. How long has it been since you took pizza to a local company that gives you ALL of their tows? It really doesn’t have to be pizza each time. Donuts and coffee work well too! Maybe a small dollar amount gift card would be more convenient for them to get something between tows.

At one time my daughter managed a swimsuit store in a local mall. I questioned how they would make any money since the season for needing a new swimsuit is a short one. As she explained their sales process, I quickly discovered that they still sell swimsuits when snow blankets the ground. Besides selling swimsuits, the store offers other year-around goods. Every time she made a sale, Erin was required to ask a question or make a suggestion. Every sales associate was required to get each customer to buy 2 extra items for each purchase. Erin would comment, “You know, this swimsuit would look great with these sunglasses and this a cover would finish your beach ensemble.” They were making suggestions that the customer could ignore but most didn’t. I call this sales technique, UPSELLING. Open all year long, there were always customers buying something in that “seasonal” store. Erin had built a wonderful rapport with her customers and they trusted her judgment. Even fast-food restaurants use the UPSELLING technique with their questions that you’ve obviously responded to at some point. Familiar with these? “sandwich or meal?” or “want fries with that?” I personally know a towing company that towed everything for a landscape company as a result of their quick conversation with the landscaping firm. When the landscapers realized that the towers could pick up and deliver sod to their customers’ fasters than they could, it was a “no-brainer” for them to adapt to this technique. The sod was placed where it needed to be and the job was done faster. That proactive tower had found yet another way to utilize their assets to their benefit.

Some of us may not be a Fortune 500 company yet, but there’s no reason why we can’t use their Fortune 500 sales techniques. Consider running a Customer Reward Program where you give your customers a card to attach to their keychain. Every time they tow something, they receive more points toward spend-able dollars from the retailer. CVS uses this technique quite nicely along with retail stores, such as Carters and Kohl’s.

LISTEN. God knew what he was doing when He gave us 2 ears and only 1 mouth. We’re supposed to do more listening than talking. Use this technique to your advantage when your next customer comes into your store. Ask questions to find out what they really need so you can give the best possible advice. That way you’re perceived more as a consultant instead of a salesperson because you’ve listened, discovered what they need and offered a suggestion on what’s best to fill that need. The next technique is you’re not in this alone.

Your EMPLOYEES are in the business with you, so treat them right. Making them feel that they’re co-workers instead of employees. They buy into your company’s success because they feel more appreciated and valued as a co-worker to the company. Having a co-worker vs. employee mentality creates a safer, more effective environment for selling product or services. Being a co-worker empowers your team to do a better job. Reward co-workers for meeting a daily or weekly goal. The prize could be leaving work early on Friday or a gift card to a favorite restaurant. Overall, the next technique is probably the MOST important technique anyone can do but it takes work.

UNDER PROMISE AND OVER DELIVER. That’s right, “Under Promise and Over Deliver.” This phrase should definitely be part of your daily routine. In fact, post it on a BIG SIGN in DISPATCH as a daily reminder. Customers remember when they get LESS than they expected. If you feel you can’t deliver what you’re promising, it is better to promise less than deliver less than promised. Be on the lookout for unique ways to offer a customer more so they realize they’re getting more than what was expected. Maybe it’s only a matter of towing 2 vehicles at the same time rather than one.

Here’s a technique I’ve used for years. Most businesses thank their clientele at least once a year. It’s usually done at the end of the year with a New Years card. They’re already expecting those cards during those holidays but not Thanksgiving. Let’s surprise them by changing when we send “thank you” cards. Focus on being thankful for your customers during Thanksgiving instead of Christmas. You’ll beat other companies to the punch. I started this practice many years ago and haven’t changed it.

The Thanksgiving cards are bought in bulk and come pre-printed with my company name. I pick a nice short poem about customers. The envelopes are hand-addressed. No labels, please! Hand-addressing is more personal than slapping a label on the envelope. Furthermore, the customer is more likely to open the envelope when it’s hand-addressed because they think it’s a personal invitation to a party or an event. You might ask your sales consultant to add a special thank you to the cards of those customers they know personally. They should address them too.

Literally, hundreds of sales techniques are available at your fingertips to increase your sales volume. Be on the lookout for new suggestions. If you have a special sales technique that has helped you in the past, please share it with me. In the meantime, if you aren’t using any special sales techniques such as we discussed here, try at least one. You’ll be glad you did.

Until next time

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Why People Don’t Set Goals

Only five percent of all people have goals and only one percent writes them down. Why don’t the other 95 percent do the things they know they should to be successful? Are they afraid? Lazy and have no follow-through? This month’s article reviews the factors that hold us back.

“Successful people are successful because they’re willing to do all the things that unsuccessful people are not willing not do.” True statement, but let’s review some habits that can help reverse unsuccessfulness.

Know what I think holds us back? Balance! Even though most people recognize the importance of determining goals and creating a balanced life, most people don’t do either. A friend of mine, Dick Briggs, said it best in his book, “If Life is a Balancing Act, Why am I so Darn Clumsy?” There are reasons why people don’t act. In fact most people react vs. act upon what they know they need to do in order to be successful.

The two major reasons behind this inaction are, first, fear of failure and second, our own bad habits.

Fear of failure is normal and natural, but it shouldn’t stop us. We can’t be right all the time. Unfortunately, fear of failure stops more people than anything else in the world. It’s okay to be afraid; what’s NOT okay is to let fears completely stop you. Because we fear the unknown, change can be frightening…even positive change i.e.: getting married, buying a house, building a new career or buying a large, tow truck can be scary.

Fear of failure has conditioned us to avoid taking risks because we’re afraid we might fall down. It can discourage us from setting goals we fear we cannot reach. It can also encourage us to make contingency plans for failure even as we try to set our goals.

A bad habit is the second factor that prevents people from clarifying, setting and making plans to reach their goals.

That’s because we often try to set and reach goals the way we set and strive for our New Year’s resolution and with the same level of success. We set a goal to change a habit and then attack it like an addiction—we try to stop cold turkey, instead of modifying it the same way it was developed—a little at a time.

There’s a 4 letter word that you should NEVER, EVER use. “QUIT”. Do yourself a favor. Take the word “quit” off your lips and from your vocabulary and you will see how quickly you’ll start to succeed. It’s a small word that carries a huge punch.

Don’t forget that a goal is the emotional manifestation of the results of your dreams and aspirations. A person with a goal speaks and thinks in positive terms such as “I AM” or “I WILL.”

Your goal should be an obsession. An obsession is an idea you keep fixed in your mind and you can’t get away from it no matter what you do. You put yourself in the picture of the end results so vividly that you can feel it…see it…smell it…AND TASTE IT. Your goal is your obsession and your obsession is your goal. There’s nothing better than building a great towing business to pass on to your heirs. What comprises a goal and how long should it last? Totally up to you!

There are three characteristics of any goals:
1.Meaningful and measurable ends. Your goals mean something and can be measured.
2.Established steps and increments. You know what you have to do and what order is needed to achieve it.
3.Time limits are set. Without it, you might not reach your goal.

There are also three types of goals:
1.Long range. Five years maximum.
2.Intermediate. One to two years.
3.Short range. Weekly or monthly.

Years ago in a conversation with my daughter, I told her that a goal is an obsession when you do the following. First, set the goal and then picture it in your mind exactly. Second, have a method of reaching your goal. When you first set your goal, try to envision how you will reach it. If you set your goal with sincerity and purpose, it will happen. Third, set a time limit. Without a time limit, you have an objective, not a goal. “I’ll get there someday”, is merely an intention. I can still hear my daughter say, “Okay, Dad, I get the point.” After all it is hard to be excited or obsessed with one idea with an uncertain future.

Please learn from your negatives and work toward your positives. A professional is not over-sensitive to their failures. Instead of dwelling on them, they realize they’re going to have failures but are not stopped by them. They’re able to learn from their failures and build upon their successes.

When you analyze your achieved goals and understand how and why you were successful, you’ll be able to repeat your success. Ask yourself…. What kind of picture do you put on the screen of your mind? How do you picture yourself as a tow boss or driver or a mom or dad?

Remember, DREAM BIG DREAMS and make them come true!” Set your goals, create a method of reaching that goal, and set your time limit so you can complete it.

A very wise speaker and friend of mine once said, “If you’re always working in your business and not on your business, you will soon be out of business.” ~~ Bill Brooks Bill was right about lots of things in life and he’s greatly missed!

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Caesar, The Mule

I heard a funny story about a farmer who had a mule name Caesar that fell into an abandoned well fifty feet deep. The farmer really loved this old mule. When he surveyed the situation, he realized there was no way to rescue old Caesar.

The well was very narrow, and Caesar was crammed at the bottom. The mule had not moved or made a sound. The farmer figured Caesar had died in the fall. As much as it bothered him to give up on the mule, he was a practical farmer. He decided to leave Caesar at the bottom of the well and fill it up with dirt.

The farmer called some of his friends to help shovel dirt down the well. The first shovel load of dirt woke up Caesar, who’d been knocked out. When the mule felt the next load of dirt hit his back, he realized what was going on. BUT instead of letting him be buried, Caesar shook it off.

Every time a load of dirt hit his back, the mule shook his body tossing the dirt to his hooves. He would them step out of it.

Caesar kept it up. Shake and step. Shake and step. After nearly an hour of shoveling dirt, the farmer and his helpers were stunned to see Caesar’s ears appear at the top of the well. It was then that they realized the mule was not dead so they kept shoveling until the old mule stepped out of the well and walked to freedom.

As that wise mule figured out, the same dirt that could bury you also could be your salvation. Your attitude should be “I may be down, but I’m not staying down”. This difficulty or hard time was meant to destroy you or maybe harm you; however, I Want YOU to be like Caesar! How you handle your adversities will make or break you.

Listen to me. If you get bitter and lose your enthusiasm, the difficulties of life will bury you. We need to learn to “shake off” and “step over”. Don’t let the economy or the political stuff in Washington get you down . . . . BECAUSE it will.

Remember, we all have the same windy, eerie days in our lives, but it is those of us who know how to set the sails that will win the race. I think we in the towing business forget we have ups and downs. The problem is that most of us want ups and more ups, with no downs. Life is not that way. We need to be a Caesar the Mule. We can do everything in our power to avoid negative experiences, but they have a way of finding us.

I heard one tow truck driver say, “Some days you’re the pigeon; some days you’re the statue”. When tough times come, many people don’t respond well. That is why learning to turn negatives into positives is essential.

I hope I see all of you at the Florida Tow Show April 9th – 12th. TRAA will have lots of meetings going on during the Florida Tow Show. Mark your calendar for Thursday, April 9th, 2015 from 10AM to Noon. All state towing associations will be invited to participate in an association round table to discuss mutual issues, share their wisdom and knowledge with other states and network. This will be an opportunity for the state associations to interact with TRAA so that they can better serve their affiliate state members.

That Thursday night is the famous “Meet & Greet”, 5 to 7PM and the next day is the TRAA Annual Board Meeting and General Membership Meeting. All this is at the Florida Tow Show. If you look for me, I’m in the booth – outside in the Sun. Come by and get a free gift from the Tow Doctor. See you there.

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Baltimore Tow Show through DJ’s Eyes

Fuel for Thought photo

Once again, I am delighted to report of a place I’ve been to for 18 years. Sixteen of those eighteen years, I have seen it up close because I’ve spoken there 16 times myself.

It’s my privilege today to report on 2 wonderful companies, Jerr-Dan and Auto Data Direct, and an amazing man, the world-famous Terry Humelsine.

Let’s start with Terry Humelsine. Most of you know him as the lead instructor with WreckMaster. Terry has been in the towing, transport and recovery industry for 55 years. Truly amazing! That’s over half of a century. WreckMaster has been fortunate to have him as their lead instructor for the last 24 years.Terry was kind enough to autograph my copy of the book after I paid for it. His book is called The Recovery Handbook. I helped sell a few of them while towers visited the Tow 123 booth.

Well-written, the book shows charts, pictures and explains in detail lifting capacity bridle (sling) angles, towing securement, commercial towing, new and old methods and safety equipment. That’s a lot of detailed information, but there’s even more. This book isn’t meant for someone who’s an inexperienced or a “neophyte” operator. If you have had formal training, then it’s for you. It’s a must-have. You can call WreckMaster at 800-267-2266 to get your copy. Terry’s book would make a great Christmas gift for the tower in your life.


Now let’s talk Jerr-Dan. Yes, they were the “talk of the show” with their new 50/60 Ton Rotator. Do you remember the saying, “God gave us two ears and one mouth”? It’s a hint we should do twice the amount of listening. That is just what Jerr-Dan did. They listened to their customer base and came up with the handsome truck right behind Mike Cherry, training specialist. (We both served at the last supper!) That’s Jeff Irr, Director of Sales, and I. This is a twin steer JFS body style. It has a shortened
wheel base with S130 out riggers. (Scissor style) The Jerr-Dan booth was packed all weekend. The JerrDan heavy-duty rotators are built to handle the jobs other trucks can’t touch. I asked Mike about the S130 out-riggers. He explained that the exclusive “scissor-style” outrigger system provides maximum stability for a working radius that leads the industry at nearly, I believe he said 42ft. That means you can get into position easier and recover vehicles distressed in even the most challenging conditions.

There’s one more thing about the Baltimore Tow Show…Tow 123 Booth. It was powered by Auto Data Direct. Yours truly worked the booth all weekend except to run over to WreckMaster and Jerr-Dan to get a picture for this article. In this picture, Sarah Taylor of Tow 123 is going over the features and benefits of this comprehensive, affordable management program. All weekend, I told towers to step up and look. There wasn’t any contract to sign, no hidden fees for features and updates. No software to download or install. Tow 123 is a great program. No setup or activation fee, free mobile app for Android and IOS, unlimited users, FREE Auto Data Direct integration, FREE certified letter integration (where available), FREE state DMV inquiry integration, Google MAPS integration, and a whole lot more.

There really isn’t enough space given here to write all the benefits of the Tow 123. If you would like a FREE online demo, visit their website at or call toll-free at (855)686.9123. Tell Sarah or Clay that you saw my article and that you would like to take a “test drive.” My prescription for your success is Tow 123.

See you next time.

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Picture, Prayerize, Materialize

DJ Harrington - Fuel for Thought

DJ Harrington – Fuel for Thought

Picture, Prayerize, Materialize
By D.J. Harrington, CSP

Consider this phrase: “Picturize, Prayerize, Materialize.” Sometimes what you see and hope to get will materialize.It will happen and won’t be just a dream. The phrase “Picturize, Prayerize, Materialize” reminds me of something that I really wanted years ago.

At the time, I was speaking at a convention in Myrtle Beach, North Carolina. The resort was located on a picturesque piece of property. Since I had the afternoon off, my daughter and I rented bikes and started our leisurely father-daughter ride. We talked about life, boys, and cheerleading. As we rode that sunny afternoon, I noticed a beautiful, white, four-door Lincoln with a dark blue canvas roof. It was awesome! I asked Erin for the camera and walked as close as I could to take a picture or two of the car.

To our surprise, the owner came out of his very large estate to remind me I was standing on private property. My daughter loved it! Dad was being reprimanded by an adult! Quickly, my feet started moving, and we were back on the bike trail. That night at dinner, my daughter couldn’t wait to give her mother an update. You’re probably wondering what I did with the picture that got me into trouble.

That picture became a permanent addition to my bathroom mirror and my desktop. Several times a day, I looked at that picture. Six months passed. Then one day, we visited a local Lincoln Mercury store. The general manager said, “Remember that car you wanted and were dreaming of? You’re not going to believe this, but a retiring judge just traded in that exact car last night so he could buy his wife a smaller car.”

My daughter was in shock. She said, “Whatever you think about comes about, right, dad?” She was reminding me of what she had heard me repeat many times.

Learn to Picturize, Prayerize, and it will Materialize. I have been a sales trainer since I had brown hair and had hair. One day, I was in Atlanta, Georgia, calling on the World Headquarters of Coca Cola. This day, we had an appointment with the head person of purchasing for Coke—Worldwide. The sales person accompanying me on this trip asked me what he should do before calling on an account. I told him if it’s a large account like Coke or a small account where the husband & wife run the business…it’s all the same.

My strategy and preparation are simple. I first picture the buyer as a nice person and that they like me. They trust my company or firm and then I see the buyer in my mind, signing a very large purchase order. And then, guess what happened? He did just that. It was one of the largest purchase orders that we ever had. The buyer was a nice person. It was the sales call made in Heaven, or should I say made first in my mind. People from other walks of life share similar thinking.

Many famous golfers say that they first see the ball spin into the hole way before they pull their putter back and do their slow and even strike onto the ball. It’s called Picturize, Prayerize, Materialize.

Visualization and expectation is when you expect things that you want and try not to expect the things that you don’t want. Here’s another Picturize, Prayerize, Materialize event.

When we purchased a very nice home in the Atlanta, Georgia area, the basement was not finished. The development was really located in a “fake it, till you make it” neighborhood where most of us bought more home than we really needed at the time. Most of us certainly had no way to fill it with furniture.

When we moved into the neighborhood, my daughter Erin was only 8 years old. In one corner of the unfinished basement, I put up a wall and made it into a make-shift workshop. Erin had two little friends she was showing the house. They didn’t know I was behind the wall, but I could hear every world they said. My daughter began to mimic me! Not always good! But I listened.

Erin continued with, “Now here will be the movie theatre. Over here and there will be the ice cream bar, and this will be where the pool table will go”. She told one of her friends to step back because she was now standing where the jukebox was going to be. And, yes, there will be a dance floor.

Now, my daughter is all grown-up. And just as she told her friends that day, the basement is furnished as she described it. There is a movie theatre with real movie seats, a dance floor with black and white tile, a pool table, and an ice cream soda fountain. The only difference is that we did not get an old jukebox. We installed a 1973 Ford Thunderbird jukebox. A rare find! And it makes for a great sounding jukebox. Picturize, Prayerize, Materialize!!!

My wish to all of you is to learn to picturize. Picture in your mind, first the car, the home, business or career that you want. Then pray, think or meditate on it. And then get ready for what materializes. In the words of my dad, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, he will achieve!”

By adapting these three words, Picturize, Prayerize, Materialize, you, too, will be on the right track for what you want.

Until next time.

DJ Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar, and Damon Corporation. He can be reached at 800-352-5252 or by e-mail at

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Unity vs. Uniformity

DJ Harrington - Fuel for Thought

DJ Harrington – Fuel for Thought

By DJ Harrington

Some people confuse the word “Unity” with the word “Uniformity,” but these words are not synonymous. Here’s why they’re not the same.

Uniformity is when everyone or everything looks alike. We see uniformity throughout the week at places such Sunday morning when the church choir sings while wearing matching robes. They dress alike, but certainly some sing better than others. Even students who attend a private school may have donned similar uniforms so everyone starts out the day “the same.” But, in reality, they aren’t the same. Some of those students won’t learn any better because of what they are wearing because every one of them learns differently. Uniformity is when everyone agrees on the main thing, but it doesn’t mean they are really working together.

On the other side of uniformity is Unity. Unity is when people who don’t necessarily have anything in common join together for something in which they do find commonality. Unity needs an added ingredient. It’s common cause. They come together to unite around their common cause.

Towers, it’s time for us to UNITE around our common cause!!! All of us are different because of the color of our trucks, how many we have, the number of workers we employ, whether working a City or County market or providing private property towing services. We find ourselves eating “on-the-run” because we are always “on-call.” At one time or another, all of us have missed a son’s or daughter’s important ballgame or recital that we’ve promised to attend. However, due to business, we have missed some of those important moments.

Towers, UNITE!!! We need to work together. We need to join our State Associations. We also need to belong to TRAA, the Towing Recovery Association of America. With TRAA, you are in business for yourself but not by yourself. This association is “the Voice of America’s Towing Industry.” For over 30 years now, they have taken that slogan very seriously. They work to improve our industry’s voice in legislation, education and communication.

Every March, they have their annual legislative and leadership conference in Washington, D.C. Last March, when I spoke at their meeting, I saw firsthand what their meetings focus on. Towers came from all over the country and they were there just to show “unity.” Towers are different in many ways but very much alike, too. Let’s review the TRAA Mission Statement, particularly statement, No. 4 which promotes “Unity.”

  1. To foster and promote the interest and welfare of all towing and recovery operators in North America and to encourage towing professionalism and quality customer service throughout the world.
  2. To foster and encourage fair competition in all business dealings and to promote and encourage good fellowship among members. To promote and encourage the enactment of wise and uniform legislation that fosters professionalism, quality service, healthy completion, and fair compensation.
  3. To support the grassroots legislative process and be ready to provide hands-on advice and expertise when called upon to serve the legitimate interests of the towing and recovery industry; and to oppose unwise state and local legislation deemed to have potential negative impact on the towing and recovery industry as a whole.
  4. To seek to eliminate unfair and destructive industry practices. To foster cooperation and unity among associations in our industry so that we may have a representative body that speaks with a single voice and wields the collective power of the group to protect and serve the interests of the towing and recovery industry and to promote fair dealings and quality customer service.

To put it simply, as Towers, we must encourage and foster towing professionalism, quality customer service, enactment of wise and uniform legislation that fosters these along with fair compensation for all as well as be ready at any time to provide expertise for our industry and to be a UNIFIED “single-voice” that speaks for the industry with collective power.

I can not express enough how important it is for you to recognize the difference between these two words: Unity and Uniformity. Take the time to review your TRAA Mission Statement. Are you about Unity or Uniformity? If you fail to understand what Unity really means, you will impose your preferences upon those you come in contact with. But if you really understand “Unity,” you can accept people who are different from you and will work with them better than you could imagine. When you do have Unity, it will then become a wonderful experience for you. Chose Unity NOT Uniformity!!!

See you next time.

DJ Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar, and Damon Corporation. He can be reached at 800-352-5252 or by e-mail at

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What a Show

DJ Harrington - Fuel for Thought

DJ Harrington – Fuel for Thought

Wow! Amazing! What a wonderful show! It was a “show of shows.” Pictures are included so you can see for yourself what you experienced or missed. Towers came from countries as far away as South Africa and New Zealand and from four other states besides those from Wisconsin to attend the annual convention in Wisconsin Dells for the Wisconsin Towing Convention.
Every tower competes for their share of the business out-on-the road during the year. During convention time, held once a year, it’s a truly different story because they migrate to their Wisconsin event with their families. It’s not just business. This year, the event was held at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells. All towers and their families gather together for true brotherhood and camaraderie. They show off their new equipment, new babies, new wives and new husbands and brag about family. One tower, Junior Merten of Merten Service Center does all the towing for the local Nestle Chocolate Plant.

Every year, Junior brings with him 20 to 25 cases of chocolate just to share. One tower, Dave Schultz from Homer’s Towing, located in Milwaukee, brings family a day ahead and starts cooking two gigantic pigs for the Friday Night Pig Roast Picnic. Fellow towers, assisted by older children, help serve the well-attended event. It’s Family Time! And what a time it is!

The hit of the show this year was the 60 ton Rotator, equipped with the JFB Incident Management Body, the Gold Series. Jerr-Dan put on classes with Mathew Sellner, the sharpest 16-year-old son that I have met. Mathew’s mom, Kathy, headed up the children’s program for the convention and provided classes for children of all ages. Sava took part in the demonstration with Jerr-Dan, using their very best rescue-recovery lifting bags.

The light show was held in the parking lot behind this beautiful water park. There were trucks of all kinds, from antiques to trucks in memory of lost loved ones. At midnight, the yearly tradition lead by “mom” Dave Whealon’s mother from Whealon Towing & Service from Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, served every kind of cheese you could think of. And she did so until early morning. The beer was free all weekend.

Saturday morning featured a great breakfast under the tent, and then back to the hotel for what they call “talk-n-towing” and “telling tales.” Bill Tomlinson, who had just retired after almost 60 years of towing, along with Craig Goldbeck of Goldbeck Towing, presented the class in the Sierra Vista room, where they delivered the TRAA Level I & II Driver Testing on Friday. Something that Bill Tomlinson had assisted in writing the TRAA classes many years ago, Bill was one of the trainers for TRAA. It would have been great to have all of this on film because Bill and Craig did a fantastic class. Very informative! It was followed up with Bob Truitt from All Grip. That class was also a good one.

There’s another family tower that deserves mentioning. His name is Jeff Roskopf. Jeff and Geri Roskopf own Roskopf’s Service & Towing located in Menomonee Falls. Their son, Greg, took all the pictures you are seeing in this article. Every year, Greg takes pictures and then during Saturday night’s banquet and award presentation, people can see themselves on the big screen for a warm recap of the weekend’s events. At dinner, Geri
presented narration that was synced to Rock n’ Roll songs. Well done!

Prairieland Towing was very kind to chip in and bring me to the event as your speaker. I sure do hope I’m invited next year because the friendly and loving atmosphere was one I don’t always feel at every event I attend. And I attend lots of them each year. This show had it all: company flags, antique trucks, great families and mounds of great food and a lot of just being kind to each other. It was a reunion that this industry needs. But that’s not all.

What I discovered most of all about this event was lots of “real brotherhood.” Keep it up!

DJ Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar, and Damon Corporation. He can be reached at 800-352-5252 or by e-mail at

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Are You a People Builder?

DJ Harrington - Fuel for Thought

DJ Harrington – Fuel for Thought

Unfortunately, while reading a note that someone just sent me, I discovered a dear friend of mine has passed away at the early age of 47. His name was Todd Smith. Todd was from Ashford, Alabama. What a wonderful guy he was, besides a great Dad to four children and a good husband who married his high school sweetheart. Todd loved the Lord, and it showed in the way he treated people. I had the privilege of knowing Todd Smith and got some good advice from him. It didn’t take me long to realize Todd had an innate ability of approaching business and life.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said. “When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him, lies on the paths of men.” This applies to my friend Todd. He had a way of taking hard decisions and making them seem simple. Todd was born with goodness of heart. His genuineness could be seen and felt by those people he helped…Todd was a man after God’s own heart.

Todd would go out of his way to let people know that he or she was a winner. Most likely, there are such people like this in your life today. They may be people you work with, play golf with, or maybe even your own family members who are starving for your approval. They are craving for you to speak some good words over their lives.

You don’t know what it will mean when you affirm them, when you give them your approval, and let them know in no uncertain terms that you are proud of them and you think they will do great things. Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone needs to be appreciated. Every person needs a kind word from you.

Consider these questions. What kind of seeds are you planting within your child or in my case grandchildren? Your spouse? Or that friend on your street? What about your nephew? Do you believe in anyone? Are you taking an interest in others to see how you can make someone else’s life better? Listen to the dreams of others. Remember God gave us two ears and one mouth. Having two ears is really a hint for us because we should do twice the amount of listening than talking. Let them know you are behind them. Give them your approval.

If you talk with any successful people, they will tell you somebody believed in them. Somebody planted a seed and encouraged them when they were down. Somebody helped them get a good break. Somebody spoke faith when they didn’t feel they could do it.

Thomas Edison encouraged Henry Ford. Ford was introduced to Edison as “the man trying to build a car that runs on gasoline.” When Edison heard it, his face brightened up. He hit his fist on the table and said, “You’ve got it. A car that has its own power plant – that’s a brilliant idea!”

Up to that point, no one had encouraged Ford. No one thought it was a good idea. Ford had just about convinced himself to give up, but along came Edison and spoke faith into him. That was the turning point in Henry Ford’s life. Ford said, “I thought I had a good idea, but I started to doubt myself. Then came along one of the greatest minds that ever lived and gave me his complete approval.

That’s what can happen with a simple vote of confidence. We don’t realize the power we hold. We don’t always realize what it means when we tell somebody, “I believe in you! You’ve got what it takes. I’m behind you, 100%.” And really….everyone of us should be someone else’s #1 fan. We should be encouraging them, lifting them when they’ve fallen, celebrating when they succeed, praying when they’re struggling, urging them forward. That is what a people builder does.

When it is my turn to go and be with the Lord, I hope someone says of me, “DJ taught all of us what is really important in life and how in giving a little, you will indeed gain a lot.” Remember, when you are nice to people, you get it all back and then some.

DJ Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar, and Damon Corporation. He can be reached at 800-352-5252 or by e-mail at

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