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Surviving the Slow Periods

By Dan Messina DJ Harrington and Dan Messina

I was golfing with a friend of mine, and I asked the big question, “How is your business?” There was a pause and a change of tone in his voice, and he said it was his slow period and business was slow. I hear this a lot when I talk to towers. If things aren’t going well, they decide it’s their
slow period.

As the owner of a tow company, you should know when tows will slow down and adjust your business to make this time more productive. When I owned my company, I knew from Thanksgiving to Christmas would be slow. My customers did not want to tow doing this period. I had a contract near a university. I lost this business during the summer when school was out.

I knew what my bills were every month, and they did not change doing slow periods. I knew at the 1st of every month, the tow calculator went to zero and I needed x number of tows to pay my bills.

Here are a few ideas that can turn your slow times into your most productive times:

  • Review or Create a Business Plan – The most important thing you can do for your business is to have a business plan. If you have one, let’s modify it; if you don’t have one, let’s create one. This is simply just identifying what you want your business to look like. It’s important to write this down on paper. What type of services do you want to offer and what type of services do you offer today? This would be a good time for improving on the services you offer today.
  • Expand Your Business – Talk to your customers and see if there is anything new they are doing that you can help them with. Review your market and create new services that meet today’s needs.
  • Improve Customer Service – Remember, we are a service business. Let’s look for ways that we can improve our service. Look at your staff and see how they communicate with the customer, and find out if there is anything you can do to help them be a better company.
  • Market – This is something towers are not good at. If you read my article in last month’s magazine, you’ll see times are changing and we have to learn how to market better.
  • Cross Train – Use this time to teach your dispatchers what the driver is faced with when they go for a tow, and teach the drivers what the dispatchers are faced with when the drivers don’t have a good tow ticket.
  • Improve Your Skills – The business is changing and you have to do the same. Go buy a
    suit and go out and network and meet your customers. Djanddan.com offers great
    training for the business owner. It’s time to join.
  • Take a Vacation – A simple vacation gives you a chance to clear out the cobwebs and
    start fresh when you get back. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, just get away.
    (Go Fishing)
  • Get Organized – Clean up your shop or storage yard, clean up your staff and clean up the way you do things that create problems. Define a way to run your business and each job relating to the business.
  • Meet Your Customers – Go visit your best customers and sit down and have a coffee with them. Talk about things in the neighborhood or hobbies they are working on. Just go meet them.
  • Meet Past Customers – Visit the business you lost and see if there is anything you can do to get them back. If they left you for a specific reason and you fixed it, let them know. Ask them what it takes to get your business back.
  • Begin a Referral Program – Go out and thank the people that referred your business and try and have additional people start referring business to you. Come up with some type incentive for them.
  • Learn More About Your Competition – Find out if there are any new players you are competing with or look at your current competition and see what they are doing. Identify their best customers and find out why that customer uses them.
  • Learn More About Your Market – The market is changing; find out why. Identify what you will have to do in the future to compete and what changes will be necessary.
  • Thank Good Customers – When was the last time you talked to your best customers? If your competitor is talking to them more than you are, you will eventually lose them. Send them gifts or some way to say thank you for their business.
  • Modify Website – If you don’t have a website, get one. If you have one, make improvements to let your customers know you are changing with the times.
  • Network – Join organizations or associations in your market. Show them you are interested in the same things they are, such as the local chamber of commerce or other local businesses. Sponsor a little league team or some other school event.
  • Social Media – Start using social media, such as Facebook. This is the fastest way to tell people about your business.
  • Get Involved – Get involved in the community. These are the people you service.

You should never have a slow period in your business ever again. There will just be times when you are doing things other than towing a vehicle. Start implementing or doing things mentioned above and you will be surprised how your business will change. You are going to find that you will have to do things you are not used to doing, but you will be required to do these things if you want to stay in business.

If you want to stay in business, use your slow periods as grow periods. These times can be the most productive times for your business.

I know this sounds like a lot, but there are many resources at your fingertips to make it easy. Get all your employees involved to and let them offer suggestions on how to improve the company. They are in the trenches every day, so you will be surprised with the results. Remember, it all
starts with you. If you lead, they will follow.

If you need help, call us or go to www.dananddj.com.

dan messina article photo