As an owner of the business it’s up to you to stay in tune with all the changes taking place in the industry. It’s hard for you to do it all and that’s why I encourage all tow companies to join their state towing association. I know you may not like them based on past experience, but as changes take place you will need them more than ever. If you want to stay ahead, invest in your skills as regularly as you can. Invest in materials that will help you with personal growth. Invest in materials that arespecific to your industry and keep yourself up to date with industry news and look for the patterns and trends.
Too many businesses fail because they don’t adapt to the changes in their market. In our industry we must continue to improve, learn, and change. The world is changing at an incredible pace, and in order to stay ahead we have be committed to learning new things, upgrading our skills, and being aware of our surroundings. In order to be consistently effective in our industry we must observe the changes going on in our industry, and market on a daily basis. When you can change faster than those changes that impact our industry, you can stay ahead of the game.
Things that have a direct impact on changing our business:
1.Our customer – Our customers are changing their business and they expect us to keep up with the changes. Remember we are a service business and we have to make sure we have the equipment necessary to provide that service. Our customers are more demanding. They want your services faster and cheaper and if you don’t provide what they need they will find someone who will.
2.Regulatory change – Several years ago the state of Texas passed laws that required all drivers to be certified, drug tested, and criminal background checks run on every employee. Then they started enforcing all the other laws that already existed. I can’t begin to tell you all the changes we made just to keep our doors opened. I read just recently that the state of Ohio is passing laws that will have an impact on how towers will do business in the future. Other states will soon follow making it harder and harder to survive. In most cases these changes do not benefit the tower. When you are hiring new employees there are laws that tell us what we can or can not ask. All these changes will have an impact on how you do business. If minimum wage is raised to $15 we will have additional expenses we did not have before.
3.Healthcare – When the new healthcare laws take effect we will have to provide healthcare for all employees or pay the penalties. There are so many laws in that bill that no one even knows what affect it will have on your business. The government keeps delaying the implementation but new expenses are coming.
4.Cost of living increases – Insurance rates are higher, the price of a truck continues to increase, and you never know what the price of gas is from day to day.
5.Industry Change – We now have companies that bid on your business and don’t own trucks. I think impound yards are the future and will be separate from towing. There are companies now designing phone applications that promise you tows. Most of the owners I talk to have been in towing for a long time and it’s difficult for them to change. I’m not sure what the new generation of tower will look like but I do know they will be running their business from their phone.
6.Your Employees – Everyone is in survival mode including your employees. They need to provide for their families and they will go where ever the money is, so you will have to be competitive with employee salaries.
That’s the bad news. There are some things you can do as an owner that will help you get through these changing times and prepare you for 2015. They are things you never had to do before, but as you do them it will only make your business better. I talked to a lot of towers that would sell their business tomorrow if they could. That is not the answer. I love the industry and that’s why I stay close since I sold my business. I sold my business only because two different people during a two week period walked into my office and asked to buy my business.
Here are a few things you can do to make 2015 a successful year.
1.Educate employees and other individuals affected by the changes. Take the time and resources to educate employees during times of change. Keep them informed and confident in your company’s efforts to remain successful and strong. Understanding what is causing the changes in an industry will allow for better preparation and adaptation.
2.Maintain consistent service levels. Just because the industry is changing doesn’t mean your brand should; consistent service levels implies a sense of stability during these changing times. The quality of the services a company provides should also never diminish, no matter what obstacles are encountered.
3.Uphold your company’s mission. A company’s mission should never deviate from its original goal. When adapting to any changes, refer to your mission, and let that guide your decisions. I learned the term mission statement back in my computer days and it is nothing more than a few paragraphs defining what you want your company to be. If you don’t know where you are going with your business you will never get there.
4.Stay true to your business plan. While you may need to make a few adjustments on thepath to your ultimate goal, a solid but flexible business plan should help your company withstand any industry changes. Most tow owners don’t have a business plan. I had two buyers interested in my company because I built a successful company by following the business plan I had in place. Don’t be afraid of the term business plan. It’s nothing more than steps you will take to perform your services. Write it down on a piece of paper and look at it every day. It will help to keep you focused.
5.Focus on what you can control. Understand how the legislation will affect your company, and then try to control what you can. Focusing on impacts that are out of your hands is a waste of time. By narrowing in on what you can control, including your business proposition and high-quality customer service, you allow yourself the opportunity to succeed.
6.Budget accordingly. Plan for the worst, and hope for the best. It is better to be prepared for unforeseen expenses than to scramble to cover them.
You need to always go back to the basics and build off of them in order to continue growing your business. Keeping things simple essentially leads to success and increases the ability to survive while your competitors drop off and look for other ways to make money.