Issues Archives: Volume 4 – Issue 3

Your Business in 2015

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.

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How to stop working harder – Make your business work for you

Towing is extremely rewarding, but not without its challenges. As I talk to business owners across the country I hear them express their concerns. Consistently I hear that Towing Operators are…
Upset by increased truck and maintenance costs.

  • Fed up with motor clubs squeezing profits out of tow operators’ hands.
  • Frustrated with increased competition stealing valuable work.
  • Disappointed by a flat economy.
  • Angry at local and state regulations that are costing profits and customers.
  • Tired of 2:00 am phone calls in bad weather.

Can you relate?

These real challenges are often compounded by already overwhelming day to day tasks required to keep a successful business operating such as the following:

  • Trucks breaking down / maintenance
  • Employee management
  • Customer challenges / issues
  • Ordinances and regulations
  • Taxes
  • Financial analysis and accounting
  • Marketing and sales

For a business owner to continue to be successful in this changing landscape, he needs a plan to respond to industry pressures while juggling day-to-day responsibilities. This plan needs to include a path to gain valuable margin in the business owner’s life.

Margin is one of the owners greatest assets to helping the business grow. Margin is the space betweenour load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.

You need this margin in order to strategically navigate the industry pressures that are robbing you ofprofits, opportunities, and energy.

How do you gain this valuable margin?

Those that create this margin approach their business with a fundamental difference than those that don’t. They make their business work for them as opposed to being one who is daily worked by their business.

Those who are “worked by their business” are often characterized by active income streams.

An active income stream is what you get when someone hires you to do a job. You do the work; you get paid. But only once. In other words, the income is non-recurring.

When a business only has active income streams, the owner can easily fall into the “work harder” trap. This business owner can only become more profitable if he works harder. This person will always be limited by their natural limitations of time, talent, and energy.

The business owner that makes his business work for him is often characterized by passive income streams. Passive income is what happens when customers pay you over and over again for the same work—work you only did once. In other words, it is recurring.

When a business owner ads passive income to his business, he is able to grow beyond his limitations. If the owner doesn’t work, he still continues to get paid off of work previously completed. When he doeswork, he is simply adding to the passive income already generated.

There are many ways to add passive income streams to your existing operation. One option in particularis making waves in the towing industry. Snappy Box Moving and Storage has developed a program that allows Towing Operators to add portable storage to their existing operation.

Portable storage is a $3 billion industry that compliments towing by utilizing a tow operator’s existing resources. The portable storage industry is barely 15 years old and growing rapidly. Portable storage was created to provide a more convenient option for customers needing self-storage. The portable container is brought to the customer’s home or business where they pack it up. Once packed, it can bestored at the customer’s property or brought back to a portable storage company’s secure outdoor storage lot or warehouse.

The towing operator benefits by generating active income from the transportation of the storage unit while also generating passive income from the rent of the portable storage unit. On average, the container will rent for $175.00 per month. That works out to be around $1,200 per customer when you factor both rent and delivery fees. That same container rented for a year could produce $2,400! Multiply this by 50, 100, or 200 container and towing operators can generate significant profit.

Portable storage units are extremely durable, typically have a 30 year life cycle, waterproof, secure, can carry up to 10,000 lbs and withstand winds up to 120 mile per hour. They are commonly 8’x16’ and 8’x19’ feet in length. These containers are uniquely designed for the towing industry and have four wheels that allow the container to roll on and off your truck without damaging the bed.

With positive growth yearly for 11 straight years, Snappy Box knows how to help you generate passive income through renting containers. With your towing experience, you know how to tow containers. Working together with your experience, Snappy Box rents the containers while you focus on transportation.

Snappy Box is here to help you use your existing resources to safely and slowly build passive income on top of what you already do well – towing – whether towing a car or a container. Some of the features Snappy Box provides is a sales-focused call center, online lead generation, marketing plan, billing/collections system, dispatching, social media campaigns, website with quote system, landing page, and operational software.

Now is the absolute BEST time to add passive income to your business through Portable Self Storage. Most families try to move when their kids are out of school. Late spring and summer have traditionally been considered “moving season” – the time when most people try to schedule moves from one house to another or schedule major home renovations. It takes 3-4 months to get containers delivered, so now is the best time to order to make sure they arrive before “moving season”.

If you are tired of being worked by your business and ready to make your business work for you by adding passive streams of income to your operation, then Snappy Box Moving and Storage may be a great solution for you. Talk to a Snappy Box representative about how portable storage can be a helpful way to diversify intelligently.

To find out more about their services, check them out at or call 888-363-2720.

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Winch Lines- The Heart of the Pull

By Paul Ederer, Technical Support-AWDirect

Wire winch lines are the heart of our recovery operations. A damaged line is a serious safety issue and a broken one removes a recovery vehicle from service. Unfortunately, winch lines are often misunderstood. In this article I will cover the basics of winch lines (commonly called wire ropes). I will discuss both what to look for during an inspection of your winch line and how to select a new winch line.

Rope Cores: Rope cores serve as the foundation for the strands. They keep the rope round and strands properly positioned. There are 3 different core types: fiber core, independent wire core (IWRC) and strand core. Fiber core offers the greatest flexibility. It is commonly made of polypropylene fibers, but natural fiber options are also available. Independent wire rope core (IWRC) is made of wire rope. It is the strongest type of core available and is 10-15% stronger than fiber core. Strand Core is made of stands of wires. It is least flexible of the three types discussed and is mostly used on utility cables.

Rope Grades: The most common rope today is extra improved plow steel (EIP or XIP). It is typically used on winch lines and is generally 15% stronger than improved plow steel grade (IPS). Extra extra improved plow steel grade (EEIP or XXIP) is also available for added strength in higher rated equipment.

Rope Types: Bright wire is un-coated and is the most commonly used winch line. Another option is galvanized wire, which improves corrosion resistance. However, galvanization can reduce a wire’s strength up to 10% compared to bright wire unless the wire is drawn again. Stainless steel wire contains chromium and nickel. It is very corrosion resistant and used primarily on yachts or as control cables.

Construction: Construction determines how the wire rope performs. For instance, a 6 x 19 rope will have 6 strands of rope that have between 19 to 26 wires. Each added wire makes for better abrasion resistance. A 6 x 37 construction has 27 to 49 wires and is more flexible, while a 19 x 7 construction is rotation resistant. 6 x 19 IWRC

Lay: There are two categories of lay, directional lay and lay orientation. Directional lay refers to what direction the strands of the rope face when you are looking down the rope, and lay orientation refers to the direction the wires within the strands are twisted. Directional lay is either right or left. Lay orientation is either regular or lang. In regular lay, the wires are twisted in one direction while the strands are twisted in the opposite direction. In lang lay, the wires are laid in the same direction as the strand in the rope. Regular lay ropes are less likely to untwist. They are also less likely to fail because of crushing and distortion; however, they are less flexible than lang lay ropes. Wire winch lines use right regular lay construction.

Design Factors: Design factors are safety factors required by government and industry organizations for wire rope. While they vary depending on application, typical towing winch lines have a 3:1 design factor, while lifting wire ropes have a 5:1 factor.

During a winch line’s “useful life” all wire rope will gradually lose strength due to surface wear and metal fatigue. Metal fatigue is caused by normal use of the winch line, but is made worse by excessive bending, which can be caused by a sheave that is too small. Inspecting your winch lines periodically for damage can save you many headaches on the road. Unfortunately, I suspect many can relate to having a winch line break that’s connected to a car with its owner watching. It’s never a pleasant or inexpensive experience! Below is mechanical damage to look for when inspecting your winch line and determining whether to remove it from service.

  • Hook damage: Look for any cracks or deformation of hooks. If the throat opening has been enlarged by 15% or twisted out of plane by 10%, it needs replacing.
  • Broken Wires: Pulling winch lines across edges, fatigue or overload can all break individual wires. If you find five or more broken wires in a single strand or 10 or more in one lay, the wire should be replaced.
  • Wear: Dragging a winch line on the ground or loading over the winch line will cause flat areas on individual wires of the cable. If these wires have lost 1/3 or more of the original diameter the line needs to be taken out of service.
  • Corrosion/Heat Damage: Any discoloration from rust or lack of lubrication promotes fatigue. If the wire rope is severely pitted or individual wires rusted through, replace the line. Fiber core slings need to stay below 180°F and steel core below 400°F. Exceeding these heats greatly reduce wire rope strength.
  • Kinking: Shock loading or forcing the line against an edge causes bent strands. This prevents the rope from rotating properly and greatly reduces its strength, making it necessary to replace the rope. Use load pads to protect the line and prevent this.
  • Crushing: A load set on top of a winch line can flatten the cable. This has the same effect as kinking, making it necessary to remove the line from service.

When you are inspecting your winch line and have not found any damage that would require replacement, it is an ideal opportunity to lubricate the line to get the maximum service life possible. Be sure to use a lubricant especially made for wire rope. Proper lubrication reduces internal friction within the wires and strands of the wire rope. In addition, it protects the rope from oxidation and corrosion.

When selecting a new winch line it should be based on the diameter, length and type recommended by the winch manufacturer for the model of winch you own. This information can be found on the winch nameplate, otherwise you can contact the winch manufacturer or local supplier. Beyond making sure your rope is compatible with your winch, there are a few other things you may want to consider. First,swivel hooks will help relieve rotational tension as the rope moves, so you may want to invest in them. Also, keep in mind that imported ropes can provide substantial cost savings without sacrificing quality. To reduce damage to whatever winch line you choose, use roller guides and tension plates. These aid in the proper winding of wire rope on the winch drum.

Periodic inspections and lubrication of your winch line will save your business money, but more importantly, keep your employees safe and your customers happy. That is the heart of our industry.

AW Direct – Helping You Help Them

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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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