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Issues Archives: Volume 4 - Issue 4

How Tight Is Too Tight Part 2

Last month I examined the effects of using cheater bars when tightening tie downs, both chain and web.This time I going to try to answer the question-How tight should they be? Before I do that, I want to absolutely convince you that cheater bars have no place in the tightening tie-downs.

If you remember, I was able to reach and exceed the Work Load Limit of 3/8 Grade 7 chain using a 36” long cheater bar and minimal effort. What would happen if someone was to use considerable effort? I was able to nearly EXCEED the breaking strength of the chain. How?

When I saw the loads that were being reached with minimal effort I realized two things: it might be possible to exceed the break strength of the 3/8” Grade 7 chain (26,400 LB)in a vertical hitch, and this was becoming unsafe and I needed to rerig my test set up. I changed the chain from a vertical hitch to a basket hitch. The chain was looped around one hook of the tester, then around the other hook of the tester then hooked back to itself. The lever load binder was attached to one leg of the chain so that the load was divided between the two legs. In this configuration the test bed would read the entire load, while the chain and binder would only see half of the load.

Chain in basket hitch for load binder testing Disclaimer time: The tests are conducted with new, unused products in a controlled environment. Extreme care was used to prevent personal injury and property damage. The data presented is for informational purposes only. All load binder manufacturers, including B/A Products, state that cheater bars are NOT to be used. As always, NEVER exceed the Work Load Limit of your tie-downs.

So what load was reached? 25,803 lbs. Yes, you read that right, 25,803 lbs. Less than 1000 lbs below the breaking strength of the chain. Now, remember that in the basket set up, the chain and binder are only seeing half that load, roughly 12,901 lbs, or just shy of twice the chains WLL. Could I have broken the chain if I had stayed with a vertical hitch? I doubt it, and here is why:

In order to reach the load of 25,803 lbs I had to strain. With half that load on the binder the threads of the load binder were beginning to bind up (squeaking and resisting turning) and the body of the load binder was getting warm. The signs were evident to me that I had tightened enough. Hopefully this is evidence that cheater bars have no place on your trucks.

So this month I’m going to talk about web tie downs. How tight should they be? This should be easy, right? Well, not so much. I contacted a few people in the chain and tie down industry. I got answers like “that’s a good question”, “no one has ever asked that before”,” I don’t know”, and “as tight as you can without exceeding the Work Load limit”. At least one of these answers is useful.

I looked through my usual sources, and found very little, sometimes conflicting information. I started with the Web Sling Tie Down Associations WSTDA-T-1 “Recommended Standard Specifications for Synthetic Web Tie Downs”, chapter 4 Recommended Operating Practices. There is a large amount of information presented, including not to exceed the WLL of your tie down, how the angle of the tie downeffects the WLL, and so on, but no guide to tightening. There are two bits of information worth noting: first, you must take into consideration the anchor point of your tie down. If your anchor point, be it a D-ring, keyhole slot or rub rail is not rated the same or higher than your tie down, the tie down MUST be de-rated to match. A chain (or tie-down) is only as strong as its weakest link (or anchor point). Second, it refers to the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration Standard for Protection Against Shifting and Falling Cargo. Guess where I’m going next?

I went to the FMCSA web site (www.fmcsa.dot.gov), found Regulations, then cargo securement, then Drivers handbook on Cargo Securement, Chapter 9-Automobiles, light trucks and vans. This must be the place! Nope. But I did find some useful information. In brief, the chapter covers securing vehicles under 10,000 lbs. it states:

“At least two tie downs at the front and rear of the cargo to prevent movement side to side, forward and rearward, and vertically.

The sum of the working load limits from all tie-downs must be at least 50% of the weight of the cargo”

I also looked at Chapter 1, “Fundamentals of Cargo Securement”. Once again, no instructions on tightness, but I did find this:

“Each cargo securement system must be able to withstand a minimum amount of force in each direction.

Forward force: 80% of cargo weight when braking while driving straight ahead.

Rearward force: 50% of cargo weight when accelerating, shifting gears while climbing a hill, or braking in reverse.

Sideways force: 50% of cargo weight when turning, changing lanes, or braking while turning.

Upward force: 20% of cargo weight when traveling over bumps in the road or cresting a hill.”

A diagram is included showing these forces with the definition the 80% of the cargo weight is considered .8g (as in g forces).

So far, we know what we have to restrain, and how much of it we have to be able to hold, but not how tight the tie-downs should be. On to the next reference, “Practical Cargo Securement, Guidelines for Drivers, carriers & Shippers”, published by the Commercial vehicle Safety Alliance. This book as lots of useful information on the proper ways to secure many things, including vehicles. In chapter 5, section 5.4.B they discuss tie-down position and tightness. The following statement is made:

“When tightening direct tie-downs you want them snug but not over tightened. You can make them weaker by over tightening them. For example a chain with a WLL of 5000 lbs that is tightened so that it has 1000 lbs of tension will only have 4,000 lbs remaining to resist force acting against it.”

Lets step away for a minute and talk about direct vs. indirect tie-downs. A direct tie-down is one that goes from the deck of the transport vehicle to an attachment point on the cargo, a cluster strap for example where the chain on the ratchet is in a keyhole slot on the deck of a carrier and the T hook in in the frame slot of the towed vehicle.

An example of a direct tie down. The tie down is connected to the load and the transport vehicle.

An indirect tie-down attaches to the transport vehicle, goes over or through the cargo and then reattaches to the transport vehicle. A crushed car on a flat bed with chains over the hood and trunk areas would be an example of an indirect tie-down. The angle of the tie-down to the cargo has and effect of the usable WLL of the tie-down. For our purposes we are discussing direct tie-downs only.

An example of an indirect tie down. The straps hold the load in place with pressure only; they are not connected to the load.

Lets go back to the statement “…will only have 4000 lbs remaining to remaining to resist force acting against it”. This just didn’t sound right to me. If it was reversed, say the chain had a WLL of 5000 lbs and was tensioned to 4000 lbs (which we know is possible) it will only have 1000 lbs remaining to resist force acting against it, I might have accepted it and moved on.

I contacted a friend, Mike Green and posed that question to him. Mike is a Captain in the Montgomery County MD Fire Department Special Operations, has a general engineering degree, and runs his own business, Mid Atlantic Technical Rescue, which teaches rescue techniques, including how to figure loads and forces. Mike consulted with one of his instructors, Mike Johns, who is also in Special Operations with the Montgomery County Fire Department and holds an engineering degree. Their answer, in short, is that the original tension on the tie-down would have no effect on the end loading.

They explain it this way: Lets say you put 3000 lbs of force on your tie down. The only way that 3000 lbs of force would ever be increased beyond 3000 lbs is if the car were to surge forward with sufficient acceleration or deceleration to create a force greater than 3000 lbs. At that point the initial tension you placed on it is irrelevant, because the load itself has exceeded your initial force.

I asked Mike about the CVSA statement that the tie-downs must be able to restrain .8g of the load. He did some quick calculations and found the deceleration rate to achieve .8g. The rate would be going from 53 mph to 0 in 3 seconds. Short of hitting a 4’ thick concrete wall, not likely to happen, as trucks do not have the ability to brake that quickly.

What about damage cause by over tightening, is that a possibility? I called a friend at a body shop that has a frame machine and asked if he could tell me how much pressure they used when straightening frames or bodies. He answered that there are a lot of factors, but forces as low as 4000 lbs are used. If 4000 lbs can straighten a frame, I’m betting it can also bend, or damage one. I think I’m starting to get somewhere.

Lets take a little break and recap where we are at. So far, I have not found an answer to how tight a tie down should be. I have found:

The tie-down should not be tightened above its WLL. Depending on your tie-down, this could be as low as 2000 lbs. A frame machine uses 4000 lbs of force, so we definitely want to stay below 4000 lbs.

The attachment points of the tie-downs must be equal or greater to the tie-down WLL, or the tie-down must be derated.

The tie-downs need to restrain .8g of the load (defined by FMCSA as 80% of the loads weight).

I looked through several instruction manuals for car carriers and tow trucks to see if specific forces were recommended. I did not find specific forces, but saw the phrase “sufficient force” mentioned several times. In addition, I saw the statement “sufficient force has been applied if the tire sidewalls begin to bulge”. How much force does it take to bulge a side wall? Do different sizes of tires bulge at different loads? What about tire pressures? Guess what I’m going to try and find out next.

One afternoon I gathered a roll back, several vehicles with different sizes of tires, a load cell and some tie-downs and attempted to find out. The first question that came up was what if the tire pressure is low? Sure enough, the first car we put on the bed was supposed to be at 52 psi was at 35 psi. The nextquestion was what defines a bulge? There were 3 of us trying to work it out, and I could already see there were too many variables and opinions for this to be accurate. Since everything was there, I trudged on. What we found out was that whether the tire pressure was at 35 or 52 psi, it did not make much of a difference with a direct tie down. We really were not getting a noticeable bulge, and the load on the tie-down was anywhere from 300 to 600 lbs.

We switched to an over the tire strap, as used in our Roll Back Tie Down System. The loop around the tire was indenting the tire when we had between 400 and 600 lbs of force at the ratchet side of the assembly. The issue was that the three of us each had a different opinion of the indentation. Back to the drawing board.

I stepped away from this to work on another project for a customer. The customer had asked for tie-down assemblies to be labeled to a European standard, EN 12195-2. I located the standard, printed it out and among other things discovered it called for a SHF (standard hand force) and a STF (standard tension force) to be on the label. Per the Standards definitions the SHF is a “hand operating force of500N” and the STF is “residual force after release of the handle of the ratchet”. I had found a standard for tightness, but what is a N and how can I measure it?

From my other testing work I knew that N stands for Newtons, the metric measurement of force. I Googled “convert Newtons to pounds”, plugged in 500N in the Newtons box, hit enter and found that 500 Newtons is equal to 112 lbs. So the standard read that the Standard Hand Force to be applied to the ratchet is 112 lbs. Next I made a section of strap covered with Velcro, and adjusted the overlap of the until until regularly came apart at between 110 and 115 lbs. This was done by repeatedly lifting a bucket filled with a known weight and measuring the overlap.

I then attached the Velcro to the handle of a ratchet strap assembly in the test bed, and repeatedly tightened the ratchet by pulling on the Velcro strap until it came apart, and recorded the load on the test bed. The average load was 1181 lbs. Now, I’m the first to admit that this was not the most scientific method, and may not be 100 percent accurate. But, an EN 12195-2 rated tie down assembly with a 5000daN break strength (11,240 lbs) has a standard tension force of 1124 lbs, so I am not too far off.

So now we have a target load for our web tie-downs. Time to see how close some operators are, and if I can teach them to load the assembly to 1124 lbs.

I picked three employees at random to do my control tests. TJ, Andy and Keith were brought to the test bed. The only instructions they were given was to tighten the web assembly until they thought it was tight, and that there was no right or wrong way to do it. They each tightened the strap three times, and the loads were recorded. Average loads were 1442 for TJ, 872 for Andy, and 1615 for Keith. More interesting was the difference between each employees high and low: TJ was 931 lbs, Andy’s was 11 lbs and Keiths was 417 lbs. As each of them finished their turns, I asked them if they thought they tightened the strap evenly each time. Andy answered yes, TJ said the first two times yes but on the third he “put more leg into it”, which was the high load of the test at 1976 lbs. Keith thought he did it evenly all 3 times.

Now when I said I picked the employees at random, I was not completely honest. I picked one person who I was pretty sure had never used a tie-down before (Andy), someone who I knew for sure had used them (Keith) and one who I was not quite sure of (TJ). I also picked employees of varying height and weight.

I then explained the purpose of the testing to my group, and told them how I was going to try and teach them some techniques. The first thing we discussed was “Body English”. If you remember in part 1 I defined Body English as “body motions made in a usually unconscious effort to influence the progress of a propelled object”. What I wanted them to be conscious of was to not use their body or legs, but to attempt to use arm strength only. I pointed out TJ’s admission that he “put more leg into it” and the difference it made in the load applied.

I also showed them the technique I wanted them to use. I had them pull the slack out of the assembly so the strap was snug before they started tightening the ratchet. I asked them to operate the ratchet until they began to feel tension build in the assembly, and then to tighten the ratchet two more “clicks”.

Over the day we practiced four times, with each employee tightening the strap three times in each session. I did not tell them the loads until all three had completed their turn. I then reviewed the load each applied, and the difference between the high and low for each of them.

By the end of the day TJ was averaging 1046 lbs, with an 11 lb difference between the high and the low. Andy averaged 798 lbs, with a 35 lb difference between the high and low. Keith averaged 922 lbs, and had a 50 lb difference between the high and low. So far so good. TJ is pretty close to the target of 1124 lbs, Keith and Andy are a little low. I gave them a day off, then did one more test to see how much they remembered and how close they would be to the target. TJ averaged 852 lbs, 86 lb difference between high and low, Andy averaged 627 lbs, with a 55 lb difference, and Keith averaged 707 lbs, with a 90 lb difference.

So do I call this experiment a success? I would say it was marginal. While we missed the target, especially after a day off, we were able to tighten the strap more evenly. Consider that the difference between the high and low load in the first test was 1107 lbs and in the final test it was 225 lbs, all 3 operators were became much more consistent. With a little more practice, who knows?

In addition to my earlier disclaimer, I need to say that a number of factors were ignored during this testing. Operator position and stance were not taken into account. The setup of the ratchet strap assembly in the test bed does not accurately reflect how a direct tie-down acts against a cars suspension. My point of this exercise was to try and find a tightness standard, and to see how close I could get a group of employees to get to it.

I would be interested to hear from you, and get your input. Is there a standard for tightness that I was unable to find? Do you teach your employees a specific method to tighten tie-downs? What other information would you find helpful? I can be reached at Fritz@baprod.com.

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Jump Starting 101

When it comes to jump starting, there are a few quick questions to answer to determine what you need: How much power do I need?; How often will I be jump starting?; What kind of access do I require; and, How long do I want the jump starter to last, given my usage patterns?

Power – How Much Do I Need?

This is almost always the first question that comes up. The answer, of course, depends on the types of vehicles you need to start, the weather conditions in which you are jump starting and the condition of the vehicles you will be starting. Suffice it say that the larger the vehicle, the colder them temperature and worse the overall vehicle condition, the more power you will need.

A good rule of thumb is that if you are planning to start gasoline powered passenger vehicles, even in cold weather, a jump starter that can supply 300 Cranking Amps (30 second, 0F, 7.2V or higher terminal voltage) of power should suffice. For diesel powered passenger vehicles, 400 Cranking Amps should get the job done. If you are starting larger diesel powered vehicles, a larger jump starter will be needed.

How Often Will I be Jump Starting?

The more jump starts you expect to perform per day, per week, etc., the more you are going to want to ensure that you have sufficient reserve capacity to meet your usage pattern. Reserve capacity is essentially how deep the well is in the jump starter’s power supply capability. So, you could have two jump starters that are equally rated in Peak Amps or even Cranking Amps, but have different reserve capacities. Running a tow vehicle, reserve capacity is going to be important. You want to be sure your jump starter can work as full a day as you are.

What Kind of Access Do I Require?

After your power equation is determined, the next question is whether any given unit under consideration will provide the access you need. This, again, will be determined by the types of vehicles you will be starting. This is true two ways. On larger vehicles, you are going to want to be sure to have long enough cables to reach the battery / starting points on them, which can often be difficult. In addition, on vehicles with difficult to access batteries, remote starting points often require extend reach to get to a good ground. With remote starting points, you can’t cheat and take both clamps to the battery (which you shouldn’t do, by the way). So, you must get to a good ground with the negative clamp. This often requires 3+ feet of reach, depending on the vehicle.

How Long Do I Want/Require the Jump Starter to Last?

Again, this equation will vary for each user, based on their usage patterns, spend expectations and desire for value / longevity. But, regardless of the spend, everyone wants the products they purchase to last a reasonable length of time. Particularly in a towing operation, which could reasonably be described as an extreme environment, this factor comes into play in a big way. Various products, based on their build method, will stand up in the towing environment better than others.

Built for Jump Starting From the Ground Up

The battery is the most important contributor to jump starter performance. It impacts everything from the jump starter’s maximum boosting capacity, the number of jumps that can be performed per charge, the amount of time that the jump starter can sit between charges, its ability to withstand abuse and the overall service life of the unit. Clore Automotive ES Series (Booster PAC) and Clore PROFORMER (Jump-N-Carry) batteries are specifically developed to perform vehicle jump starting applications. They are designed to deliver exceptional power in a quick, concentrated burst. And have numerous enhancements that serve a single purpose: deliver the power you need, even in extreme conditions, over and over again.

Beyond the battery, it is important to remember that an investment in battery power and reserve capacity isn’t paid off if we can’t get all of that energy to the vehicle. That’s where the Power Path components come into play. These consist primarily of the output cables and battery clamps. Output cables must be sufficiently conductive to deliver the battery’s energy without introducing excessive resistance, which would result in a voltage drop, diminishing the jump starter’s capacity to start the vehicle. The more powerful the battery, the greater the requirement on the output cables. Clore Automotive output cables are specifically mated to the battery power of each jump starter to ensure optimal results. They are extremely durable, flexible in cold temperatures and resistant to vehicle fluids and chemicals.

You work hard. Make sure that when you reach for your jump starter, it is ready to work as hard as you. Downtime is lost revenue. Having a jump starter that you know is going to work every time you grab it is more than peace of mind. It saves time and saves money on the road.

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Scene Safety Procedures: Increasing Your Safety on the Job

By Simon Birch, Technical Product Support – AW Direct

Much has been written and discussed about the merits of hi-vis, ANSI approved clothing, and there is no doubt that it contributes to keeping you safe out on the roadside. Towers all have and use warning lights as well, but what else can you do to protect yourself on the job?

In my 30 years as a towing operator, I had several close calls, but thankfully, no serious incidents. I’m going to share some of the procedures and policies I learned and was taught along the way that kept myco-workers and me safe.

Roadside Service

One of the most dangerous jobs we perform is roadside service. Tire changes, gas calls, jump starts, etc., all require your focus to be diverted from the traffic around you. The correct placement of your truck is the single most important thing you can do to provide some protection for yourself and your customers.

Ideally, you should park behind your casualty at a reasonable distance. You should be close enough to make getting your equipment easy, but far enough that should a vehicle strike your truck, you have enough room to get out of the way if necessary. You should also turn your wheels towards the ditch line, that way, if the impact is hard enough to move your vehicle, it will roll away from the lanes of traffic.

Roadside Towing

By following a few simple procedures, you can remain as safe as possible when approaching a disabled vehicle that you are going to tow. As you approach your casualty, start to slow down in plenty of time. Make your moves steady and predictable to the other motorists around you.

If your state law allows, activate your emergency lighting to give your fellow drivers some warning of the upcoming hazard.

Once pulled over and in front of the casualty, check your mirrors and look over your shoulder before exiting the vehicle. Never turn your back on the traffic that is approaching, and proceed around the front of your wrecker. Walk down the passenger side to your casualty.

Do as much of your hooking up as you can from the passenger side and only work on the traffic side when you absolutely have to, always watching and listening to the traffic around you. One trick is to listen for the rumble strips. Most major highways now have rumble strips on the hard shoulder. If you hear them, you know that an approaching vehicle has strayed over the white line and could become an issue for you.

Once your hook up is complete and you are ready to re-join traffic, it is a good idea, if you can, to build up some speed before you merge into the traffic lane. Slowly accelerate down the shoulder until your speed is sufficient so as to not cause the flow of traffic to be disrupted by your movements.

Recovery Jobs

Due to their incredible diversity and randomness, recovery jobs can be very dangerous situations where you are exposed to many potential hazards.

Let’s look at some of the more common issues and how to avoid possible injuries.

On a recovery job, there are many factors to consider. Hidden damage, heavy loads, equipment failure, load shifting, etc. Because your focus will be spread across many concerns, the first thing to do is ascertain a safe zone. Once working in that safe zone, you can be less concerned with what is going on around you, and stay more focused on the job at hand.

During your walk around, note anything that can go wrong during the recovery. This is especially important for heavy recovery jobs, as you are dealing with much heavier loads. However, it is still vital for the light duty jobs as well. Don’t assume that when you roll a car over, or winch it out of a ditch, that something can’t go wrong. Because it can and does.

When installing your rigging, check and double check all straps, chains, snatch blocks and wire rope for any sign of wear. Ensure they are installed correctly, with wear pads, safety latches and pins in place to prevent failure during the job. We have all seen images of wreckers lying on their sides, or broken ropes and straps that have recoiled at horrific speeds due to equipment failure.

Once your rigging is done, take up all the slack in your winch ropes, and then inspect your rigging again. Make sure that nothing has moved during the tensioning process. Make sure that when the job is complete, the casualty is going to be in a safe location. Make sure it will be secure and far enough away from your wreckers and rigging that you can facilitate a tow on it if needed.

Probably the most critical part of a recovery job is the position of the operator or operators. You need to be in a place where you can see what is going on and where you can communicate with other team members. More importantly, you need to be in a place where if something goes wrong, you are out of the danger zone.

Never stand between your wire ropes or inside a triangle of wire ropes. If you are using a snatch block to change direction, stand on the back side of it, so if something breaks it will move away from you.

If possible, use a remote control. Most modern recovery vehicles have remotes, and aftermarket ones are available for winches of every size and make.

As winching or lifting commences, listen. Your ropes and snatch blocks will make a noise. Old school operators will tell you of days gone by when the big mechanical wreckers with no pressure limits would“talk to you”. Wire ropes “sing” under a load. Listen to the casualty and make sure there is no noise coming from it that would indicate an unforeseen failure, which could result in injury. Keep your hands and feet away from all pinch points. If something needs to be changed in the rigging, make sure all personnel are aware and that all levers and remotes are not being handled.

It may seem obvious, but never stand or lay under an unsupported load. Do not rely on hydraulic pressure or winch brakes to hold the load. Too many lives and limbs are lost each year by loads dropping on operators.

Obviously, accidents happen. If they didn’t we wouldn’t have an industry, but by being aware, focused and knowledgeable, you can do a great deal to limit those accidents that occur during your work day. We have a very dangerous industry; it’s up to us to make it a safe as humanly possible.

Stay safe out there, folks.

AW Direct
Helping You Help Them
For more information:
800-243-3194
tech.awdirect.com

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Revenue Streams

Additional Revenue Streams With the economy the way it is all small businesses are struggling to survive. As I travel around the U.S. I talk to towers that get creative and come up with additional ways to generate revenue.

1.One company got rid of his heavy duty business. This cut down on expenses, and he opened up a convenience store.
2.Another tower from Alabama also open up a convenience sore.
3.There was a tower in Shepard Texas whose wife had a nail salon and tanning salon in the front office of their storage lot.
4.Another company did a u-haul rental from his storage lot.
5.Towing junk cars and running them across the scales.
6.RV and boat storage.
7.New car storage for car dealers.
8.Store cars for other tow companies.
9.Storage units at your storage yard.
10.Overnight parking for tractor trailers as they pass through town.

If you have room on your storage yard there are ways to make money with it. Go to car dealers and ask them if they want to store new cars on your lot. You will be their inventory lot. If you think about it, your storage yard is fenced, some are staffed 24/7, some have security cameras, that has to be of value to someone.

I recently talked with a large company that was going into the grocery delivery business. People would e-mail their orders in and this company would deliver the groceries. They asked me if they could contract tow companies to be their delivery service. They are going nationwide with this service and they knew I knew tow companies all over the U.S. I was very much interested in the concept and this would be a great way for tow companies to add additional revenue when they are not towing. The pay was actually more than some tow fees the tow companies were getting for some of their tow contracts.

When people ask me what they should do I tell them to start holding their own auctions. Check your local laws but where I Am if you have your own storage lot you can hold your own auction. There is a little more to it than that, but it is easy and you can make some good money. Then you grow the auctions where you auction off other peoples cars and charge a small buyers fee and the next thing you know you have an extra ten thousand a month. I’m going to start working the local body shops and help them dispose of vehicles they get stuck with. You split the revenue with the body shop and you both make some money on cars the body shop would have lost money on. Over a 7 year period my tow company auctioned off over 20,000 cars at an average of about $500 a car, do the math. Anyone interested or needing help feel free to call.

Here are a few guide lines to follow to help you increase revenue;

  1. Write down where you are making money, and where you think you are losing money. If you need help call me.
  2. Develop a clear vision of where your industry is heading to begin to project where things may need to change as the industry evolves. Again, write it down so that the vision can be reviewed and verified by others.
  3. Thoroughly research the competition to harvest their better ideas. Yes, those talented people hard at work for your competition do have very good ideas too.
  4. Listen to your existing customers and identify what they want.
  5. Identify opportunities that your company could fulfill. Many companies desire the so-called “low hanging fruit” but you should also look for the opportunities that require a ladder to harvest some richer opportunities that might be shunned by competitors. Evaluate the cost and see if it’s worth it to go after the new business.
  6. Objectively evaluate your marketing and sales, If it’s still running pretty much the same as it was a few years ago, you’re missing opportunities. The phrase “We’ve always done it that way” doesn’t work anymore. You have to start keeping up with an ever-evolving business world.
  7. Listen to your employees, by drawing upon your own people to help imagine your next big thing. Especially listen to those closest to your customers even if they are at the lowest tier on your organization chart.
  8. Consider how your service could be evolved to exploit a new market. Sometimes little changes can yield big new product successes.
  9. Assemble the above into an action plan. Write it down, because an actionable plan in someone’s head is understood by only that one person. Your team can’t even tell if it’s the best plan if they can’t see it.

I talk to tow companies that have been in business for over 25 years and have not changed anything. It’s time to take a good look at what you are doing and start making changes if you want to stay competitive. Sit down with all your employees and ask the following questions:

  • How can existing products or services be repackaged into a new source of revenue?
  • How much- if at all- can the Internet impact our revenues?
  • How much market share do we have now and how much more can you realistically take?
  • How can we realize new revenue from what we are already doing? What specific growth skills, knowledge, talent, and resources will be necessary to enter a new market?

Once you have identified changes to be made, you need to focus on a plan to get from here to there. The plan is used to maintain progress toward tapping into that new revenue stream. If you need help developing your plan I will be glad to help.

There are many opportunities to change your business and generate new revenue streams. Be creative and use as many resources that are available to you to make 2015 your best year ever.

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