Issues Archives: Volume 5 – Issue 4

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Time to Decide

As the owner of a tow company you have to wear many hats. You have to be a sales person, and accountant, a computer expert, a mechanic, a tow truck driver, not to mention all the employee problems you will face. Decisions, decisions, decisions, you make them all day long.

When I ran my company I was no different than you. I faced the same decisions you had to make, but my success was based on how I handled the decisions I was faced with. My company consisted of 36 full time employees running 17 trucks to support close to 1,000 customers. My wife and I would talk about our 36 employees and how they relied on us to feed their families. That made decision making top priority.

Here are a few things that will help you make the right decision:

  1. Know Your Business – Gather all of the facts and necessary information that impacts your business. This is important, because you do not want to miss critical information that could make a difference in how you run your business.
    • Who are your best customers?
    • Who are your worst customers?
    • Who are your best employees?
    • Who are your worst employees?
    • What trucks do I repair?
    • What trucks do I replace?
    • What are my monthly expenses?
    • What is my monthly revenue?

    I knew exactly how many tows I needed each month to make my numbers, and on the beginning of each month the score card went to zero and you started all over.

  2. Results from my decision – Think about the decision you are about to make and what the results will be. Will the decision allow me to reach the goals I set for my company? If the decision is wrong, how will it affect my business? Think before you react.
  3. Ask others – I had 36 employees and I often let them help me make decisions relating to the business. I think it was because I always made them feel like a part of the company. If I had to make a decision on what type of truck to buy who better to ask than the driver of the truck. If I need to make a dispatch decision I would let my dispatcher make the decision and I would live with the results. Sometimes the wrong decision was made but we lived with it and kept on going.
  4. Relax – If it was a major decision like dealing with an employee problem I always want to make sure I was in the right frame of mind. Take a few deep breaths and try to do something that will make you feel more relaxed such as taking a 10-minute walk, listening to the radio or doing something that would help you de-stress.  You will feel better and gain a fresh perspective on your current situation.
  5. Don’t Procrastinate – Don’t put off important decisions, and don’t worry about your past mistakes just keep focusing on what is best for your company. To determine the best outcome for your business, always listen to your customer needs and have your finances and expenses organized. Customer satisfaction and making sure your company doesn’t run out of money are some of the important priorities of your business. If your business is going in the wrong direction call me and I’ll see if I can help.
  6. Learn from your mistakes – If you make the wrong decision then the next step is to learn from your mistakes and go from there. Learn what you did right and learn what you did wrong.

Remember you are not in this alone. There are many resources in the industry that would be glad to help you at no cost to you.

Even if they are just a sounding board for you to bounce ideas off of. If you do not have the expertise in a given area assign the task to someone else. I’m sure people ask you if you are a morning person or an afternoon person. It’s good to know when you are at your best. If it’s in the a.m. make your major decisions then. Do not do it when you are stressed. It’s good to know your stress level. When you hit overload take a break for 10 minutes. Allow yourself some down time to do the things you like to do like fish or hunt. When you are setting up your schedule for the day allow 25% of the day for yourself. I can’t tell you how important this was for me. I had good employees that I trusted to run my business which allowed me to do fun things with the family, the customer, or my employees. All these people were part of my decision making so I always found time for them. Decision making is easy when you have the resources to help you.

I’ve talked about things that help you make decisions, now let me point out a few things that will keep you from making good decisions:

  • Being Lazy – This is where you don’t check the facts or gather input necessary to make the right decision.
  • Unexpected Events – Think about things that can happen that you did not count on such as a death in the family, a key employee quitting, or an accident with one of your trucks. Always think ahead and anticipate things that could happen.
  • Can’t decide – You try and gather to much information or analyze the problem too much and the decision never gets made. Your fear of making the wrong decision will have a big effect on the business so you don’t make any decision.
  • Living in the past – Some people make poor decisions because they’re using the same old data or processes they always used. Such people get used to approaches that worked in the past and tend not to look for approaches that will work better.
  • Rely on others – Some decisions are never made because one person is waiting for another, who in turn is waiting for someone else’s decision or input. Effective decision makers find a way to act independently when necessary.
  • Lack of Technology – Technology is changing and you have to be prepared to change with it. Phone apps and GPS are a big part of today’s environment and you will have to change to stay in business.
  • Lack of Knowledge – You can’t know everything in all areas.

As the owner of the business you will always be faced with making decisions. Some will be big and some small. In a lot of cases there will not be a right or wrong answers. Learn to get other people involved with what you are doing so the decisions you face will be easy to make. Use your employees, your family, your friends, or call me. Use your resources and decision making will become easy.

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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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