The Owner Must Change

As I look back on the last year and a half of towing, our industry has gone through a lot.  We were forced to change the way we do business because of things like:

  1. The virus – This made your people work differently.
  2. Customer needs – The consumers were traveling less which means they were breaking down less. People were not working so they could not get their cars repaired.   Therefore, body shops gave you less business due to less accidents on the road because people were traveling less.
  3. No tow shows to go to – No exposure to new products such as trucks and tow software, etc. needed to run your business.
  4. The government has a big impact on what you do today.  It was nice that they gave you money to survive, but they also gave your employees money to survive.  Now no one wants to come back to work.
  5. There may have been laws changed that are affecting your business.

Everyone was affected in their own way.  The only thing that did not change is you the owner.  You might have changed some business policies, but you could not change who you are.  When I opened my company, I knew who I was and built my business based on the principles I established. Then all these things happened forcing us to change the way we do business.  

When you built your business you built it based on who you are.  You ran your business for the past 20 years based on the principles you established.  It’s time to look at yourself and see the things you will have to change to stay in business. Here are a few things to evaluate as you move forward:

  1. Take a look at yourself and see how you might have to change in a new industry that’s been established.

  2. Set new goals for your company and share them with your employees.

  3. Adjust company policies that affect the bottom line.

  4. Do what is right regardless of the cost.

  5. Face reality as it is, not as it was.

  6. Become more of a leader and less as a manager.

  7. Listen more and admit mistakes.

The big question for you, the owner is, “Am I willing to change?”

I talk to tow companies every day and try to get them to sign with TowTrax.  I am providing them with a free service that gets them tows they never had at retail rates.   I am giving them a new market ( Motor Clubs) that provide over 40,000,000 a year that they do not have today because they made a policy a few years ago not to tow for motor clubs for a variety of reasons.  My customers are motor clubs and my service providers are getting good tow rates from the motor clubs because they were willing to make changes.  

I am giving tow companies in certain markets 6 to 10 tows a day and some companies will not register with TowTrax because the tows I give them is not the norm for their company.  When I ran my company and my customer told me I can give you business, but you have to do it my way, I would look at what they wanted and figure out how to make it work.  I hated to lose business to a competitor.   

I have tow companies that are very happy with the business I provide them.  I call some companies up, and I can’t get past the dispatcher who will not even listen because it’s not the way they do business today.  As an owner you are letting a $12 an hour person impact your  revenue.  Other companies tell me that it has to go through our current dispatch system.  Once again, you are letting an outside source affect your revenue.

If you change nothing motivational concept – handwriting on a napkin with a cup of espresso coffee

No one likes their employees more than I did.  They were the front line to the customer and they knew more about their job than I did.  The difference is, I made sure they knew what my priorities were.  Making money was my biggest.  If they got a sales call from a potential customer, they would make sure I knew about it so I, the owner, could determine if we wanted to take on the new business.

Things I would ask myself when a potential customer called:

  1. As an owner, would I be willing to change?

  2. Am I afraid of change?

  3. I evaluate if change is necessary.

  4. Does my customer know who I am?

  5. If I have to change, what steps are necessary?

My goal is to let you know that you as the owner may have to make changes in the way you have been doing business for the past 20 years.  I talk to many successful companies that tell me they don’t have to change because they are successful, and I can’t argue with them.  I also talk to tow companies that tell me their success is because of change.

I just left a meeting where we talked about the things I am writing about.  When I started TowTrax, I established policies and procedures.  As a startup, I am now realizing that I may have to change some things to make it work.  I just made a $70,000 investment that will have a major impact on my business 6 months from now, but I found it necessary to invest now even though it does not have an impact on my current revenues.  As you the owner fight through all the crap we faced over the past year, take a look at who you are and what your company will look like 6 months from now.  As you learn your new business, know your:

  • Customer
  • Employees
  • Competition
  • Services
  • Pricing
  • Expenses

Most importantly know who you are. 

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Dan Messina
In 2003, Dan Messina started his own towing company starting out with just one truck and no accounts. In two short years, he was number one in the industry. In 2006, he founded Southwest Tow Operators, one of the largest tow associations in the U.S. We are proud to share Dan's business advice with the towing industry.