Things No One Told Me About Towing

In the last article, I told you about using my business skills to build a business plan for my company.  We learned a lot from the tow show in Florida and now it was time to apply it to the business.  Before I get started I want to remind you that my background was in computers and running a white color business. Just as we thought life was good and we knew what we are doing let me tell you about the real side of private property towing that I was not ready for.

  1. Drivers  – As I found out quickly everyone needs drivers.  I would hire people that had experience and hoped they work out.  Not always the case.  I had gas cards for my drivers so they can keep the trucks on the road.  I got a bill one time for one driver that spent $13,000 in one night.  The card was new and the card company set no limits in the card.  The driver went to a gas station and started selling gas to others, using my card. It was mostly big rigs, and he sold them gas for 50 cents on the dollar.  I split the bill with the credit card company because I should have had a limit on the card.  Lesson learned.


  1. I had a driver call dispatch and the last thing he told the driver was “he has a gun!” and the line went dead.  We called the apartment he was at and they could not find him.  We called the police and they could not find him.  We then got a call from a complete stranger who said he was coming out of the emergency room at the hospital, a tow truck pulled up and the driver  fell out the door.  The stranger took my driver’s phone and called the last number on it and it was us.  It turned out my driver took five bullets from two drug dealers, but was able to drive himself to the hospital. I rushed to the hospital and found my driver in intensive care with tubes and needles hooked to every part of his body.  My driver gave me a hand signal to come close; as I leaned over he told me he got two shots off at his attackers. Lesson learned.


  1. I had a truck that was hit by a drunk driver who was here illegally. He did a lot of damage to my truck.  The police came and arrested the drunk driver who also had no license.  Two months later this guy sued me for $20,000.  Because of the politics involved the insurance company paid the $20,000.  Another lesson learned.


  1. Dispatchers – I had a dispatcher and over a period of time I made her a manager and treated her like my daughter. We hired another young dispatcher that was very good at her job.  She got engaged to another employee, so I paid $2,500 for their wedding.  Well, the manager got together with this dispatcher and they doctored my books on cars released from impound.  They ended up with $10,000 before I caught them.  We filed charges on them and built a strong case.  When I went to the detective to see where he stood with the case he said the DA dropped it.  The DA made the decision that because the manager was minority and it was an election year, he could not afford a loss or the publicity so he dropped the case.


  1. I emptied out the safe one night and found $1,000 missing. I had a video of my dispatcher using a hanger to get into the floor safe.  This dispatcher weighed 450 pounds and I explained to him that if I fired him no one would hire him.  I gave him a second chance. He paid me back and turned out to be a good employee.  Another lesson learned.


  1. I had to locations in two different cities. I had a manager who ran the office.  I had a driver from that location come to me and said my dispatcher and another driver were ripping me off.  We had properties that would give us sticker list to tow from.  They would make up their own sticker lists.  The driver would go to a property and write a bunch of cars on his list.  He would give it to the dispatcher and she would enter them into the system.  I would pay the drivers for the cars and they would split the money. These cars would show up 30 days later on the inventory/auction report, but I could never find the car.  I went to the property he said he towed it from and found the cars still there.  I went back to the office and asked the manager to show me these cars on the yard.  She could not, so I fired her along with the driver.  She filed for unemployment. We had a hearing because I did not want to pay the unemployment.  Even though she stole from me I lost my hearing and paid the unemployment.  Another lesson learned.

I guess we could all sit around the campfire and tell stories.  These events took place in the early stages while I was still learning about the business.  Another lesson that I learned is that owning a tow company makes your skin tough and you learn valuable life lessons.   I just told you stories about 7 or 8 people.  Over the years I have met thousands of towers. They are great people in a great industry and that’s why I’m staying.  In future articles, I will write about the tow shows, industry magazines, selling my business and starting a new business.  Until then drive safe.