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Two Do-It-Yourselfers Demonstrate Why: You Should Hire A Professional

Not unlike do-it-yourself surgery, do-it-yourself towing can have devastating consequences.  These two thought they were going to save themselves a tow bill but now have a few more bills to pay while still needing to move this truck.

Towers Stunned as Auto Return Slated To Present at American Towman Magazine’s Las Vegas Tow Show

January 28, 2014

I received a text with some highly disturbing news this weekend. No it wasn’t that renowned Atheist Sam Harris was invited to give the Opening Invocation at the most recent conference of the Southern Baptist Convention. And no…the Brain Trauma Foundation didn’t procure prime-time TV sponsorship during the Annual NFL Draft.  It was much worse than that.

When I heard the troubling rumor the first thing that went through my mind was, are they serious? Then before overreacting, as I tend to do sometimes, I went to the website to see for myself that yes, my friend was correct.

Here’s what’s going on.  On Saturday, May 17th in Las Vegas, Nevada– AutoReturn will be presenting a seminar as part of the Police Towing Conference during the American Towman Tow Show.  Now it’s no secret that one of AutoReturn’s goals is to get in, real tight, with police departments and cities throughout the nation, so why wouldn’t they want to present during the Police Towing Conference?  Yeah makes perfect sense, except…They won’t be presenting to the police…they’ll be attempting to sell their wares to towing companies.

If you’re asking why that’s such a big deal then maybe you haven’t read anything not force-fed through AutoReturn’s advertising propaganda and those who support them.  If that’s the case you need to go here, now, and read this: http://www.towtruckbiz.com/warning/

The abridged version is; In my opinion, AutoReturn is not good for the towing industry unless you believe that giving more of your hard-earned money to a company similar to the motor clubs is a good idea. I believe that they provide zero value to towers as they seek only to serve themselves and the cities they contract with.

Maybe now I have your attention but I’m not sure you fully understand the problem here.  In case it didn’t sink in the first time. The venue where AutoReturn is being allowed to make its case is the annual Las Vegas Tow Show…An event put on by the Premiere Towing Magazine in the industry, American Towman.  This is the same publication that’s been known as the definitive purveyor of towing wisdom for decades. The same guys who’ve been in our corner all along.

Upon attempting to grasp the full meaning of American Towman’s decision to include AutoReturn on the agenda, a few thoughts came to mind. Thoughts like; leading pigs to slaughter, like shooting fish in a barrel, or taking candy from a baby.  Don’t misunderstand, I’m not suggesting towers are stupid, hell I’m one of them, but what I am saying is; we’ve trusted American Towman to present us with products and services that are good for the industry all this time….And this, in my opinion, aint one of them.

Just take a look at how it’s being positioned. AutoReturn’s presentation is sandwiched between a class on Accident Remediation and one on Preserving Evidence.  Both are intended to help towers become better at their chosen profession, leading them to be more competent so they can make more money.  What value to towers does AutoReturn bring to the table?  What new techniques and technologies are they providing us with to better enable us to do our jobs? Is it really American Towman’s intention to cast AutoReturn’s presentation in the same light as these beneficial programs? Are they suggesting that they have the same value?

We’d sure hate to believe that’s the signal they’re sending.  So to give American Towman Magazine the benefit of the doubt you’ve got to question whether or not those in charge fully understand the message they’re sending towers by endorsing this company. They must have either discounted the power and sway their magazine has over those in the industry, or they simply don’t understand the implications involved should AutoReturn gain a foothold with law enforcement.

On their website American Towman proudly displays the Towman Bill of Rights. You used to be able to find it here: http://www.towman.com/7/rights.html

Among the eleven stated rights– I culled three I believe are in direct opposition to what AutoReturn does.

Number 3: The right to be paid fair market-value rates and profit from all services rendered, including the right to be compensated for towing derelict vehicles and police cars.

In San Francisco, towers contracted with AutoReturn are paid a rate of $58.40 for a standard police tow. They might get a little more if the tow takes longer than an hour.  The vehicle is towed to a storage facility ran by AutoReturn in conjunction with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). If the vehicle isn’t picked up by the owner does the tow company owner have the option to apply for title and try and dispose of the vehicle to make a little more money? No. The tower who got out of bed at 2:00am to do the work does not have that option.

Number 5: The right to be an active member of the incident management team, including the control of roadside safety and clearing procedures

When you allow AutoReturn to wedge themselves between the city/police and the tow company there’s a chance of eroding that relationship. When you do that, over time you stand to decrease whatever respect law enforcement had for the tow companies, with regards to incident management. With AutoReturn arrangement in San Francisco; when police need a wrecker they won’t be making the call to you or one of your competitors, they’ll call AutoReturn’s dispatch office.  From there you might as well just be a cog in the machine, having no control over your destiny. And my fear is that, if a tow company owner doesn’t like the arrangement– AutoReturn may have the right to purge that tow company from their system. Does that sound like you’ll be an active member in the incident management team?

Number 9: The right to offer roadside services to city and state agencies- free of low-bid procedures that foster un-safe conditions for the public

With AutoReturn involved my fear is that towers will be pressured to take the rates they’ve negotiated with the cities…Without the towers’ involvement. What do you think happens when if they negotiate on your behalf- when you’re not in the room? Do you think you’ll be fairly represented?

But I could have it all wrong, or maybe there’s something I’m missing.

It could be that over the last few months AutoReturn has shifted their business model. Rather than something similar to, in my opinion, a vulture circling the last respite of an industry on the ropes, they might have done a 180 and turned into an avenging angel, swooping down to deliver us from the overreaching greedy clutches of city government.  If that’s not the case, I would certainly hate to think that any company who claims to be an advocate for the towers might be feathering its own nest with the carcasses of the businesses AutoReturn may leave in their wake.

How Long Are They Willing To Wait For Their Motor Club? A Tower’s Perspective

Raul watched as Jacqueline placed the cloth over her eyes and tied it securely in the back.  Everyone else, in the surrounding cubicles, was busy; they were all frantically talking, having already taken their turns.

Raul placed his hands on Jaqueline’s shoulders and asked, “You ready?”

With a nod and a muffled “m-hm” Jaqueline confirmed that she was ready to go- once more.

Counting out loud, slightly over the office hum, Raul spun her in a tight circle.  “1 alligator, 2, alligator, 3…Ok you’re ready to go.” He said as he pointed her to the wall.

Jaqueline wobbled a bit in her high hills and tight skirt, then with one hand holding the pin and another out in front- to ensure she didn’t run, face-first, into anything, she moved forward.

Feeling her way into the darkness, Helen Keller Style, she located the target with her free hand…And with as much precision and finesse as she could muster, while biting her lower lip, shoved the pin blindly into the corkboard.

Standing quiet until that moment Raul applauded and cheered as she yanked the blindfold from round her head.  Once her eyes became accustomed to the light she could to see the area on the map she’d pinned.

Quickly grabbing a pencil she drew a perfect circle with the 2 inch string that dangled from the pin.  “That’s my area.” She said as she ran to the phone.

As she logged onto her computer to dial the first number, that popped up on the screen, she beamed with pride knowing how superior her department’s methods of selection are compared to others in the field.  She’d heard that some offices still use darts and other less efficient methods. And there’s even a hub in Pittsburg that swears by Tarot Cards. She scoffed at those outdated, unsophisticated approaches as she slipped on her headset and spoke to the first one on the list.

“Hello, this is Jaqueline from xyz motor club can I get an ETA for a tire change in…?”More…

Don’t Get Caught Sleeping- Your Dispatcher Can Make All The Difference

Arriving early… Dale hoped to get some work done before the phones started ringing.  He kept a low profile as he listened through the door. The steady breathing of the night dispatcher and the intermittent screech of the police scanner told him he was sleeping again. “I better not wake him or I won’t get anything done” he thought to himself. 

As he tip-toed past the guard dog (a plastic bobble head on the dispatch desk) into his office he quietly switched on the light- causing a chain reaction he’d hoped to avoid. More…

A Diversified Approach To Staying In Business

By Dennis Wencel

I recently read an article about a tow company suing a large motor club over their soured relationship. The tow company, who lost the account and subsequently went out of business, claims it was unjustly branded a low-performing provider by inaccurate customer satisfaction data. The motor club’s position is they were forced to replace an underperforming provider to ensure quality service. Independent of fault, relationships fail, and being overly dependant on any one customer for too much of your company’s revenue can force you into difficult situations, and in extreme cases, can cost you your business. More…

Stuff’s Getting Better Every Day- A Reason For Towers to think Positively

By Don Archer

Most towing company owners would like to make more money. That’s an understatement of epic proportions.

The reality is towers face so many challenges it’s a wonder there’s anyone left to drag wrecked cars off the highway.  And over the last few years things have gotten a little tighter. Cities’ budgets are shrinking causing them to dip further into towers pockets for “needed” revenue while the pool of cash paying customers grows smaller due to the increase in rate-cutting motor clubs and… there’s less and less employed folks driving to work.

But there is good news. Business is slowly starting to pick back up in places as people realize that it’s up to them to make their own way.  We’re beginning to see a sparkling light way off on the horizon that says, in the words of Kevin Costner in the 1997 movie, “The Postman”; “Stuff’s getting better every day”. More…

Learning The Ropes- Ways To Make It In The Towing Business

By Don Archer

Do: Start Your Own Business

Don’t: Let Your Fear Stop You

So you’re interested in starting your own towing business? No?  Just getting a job as a tow truck driver?  But I thought…?  Anyway.

What way you choose to get in this business depends entirely on your ability to deal with adversity.  What do I mean?  I’m glad you asked.

The second definition in Webster’s Dictionary says that adversity is a “calamitous event” and every day as a tow truck employee, owner or employer is filled to the rim with calamity.  From changing a tire in traffic that won’t get over, recovering a rolled over tractor-trailer to dealing with irate customers and unscrupulous motor clubs, the towing business is rarely boring. More…