In the beginning there were no tow trucks in town. Then the snow storm of the century happened and you decided that instead of relying on Bob (the only guy with a tow truck some 15 miles away) why not buy your own tow truck?
Maybe the reason wasn’t the snow storm, maybe you became involved in towing because you owned an auto repair shop and wanted to gain more customers.
Whatever the reason it was a good idea and it worked. And for the longest time no other towing companies existed, at least any as sophisticated as you. For a long time you had no competition.
How’d you get business back then? Pretty simple… you put up a sign that read “Tow Truck”.
When someone needed help they’d call and ask about availability… when could you do it?
They wouldn’t… call and ask — how much? — hang up — then call three other towing companies to compare prices.
There were no other towing companies – so the only issue back then was availability.
You probably had more business than you cared for.
As time went by and your area grew other towers popped up. Some came and went and others… to your amazement stuck around and became worthy rivals.
To stay on top you were then forced to compete. The sign that read “Tow Truck” was replaced with “24 hour Roadside Assistance” and a carrier joined your modest little fleet.
As competition toiled to gain business and market share customers began to expect more. You responded aggressively and continued to grow your, now-strong, business. You learned way back then that price wasn’t the only way to get and keep customers.
As the years flew by many factors came into play that affected your business: Recessions, wars, gas prices, fuel costs, law enforcement, legislation, motor clubs, and the internet. And as your customers’ expectations matured due to all these factors coupled with your competitors’ persistence you evolved and revamped your marketing methods. If you didn’t you fell by the wayside and your business was swallowed up by those willing to change.
We are now at a crossroads… motorclubs, insurance companies, and cities and states have successfully commoditized our industry sending many towers looking for opportunity elsewhere.
Those left can bellyache or push on.
We can continue to complain and be filled with anger when yet another recorded message asks for service at a ridiculously low rate or we can begin to reconstruct our businesses into something that’s lucrative and fun.
The economists say we’re in the middle of a commoditization stage of a natural Market-Maturation-Cycle… What?
It doesn’t much matter if you understand it or not but you need to know what’s next and how you can be on-top.
The four stages of this cycle are: Regulation, Deregulation, Commoditization and then Value-added services.
The next stage, the quest for more value, will be ushered in by customers who will start looking for something better after they’ve been run through the blender we call motorclubs.
So be that something better.
Like an election day promise: Education is the key. Educating customers as to their choices is the way to begin to break down the price objections. Now there’s never going to be a total disregard for price but as customers continually “get what they paid for” they’ll start looking for more value and if you’re the guy who’s been screeching all this time about what they should expect then guess who they’ll call.
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