09 Dec 2013
2014 promises to be another great year for tow shows. As the economy improves towers nationwide will be flocking to tow shows to see the latest trucks, technology and teachings. Be sure to catch the TowProgram team on the road again this year helping towers cost effectively target cash call customers with internet advertising. Below is the 2014 tow show schedule. Do you have a show that is not listed below? Just drop us a line and get added to the list.
April 10-13 - Florida Tow Show®, Hilton Across from Disney Village, Orlando, Fl.
May 15-17 – American Towman Showplace, Las Vegas Tow Show, Southpont Hotel, Las Vegas, NV
May 17-18 - New Hampshire Towing Association Tow Show, Hampton Beach State Park, NH.
June 20-22 – Wisconsin Towing Association Annual Convention and Truck Show – Chula Vista Resort (608-254-8366), Wisconsin Dells, WI.
WTA Office, 608-833-8200 ext.11 firstname.lastname@example.org
Aug. 7-9 – Tow Expo, Texas – Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio, TX.
Aug. 22-23 – The NW Tow Expo sponsored by the Towing and Recovery Association of Washington, Silver Reef Casino, Ferndale, WA.
Sept. 19-21 – Tennessee Tow Show hosted by Tennessee Tow Truck Association & Tow Times. Chattanooga Convention Center, Chattanooga, TN.
Sept. 25-28 Midwest Regional Tow Show, Great Wolf Lodge, Mason, OH, 877-341-3400 or 513-7911-3555
October 9-14 – Western States Tow Show hosted by California Tow Truck Association, Town and Country Resort, San Diego, CA.
Nov 21-23 – American Towman Exposition, Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, MD.
13 Aug 2013
2013 Tow Show Schedule
TowProgram attends several tow shows each year offering seminars on a variety of topics to help tow companies become more profitable. We always have show floor space to discuss our Black Book of Towing and our Cash Call Builder Online Advertising Plan for Towers.
Baltimore Tow Show November 15-17, 2013
The Baltimore Tow Show Exhibitor list is impressive and TowProgram is happy to have attended the Baltimore Tow Show in from 2009- 2012. This show is the granddaddy of them all and every tower should make an attempt to attend at least one of these shows in their lifetime. Understanding the investment to attend a tow show is extensive, Dennis wrote an article about how to get the most of your tow show visit that appeared in his monthly column in Towing & Recovery Footnotes Magazine. He talked about how with a little preparation a visit to a tow show can actually be a money saver.
Though the Baltimore Tow Show is the biggest tow show in the country many excellent tow shows occur all across the country each year.
Western States Tow Show
After a smashing success in San Diego last year, the WSTS show in San Diego is sure to be a huge hit again. Fully organized by the California Tow Truck Association (CTTA) and is put on in conjunction with many other state towing associations. This show always chock-full of great seminars and fun events. This year we’re off to the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center, San Diego, CA on October 11-13 2013.
Midwest Regional Tow Show
The Midwest Regional Tow Show is held each year in mid-September. This tow show supports the entire Mid-Altantic region of towers and is billed as a “Family Towing Affair.” Hosted at the Great Wolf Lodge Water and Entertainment Park this tow show definitely lives up to its name. The Midwest Regional Tow Show is a great way to wrap up the summer and prepare for the “Busy Season.” September 26-29, 2013 at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, OH.
Florida Tow Show
The Florida Tow Show sponsored by the Professional Wrecker Operators of Florida is the Spring Break for Towers. What a great way to spend a week with towers from all across the country basking in the Florida sunshine. The Florida Tow Show is very family friendly filled with events for the “future towers” with its proximity to Walt Disney World Theme Park. The show hosts a complete line up of towing skills training from both TRAA and Wreckmaster and even hosts a charity golf outing supporting the International Towing and Recovery Museum’s Survivor fund.
April 11-14 at the Hilton Across from Disney Village in Orlando, Fl.
The Complete 2013 Tow Show Line Up
Do you have a show to add to our list? Just let us know here.
2013 Tow Show Schedule
AT ShowPlace – The team from American Towman launch a Las Vegas version of their successful tow shows.
May 16 – 18
Las Vegas Convention Center
Las Vegas, Nev.
New Hampshire Towing Association Tow Show
May 18 – 19
Hampton Beach State Park
Empire State Towing and Recovery Association 2013 Tow Show
May 31 – June 2
Lake George, N.Y
South Dakota Professional Towing Association Tow Show and School
June 6 – 9
Best Western Ramkota
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Beth Ramm at 605-334-3160
Colorado Training Event and Tow Show
June 9 – 15
Vendors present June 14 – 15
Jefferson County Fairgrounds
Rob Mooney, email@example.com or 303-279-3434
Wisconsin Towing Association Annual Convention and Truck Show
June 14 – 16
Chula Vista Resort, (608-254-8366)
Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
WTA Office, 608-833-8200 ext. 11
Aug 8 – 10
Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
San Antonio, Tex.
Indiana Towing & Wrecker Association 2013 Trade Show & Rodeo
Sept 6 – 8
Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza
Bert Giesler, 765-288-6041or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Towing & Recovery Professionals of NC
Piedmont Triad Farmers Market
For details, call: 919-876-0687 or email: email@example.com
Tennessee Tow Show hosted by Tennessee Tow Truck Association and Tow Times
Sept 19 – 21
Chattanooga Convention Center
Brenda Faulman (Tow Times) 407-327-4817, Brenda@towtimes.com
David Williams (TTTA) 615-306-9891, firstname.lastname@example.org
Midwest Regional Tow Show
Sept 26 – 29
Great Wolf Lodge
877-341-3400 or 513-791-3555
19 Feb 2014
Left in the wake of the recent and frequent storms to hit much of the Midwest and Eastern US this winter are clear roads and complaints of towing fees. It always amazes me to see how much people are willing to complain about a cost of a service that is almost immediate and provides the level of service and safety rarely seen from other services. It makes me wonder: “What do people expect a tow to cost?”
You want an expensive piece of equipment to show up almost immediately. You want it operated by a skilled, certified and safe operator who will not damage your vehicle. You want that person to perform a very dangerous job on the side of a road with cars skidding all over the place. And you want your car delivered to your repair shop of choice and often want a lift home to boot. So what is a fair rate for all of those services bundled together?
The taxi ride alone is likely to cost you $20-$30. And we bring your car too! Find a taxi that will do that.
Surely there are towers who take advantage of the situation. As in any industry there are some bad apples in the bunch but I am so tired of people unwilling to consider for a moment what is involved in performing a standard tow in favorable weather conditions let alone poor conditions.
Value your tow provider. Select professional, reliable and trustworthy providers. And offer a little respect for those willing to perform difficult tasks in challenging conditions.
The never ending waltz between towers, those towed and property owners is the source for great friction in just about every urban and suburban community. Private property towing plays an essential part in ensuring property owners and managers can effectively manage their space and provide sufficient access to parking for tenants, visitors and patrons. It is equally important towers recognize that predatory towing exists. And those towers employing deceiving tactics are hurting the towing industry as a whole and their personal business prospects. But what can we call do to address and resolve the situation? Provo Utah’s mayor wrote an article recently making his recommendations. And though no solution is ever perfect right out of the box I think it is a good idea for this conversation to advance in the hope it can achieve a solution.
In addition to the good mayor’s comments I would suggest a few more ideas to address the issues. A considered and complete solution to this challenge could be a nationwide model. Since property owners are the decision maker in this process, providing access to them about quality providers in the area could help. This includes transparency of complaints filed against towers more visible and opening up truck inspection records. An informed decision is always a better decision.
Penalties for repeated abuses of local towing ordinances must be severe and enforced. Too often, local government’s solution is more regulations and paperwork which just creates more work for good towers and the bad guys ignore it as they do other requirements. The vast majority of towing companies are filled with hard working, family orientated people. They create local jobs, consume a great deal of local fuel (pumping a lot of road taxes into the local economy) and are committed to providing excellent service to their customers. But its always those few outliers that seem to garner all of the headlines and set the reputation tone for the entire industry. Reputable towers almost always welcome a more open relationship with local law enforcement. Spot checking paperwork, proactive enforcement and meaningful investigations into alleged wrongdoing can send the message that this is a issue on the department’s radar.
The penalty for repeating abusers can’t be just to give back the fee. The penalty has to hurt to be effective. Larger fines might be a solution. Another possible solution is for all area towers to maintain a municipal towing license. Then, as violations rack up tower licenses could be suspended for a set period. I know this all takes a fair amount of administration to manage and enforce but the mayor said this is the issue he spends the most time on. And he is not the first mayor or police chief I have heard this from. Committing to this solution can send a message that will be heard by all towers.
In our country, more often than not, regulation for any industry is bad for business. But unless the towing community helps to solve some of these challenges by forwarding reasonable and equitable solutions, that is exactly what we may see down the road. And its entirely possible that ill-considered, fast to act regulations will only put more paperwork and overhead costs on the shoulders of the reputable towers and be ignored by the bad apples. But its always better to have a seat at the table when these discussions are happening.
Starting a towing company can be both a rewarding and challenging process. But as excited as you may be to get the wheels rolling and the cash coming in, there are a few things you may want to consider before opening your doors.
1) What kind of company do you want to build? Diversity in sources of business is important when running a towing company. The old adage “Don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket” holds true for the towing industry as well. Understanding the potential sources of business (or where your calls will come from) and how profitable they each are can be helpful in determining how successful you will be from the start. Having a healthy mix of sources protects you from being overly vulnerable to the ebb and flow of any source demand. For example, tow companies that relied on only servicing new car dealerships are in a world of hurt right now scrambling to find new business until the dealership business rebounds. The most common sources of work for a towing company are calls received from:
Municipal/Police Calls- These calls will come directly from the police dispatch officers at the request of officers on the scene. Towers establish formal or informal relationships with local police departments to provide towing services. Fees per call are usually the highest of all sources but usually require higher insurance coverage and quicker response times. Check with the local police departments in your area to learn what the procedure is for getting on their list of providers.
Cash Calls- This is also a profitable source of calls. These calls are performed for customers who contact your business directly and pay you directly for services performed. These calls are generated through advertising and marketing efforts organized by the tow business itself. Learning how to build a successful brand for your business and cost-effectively drive calls from cash customers can deliver profits for years to come.
Motor Club Calls- Little expense and little profit. These calls are a great way to get your feet under you while starting a new business. It’s a steady stream of work so you can learn how to run your company. You have no advertising expense and the phone just rings and rings. But with often less than $5 profit per call don’t start planning your retirement servicing motor clubs alone.
Account Calls- Every auto repair and body shop needs a tow partner. And though a discount is typically provided to the shops for their calls the profit can be 10-times that of a motor club call. But be ready to work to build these relationships. Shop owners have heard every pitch under the sun from a tow company. So another guy at the counter offering to do it cheaper is nothing new. Talk up your brand and your expertise and your commitment to making their customers happy, otherwise you’ll look to him just like every other tow company in the bunch.
Auction Calls- Providing services to an auction house like Copart can be another great way to provide some stability to a new towing business. These calls offer similarly slim profit margin as motor club calls but they have the added benefit of a flexible response time. You don’t have to be there in 20 minutes so long as you complete the call that day. So you can have the flexibility to respond to other, more lucrative calls and get to the auction call later in the day.
Private Property Calls- These calls are to remove vehicle from private property without the vehicle owners’ consent. This type of towing typically requires additional licensing and reporting and due to the fact that you are moving vehicle without keys can require additional operating training to minimize damage claims. PP towing can be a high-risk, high-reward business but may just be the perfect fit for a new and motivated company. Consider purchasing a light-duty self-loading wrecker for PP towing to make loading easier and safer.
2) How much are you going to charge per call? This is the million dollar question. The answer is how much do you want to make. Working backwards from your desired income, then adding in anticipated expenses and finally dividing by the number of calls you think you will perform can give you an idea. But that is putting a lot of pressure on your ability to guess correctly at some really important numbers. Consider calling around to local tow companies and take an informal poll to see what the competition is charging. Then make some estimates on what you think your volume will be across all sources of work (most have unique prices) to get your projected annual revenue. But be sure to track these numbers closely. If you see your actual calls underperforming your projections make adjustments sooner rather than later. Most new companies will fail by allowing expenses to outpace revenue. And plan on living on a small salary for the first 6-12 months. Much of the profits will need to be pumped back into the business to acquire one-time purchases of equipment and supplies.
3) What assets will you have day one? A big mistake made by new business owners is buying an expensive truck or fleet of trucks in their first month of business. Keeping truck payments and other big expenses to a minimum in the first year of operations may not be the sexist path to success but could prove to be the wisest path. Fluctuations in fuel prices, employee expenses and supplies can sneak up on a new business owner so prepare for the unexpected, even if you do not yet know what it is. Plan to have $10,000- $20,000 in cash in the business at any time. This could be in accounts receivable, cash advances for body shop clients and prepaid insurance premiums.
4) How do you want customers and future customers to describe your company? Build a brand, not just a company. With an overabundance of towing companies to choose from consumers often select companies at random to call for a quote. Make your business stand out by having a good name and strong marketing plan. Having these in place before you start spending on advertising will make that money work harder for you. And be careful when committing to long-term contracts like annual yellow page business directories and online advertising commitments. Ask what you can expect in return for your money and remember, much of this can be done yourself for little or no expense.
5) Who will be your first customer? Start building your contacts now. Your company doesn’t have to be up and running to print business cards and go around introducing yourself to potential customers. Tell them you are launching in 3 months but wanted to understand what they look for in a good company. It will show your dedication to providing a good product as well as provide you with some insight on how to better compete with your future fellow industry professionals.
Bonus Tip! As the internet evolves to being a local resource tool securing positions and a sound, affordable online marketing plan is almost as important as having a truck. Partner with a marketing person who has knowledge of the towing industry. Their experience can help you learn on the job and even offer the change for your to avoid some of the most common pitfalls. A marketing partner should be a sounding board for your ideas and should earn their keep month after month. If your marketing partner is not delivering a profitable plan, find a new one.
Having your own business can be a great experience but it will always be hard work. Preparing for some of the common pitfalls before opening your door can help ease the stress and have you better prepared to take on the daily challenges of a tow business. After running a successful tow company for several years I know much of what you will need to do is not difficult work, its just hard work. Committing to be the best when it come to solving customers’ problems by getting the job done will go a long way to ensuring your success and will give you a huge boost over your competition.
After selling my tow company, I created TowProgram.com as a way to help new and existing towing companies become more profitable. The program is skills training for the business side of towing. Its an educational tool that simply, easily and effectively tackles the biggest challenges tow companies face. It covers:
- Cost-effectively building a strong brand to make your company stand out
- Easily computing costs and revenue per call leading you to greater profits
- Adding automation methods to help your business run more efficiently
- Better managing employee relations
- Preparing your business for a profitable sale
Learn more about The Black Book of Towing and Our Online Tow Company Advertising Products at www.towprogram.com.
I have a Google Alert that gives me a routine update of news about our industry and so often it is relaying negative stories about towing and towers so I was delighted to see this news item about the fine folks at the Conference of Northeast Towing Associations who are gathering the troops to help bring a bit of Christmas Cheer to the people struggling in the wake of hurricane Sandy.
Our hats off and beacons on for the good members and partner associations of the Conference of Northeast Towing Associations. The entire press release is below.
December 10, 2012
CNTA ASSISTS OPERATION JERSEY SHORE SANTA
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many families at the Jersey Shore lost their belongings and their homes.
While numerous groups and organizations are helping with the here & now needs of those who have been
displaced, Operation Santa was created to bring Christmas to these families.
The Conference of Northeast Towing Associations (CNTA) and its member states have joined forces for a
“Towers Toy Drive” to benefit victims of Super Storm Sandy. Sandy has devastated many areas along the
east coast but New Jersey has been her greatest victim affected countless families. Garden State Towing
Association of NJ (GSTA) has organized food and clothing drives and is working with state and local
organizations to help the many families left homeless in her wake. CNTA and its members are opening their
hearts and wallets to purchase new unwrapped toys and gift cards for boys or girls between the ages of
infant and sixteen.
Our convoy of trucks will make its delivery to Operation Jersey Shore Santa on Friday, December 14th. To
make a donation, please contact Mary Leigh Barbusin at 732-530-4782 or by email at email@example.com or
Cindy Martineau at Cynthia J Martineau, CNTA Secretary, 508-303-6699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your generosity during this holiday season!
The CNTA is a consortium of 10 state towing associations (CT, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT)
representing the interest of approximately 3000 members. As the official workshop for the Northeast, CNTA
works on solving the challenges that face our industry and directly affect the states in the northeast
27 Sep 2012
So much to do and so little time. The 2012 WSTS is upon us and it is jam-packed with exhibits, events and fun stuff to do. Of course everyone is planning to attend Dennis’ seminar on Online Advertising for Towing Companies 10am Friday morning but after that what is everyone going to do? I hear the golf outing will be well attended and the evening hospitality rooms will be bopping and I see there will even be an outdoor movie. With perfect weather forecasted for this weekend’s tow show that looks like a can’t miss event.
Here is a link to the official Tow Show Schedule but as in all things in life it is subject to change. And remember we are in booth 510.
Oh, I almost forgot. The TowProgram.com seminar this year is all about understanding how to value one online opportunity verses another. There is so much noise out there about online advertising that it is often difficult to know what to do. In 45 minutes I hope to explain the best path to online success for towing companies. The seminar this year is “Getting Google to Work for You” which will give you an idea of who we want to target with our online messages.
I look forward to seeing you there.
25 Apr 2012
We did not personally know Steve Cardinale but after reading the message sent by the California Tow Truck Association we were moved to include it here. Imagine the industry we would have if every tower was a bit more like Steve. Below is the message from the CTTA in its entirety.
It is with a saddened heart I must share with you the loss of a great friend, teacher and mentor to so many throughout the Towing and Recovery world. Steve Cardinale, The Godfather of Towing, passed away Monday April 23, 2012 and will be missed by many.
Steve ran Atlas Towing in the Bay Area throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. He earned his nickname “The Godfather of San Francisco” during this time because he was so well liked by customers and competitors. Steve helped start the Greater Bay Area Chapter of CTTA, was awarded “Member of the Year” in 1982 and served as Chapter President in 1987. It was during his stint as President that he began some early tow truck training and safety instruction. Also in 1987, the Towing and Recovery Association of America honored him with the Distinguished Service Award. In 1989 Steve was inducted into the Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame in Chattanooga, TN and in 1993 he received the CTTA Life Achievement Award. In 2005 CTTA awarded him with the CTTA Humanitarian Award. These are just a few of the many awards and achievements bestowed upon Steve.
Soon after selling Atlas Towing, Steve was asked to begin development of the CTTA education program. He eagerly accepted and served as Training Director for the CTTA for 20 years, developing, improving and teaching towing professionals throughout California and across the country. Steve was soon dubbed The Godfather of Towing.
Steve officially retired in April 2008, but was still known to attend classes, train our instructors and serve as a consultant for the industry.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Steve’s family in this time of loss. The family has asked for some family time over the next few days and we will forward information regarding the memorial service when the arrangements have been completed.
The TowProgram team had a great time at the Florida Tow Show. Dennis delivered a seminar on Web Marketing for Towing Companies to a packed, standing room only crowd. We met all sorts of towers and had several conversations with towers looking for web advertising for their towing companies.
- Our jam-packed seminar on Towing Company Marketing. Great questions, great sharing and many good ideas to help improve online marketing efforts for towers.
- Meeting with the Towers. We has a chance to have several in-depth conversations with towers about the challenges they have faced with their online situations.
- Seeing the New Products. At every show I always take some time to check out the new products and the FL Tow Show did not disappoint. Keep an eye out in my Black Book column in T&R Footnotes for notes on what impressed me at the show.
- The amazing team of volunteers from the Professional Wrecker Operators of Florida for a job well done. Just a great show all around.
Below is a photo from the balcony of the Beacon Software Hospitality Party Friday night. The guys from Beacon Software always throw a fun party.