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Getting the Most from Your Tow Show Trip

(This article originally appeared in the April, 2011 issue of Towing & Recovery Footnotes. You can view the entire issue electronically at their site http://www.trfootnotes.com/.)

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12 Dec 2014

2015 Tow Show Schedule

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2015 Tow Show Schedule

The 2015 tow show schedule will bring all sorts of new and exciting experiences to the towing industry. Tow Shows are a great way to learn more about our industry, improve your towing business and meet some folks who know what you go through all day long. Below is a list of shows we are aware of. If we need to add or update a show on this list please let us know!

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Five Things to Consider Before Starting Your Tow Company

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.

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09 Dec 2013

2014 Tow Show Schedule

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This is our 2014 Tow Show Schedule. Click to see our 2015 Tow Show Schedule.

 

2013/12/09/2014-tow-show-schedule/

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.

 

407-296-3316, www.floridatowshow.com

 

May 15-17 – American Towman Showplace, Las Vegas Tow Show, Southpont Hotel, Las Vegas, NV

 

www.TowShow.com

 

May 17-18 – New Hampshire Towing Association Tow Show, Hampton Beach State Park, NH.

 

603-863-4206 , newhampshireta@comcast.net • www.nhtowingassociation.org

 

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 chouser@witruck.org

 

Aug. 7-9 – Tow Expo, Texas – Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio, TX.

 

www.towman.com.

 

Aug. 22-23 – The NW Tow Expo sponsored by the Towing and Recovery Association of Washington, Silver Reef Casino, Ferndale, WA.

 

509-782-7170 www.towingandrecovery.org.

 

Sept. 19-21 – Tennessee Tow Show hosted by Tennessee Tow Truck Association & Tow Times. Chattanooga Convention Center, Chattanooga, TN.

 

www.TennesseeTowShow.com Brenda Faulman (Tow Times) 407-327-4817, Brenda@towtimes.com or David Williams (TTTA) 615-306-9891,David@towproservices.com.

 

Sept. 25-28 Midwest Regional Tow Show, Great Wolf Lodge, Mason, OH, 877-341-3400 or 513-7911-3555

 

www.trao.org midwest@trao.org

 

October 9-14 – Western States Tow Show hosted by California Tow Truck Association, Town and Country Resort, San Diego, CA.

 

www.WesternStatesTowShow.com   Karly Worl 916-617-2882.

 

Nov 21-23 – American Towman Exposition, Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, MD.

 

www.towshow.com

 

Online Advertising for Towing Companies

TowProgram has been busy lately working with towing company owners to set up an online local advertising plan that are custom built for towing companies.

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12 Dec 2012

2013 Tow Show Schedule

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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.

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16 Jul 2011

TowProgram to Attend Ohio Tow Show

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After great successes in Reno the TowProgram team is heading to Ohio for the MidAltantic Tow Show. We will be talking with towing company owners and managers about how to more effectively advertising their company online.

See you then,

Dennis

06 Jun 2011

Western States Tow Show

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The TowProgram team are just back from Reno and another successful CTTA Western States Tow Show. Attendance seemed to be down this year no doubt due to the tough economy. I actually wrote an article about this subject for Towing & Recovery Footnotes called “Getting the Most of Your Tow Show Trip” that talks about how, in addition to enjoying the company of other towers, owners can actually benefit from the investment of a trip to a tow show with a little prep.

The classes I gave on Tow Company Marketing were well attended and I was happy with the topics I covered. I think we were a little too technical for in the Friday seminar called “Internet Advertising for Your Tow Company” partly due to the fact that I want to make sure I am giving as much information as possible to the folks taking time to attend my classes. I am sending out my follow up information to attendees and look forward to helping them with their online programs.

Saturday afternoon’s class “The Dos and Don’ts of Tow Company Advertising” was also a hit and even with the late hour the attendees were engaged and asking great questions. We sold out of The Black Book of Towing and are shipping copies to buyers from the office this morning to show buyers.

I know I have said this before but attending a tow show is such a rewarding experience for me personally. I really enjoy being able to directly interact with my customers and other towers. I like making a connection with towers and being able to offer a truly effective solution to a real company challenge they face. The overall response I get from towers is so positive it makes me want to spend the entire year attending shows. But then who would keep Tow Program’s offices running? We all know about the playing mice…

I also have to mention all of the hard work by the CTTA Board and members. They came together to overcome some real challenges and put on a good show. Thanks for the effort!

Until next year Reno!

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.

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.

(This article originally appeared in the April 2011 issues of Towing & Recovery Footnotes. You can view the entire issue electronically at their site http://www.trfootnotes.com/)

Each year I attend several tow shows offering seminars on the topics covered in this column. As I put my schedule together this year, I am reminded of just how difficult it can be for a small business owner to commit to attending a show. The expense of travel and the time away from the shop when who knows what is going on can all be powerful motivators to skip the show again this year.

But it is also important to remember going to a tow show can be a great break from the daily grind. It can give you a moment to consider longer-term business planning ideas and a chance to be exposed to new products and ideas that can improve that daily grind. Then kick in the fun of spending time with the only other folks in the world that truly understand what you go through each day, and maybe the idea of hitting the show this year isn’t so far out of reach.

Over the past couple of years many towers have made the difficult decision to forego the show in light of the struggling economy— and with good reason. It is difficult to commit to all of the costs associated with attending a show when you’re hearing the phone ringing less often, or you’ve been forced to send idle employees home early recently, or you haven’t taken a paycheck in a while.

Targeting just one of your biggest expense items, like advertising, employee pay, equipment mortgages, liability insurance, or fuel for savings can make your tow show trip pay off big time. With a little planning, and a commitment to having a few challenging conversations at the show, these ideas can you help you turn a tow show visit from an expense item to an expense saver.

Equipment Financing– A bank that attends a tow show is targeting towers—and not just the big guys. They have experience lending to the industry and understand the financial realities of a small, local tow company. So if you are planning to add a piece of equipment this year, bring a copy of your latest corporate tax return and sit down for a few minutes with each bank at the show. Chances are they could secure more favorable financing terms for you than even your local bank can. It may seem a little odd, but banking is no longer a local business, so take advantage of a lender who understands towing and is looking to work with the towing industry.

Liability Insurance– Insurance underwriters are once again interested in providing coverage to the towing industry. With the downturn in the construction trades, insurance providers are hungry for new customers, and the towing industry is one of the biggest benefactors. If you have relatively clean loss runs over the past five years, bring a copy with you along with your current policy. This will demonstrate you are serious about obtaining a competitive quote even if your renewal isn’t for a few months. Then follow up with each company 60 days before your renewal to get their final quotes. Insurance companies attending local or regional shows will have the ability to write coverage in the states from which attendees come.

Safety Apparel and Equipment – Safety apparel and equipment have made huge advances in recent years, and as more competition enters the market, prices are coming down. We all know the best investment we can make is in ensuring the safety of the team, so come to the show with a list of employee sizes and needs. Make a large purchase of reflective gloves, hats, vests, jackets and pants—even if employees are responsible for providing their own apparel. You can offer the items to your guys for a discount or to reward good behavior throughout the year. Reflective gear can loose effectiveness over time and show prices are some of the best around, so extend the savings to your guys who could not make it to the show.

Make Your Voice Heard – Another way to make sure you get the most of your tow show trip is to communicate with the promoter. Let the show organizers know what issues and challenges are most important to you. If you want to see more seminars on advertising or employee management or accounting software solutions, let then know. Organizers are eager to provide valuable seminars and demonstrations to attendees and they always value feedback from those on the front lines of the industry.

A successful tow trip should be able to help you address a business challenge or two and provide you with some much needed rest and relaxation. So start planning now, because tow show season is right around the corner.

Dennis Wencel developed “The Black Book of Towing” and accompanying DVD set to help independent towers be more profitable. The book and DVD set detail simple and proven ways to run a towing company from the business end. You can order them on his website at www.towprogram.com or by calling 888-834-1123. TowProgram.com also provides affordable online advertising solutions for the towing industry. Wencel has divided his time over the past 20 years running his own tow company and working in marketing.


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Who Is Dennis Wencel

TowProgram Dennis WencelMarketing expert and former tower Dennis Wencel provides complete web solutions for tow company owners who want to generate more cash calls and drive greater profits.

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