The following article appeared in Tow Professional Magazine Volume 6 Issue 2, 2017 pages 34-37:
Times they are a-changin’
The one constant in the towing industry is change. We’ve seen it with tow trucks, technology, dispatching, tow tickets and more. We think Bob Dylan said it best “If your time to you is worth savin’ then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin.”
One of the most important things to realize in the ever changing towing industry is that your customers expect you to adapt and improve. To stay competitive, you need to stay current; you need to have the best tools to provide the best service.
As we’ve spoken to companies, we’ve noticed that they often long for the brotherhood of the old days. The days when everyone had each other’s backs and when everyone was trying to make the industry better. “Just wish it was like the old days when everyone got along and that it was a brotherhood of towers,” said Todd Stepp, CEO of Stepp’s Towing. “Everyone got along with everybody. Owners could call up other owners, and you didn’t have to worry about them stealing your accounts.”
At Omadi, the industry-leading towing software, they believe that a rising tide raises all ships. “We are committed to taking the towing industry to greater heights,” said Charles Lukens, CEO of Omadi. “Whether you’re our friend or foe, we will continue to strive every day to raise the tide of the towing industry.”
The team at Capital Towing & Recovery feels the same way. “We should always work towards improving the industry as it benefits everyone; consumers and towers,” said Brandon Harris, President of Capital Towing & Recovery. “Help educate your brothers and sisters on how to be compliant with laws and regulation. Train your employees to be professional and have a safety first mentality. Let’s raise the bar together.”
In the spirit of the old days and to promote more brotherhood and success in the industry we are going to share some invaluable insights from two of the top companies in the Industry; Stepp’s Towing Services out of West Central Florida and Capital Towing & Recovery out of Columbus Ohio.
How are they thriving and what are they doing to keep pace with all of the changes?
They use technology to their advantage.
Stepp’s Towing Service is a family owned business and has been serving West Central Florida for over 50 years. They are one of the largest towing operations in the country, and in the old days, they used 3x5 cards to keep track of everything. Now they use Omadi’s towing software platform. “The old way with 3x5 cards was harder to manage. When it’s on the computer you can be on the road visiting with clients and still keep up with your day to day business,” said Stepp.
Stepp talked about the many ways that technology helps his business. Technology allows you to know where your trucks are so you can give better ETAs to motor clubs and customers. You can save on fuel, time and insurance since you’re not traveling as much. Dispatch can look at the screen and see what driver is closer to the next call and the driver can email the customer the receipt.
Capital Towing & Recovery is a family owned business that has been serving Central Ohio and surrounding areas since 2007. They have been on the forefront of technology in the industry since they began. “Technology has allowed us to process transactions quickly, create electronic invoices in the field, store records in a convenient way, and adapt to ever-changing laws and regulation to name a few,” said Chad Harris, Vice President of Capital Towing & Recovery.
They know their KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and use data to improve
Chad Harris said that they use data for job costing by breaking down revenue, maintenance, fuel usage and payroll costs. He said that depending on the software’s ability to be flexible of what needs to be tracked; the possibilities are endless.
“Often tow owners assume they know the actual cost of doing business. Towing companies that dominate their regions know exactly how much each job costs them to do. An average tow company focuses on number of calls when they should be looking at how much they profit from each call,” said Mike Porenta, Director of Product Innovation at Omadi.
Stepp’s CFO uses it to crunch the numbers, and Stepp can look at it in real-time to see what’s going on. “It used to take a month and a half to see if there was a problem. Now, I know what trucks are being efficient, and I can see what revenue a truck is making per day and per hour., “ said Todd Stepp. “All of the managers use the data. There are so many different reports you can pull day-to-day instead of taking a month and a half like in the old days.”
They stay compliant with legal requirements and protect their business
Stepp said that their HR department uses Omadi so they can stay compliant with the law and keep track of licenses. Before implementing software in their business, drivers used to have to fill out a report on every call, and it was quite time-consuming. Now it takes seconds, and the info to protect them is already archived in the call.
“Now we have drivers take pictures before they touch the car and pictures again once they drop it,” said Stepp. “First thing dispatcher does if someone has an issue, is pull up the picture, they used to have to look through a lot of different paperwork and contact a lot of people, Omadi saves us a lot of time.” Capital Towing does the same thing to protect themselves and the customer. “Omadi allows us to take pictures of vehicles before they are towed as it is required by law in Ohio for PPIs,” said Chad Harris
They use software to have better relationships with their clients
Capital Towing said that Omadi allows them to send electronic invoices immediately after the service is completed through email. “We’ve noticed that this is becoming a more preferred way of people receiving invoices. It also helps us reduce our Account Receivable Turnover,” said Chad Harris. “For PPIs, property management loves having the ability to see which vehicles were towed from their property including date/time, pictures and violation reasons. This helps them be more informed when communicating with their tenants/customers.”
At Stepp’s they have the slogan “How much down time can you afford?” and since they use Omadi they help their customers to get back on the road sooner. Stepp said that he likes how they can send invoices right out to the customer. Customers like it because we can cater it to each customer and email it to them right away. “Every customer wants different things, with Omadi we can cater the way they want it,” said Stepp. “We can give customers access to Omadi, and they can get access to get their account info. It looks really professional.”
They train their employees and are customer focused.
One of the biggest keys to the success of top companies is their genuine love for towing and their customers. They have a willingness to go above and beyond, and they love helping people. As Todd Stepp said,“Treat the customers like gold, how you would want to be treated if you were in their situation and you will have a returning customer.” Similarly, Capital’s mission statement is to “provide safe and professional towing services, while maintaining quality customer service from highly trained staff in a timely manner.” These are more than just words to them it’s something they live by every day.
Customer service and quality has been a big differentiator for Stepp’s Towing Services and Capital Towing & Recovery. They train their employees and treat them with respect, and in turn, they get great results. “Anyone can beat your price, but you can really set yourself apart by the training you give your employees and how you treat them,” said Todd Stepp.
We know that these insights will serve your company well as you put them into practice. Let’s join in a brotherhood of towers to take the industry to greater heights because whether we like it or not “the times they are a-changin.”