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Looking for ideas or suggestions maybe something that has worked for other shops.

Again we are a small rural shop, out of the main town about 10 miles. We have several tow companies in the area that will haul by our shop & take to another shop. We mainly do tires but are able to do light mechanic work like brakes, alternators, batteries, starters, etc, etc. I know some customers may request to take it to another shop but I also feel that we are an option that gets over looked & the tow companies may make a little more buy driving on by. 

My Question is does anyone have a program that they are working with a tow company to bring cars to the shop when a customer does not have a preference. We have a loyalty program that I thought for every dollar the customer we will give the tow company the same value in points. Do we offer to pay the tow bill upon del so they don't have to mess with? How do we know if the tow driver is bringing to us on his own or the customer requested? Open to ideas & maybe it is what it is.

Thanks

 

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I have been in business a long time, and the only tows I am interested in are from our own customers, or when someone calls and asks to be towed to us.  I have arrangements with a few tow companies. I pay them a wholesale rate and I charge the retail rate to the customer. I don't rely on tow companies bringing me work that they recommend.  There aren't many people that breakdown and don't know where to have their car tows.   People  do breakdown on the highway, and we do get tows from that, but it's not a major source of income.  

 

 

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We are in both the towing and repair business, so a few things from both views. Never offer an incentive to the tow company for work, any thing is considered a kickback and makes for bad business and may even be illegal depending on where you are located. Most often when our drivers arrive at a tow the customer already has a shop in mind, if they don't the recommendation comes from our dispatcher not the driver. We base the recommendation on the customers needs, convenience to job or home, the issue with the car ( does it just have multiple flats or something more serious,like died while driving) is it under warranty, we recommend nearest dealer. Yes we do tow to our own shop if it fits the customer's needs, we run the two businesses independently. We choose the shop based on it's reputation for honest work and customer service, because the end result is a reflection on us also. Let the customer pay the bill, it's easier and the customer gets a receipt they can send to their insurance company for reimbursement if they have towing coverage. You need to be willing to look at the car fairly quickly if the person is from out of the area so they can check their options and make arrangements for rides etc.

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On 3/22/2019 at 2:59 PM, Joseph Pires said:

We are in both the towing and repair business, so a few things from both views. Never offer an incentive to the tow company for work, any thing is considered a kickback and makes for bad business and may even be illegal depending on where you are located. Most often when our drivers arrive at a tow the customer already has a shop in mind, if they don't the recommendation comes from our dispatcher not the driver. We base the recommendation on the customers needs, convenience to job or home, the issue with the car ( does it just have multiple flats or something more serious,like died while driving) is it under warranty, we recommend nearest dealer. Yes we do tow to our own shop if it fits the customer's needs, we run the two businesses independently. We choose the shop based on it's reputation for honest work and customer service, because the end result is a reflection on us also. Let the customer pay the bill, it's easier and the customer gets a receipt they can send to their insurance company for reimbursement if they have towing coverage. You need to be willing to look at the car fairly quickly if the person is from out of the area so they can check their options and make arrangements for rides etc.

Great points from someone in the towing business, and yet runs a repair business also.  The more dialogue the more we all learn!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Do you recommend the tow companies to your customers? Business goes both ways.

The way I handled this at my shop was to start by asking around. If other shops are recommending certain tow companies it means they have a working relationship and/or they are good companies. In my area I only have one consistently reliable company so that's who I recommend because I want my customers to have a great experience. They don't bring me a ton of business but that's OK, that's not as important as taking care of my good customers. I can trust that they won't talk a customer into going to another shop and they show up when they promise.

If you're wanting a quid-pro-quo arrangement, start by finding a company that has a similar set of core values and principles as you do. Bonus points if that's a company no other shop recommended yet. Now, offer to make them your exclusive tow company provided they communicate and prioritize your customers and check in with them on a regular basis. People still do business with people they like.

Get to know the drivers! Chat with them for a minute or two when they drop off a car. Help them unload it. When a customer asks for a recommendation, they are asking the drivers, not the owners. Buy them lunch or invite them to a cook-out when you have a customer appreciation day at your shop or stop by their place one morning and bring  breakfast from some place. I have heard food is a strong motivator in our industry! 🙂

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Hey BNC173! Good question - but STOP! Don't make any reward program confusing. You said...

On 3/18/2019 at 11:03 AM, BNC173 said:

We have a loyalty program that I thought for every dollar the customer we will give the tow company the same value in points.

Too complicated and they're not going to follow things... and that makes it difficult... and then YOU have to do it... and it gets broken way too fast! Like the next day. 

Do this. Get yourself "$10 Subway cards" or similar. I have no association with Subway (and don't eat there anyway ;/ ) but they're everywhere. Then you can get simple business cards printed to hand out to any tow drivers and just say something simple "Can I buy you lunch?" Go on to add something simple like "bring your tows here and I'll buy you lunch"

Simple. Easy. No calculations, Nothing! Just more car count!

Hope this helps!
Matthew
"The Car Count Fixer"

Follow CarCountHackers on Facebook and let me help you fix your car count, income and profits - subscribe to CarCountHackers on YouTube - it's free!

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