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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.



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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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  • 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!
"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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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Got your attention? Good. The truth is, there is no such thing as the perfect technician pay plan. There are countless ways to create any pay plan. I’ve heard all the claims and opinions, and to be honest, it’s getting a little frustrating. Claims that an hourly paid pay plan cannot motivate. That flat rate is the only way to truly get the most production from your technicians. And then there’s the hybrid performance-based pay plan that many claim is the best.
      At a recent industry event, a shop owner from the Midwest boasted about his flat-rate techs and insisted that this pay plan should be adopted by all shops across the country. When I informed him that in states like New York, you cannot pay flat-rate, he was shocked. “Then how do you motivate your techs” he asked me.
      I remember the day in 1986 when I hired the best technician who ever worked for me in my 41 years as an automotive shop owner. We’ll call him Hal. When Hal reviewed my pay plan for him, and the incentive bonus document, he stared at it for a minute, looked up, and said, “Joe, this looks good, but here’s what I want.” He then wrote on top of the document the weekly salary he wanted. It was a BIG number. He went on to say, “Joe, I need to take home a certain amount of money. I have a home, a wife, two kids, and my Harly Davidson. I will work hard and produce for you. I don’t need an incentive bonus to do my work.” And he did, for the next 30 years, until the day he retired.
      Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So, here’s mine. Money is a motivator, but not the only motivator, and not the best motivator either. We have all heard this scenario, “She quit ABC Auto Center, to get a job at XYZ Auto Repair, and she’s making less money now at XYZ!” We all know that people don’t leave companies, they leave the people they work for or work with.
      With all this said, I do believe that an incentive-based pay plan can work. However, I also believe that a technician must be paid a very good base wage that is commensurate with their ability, experience, and certifications. I also believe that in addition to money, there needs to be a great benefits package. But the icing on the cake in any pay plan is the culture, mission, and vision of the company, which takes strong leadership. And let’s not forget that motivation also comes from praise, recognition, respect, and when technicians know that their work matters.
      Rather than looking for that elusive perfect pay plan, sit down with your technician. Find out what motivates them. What their goals are. Why do they get out of bed in the morning? When you tie their goals with your goals, you will have one powerful pay plan.
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