The Week's Features
“If it’s not old, it’s not any good!”
Texas towman assists two troopers, then collapses
There’s something very calming about a crisp uniform
Forks come in three versions: short, medium, tall
Drives off from tow yard in repossessed Hyundai Elantra
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May 8-11, 2019
Tow Expo Dallas
Dallas, TX.
August 15-17, 2019
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Atlantic City, NJ.
Dec. 4-8, 2019
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The American Towman Academy at the 2019 American Towman ShowPlace will feature six conferences that will cover the gamut of running a towing business from soup to nuts. Conference topics include: Working With Legislators, Police Towers, Towing & Recovery, Tow Management, Sales & Marketing and Business Image. Watch this space in coming weeks for specific seminars that will take place within each conference. The 2019 American Towman ShowPlace will take place at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 8-11. Registration will begin soon at atshowplace.com.

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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJanuary 16 - January 22, 2019

City, State
RATES
St. Louis, MO
$140
(Pop. 317,419)
Raleigh, NC
$185
(Pop. 439,896)
Cincinnati
$130
(Pop. 296,945)
Boise, ID
$125
(Pop. 214,237)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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Does Your Company [b]Have A Social Media Policy?

socialicons 7132eBy Don G. Archer

I never thought I would have to worry about implementing a social media policy into my business until this happened:

We needed window washer fluid, so I sent one of the guys down to the auto parts store to get a couple of cases. About 30 minutes later he called and said that there was a problem with our account: we were over our spending limit.

So I paid the bill and we got what we needed. No big deal, I thought.

About 30 minutes later, I received a text from one of my competitors. He said I needed to take a look at what was posted on Facebook.

It turned out that the driver who was sent to get the washer fluid put a post on Facebook saying that we hadn't paid our bill.

I admit it ruffled my feathers. This was one of my most trusted guys. But I calmed down and asked him about it and he graciously apologized, and removed the post.

Still, I felt like I'd been betrayed; but it turns out this kind of thing happens everywhere.

If you don't have policies in place that inform your employees of your positions on these possibly inflammatory and discriminative items and your integrity is ever called into question, you may be facing an uphill battle.

But this is first amendment stuff, right? It can't be limited. You can't control what your employees say and post, and what sites they visit. Can you?

The answer is if you're an employer, there's a thin line between what's right and wrong.

The National Labor Relations Board says, "Workers have a right to discuss work conditions freely and without fear of retribution, whether the discussion takes place at the office or on Facebook." You can't implement policies if "those policies discourage workers from exercising their right to communicate with one another with the aim of improving wages, benefits or working conditions."

With regards to company-owned e-mail, equipment and websites, the employer has the right to prescribe how they're used and what's acceptable. You can legally state that employees should have no unreasonable expectations of privacy, they should refrain from sexually explicit, abusive language and that the consequences for violation can include termination.

But when it comes to social media you must be more careful.

If your goal is to minimize the embarrassment or harm that an employee can cause your company using social media, but you inadvertently limit their ability to communicate with one another in an attempt create a better work environment, you are stepping outside of what the NLRB says is acceptable.

So how do you create a Social Media Policy that's acceptable?

To begin, you could have an open-door policy that invites employees to make suggestions, ask questions, and have input in your business. Doing this can help you avoid many of the complaints that might end up online.

Secondly, you could create a policy with the intention of informing your employees of what is and isn't acceptable. Include language that alerts them to the fact that the posting of negative items—with regards to themselves or your company—could cause them harm as well. Not by way of a threat of repercussions by the company; but as a result of a negative image which could lead to lowered sales for the company. That could directly affect their continued employment.

Lastly, you could make your employees aware that more than 52 percent of employers now check a potential employee's social media before making a hiring decision. Negative items could threaten any future employment opportunities.

Here's a good example of the language of a Social Media Policy:

"Employees are responsible for the content they post online, whether posted during or outside of work hours. Online conduct that adversely affects (the Towing Company's) legitimate business interests or the interests of its employees, customers, vendors or other business partners may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. Without written authorization from management, employees do not have authority or permission to communicate online for or on behalf of (the Towing Company)."

Controlling what's said about your business, your customers and your employees online may seem like an insurmountable battle. But if you approach it with thoughtfulness and diplomacy, and don't take it personally, you stand a better chance of getting the results you're looking for.

Don G. Archer is also multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at TheTowAcedemy.com. Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. Don is the Tow Business Editor for Tow Industry Week, and his bi-weekly column in Tow Industry Week is a must-read. E-mail him direct at don@thetowacademy.com
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Uniforms, Professionalism and Appearance

NC 07f81(Image – Tom Toby, Thomas Towing & Transport; Wilmington, NC)

By Randall C. Resch

Picture this: a middle-aged tow operator arrives to tow your car. His jeans are faded, torn and filthy. His body odor is so foul it's melted the tint on the tow truck's windows. He's wearing a greasy, untucked and stained T-shirt that says, "Go Ask Rocky." He's unshaven and wearing his hat backwards. His T-shirt's neck area bears a yellow, crud-crusted stain, and, as he reaches into your car to shift the car's tranny to neutral, his butt crack smiles back at you.

Can ya picture it?

If you think back to some of the past media blitzes characterizing tow truck drivers as greasy, stinky, unshaven, junkyard performers ... that's probably a descriptive stereotype of what the motoring public thinks about the towing and recovery industry.

To me, there's something very business-like and calming that comes with uniformed drivers wearing a clean, crisp, company uniform. When that first impression is a direct reflection of company management, I believe that looking professional tends to invite the motoring public to think their vehicle and service needs are going to be well cared for. Call it, "Psychological Profiling."

For the towing and recovery industry there are many different styles of uniforms that run the gamut from jeans and T-shirts, shorts, polo shirts with tennis shoes, to long sleeves and matching pants. No matter what style uniform your company selects for day-to-day wear, cleanliness is the key to lasting appeal.

Keeping it Clean

Our industry attracts dirt, grease and grime. Because even the simplest tasks have potential of turning a clean towman into a proverbial grease-ball, trying to stay out of dirt and grease by itself is a full-time job. Having been in and around this industry all my life, I fully understand that it's a dirty environment and towers get grimy.

However, I believe it's just as easy to stay clean as it is to get dirty. Personally, I won't drop to the pavement and crawl under a vehicle to hook it up without first dropping an old blanket, drop cloth or square chunk of old carpet as a surface protector. If I'm working a recovery, driveshaft removal, or doing something that's really greasy, I'll put on a pair of long-sleeved coveralls as my outermost garment.

Doing so helps to keep my uniform as clean as possible. More importantly, keeping one's uniform clean also helps prevent from bringing unnecessary oil, grease and dirt into the tow truck's interior or the customer's car.

The Contract

For tow companies serving law enforcement as rotation towers, most formal contracts stipulate that responding tow operators wear a uniform bearing the company's and driver's names. For example, uniform requirements stipulated by the California Highway Patrol calls for tow truck drivers to wear an identifiable uniform displaying the company and the driver's name while engaged in CHP rotation tow operations.

It also states that CHP towers shall present a professional image. An unacceptable representation would include unbathed, excessively dirty/torn uniform, inappropriate visible body art, visible body piercings, etc.

Because we towmen respond to service, accident and impound requests for law enforcement, our companies arrive as a representative for their agencies. You won't see the police running around in dirty, unkempt uniforms; so, our appearances should be in line with theirs: clean, neat and professional.

Cleanliness is a daily, ongoing personal obligation that goes beyond wearing the same uniform or clothes for days. While management shouldn't have to remind employees to look sharp and presentable, a little self-awareness (and, phew, some deodorant!) might be in order.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.
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