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Old 10-29-2010, 09:29 PM   #1
mspecperformance
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Default Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

I had this idea for the last couple days ( don't know why i haven't thought of it before ).

I currently have an auto repair shop (we only service BMWs) with a rather large lot, or at least large in comparison with the lack of space in New York City.

I did my research and everything looks good as I should have the correct zoning qualifications to get a towing service business license. However the one thing that is holding me back is that in order for one to apply for a business license in New York City, you must have a roster of tow trucks and be readily available for inspection on the premise before a license can be issued. I find this one hard to swallow since a used truck can go from 30k-60k and would have to be bought or financed before even ATTEMPTING to get the business license.

So what do I do if they deny me for a license??? There isn't much more I can do in preparation, sometimes government agencies will reject applications for all kinds of retarded reasons.


Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old 10-29-2010, 09:44 PM   #2
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

bring in a partner (at less than 50%) that already has a truck?
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Old 10-29-2010, 09:48 PM   #3
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

don't forget the chaser
in NY , you need a towing endorsement on a CDL to tow
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Old 10-29-2010, 10:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

can you explain the towing endorsement?
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Old 10-29-2010, 10:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

http://nysdmv.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/n...ted=1102433666
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Old 10-29-2010, 10:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

it doesnt look too difficult, or is it one of those things where its impossible to get but they don't actually tell you that.
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Old 10-29-2010, 10:54 PM   #7
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

Another thought would be to buy an older truck that will pass inspection and then after getting the licence buying the 30k truck.

I bought a 1986 Chevy tow truck off ebay for $4500 that I have been using for 7 years with only minor repair items. 3 distributor modules (I might get better results if I were using new instead of ones out of the junkyard) and a hyd clutch set up, tires, brakes, that sort of stuff.
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Old 10-29-2010, 10:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

jersey does not require it
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Old 10-29-2010, 11:06 PM   #9
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

great advice guys. I didn't think of getting a cheaper truck at first but I will look into. Yeah NY sucks with their requirements, permits, taxes. Its a money grab is what it is.
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Old 10-30-2010, 12:06 AM   #10
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

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can you explain the towing endorsement?
It is just a simple written exam, Just study the material they give you . It was easy when I got mine
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Old 10-30-2010, 07:32 AM   #11
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

A couple of years ago i bought a rollback, purely because it was cheap enough that i could make money selling it. I inadvertantly got in the towing business. I thought about it for a week or so and jumped in. I figured if it didnt work i would just sell the truck. The idea of buying a less expensive rig is a good one. Give it a go, if things dont work you can sell the truck. After a year or so, i have a guy that runs the truck, everything paid, he makes a good living, all the bills are paid, i put about $40k in my pocket last year. I still do my regular thing, so thats kind of my gravy money. Dont get me wrong, I live in TN, so i am sure its different. But, i still had a lot of hoops to jump thru. My buddy that runs the truck for me lives in it, I mean he is ready to go anywhere anytime. If you need any help, as to what to possibly expect let me know.
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Old 10-30-2010, 10:18 AM   #12
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

Remember, if you do repo work, you may have people come after you or the truck. I know a fellow who has a towing business. He bought a truck from another towing company when they got a new truck, and has been attacked on the road. He thinks the other company was big on repos and they recognized the truck. So far he has had it for a month and two of the incidents on the interstate caused a wreck.
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Old 10-30-2010, 10:41 AM   #13
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

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Remember, if you do repo work, you may have people come after you or the truck. I know a fellow who has a towing business. He bought a truck from another towing company when they got a new truck, and has been attacked on the road. He thinks the other company was big on repos and they recognized the truck. So far he has had it for a month and two of the incidents on the interstate caused a wreck.
he needs to start packing some heat....
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Old 10-30-2010, 10:47 AM   #14
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

Can you rent or lease a tow truck from somebody with the clause in the lease that if you fail to get the license, you can return the vehicle before the lease it over. Don't paint your bus name on the truck until you have the license. Not sure if this is possible, but we do this with other equipment (conditional lease).

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Old 10-30-2010, 11:06 AM   #15
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

http://www.nussbaumwreckers.com/
right on 17 in hasbrouck heights, nj -the used lot is full
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Old 10-31-2010, 08:21 AM   #16
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

My advise to anyone who wants to amke a go at the towing business right now is do ALOT of research in your market right now.

Figure a pretty good used truck can be had for peanuts right now because of companies going under. when scrap goes up companies start up and by them when it goes down there are a ton of them.

What kind of work would you be doin with it. Repo work has beocme very competitve and has it's own pitfalls. motorclubs require alot of ATTENTION so everything you do is both profitable and billed for. Police calls can be mnoney makers or losers just remember because you have a truck and a yard your not ENTITLED to them. there are others but i'll see where this goes first.
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Old 10-31-2010, 08:44 AM   #17
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

Also get very familiar with the state and DOT regs for registration, certifications, and medical. Going across state lines adds complications. I have a buddy that bought an older flatbed here in Maine and he did not do his homework upfront. Almost cost him some big fines.
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:24 AM   #18
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

Around Toronto I've heard that there is a lot of organized crime involvement in Towing. I don't know if they actually run the companies or if it's some of the drivers that get involved.

Have any of you guys heard of this in your neck of the woods?
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:45 AM   #19
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

Quote:
Yeah NY sucks with their requirements, permits, taxes. Its a money grab is what it is.
While this may be true in a sense it is a good thing. Licenses are an asset once you have them, being difficult to get keeps the competition out, if it was cheap and easy everyone would do it. Not that I would want to be in the tow biz though.
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:43 AM   #20
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

I could tell ya some stories about towing.......

I could see having a truck to support your repair business, but I wouldn't mess with it just for the "extra cash" idea....not in a big city, anyway....

The small, one or two truck, guys I know all seem to be doing the best. They all have old trucks with no payments so they can survive fluctuations in the work.
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Old 10-31-2010, 11:28 AM   #21
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

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I could tell ya some stories about towing.......

I could see having a truck to support your repair business, but I wouldn't mess with it just for the "extra cash" idea....not in a big city, anyway....

The small, one or two truck, guys I know all seem to be doing the best. They all have old trucks with no payments so they can survive fluctuations in the work.
I agree with that. A friend of mine had two trucks, both 5+ years old when he bought them. One was a fixed flatbed with a crane and had a blown engine, the other was a tilt bed with a blown diff. Bought cheap, fixed even cheaper and they were used for collecting scrap/wrecked cars and towing purchased/customers' cars to the shop. Mostly they were used for hauling wrecked cars back to the shop to be rebuilt, but lots of money was made from jobs where people called up and wanted a car towed or scrapped.

It also helped that he was a licenced bailiff and was often called up for "asset recovery".

Theo, yes tow trucks are often used in organised crime for car theft. If a tow truck takes a car and the alarm's going off no-one bats an eyelid. It's less conspicuous than just breaking in and stealing.

If you want to to be inconspicuous and invisible then make yourself the most visible person around. Wear a flourescent yellow jacket and use a truck with flashing lights.
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Old 10-31-2010, 08:44 PM   #22
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

[QUOTE=Heavy Metal Doctor;1141450]
I could see having a truck to support your repair business, but I wouldn't mess with it just for the "extra cash" idea....not in a big city, anyway....
QUOTE]

See that's the thinking that gets businesses into trouble. On average everyday the truck sits it cost you money in Fixxed expenses insurance plus registration plus storage/365 =

So even though your rolling expensses may not be needed. if you do one tow and it's 1 mile that tow cost you XYZ.

Keeping in mind everything you do in business is to turn a profit.

Remember owning a tow truck isn't like other business's there is no set market share so your not guaranteed the work. it's a tool you will have to exploit to gain your investment back and you will need to recover your initial investment back rather quickly.
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:31 PM   #23
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

I think NJHandyGuy is giving some really good advice here. I haven't been in the towing business, but I have made a lot of calls for heavy truck towing over the thirty-plus years I spent working with trucks and transportation.
Are you ready to take your business to a twenty-four hour a day operation? Getting the truck is the easiest part of it all. Keeping it profitable is the hard part. Transportation is rough work, it's easy to get a truck and start undercutting the established operators. Legally or not.
It can take a lot of phone work and turn into whole lot of new problems. It's not something I would get into.
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:47 PM   #24
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

Something else to consider. If you only specialize in bmw

1 if your only towing bmw's for you it's a much easier investment to buddy up with an establiched towing company

or 2 if your going to tow everyone it takes away from the bmw prestige

again KNOW your stats before you start tow truck insurance is super expensive every yeasr my registration goes up tires and brakes are only good 30-40k miles and a 19.5 tire is $500 x 6

get ready for a headache because a tow truck NEVER breaks down when your slow on a sunny day.

it;s usually calls backed up downpour or snow and rush hour just saying i am in those shoes and find it rewarding but i also know what i got myself into.

i've seen alot of guys come and go usually without a THOROUGH business plan marketing stragey aand most of all work to go by day in and day out.
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:00 PM   #25
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

NJHandyGuy is right about insurance. I got lucky and my agent said that as long as towing wasn't the main source of income for my business I could run my wrecker under the dealer policy that I already have.

People only call for a tow when the car is broken down in the middle of a busy area or during rain or a snow storm.

In the last ten years I have only towed two cars that were broken down on the side of an interstate highway and I hope that I never have to do it again.

The last time I checked in Michigan tow trucks can only have yellow lights and most drivers don't slow down or move over for the yellow flashing lights.
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:07 PM   #26
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

really mi doesn't have a slow down move over law ??? huh that surprises me
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:14 PM   #27
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

They have the law but unless a cop can be seen nobody does it.
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:56 PM   #28
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

Only State I've been where majority of folks obey the move over law is Texas. I've been told by several TX residents that the law is enforced there. Everyplace else a lot of folks ignore it and I've never seen one of them lit up.
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:10 AM   #29
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

It's been quite a few years since I was in the biz,but there are a few things that haven't changed-
The first is that it's a highly competitive,almost cutthroat business.Overhead is high-even a basic,no frills truck new is real close to 60 Gs new,insurance is very high,and the storage yard isn't tax free.Fuel isn't cheap-and tow trucks drink plenty of it.If you get involved on a police towing contract,it's 24 hrs a day,365 days a year-and no excuses allowed.Unless you want to spend your life in the truck,or have someone who will be as reliable as you would be yourself,you will have problems.When that truck isn't rolling-and on a job that makes money AND you'll get paid for,you're watching it drain your wallet.
Dealing with the public in this biz is no fun either-let's face it-it's never good news when your car is being towed-and the driver and the person running the desk hear and see the worst of every customer.
I worked in the biz for 15 years-lots of nights/days/weekends in all kinds of weather-sometimes too sick to even be out of bed-but still out there running the roads trying to make a buck.When things are going right,you can make some real good money-then spend the next week waiting for the phone to ring.
Guys like Jayson-and all the other guys making a go of it get a great deal of respect from me-it's a tough business that you have to truly love to succeed in-and you really have to hustle to get started in.
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:59 AM   #30
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

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really mi doesn't have a slow down move over law ??? huh that surprises me
It's a fairly new law here and it will take 10 years for people to catch on. If you take into account that at any given time you have less than 200 Troopers working the entire state it would be unlikely for that citation to get written more than once per day statewide.

The locals concentrate on pulling in revenue with easily prosecuted speeding tickets. Safety isn't the priority, Benjamin's are & the Troopers are spread so thin that traffic is taking a back seat to more "serious crime".

Or so I've heard...
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:03 AM   #31
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

Quote:
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It's been quite a few years since I was in the biz,but there are a few things that haven't changed-
The first is that it's a highly competitive,almost cutthroat business.Overhead is high-even a basic,no frills truck new is real close to 60 Gs new,insurance is very high,and the storage yard isn't tax free.Fuel isn't cheap-and tow trucks drink plenty of it.If you get involved on a police towing contract,it's 24 hrs a day,365 days a year-and no excuses allowed.Unless you want to spend your life in the truck,or have someone who will be as reliable as you would be yourself,you will have problems.When that truck isn't rolling-and on a job that makes money AND you'll get paid for,you're watching it drain your wallet.
Dealing with the public in this biz is no fun either-let's face it-it's never good news when your car is being towed-and the driver and the person running the desk hear and see the worst of every customer.
I worked in the biz for 15 years-lots of nights/days/weekends in all kinds of weather-sometimes too sick to even be out of bed-but still out there running the roads trying to make a buck.When things are going right,you can make some real good money-then spend the next week waiting for the phone to ring.
Guys like Jayson-and all the other guys making a go of it get a great deal of respect from me-it's a tough business that you have to truly love to succeed in-and you really have to hustle to get started in.
That the side of towing that I'm talking about......and why I suggested the truck just be added to support the repair business.
I know about 5 towing company owners. The only one who is able to really enjoy the work and do as he pleases has never been married / no kids and therefore, no familly life. It's okay for him to stay out on the road and not see his house for 3 or 4 days straight even though he's never mor than 100 miles from home. It's okay when things are slow, for him to roam the neighborhood visiting / chatting with us at the local shops - not making any money, just waiting for the phone to ring. Along with that, the 30k or so worth of old used trucks he has is ALL he has - no retirement plan, no health ins. - God forbid he ever really gets sick - he'll be done.
Some of the others I know have built up towing business' and, as Fast Orange said, have hired drivers and attempted to live a normall 7-5 life and not be stuck in the truck themselves 24/7. Invariably, they either had problems with drivers doing bumb crap or broken down trucks or both to the point they still slept at the shop constantly trying to keep the place running.
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Old 11-01-2010, 08:25 AM   #32
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

where do you live?
in CA you will be on the police/CHP tow list to make some real money.
for that you have to be in buisness for 3 years and go through all the hoops and all
I had a repair shop and was thinking the same thing at one time. a friend eneded up buying a small one truck owner operated tow buisness for a reasonable cost which meant he was on the list from day 1.

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Old 11-01-2010, 09:08 AM   #33
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

my buddys in towing have gotten into h-d truck towing big time
they also have body shops to support
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Old 11-01-2010, 09:24 AM   #34
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

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if your going to tow everyone it takes away from the bmw prestige
This would be a big concern for me. I see a shop near me, "Transmission specialist" Shocks mufflers brakes. Another has an add, high pressure piping, also misc steel and handrail.
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:26 AM   #35
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the trans business is kind of dying
BMW is VERY busy
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:18 PM   #36
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

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Originally Posted by Fast Orange View Post
Guys like Jayson-and all the other guys making a go of it get a great deal of respect from me-it's a tough business that you have to truly love to succeed in-and you really have to hustle to get started in.
Wow i definately appreciate that btw did you ever take care of that neon
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:22 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Heavy Metal Doctor View Post
That the side of towing that I'm talking about......and why I suggested the truck just be added to support the repair business.
I know about 5 towing company owners. The only one who is able to really enjoy the work and do as he pleases has never been married / no kids and therefore, no familly life. It's okay for him to stay out on the road and not see his house for 3 or 4 days straight even though he's never mor than 100 miles from home. It's okay when things are slow, for him to roam the neighborhood visiting / chatting with us at the local shops - not making any money, just waiting for the phone to ring. Along with that, the 30k or so worth of old used trucks he has is ALL he has - no retirement plan, no health ins. - God forbid he ever really gets sick - he'll be done.
Some of the others I know have built up towing business' and, as Fast Orange said, have hired drivers and attempted to live a normall 7-5 life and not be stuck in the truck themselves 24/7. Invariably, they either had problems with drivers doing bumb crap or broken down trucks or both to the point they still slept at the shop constantly trying to keep the place running.
I couldn't agree more except for one thing i have set up a retirement fund and i have health insurance. I treat my business as a business instead of a job.

There is a reason i only have one truck and i like it that way extra trucks increase your headaches and lower profits. i don't like half the applicants i've seen at former jobs why would i give them a reason.
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:29 PM   #38
m289271
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

Where I'm at, way, way to much competition. Unless you have a contract with the county or local PD, you'll be the Maytag man of wreckers.
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Old 11-01-2010, 08:29 PM   #39
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Default Re: Thinking about starting a tow company, what do think?

The only ship that doesn't float is a partnership.
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