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Ken Barriere

Getting into towing late

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I will make this short and sweet, did five years in the military (MAA) as police 3 tours Iraq (2) and Afghanistan (1). After getting out in 2010 the economy was in the dumps so I found any work I could get which turned me into an HVACR, Electrician/Plumber. At the age of 35 I decided to get into towing which was always something I wanted to do but could never find a way in. I am asking you guys/ladies what are my best steps I am WreckMaster certified online, I hold a DOT card and I did my NHI. I been thinking about buying my own truck and going with the trend of veteran owned and operated. If someone out there can give me some advice or guidance that would be amazing. Just to add going from all I went through my reason to want to do this job is to serve my country directly not indirectly like I did for five years. 

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First and foremost, Thank you for your service to our great nation. I too served overseas ( I came home in December 2005 ) and I always make sure to thank a fellow serviceman for his or her sacrifice they have laid upon the altar of freedom.

As far as how you should go about breaking into the industry I would say you are started on the right track. education is key and wreckmaster courses are the gold standard as far as I am concerned. What is your hands-on experience level? Have you worked in the industry yet, or are you geared towards doing it on your own right out of the gate? If that is your intention, I would urge extreme caution in doing so. 

I am not saying that jumping right in would be a disaster, but with limited or no hands on experience it is going to be a very expensive and tough hill to climb.

I would highly recommend getting on with a reputable towing company and LEARN. There are many aspects to this industry that can be learned from working for another company for a few years before you pull the trigger so to speak and go out on your own. Also, working for someone else to start out gives you the chance to feel this out to see if it is something you really want to invest your whole life into. I know a good many people who talked for years saying this is what they wanted, only to finally do it for 6 months or a year and realize it is not the peaches and creme they thought it would be. 

This is a very expensive, dangerous, and thankless occupation that is not for everyone. It can be a hard occupation on your family and personal life as well. This is no 9-5 job. The long hours, The brutal weather (depending on where you live ) The nights, The weekends, The missed birthdays, The holidays, Being married to a cell phone .. The list is endless...There is many ways to make a decent living at this but I will tell you doing it the right and honest way is the hardest. Which is why so many go the route of shady, fly-by-night types of operations. Dont become one of those people. 

You also made a excellent choice by joining these forums. There is a ton of experienced owners and operators on this forum that can help answer many questions you will have along the way. There is also a handful of industry icons and leaders on here whos wisdom and experience is priceless. Dont be afraid to ask "stupid" questions on here. Here, there is no such thing. And be sure to go through all the older posts throughout the forums. there is mountains of excellent info within them.

I wish you the very best of luck and welcome you. If I can be of any help, dont hesitate to message me.


PROFESSIONAL TOWING & RECOVERY IS NOT JUST A JOB.. IT IS A LIFESTYLE

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Posted (edited)

I could not have given you more sound of an advice platform. It will take new leadership such as yourself to elevate this industry into a profession.

Never forget that family is first.  Never forget this.

Edited by goodmichael

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@GRUMPS The Towman, Thank you for your service also. Your advice is amazing and helped so much. I have two good buddies that started this work after high school for a very large tow company and before covid had some time to spend in trucks with them while on leave and after getting out kind of just keeping busy. During Covid all three of us had a lot more time to talk and after expressing my hate of doing plumbing and electrical they put towing into my head. 

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I mainly post here because I have seen most guys start very young or family in the business where do tow guys even post jobs. Also AAA is hiring out here in New England heavy but was told to avoid them but no one could give me a reason why.

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Posted (edited)

Every region has different ways of recruiting drivers so It would be hard for me to pinpoint a direct way for you to get your foot in the door. Around here, I know for fact my good friend who owns the biggest towing operation in town ( Yes, contrary to popular belief, although we are technically competitors, We actually get along quite well and help each other out often ) would be very Interested in a guy such as you. You have some credentials like wreck master and best of all your "green". He prefers training his guys from newbies because he can train you his way, the right way off the bat, before you get any bad habits from running trucks for any bozo companies. Like starting out fresh in any Industry, you would obviously get the crummy shifts, and new guy pay, But you gotta start at the bottom to get your way to the top. 

You mentioned your currently working in the HVAC industry. Is it possible for you to get on with a company working part time a couple night shifts or weekends? I know moonlighting sucks but so does trying to live off low, new guy type of pay in this industry.

Most AAA providers around here are contracted providers Meaning they are privately owned. My good friend I mentioned before is the main AAA provider in my region. I have heard that some of the actual AAA  owned businesses are riddled with poorly trained, Ill equipped drivers. Their drivers are nothing more than warm bodies behind the wheel, although I cant say that for certain because I dont have any dealings or see them around my area. I would classify them as those "bozo" type of companies I warned you to avoid.

Edited by GRUMPS The Towman

PROFESSIONAL TOWING & RECOVERY IS NOT JUST A JOB.. IT IS A LIFESTYLE

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Posted (edited)

@GRUMPS The Towman your going to laugh I am technically retired financially and per the VA. I used to work 4 months at a time on call so very used to it. I live in RI currently but we also have a home in MA if that helps. Our towing out here is Kings and Sterry Street you got some small guys but they tend to do shady stuff. Just to add I am not getting into this field for money it more to help and protect again like I did ten years ago, as yourself did.  

 

Edit: Yes HVAC is under my plumbing and Electrical license in MA.

Edited by Ken Barriere

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You will want to build experience before buying your own truck, It's possible to do without experience first but having the experience going into it is big, Small companies are not always bad but definitely find a company that does shit right and remember when working for a company if they are into shady shit your reputation is tied to that and going into business with a bad reputation is not what you want to be doing so find a good company, and the advantage of bigger companies with heavies is you can learn about towing everything from light to heavy duty in time. starting your own company you will be dealing with light duty for quite a while but it's never bad to have the knowledge for it all. Wreckmaster is good, if you haven't already I recommend taking their in person hands on classes the knowledge you will gain is huge.

Now other than just finding a tow company to work for whenever you do decide to buy your own trucks you must know the barrier to entry is pretty huge for the towing industry so while you gain that experience at another company i'd be saving every dime you can afford to safe as you will need it, Truck payments, Fuel, Insurance, Damage claims, Equipment, Tires, Oil, etc there is a high cost barrier there, As for AAA the reason people say to avoid AAA is because it's not a good paying motor club, AAA offers volume over good rates, What would normally be 100 dollar tow might be a 50 dollar tow for AAA sometimes even worse, you can use them as a stepping stone but getting in a position where you depend on them is not what you want to do if you can when you start out with your company you want to get on police rotation, and again hands on experience is very important for police rotation you will get some very tricky calls as such and I believe some areas even require certain levels of training and possibly certificates to get on rotation but generally police rotation and cash calls are what you want to rely on, they pay the best and if you can keep yourself busy all day with just those two that is great otherwise you may have to look to motor clubs for extra work but again don't get too dependent on low rate motor clubs like AAA some pay good some pay not much at all, some are easy to work with some are a pain to work with, and motor clubs don't operate the same in different areas so someone in texas will have very different experiences with the same motor clubs for example Agero than someone in Ohio, or maybe even city to city where Agero might be great in one area they could be terrible in another so that is something that will be determined with personal experiences. 

Now I've gone a bit into the cost barrier, the type of work you want to focus on, and the importance of building hands on experience, As for insurance and other business related topics I don't deal with truck insurance or anything like that personally so I can't speak on or give any insight into what your best options are there just build experience learn anything and everything you can.

Best of luck, and thank you for your service. 

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Do not run a call for less than your cost plus profit. You are in business to make a living, not to let motor clubs rob you of your profit. Start small. Wreckmaster is a great training venue. Recovery Billing Unlimited is a great training venue as well.  

I am a big Dave Ramsey fan. I would get a copy of Entree Leadership and read it as well. 

Banks are not your friend. Think they are?

Get sick or hurt and miss a couple payments and you will see their true colors. A paid off truck rides different. 

Again start small. Do not mortgage your soul. A truck will cost you close to 10 grand a month to operate. Divide that by 30 and that is what you need to carve out of this marble we call earth. 

You can do it, but start small. 

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