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Why are tower's motor club experiences so inconsistant?


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Topic Originally Created by RodVT in January of 2009:


I understand why AAA providers have widely different experiences because AAA is actually a collection of clubs each with their own management. Here in VT the AAA club covers three states and they have different policies for each state (figure that out). But the truly single entity national clubs, if you take what we read here as honest criticism, interact with different towers very differently. Why? Payment times, audits, dispatching. Are the clubs supportive of some and hostile to others? Should they be consistent with everyone? Just seems weird to me that people's experiences are so different.

Disclaimer: I am not a m/c provider. I am just making an observation to help get a better understanding of the industry.


Turbo Transport said:

Its a valid question!, But I don't know if anyone has the answer? I would be interested in an explanation myself. Some towers have had good relationships with clubs that others will say they are the Devil! It doesn't make much sense really. unless the towers that get treated poorly are coming off as being rude or disrespectful then they should all be treated the same.


twinbulls said:

I think it might be a burn out level...
When I first started with MCs I was very HAPPY to get calls and then get paid in 30 days.... I was happy just to be working.... I am one that really likes to work.... But after time I was getting upset with dispatch,reps,lies,,, and short pays... and after awhile I was VERY negative.... and I was MAD !!!

I felt betrayed and they showed NO RESPECT for me or my company ....They didnt care that there short pay put me behind with my bills... they didint care that there dispatcher had the WRONG info... and thats why I was 20 min late.... and the area rep had NO respect for me that they didnt even care to call me back.. in a timely manner....
But get a damage claim and WOW !! they are on the phone and Ready to take that money out of your check weather true or a lie....

I have a learned attitude towards them,, They taught me how to act towards them.... Granted there are a couple people out there that do try to make it better but they do get over whelmed with all the BS....

Just my thoughts

Stay safe


tator said:

They promise a company like mine volume but out here they can't put the promise in writing or they could not fulfill it. I have been experminting on the non contract side of things so far it has been touch and go. I'm happy with some not with others. One wants me to help yet calls a provider 30 miles away then he calls me still at my rates don't make sense.


Rod VT said:


Is it the clubs or the towers? I am really asking where the variation is? Joe from RA (just as an example) has been saying that his call center works consistently with his vendors, but clearly there are variations on how that "consistency" is perceived (don't start picking on RA here please, I am just using them as a general example). Clearly, either the clubs treat different vendors differently, or there is a training/knowledge gap between towers about how to deal with clubs, and/or what are reasonable expectations. Or, it could be a combination of the two....


jal70 said:

Just my opinion, but I believe you are correct in the assumtion that a combination of the parties which cause the variance. I can only speak for our expriences, but we have a full spectum of service providers: from non-contracted providers whom complete services rarely, to high-volume contracted providers, road service companies, mobile tire specialists, mobile mechanics, etc. However, they all have one thing in common, which is people. If our vendor relations team are concetrating on service and generating strong business relationships, we generally will have a service partner whom has a positive opinion of our company. The converse is also true, if we do not service well or have some kink in our process, then the providers opinion will generally not be positive. What I have found is that open communication between the parties involved will normall resolve most issues in an acceptable manor for all.

Joseph Licciardi, RAMC


bigberthastowing said:

I believe geographical differences matter as the cost of living index plays into the formula. For example, almost every State would have a different commercial insurance rate for the same tower under the same circumstances. Unemployment and other statistical data vary. Taxes, housing costs, rent averages, fuel costs differences, base education levels, transportation statutes, rules and regulations, rural or urban service, population density, terrain, roads and highways routing and condition, political influence, and in general all of these metrics result in different base and per mile rates from the MC's. Many of these influences contribute to the quality of communications between the parties which as pointed out, creates then generates or resolves a set of problems allowing smooth flow of business, or not. You will notice that TowXchange publishes a normalized average rate schedule throughout the nation. These figures are 'averages' complied from input everywhere. It may look good to some and look insufficient to others, depending on their home region. Many would feel they should be at the top of the rate scale and this may influence MC cooperation to a small degree. I also believe a large difference competence level in individual regional managers is a strong influence. No two people are the same, they don't think the same, have different education and experience levels, don't perceive the same, they may have different threshold levels of sensitivities in dealing with the day to day relationships with vendors. We see it one way out here in towland, but imagine 1000's vendors hammering down at the same time. There are many regionals who are pretty cool and calm about the influx of questions and demands and handle the task orderly, but, there are others who manage themselves into chaos and seemingly forget the process. On both sides of the equation, the process must be maintained in order to gain headway toward problem solving. We could all learn from exercising a little patience.


annettemcd said:

Tom, Your statement is very well written. I have been thinking about this issue myself. I have always thought that my business is fairly unique, but that the relationship between my company and each individual motor club is totally up to me. I definitely listen to others and what they have to say about different motor clubs, but I am the only one who can determine what works for me and what doesn't work for me. No one knows my business like I do and no one can tell me what will or will not work for me. I also can not tell anyone else whether they should or should not work with a particular motor club. I think part of it, too, is determining how to work with the motor clubs and make their system work for your company. I can tell others what works for me and read about what works for others, but it is definitely not a case of one size fits all or that one motor club is "better" or "worse" than another.

For example, and only as an example, I have a good working relationship with Cross Country. My rates are not bad and I know how their system works, so I know what to do to have the system work well for me. It takes time on my part. I do not just take a call and dispatch a truck, I clarify a great deal of information with the dispatcher and the customer, even if it takes multiple phone calls and requests for notes to be made on the job. I carefully track each invoice on argosi.net until I am paid in full. On the other hand, we are low volume (less than sixty jobs/year), but high dollar amount per invoice since my tows are usually 60-150 miles one way. It works for me.

My business is NOT like someone who never goes more than five miles from their base and does a great deal of road services. What works for me may or may not work for anyone else. What works for them may or may not work for me.

As another example, with my high cost jobs, I do not work well with companies that have limits on their coverage while a company doing a high volume of quick, inexpensive jobs may be able to work well with a club that has low limits.

It is also a case of individuals and individual situations. Sometimes, it just takes one case of a disagreement between a service provider and a district representative or a claims adjuster to sour the entire relationship between a service provider and a motor club. You have to agree that many of us towers are ornery, ol' cusses and some of the motor clubs are huge corporations employing paper-pusher who care most about the bottom line than good relationship with service providers.


IBX said:

I think it is from the "one size fits all" mentality and "best case scenarios" from which motor clubs base their rate structures. What may work in busy urban cities in Florida may not work in rural Kansas, and certainly will not in remote Alaska. Think about how different the geography, the landscape, the volume and distances between calls are. For example, changing a tire on a newer caravan, one with the spare in the middle. In sunny warm Florida, it might be in a paved parking lot at a mall, not too far from your base. And your next call is only a block or two away. That is what I would consider a best case scenario.(I am only picking on Florida here because my temperature went from a mild 50 to 7 degrees in less than 24 hours)

Now imagine the same job in -20 degree temps in Kansas with a -40 wind chill, with the vehicle in 6 inches of snow, along an interstate with traffic whizzing by.... hardly seems fair to price the same job at the same rate does it?
Now some motor clubs will step up to the plate, if at the time of the incident you call in to them and explain the situation. I have done it, I have been authorized additional money for less than perfect circumstances. Some motor clubs will say, "No way." And hide behind their little agreement and say, "This is what you contracted for, this is what you get." And there in lies the problem. Or part of it.

Also it is distance, or the "Free Miles" bit that every motor club wants. In my current location, almost 80% of my call volume is within 4 miles of my base. If you're in a heavily congested urban area, you may have a majority of calls even closer. If you're in a rural area, then more likely they are spread out. And believe it or not, 10 free miles enroute/5miles loaded can turn into 60 free miles! How? Start at your shop and drive down the road 10 miles and tow it 5 going further out. Drop it and then your next call is 10 miles in the opposite direction pick up a car and tow it five miles going further out 5 miles then you return to your base 15 miles back. And this DOES happen in rural areas. But again the motor clubs can not, or simply refuse, to see this. Maybe we are just cattle to them.

We have heard about loyalty, there is none. But there is none in any business. You may have been servicing a shop for years, calls you all the time. But when that shop owner retires or moves on, what is to say the new owner/manager will keep you? Nothing. Its up to the tower to keep up positive relations with the clubs just as you would with anyone else, if you want their business. Motor clubs comprise a majority of my work, I make money with them. But only because I know how my business works and my costs. Most people do not, and therefore tend to grumble when they run for weeks, and then when the check comes it doesn't cover their expenses.

Lastly, it is about communication, some motorclubs are great, some just plain suck at it. Some are making real strides, some pretend and always have an excuse as to why they can't get it right in the first place.


tator said:

While in a major metro area a company cane experience the volume of calls the clubs promise. I had one tell me they would try to load us both ways when possible. When you get into an area like mine where no company (in a 30 mile radius east or west and even further north and south) services the clubs you really have a general idea what the volume is so it is harder for them to lure us into the contract deal. What works well in Denver or any other big city will not fly out here in Burlington pop. 4,500. I have found the Motor Clubs that handle RVs and Cars to not be understanding of the differences whereas the heavy duty brokers have a little better idea. In 2 years here I have cover 5 light calls from motor clubs and around 50 heavy calls for brokers. The motor clubs will have someone deadhead 45 mile before they call a full rate truck that on scene even though it would end up cheaper to use the non contracted provider.


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