GETTING TOWED is by far one of the biggest challenges during a breakdown. Most operators struggle with a last-minute scramble to find a towing service that can handle a stranded vehicle. However, many towing services may tell you what you want to hear because they know that you’re at their mercy and need to get that vehicle home or to the repair shop. “You can’t just hook a wrecker up to any altered vehicle and drag it,” says Bryan Baker, LCT’s Dr. Limo. “You need to have a special type of car hauler to tow a special type of vehicle.”
One of the first things Baker suggests you do is call around to the areas you know your vehicles will most likely travel. Find out several key things about the companies you speak to:
01• Does the company’s insurance cover the value of your most expensive vehicle in case they damage it?
02• Does their insurance allow them to carry an “altered vehicle”? Many people don’t realize that wrecker and repair shop insurance companies sometimes stipulate that they will not cover any vehicle that has been modified beyond its factory specifications.
03• Check to see what types of trucks will be carrying your vehicles. You need to know that these vehicles can: 1) haul a vehicle of the length you need; 2) can get it onto the truck without scraping or “bottoming out the vehicle.”
04• Does the company have 24/7 service?
05• Does the company have enough trucks to be able to provide the service in a hurry?
“After finding several companies in each of the areas you intend to operate in, it’s time to check them out,” Baker says. “You need to be sure they can do what they say and have a good reputation.” The first place to check is with local car lots. The ones that have a “buy here/pay here” set-up are the ones that would most likely have made a lot of use of wrecker services due to repossessions. “Just ask how good the company has performed for them and if they’ve ever had any complaints.”
You can also check with:
01• Repair shops
02• New car lots
03• Other limousine services
04• Bus companies
05• Local performance shops: These are great places to go because people who modify and rebuild vehicles are some of the pickiest when it comes to their cars.
Once you’ve found the service, then negotiate your terms. “It’s easier to set up a good price for towing when you don’t actually need it,” Baker says. “If you wait until you need the service, you’re at a major disadvantage and will most likely pay top dollar.” Baker adds that negotiating the price isn’t always about trying to get the company to lower their rates as much as it is trying not to get them to raise them because it’s a limousine.
The best way to proceed is to let the company know that you’re willing to have a credit card on file with them so they don’t have to wait for a billing cycle. Provide them with your list of repair centers and map out those closest to the towing service. (Always be sure that any time you have to leave a vehicle overnight, the car is stored within a fenced area or building where it will be secure.) Once this is done, talk to the owner/ manager about the best price they can give your company. Remember, like you, these companies are trying to make money, and since they’re in the transportation business, their profit margins may not allow much room for negotiation.