We recently had the opportunity to attend the annual Tow Show in Orlando Florida. The tow show is an extraordinary event that brings together small business owners, tow vendors, and product vendors. The tow show really helps highlight the full spectrum of the towing industry. Every kind of vehicle used in towing was represented in one way or the other at the show. There were pickup trucks equipped with small wheel lifts all the way up to the extra heavy freight haulers with 4 axles or more. Thousands of people visit the Tow Show every year and it is a great way to meet other owner operators and share ideas.
If you are near the area I cannot recommend enough that you should try to attend the show next year. There were hundreds of booths set up representing everyone from Fleet Finance companies to insurance professionals like myself. I want to take some time to highlight some of the trends and products featured in the event that I think could be a real asset to tow truck owners and operators.
- Full Fleet Monitoring Systems – There were a handful of companies at the tow show that were offering full service fleet monitoring systems. I know that monitoring systems are usually more beneficial to medium to larger fleets due to the costs of operating them, but it is becoming such a useful tool that I think eventually even the one to two truck operations may pick them up. Most of the systems demonstrated at the tow show included the ability for the business owner to track their entire fleet in real time. The owner can tell how fast a given vehicle is going at any given moment. They can set their system up to allow only 5-10 miles an hour over the posted speed limit. Not only does this system give the owner valuable knowledge about the whereabouts of his equipment and employees but it is also extremely attractive to potential insurance carriers. Knowing that everything is monitored tends to put extra pressure on the drivers to adhere to safe business practices. This in turn lowers the risk for a claim and insurance companies love that. There were three or four companies at the tow show offering these services. The one that stood out the most to me was VTS Systems. I suggest you check them out if you are in the market for a fleet management system. Their web address is vts-systems.com.
- Cameras – There were an abundance of vendors at the Tow Show demonstrating the latest in imaging software. Most of the vendors were promoting smart phone applications that automatically date and time stamp each photo that you have taken. This allows you to have a real time record of where the vehicle was, what time it was there, and what shape it was in when you picked it up/dropped it off. This obviously helps cut down on false claims of damage to a vehicle during the tow process. There were so many imaging software companies at the tow show that it is hard to pick one out of the crowd. I suggest that you look around a bit and pick out a vendor that fits best for your company. You will want to take advantage of this new software. It really helps you to document every aspect of a tow job. This allows you to review everything later if any claims of damage arise.
There were hundreds of other vendors at the tow show but I believe the two vendors mentioned above could be extremely valuable to my tow truck clients. If you are able to attend this event next year I cannot recommend it enough. There are a ton of other Owner Operators at the event. It gives you the opportunity to discuss your craft with other business owners as well as the opportunity make contact with some valuable vendors. I hope to see you there next year!
Caleb Jackson is the Vice President of Transportation for Barbee Jackson Insurance. He helps hundreds of operators across the country with insurance and filing needs. Any question concerning the Tow Show or Insurance you can reach him at (850) 389-2001 or firstname.lastname@example.org