10 Ways Towers Can Overcome Supply Chain Issues


Dealing with supply chain issues can be a real pain, so what happens while you’re waiting on your new equipment to arrive?

Even though we’re coming up on four years since the start of the pandemic, many industries are still recovering from how significantly the supply chain around the world was impacted. The towing industry is no exception and is still facing many various supply chain challenges. 

Here are 10 ways towing and roadside assistance professionals can overcome supply chain delays and issues while still maintaining a successful operation:

1. Diversify Your Tow Truck Fleet

Maintain a diverse fleet of tow trucks with different capabilities to handle various types of vehicles and situations including light, medium, and heavy duty recoveries. This can help in adapting to different demands and requirements.

“People tend to under-spec, they want lighter weight, but in the towing recovery industry, you’ve got to be heavy duty because there are going to be times where you’re going to be overloaded,” said Jeremy Irvin of MHC Kenworth on episode 77 of the Tow Business Podcast. “So that’s often critical in which a customer will go to his local dealer, he’ll spec a truck and it’ll have a 13 two axle when in all reality for a 50 ton integrated, it truly needs at least an 18,000 pound front axle. So even down to frames, you’ll have a guy under-spec a truck and he’ll have a 10 and three-quarter with an insert frame, which is about 3.28 million RBM. In all reality, he needed 4.7 for what he’s going to do.” 


2. Network Collaboration

Establish partnerships and collaborations with other towing companies and colleagues. This network can be leveraged during peak times, emergencies, or when facing equipment shortages.

“We have a competitor three, four miles down the road. And we’re best friends,” said Jeremy Procon, Owner of Interstate Towing. “So we play off each other, we help each other. There’s plenty of room in the sandbox. And I’m sure people know the name Bill Johnson from Hampshire Towing. He’s a mile and a half away. We step on each other’s toes all day long. But Bill’s style is work with you, not against you. You make money with each other, not against each other.”


3. Fleet Maintenance Program

Implement a robust maintenance program to ensure all tow trucks are in good working condition. Regular maintenance can prevent unexpected breakdowns and reduce downtime.

“[Supply chain issues are] very prevalent,” said Michelle Sukow, Owner of HDM Towing & Truck Center. “We had ordered a couple of trucks right after Covid and some of them took six months longer than we were anticipating, so you keep the other trucks rolling as best you can and hope that it all works out.”


4. Real-Time Tracking and Dispatch

Invest in technology that enables real-time tracking of tow trucks and efficient digital dispatching. This can improve response times and overall operational efficiency.

“Our company uses TRAXERO’s towing management system TOPS, with certified mail and integrated auctions as well as BudgetGPS for fleet tracking,” said James Whittredge, President of Pro Tow, Columbus, OH. “The fact that everything is integrated into one system is excellent. This has freed up our staff to remain focused on running our business while saving us on labor, fuel, and trucks.”


5. Supply Chain Visibility

Enhance visibility into the supply chain, especially for obtaining replacement parts and equipment. Real-time tracking of orders and shipments can help in managing inventory effectively.

“We do our own truck service and repairs in our shop and as we’re starting to see issues getting certain supplies, I’m telling the shop, find it and if you need one, order three. Because if they’re short now…” said Jeff Poquette on episode 77 of the Tow Business Podcast. “I mean a small place like us, the last thing you want to do is be sitting on inventory. That’s a lot of money sitting on the shelves, but what’s the alternative? Take the chance that you can find the thing.”


6. Emergency Preparedness

Develop and regularly update emergency response plans. Being prepared for unexpected events, such as accidents or severe weather, can minimize disruptions and ensure a swift recovery.

“It’s mainly the operator and his preparedness, but from a truck standpoint, really the only difference for us is fuel,” said Brad McIntosh, President of Towing Management Group. “We have to have fuel additive when it’s really, really cold so the diesel doesn’t gel up.”


7. Training and Certification

Ensure that tow truck operators are well-trained and certified. This not only improves the quality of service but also enables operators to handle a variety of situations more effectively.

“We do a decent amount of un-towing related lifting work and transport work. It’s a little bit safer work; things are more calculated, and you don’t have to push yourself. You don’t have to be in a hurry. So you have that part of the job where it’s less risky, and you’re not trying to clear a highway quicker,” said Daniel Williams, Manager of Southwest Towing.

“It’s an excellent place to try to train up new employees, or people who are lesser experienced. Because you’re not in a hurried up environment, where you’re like, ‘Hey, give me that. I’m going to do it, because I’m faster.’ You can just sit back and just walk them through it, and take your time, and really focus on honing their skills. And that’s been a huge improvement for keeping our employees sharper than they had been in the past.”


8. Alternative Routes and Access Points

Identify alternative routes and access points for towing operations. This can be crucial during road closures or other disruptions, allowing for flexibility in reaching customers.

“TOPS by TRAXERO has made things a whole lot more efficient. It used to be that dispatchers had to know towns by the back of their hand,” said Brian Young, Inventory and Dispatch Manager for Merl’s Towing Service in Grand Rapids, MI. “Now it’s not anything close to that. It’s a whole lot easier with a tool like that, and it shows you the town, shows you the trucks, where your customers are waiting, and all that.”


9. Data Analytics for Demand Forecasting

Use data analytics to forecast demand patterns. Understanding peak times and areas of high demand can help in resource allocation and planning for busy periods.

“The reporting side of it, which was a huge selling point of us transitioning over to Dispatch Anywhere by TRAXERO was, I can go in and I can see individual drivers, I can see trucks,” said Derek Cardwell, General Manager of Henry’s Towing. “I can make sure that we’re not having a problem with a driver. Maybe he needs some training. Why is he not performing to the level of the other drivers? I can calculate, down to the mile, on if my trucks are making money.”


10. Communication and Customer Service

Maintain clear communication with customers, law enforcement agencies, and other stakeholders. Providing excellent customer service and keeping everyone informed can mitigate the impact of delays and disruptions.

“Finding parts for trucks, not for just only my own trucks, but we work on customers’ trucks as well, that’s their livelihood,” said Michelle Sukow. “They need that truck on the road to make money, so trying to find parts, and especially the sensors and everything else, that is a huge deal. It’s tough and it’s hard to tell our customer that they don’t know when they’re gonna get [their truck] back.”