TRAXERO Million Call Club: Merl’s Towing Service
November 27, 2023
We had a chance to talk to Brian Young, Merl’s Towing Service’s Inventory and Dispatch Manager, about his experience with our software and what it’s been like to dispatch over 1 million calls.
TRAXERO: Your company has dispatched over one million calls. Were you even aware of the volume of calls that have been made over the years? What does it mean to you?
Brian Young: I was here in August of 2001 when we began using TOPS (beginning with call #1001). I was a full-time driver at that time. I began splitting time on the road and in the office in the Spring of 2003. All that to say that yes, those climbing call numbers have been front and center for me and the rest of our team over the years. It means the owners, Mark Fredette and Dick Caster, along with the rest of our team, have taken great care of our customers for a really long time! We appreciate the trust they put in us and we hope it will be a lasting legacy as we move into the future.
TRAXERO: Could you share some memorable experiences or challenges your company has faced over years of dispatching that many calls? What stands out the most to you?
BY: I suppose the memories that stand out are the individual days/weather events where we logged 300+ calls in a calendar day (and the accompanying 20-hour work day that came with them). Those are the days where our customers rely on us the most for help. It’s a double-sided coin for us, as on one side we could never have enough drivers or trucks to get to everyone as quickly as we could wish, while on the other side you definitely lay your head down at night with a sense of knowing you helped as many people as you could.
TRAXERO: One million calls don’t happen overnight – talk about how your business has grown over the years.
BY: I don’t know, there are some nights where it feels like a million calls happen! It’s amazing to look back and think about the ups and downs of different customers we have serviced or the mix of calls between types of customer. We have built the business on a base of a really great mix of customers from fleets, motorclubs, police departments, etc. I think that has allowed us to keep growing as each of those seem to ebb and flow differently from each other. It means slow and steady growth over the years. The giant swings where you all of a sudden lose volume are never fun (and thankfully we have avoided them for the most part). Picking up new call volume is exciting but can present challenges as well since you get into a certain rhythm at a certain volume and then BAM – overnight you are up 20% due to an acquisition or bid award and now you feel like you are scrambling and trying to figure out how to cover all of that.
TRAXERO: To receive, dispatch, complete, and get paid on 1M+ calls, it requires building trust with your communities and customers. What are some of the ways your organization works to build that trust?
BY: First, it starts with understanding what it takes to receive, dispatch, complete, and get paid on those calls. It is truly a team effort. No department succeeds or fails in a vacuum. As dedicated and well trained as our drivers are, they would have very little impact without the experience and dedication of our dispatch team. Our maintenance department means trucks are ready to go when they are needed. The accounting team does outstanding behind-the-scenes work to process and collect on all the work we do. Human Resources does invaluable work making sure there are new faces to join the team(s) and coordinating compensation for everyone so we can make sure employees and their families have what they need. Obviously, for us these are distinct departments, but even for a smaller company, the people who share these roles or the person who gets to be multiple roles are invaluable and are vital to long-term success.
We know that nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, “I have some extra time today and some extra cash… let’s get the car towed!” We understand for the most part that when someone calls, it’s because their day just took the wrong turn. We are humbled by the responsibility and trust placed in us when a mother or father calls us from 3 hours away because their teenager is broken down/has a flat tire/or has been in an accident and they need us to take care of them. Whichever of our team answers that phone call, or drives out to get them off the highway, or makes sure equipment is maintained and safe to operate, we hope our customers know we appreciate them calling us and know there is a team behind that driver that makes it all possible.
TRAXERO: Can you describe the impact of being a TRAXERO customer? How has it helped improve your towing business?
BY: When I started here as a driver, we were still on paper and pencil dispatching. The lot inventory was managed in a “big red book”. The accounting department was doing almost everything by hand. The maintenance team had hand written work orders and file cabinets full of invoices for tracking equipment repairs and preventive maintenance. Those were the tools that were available at the time. Then new tools became available. Sure, for the folks who had been using the old tools, they didn’t like the idea of anything new. The new tools that were provided allowed us to work faster, more efficiently, and at a greater scale. The ability to manage the business’ operations using a tightly integrated suite of products that work together and share information as needed allows us to spend less time managing and more time helping our customers. There are no perfect software packages out there, even if we spent enormous amounts of money to have something custom built. The other side of the coin to the software is the support team behind it. We feel like the team at TRAXERO gets what we are doing and why we are doing it. It’s more than code for them, just like it is more than software for us.
Congratulations Merl’s Towing Service for completing over 1 million calls on our software! Here’s to much continued success!