Thanksgiving is a day of thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us. As this year comes to a close, once again I find myself thankful to be a part of the towing community. The towing community has provided the privilege of meeting and working with people from all walks of life. Many of these people have become my closest friends.
In my neck of the woods, most tow companies pay their drivers by a commission. While the commission system may be the preferred choice for your company, a commission system, absent some other factors, is not an exception to the record keeping, minimum wage, and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This means that tow companies still need to maintain records of hours worked either through a time clock or set schedule. This also means that employees must be paid at least minimum wage if their commission divided by their hours worked doesn’t equal minimum wage. Finally, employees must also be paid overtime if they are not exempt.
The sale or auction of abandoned vehicles left with tow companies can provide a nice revenue boost for tow companies. Most states, including my home “states” of Kansas and Missouri (Kansas City is a border town), have a statutory lien procedure designed for this. If tow companies follow this procedure, they can obtain a “title” to the motor vehicle and sell it for a profit.
If you are going to claim a lien on a towed vehicle, please understand your state law. I have been hired a number of times to draft “checklists” for tow staff to follow anytime a vehicle is towed. I think these types of checklists are great ideas because every step of the procedure must be strictly followed.
When a tow company has been stiffed on a tow bill, litigation might be only option. The first choice in considering litigation is often the answer to the following question: who should you sue?
At the 2016 Tennessee Tow Show, Mike McGovern and I were asked to lead a discussion on the dangers of the use of social media in the tow world. We published a brief blog about this concept shortly thereafter. However, as the use of social media becomes more prevalent, it is wise to revisit this quickly developing legal issue.
In January, 2017, a 67 year old Kansas City man was killed when a wheel broke loose from a vehicle that was being towed and struck the windshield of the vehicle he was driving. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a part from a towed vehicle to break loose and cause damage to another vehicle or person on the roadway.
A popular, dense population with too many cars and not enough parking is the perfect recipe for private property towing. Sometimes there’s another individual lurking in the shadows, the spotter. A spotter is loosely defined as an individual monitoring the parking lot who immediately calls the tow company to report an illegally parked vehicle.
Towing is a contentious industry. Often, the nature of the job places tow drivers in a precarious position with exposure to a wide variety of claims. To respond to these risks, some of my tow company clients have considered requiring drivers to wear body cameras. Body cameras, like anything, have their pro’s and con’s. Here are a few things that tow companies should consider when evaluating.
We have written much in these blogs about the need for a quality employment manual. Now it’s time to devote some time to an equally important manual: the safety manual. The safety manual is just what it sounds like: it’s a comprehensive source of safety policies that your company requires. For the security of your company and drivers, a safety manual is a must. It tells your drivers how to correctly, and safely, do their jobs. However, from a financial perspective, a safety manual can also save you money. This is because in the modern climate of skyrocketing insurance rates, most reputable insurance companies will require your company to have a safety manual before they will issue you a competitive rate.