From your experience managing towing companies, what have you noticed about the way operators take ownership and pass blame?
When the blame game happens in a towing company, it not only causes issues between coworkers but also with customers. It’s only when everyone in the company - not just operators - take ownership of a problem that these issues start to become minimized.
Why is important to take ownership for your mistakes?
It is always easier to resolve problems by being proactive instead of reactive. When ownership is taken, all parties involved feel better about the process and how it gets handled.. When the issues are hidden or swept under the rug, it gives off the impression that the company doesn’t care about their customers. When it’s an issue between two coworkers it can build up animosity between them and can lead to a potential “us against them” mentality within the organization.
Why do you feel that taking ownership is so important for operators in the towing industry?
While taking ownership of one’s mistakes can be a huge hit to a person’s pride, it shows a level of awareness that there is an issue that needs to be resolved. The goal is never to make someone feel like they are inferior about any issue, but to come together as a team to form the quickest and most effective solution. When problems are hidden or ignored, the perception is that company or employee doesn’t care. That’s normally the furthest thing from the truth. It’s the consequences that is often most scary, not the issue.
Do you have any examples of when an operators has stepped up to take ownership or has not succeeded when they have tried to pass blame?
Pretty much everyone has experienced a situation where something didn’t go as planned or been faced with a less than successful result as the outcome. An example of this in the towing industry would be damaging a door frame or window during an unlock and then trying to blame the vehicle’s owner as if it’s their fault since they are the ones who caused the problem to start with. A tower is typically called out to resolve a bad event, not create it. Another example would be a dispatcher who gets overwhelmed with a flood of calls all at once, causing them to forget about one of the calls they had taken. When the customer calls back in to find out why no one has arrived, the response is key. Making an excuse won’t resolve the situation, but taking ownership and apologizing is a step in the right direction.
How do you feel this relates to the WreckMaster philosophy?
I believe that WreckMaster is doing more than just teaching towing and recovery techniques. When a student comes to one of our hands-on courses, they get exposed to the idea that being a tow truck operator is true profession, not just a job. We instill in them they must take pride in themselves and the work they perform every day. We teach them that things may not always go exactly as planned and that they need to take ownership when things go poorly.
It’s easy to stand up and take credit when someone is impressed, but difficult to own it when someone isn’t happy. How we react in those situations can leave a lasting impression on our coworkers, employers and customers. Normally, we only get one chance at a first impression. Towers not taking the time to make it a good one is one of the reasons that the towing industry doesn’t get the respect it should. As a professional tower and WreckMaster instructor, I honestly believe the majority of towing companies out there have the same goal: help people in their time of need by improving the situation. There is still a lack of training on the customer service side of our industry and that makes taking ownership of a problem difficult for our operators.
You believe that following a strict discipline can make positive impacts on individuals both in their career and otherwise. How do you feel that connects to a towing operator?
The WreckMaster philosophy is tied to a discipline that creates a guideline for operators to follow. It may sound crazy to some, but that discipline leads to freedom. When an operator takes ownership of the situation that are involved it, it can reduce the stress of their mistake or blame being wrongfully assigned. There’s a lot of freedom that comes with attacking a problem instead of just waiting for it to disappear.
WreckMaster not only gives people the confidence to do their job but it shows them there is a lot to be proud of in the industry.