How to start a towing and recovery business

Written by lucy bowles
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How to start a towing and recovery business
Some large breakdown organisations subcontract recovery work to independent operators. (Image by Graham Richardson; Flickr.)

A towing and recovery business serves the general public, businesses and highway authorities by removing unwanted vehicles from roads, car parks or properties. A large or small towing and recovery business can become profitable. You must have the experience, skills and knowledge of the industry and equipment to be successful. In addition, you must have the dedication to follow your business plan and promote your towing and recovery services.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Draft a business plan for your towing and recovery company. Include a list of all your expenses, start-up costs, assets, licences and the insurance needed to start your business.

  2. 2

    Buy a tow truck and equipment. Buy other supplies such as traffic cones, floodlights and strobe lights. Find a location to house your trucks, supplies and towing equipment. Consider leasing storage units or a lock-up for all the vehicles you recover. Hire employees to manage the premises. Establish your hours of operation for the business.

  3. 3

    Secure the proper insurance for your towing and recovery business. You need insurance to cover employee and public liability, traffic accidents and property damage (if cars are damaged during the tow).

  4. 4

    Register your business with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. You may also need permission from the local council for your lock-up or vehicle storage area.

  5. 5

    Obtain a driver's and towing licence from the DVLA. You must show proof of insurance before you can receive a licence. Record all paperwork you submit.

  6. 6

    Advertise your towing and recovery business in your area. Design flyers and business cards to hand out to local business owners and community members. Establish relationships with owners of garages that may need a towing company for their customers. Consider towing unwanted vehicles from people's homes and abandoned cars in car parks at a discounted price.

  7. 7

    Promote your services at the local police station. Try to get on their list for companies that tow and recover vehicles form traffic accidents. You can also register as a subcontractor with the large breakdown organisations, such as the AA, RAC and Green Flag.

  8. 8

    Carry a work mobile phone. Advertise that you can be reached day or night by your customers. This extra service may help distinguish your towing business from the competition in the region. Include your mobile phone number in your newspaper, television or radio advertisements so that the general public can reach you at any time.

  9. 9

    Find a secure area where you can dispose of abandoned vehicles.

Tips and warnings

  • Join professional associations such as the Towing and Recovery Association of America for networking and business resources.
  • Business laws are different in each state. Consult with an attorney when starting your own business.

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