What COVID-19 has taught me about people in the towing and recovery industry?
Updated: Apr 24
Im a glass half full kinda guy by nature, when adversity rolls around I tend to start hunting for the opportunity or a source of gratitude, but during this COVID-19 lockdown I seem to have found myself surrounded by outstanding people despite the isolation, and I have plenty to be grateful for. Here are just a few things that COVID-19 has taught me about our people in the towing and recovery industry.
They are innately helpful.
In each and every conversation with my team during the lockdown, the first question from each one was, “How can I help?” Once we dispense with the pleasantries, and we had checked on one another’s family, this very first question came without fail from every single staff member we have. And this was no token offer either, with some zest each of them tabled ideas of what they could do to help, how they could lend a helping hand, or how they could modify what they do to make our lives better, and help our business continue to operate.
They are genuine.
It’s one thing to offer a helping hand, in some ways it’s easy to volunteer your time when you have lots of it on your hands; but for some of our staff who are in the twilight years of their working career, I was surprised at the selfless offers to take leave without pay, to drop to 80% wage or to even offers to retire in order to keep the “young fellas with young families” in work. The saying “put your money where your mouth is” is often uttered around our game when well-meaning people tell us about how directors should run a company or what they would do if they had the reigns. The offers made to us really are these people putting their money where their mouths are. We have been lucky enough to not need to take anyone up on this offer to date but the fact it was made and that they are genuine is incredible.
They are protective.
As an essential service provider, our business must still carry out essential services. Early on we identified that one of the higher risk factors we would be exposed to was the changing of trucks between drivers. With all staff being paid regardless of if they’re working or not. We had a select number of drivers opt to take on all of the shifts in a pattern that avoids us having to rotate trucks and put other drivers at risk. For the last month, just four drivers have operated 12-hour shifts working from home providing 24-hour coverage for our emergency services and essential service workers such as healthcare workers. Our team made decisions alongside us this was not imposed on them if anything it was driven by them, their desire to reduce the risk to their colleagues is admirable and we thank them.
They are respectful.
A few days ago I received a call from a Nurse whos vehicle we had rescued a few days earlier. She called wanting to thank our driver for rescuing her. She was happy to see the driver wearing gloves and a mask but was even more impressed that the driver had explained why he was using a disinfectant spray in and around her car before moving it, she explained that the simple act of protecting ourselves can sometimes to the other person make them feel as though they are a lepper. Our driver’s respect in communicating his reasoning was second only to his act of thanking the Nurse for her selfless service in continuing to work. In talking to our drivers and our office team it has become apparent that we have all taken to thanking supermarket workers, gas station attendants doctors and nurses for putting themselves in harm’s way for our benefit. This just shows me that we have a team of respectful human beings, above all else.
They are thoughtful.
While a lot of people say they’re a family business I think it’s fair to say we really are, My brother and I have taken a more active role in running the company in recent years, but our parents are still heavily involved day-to-day, and our grandmother is an ever jovial presence in the business also. She collects and delivers the mail, she makes sure the yard has a full complement of clean towels, tea towels, and dishcloths, and witty remarks about everyone’s growing waste line, which is rather ironic given she is 4ft tall and 4ft wide herself. It has endeared in me a sense of immense gratitude that a large number of our people have constantly asked about her wellbeing and offered to take her groceries or supplies as needed. Beyond this our wider network of towing and recovery partners nationwide have all been on the phone to check in lend a hand, share information on subsidies with tips and tricks about how we can operate and keep our staff safe.
I must put my hand up and say I have been guilty at times of being overly critical of our team at times but COVID-19 has taught me to remember my context remember where we came from and to remember how we got here and more importantly who got us to the place we are now. And I am grateful now more than ever for each and every one of our team and the contributions they have made to our success over the years not just during this time.
Our network of towing and recovery companies many of whom are our competitors have all rallied around one another. Checking in with those we know are doing it tough, sharing ideas that can keep our teams safe and our businesses alive.
While some may refer to us in the towing and recovery industry as the grubby toothless hicks I say I am proud to call these people my people, and what’s more, a more admirable bunch of rag tags you never shall find.