Many of you have been victims of vehicle breakdowns at very inconvenient times and locations. It is at times like these that you realize the importance of towing services. Because breakdowns and even accidents occur often it means such services are on-demand. That is why in this article I shall be discussing how to start a towing services business in Zimbabwe. This is a good business venture which is easily scalable and can also be pivoted at any time. The other great thing is that you can start quite small, possibly with just one towing vehicle.
I am a huge proponent of starting small and then scaling over time; I suggest you do the same with towing services. There are several options of services you can choose to solely focus on. You also can choose to do two or more services; it is up to your discretion. Firstly, you can specialize in accident-related towing where you get vehicles that would have been involved in accidents. Secondly, you can focus on roadside assistance for several incidentals. Thirdly, you can provide services for carrying abnormal or oversized loads. The fourth one can be the transportation of vehicles over long distances. So these are the 4 basic approaches you can settle for though of course there are several more variations of the same.
What you need will largely depend on the approach you want to work with. Then the scale at which you want to operate will inform on what is needed. The most basic, for example, can be roadside assistance. Two options here, you can buy a brand new or second-hand tow truck. The second option is to get a brand new or second-hand vehicle then get it transformed into a tow truck. Heavy-duty pick-up trucks can be easily transformed and rigged with the necessary add-ons to make them tow trucks. This is just to give you an idea that you will need tow trucks; depending on your chosen approach. Apparently, that might turn out to be your or one of the most significant expenses. A few examples of tow trucks are flatbeds, wheel lifts, and hook and chain ones.
You will also need operating premises for your business. At the most basic level, you need a piece of land and a simple office; a workshop would also come in handy. There is a great need for physical security too. Licensing and registration will also be key requirements here. The business will have to be registered. During the registration process, you will get to learn of any additional requirements. Then you will have to liaise with the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) or ZINARA to get appropriately licensed plus respective permits. There will also be a need for licensed drivers, be it you or you will employ. Another crucially important aspect is to get insurance; do not trivialize this. An active internet and social media presence are also imperative. You will also have to brand your tow trucks as that goes a long way in increasing brand awareness.
This mostly depends on the scale of operation you intend to start with. Basically, you will need a driver and maybe another driver on standby. You will need an administrator though you can do that and even double up as the standby driver. I can say you can start with at least 3 people who might not necessarily all be full time.
That again depends on the type, scale, and sophistication of your services. For tow trucks, you are looking at prices starting at on average, US$35000 or so. Then another significant capital need will be the premises. However, I have noticed that some start without even operating premises. For instance, I have seen single-truck towing services businesses that offer roadside assistance that simply finds a strategic spot to park daily. Basically, the cost of getting a tow or tow truck will usually be the most significant.
The market is vast and yours for the taking. This is because you can serve both businesses and individuals. As much as niching is strategic you have the liberty to cast your net wider. It is paramount that you conduct your own independent market research so that you make an informed decision.
You will have to be smart when it comes to your business model i.e. how you make money. It would be a good thing to study other players and find out how they do it. Usually the pricing model factors in mileage plus flat fees for the various types of vehicles to be ferried. Let me emphasise the importance of working with contractual agreements. Have a lawyer help you draft contracts that you will be used in serving your clients. Contracts are symbiotic in that they obligate to deliver and the clients as well.
This is a good business to start because it carries two powerful attributes. It can be pivoted at any time, for instance, you can pivot from roadside assistance to post-accident services or vice versa. The other attribute is that it is scalable. This means you can expand the business over time either adding on more services or just increasing the operating capacity.