How to Start a Tow Truck Business | An In-Depth Guide

Being a tow truck driver can be a satisfying job that makes a decent living. Owning the tow truck business can be a satisfying job that makes an amazing living! You may have experience with tow trucks, or not. It doesn’t really matter. As long as you’re willing to take a little risk and learn, you can make a successful business in the towing industry.

Why Should You Start Your Own Towing Business?

A towing company is a good thing to start if you want to make a good living, enjoy the freedom of the road, and stay local. It has relatively low start-up costs in comparison to other driving businesses (we’ll compare it later), and it is simple to learn.

The tow truck industry consists of over 45,000 towing companies, with an annual revenue of over $7 billion! The industry is still growing, however. So if you are interested in this business, then there is a lot of room for you to step into the game!

When tow truck drivers were asked about what they like about their career, this is what they answered:

  • “It is challenging at times, and you always learn something new almost everyday, and your skills will always advance.”
  • “It can be very fun and enjoyable a lot of the time.”
  • “I like the freedom of being on the road.”

      Decide the Target Market

      There are more than one markets for a towing business to focus on. You can do more than one, but typically a tow truck driver will focus on one. Some of the markets roles adopted by tow truck drivers include:

      • Repossession
      • Law Enforcement
      • Light Vehicles
      • Roadside Assistance
      • Heavy Duty Vehicles
      • Rollback/Car Hauling

      The type of truck you get will depend on the target market you choose. If you want to haul heavy duty vehicles, you will need to get a truck tailored for that job, not a truck for general road side assistance. If you want to haul light vehicles, you won’t use the truck that is meant for heavy duty vehicles.


      When someone didn’t pay their lease, it’s up to you to take it! That’s what repo trucks do. Repossessing vehicles can be an entertaining, but dangerous job.

      how to start a tow truck business

      “How do you take away someone’s car when they don’t want you to? The simplest way is to do it quickly and without them even knowing you were there — with the exception of the suddenly missing car. The key to a smooth repo job is using the proper equipment at the right time. Believe it or not, an experienced repo man (or woman) can approach the vehicle, hook the towing apparatus to the car and drive off in about 10 seconds — all without ever leaving the truck’s cab. Sounds pretty sneaky, doesn’t it? Most of the time, repo men have to be covert — it’s an important part of the job — so repo equipment must be equally stealthy. In fact, sometimes it’s difficult to determine that a truck is used for repossessions, because the towing gear can be stowed completely out of view.” -HowStuffWorksd

      Law Enforcement

      If you drive a law enforcement tow truck, you won’t be running your own business. However, this is still a career path that you should know about if you want to get into the tow trucking industry.

      how to start a tow truck business

      “Operates a standard-sized tow truck, flat bed truck or stake body truck, towing vehicles involved in fatal accidents and homicide, and/or vehicles reported stolen; works in uniform and receives assignments via two-way radio or written instructions to tow the vehicles or to move illegally parked, abandoned or disabled vehicles; uses special tools to unlock and enter vehicles; uses standard and special tools and reaches under hood or goes under the vehicle itself to disconnect linkage between transmission and gear control lever to put the vehicle in neutral; inventories and lists all visible personal property in vehicles and all visible damage before towing; attaches towing mechanism to vehicle and raises to towing position; places and positions dollies under rear axles or uses winch to pull onto tilt bed rail truck wheel-less vehicles by other means; tows vehicles to designated locations; may occasionally be engaged in operating heavy-duty wrecker trucks or any other complex automotive equipment, towing tractor trailers involved in fatal accidents.”

      Light Vehicles/Roadside Assistance

      Light vehicles and roadside assistance goes hand-in-hand. Roadside assistance is generally a bit broader than just light vehicles, but they are in the same category. 

      When you picture a tow truck driver, this is probably what you picture. Out of the three types of tow truck driving that have been listed, this is easily the best option to choose if you want to build an expanded business. This is simply because of the compounding potential you have when you buy your own tow truck, and have people who need your services call YOU, instead of having a boss. Law enforcement tells you who is parked illegally, and who needs to be towed. You’ll always have someone telling you who needs to be repo’d. But if you buy your own tow truck, hand out a few business cards,  and you can get business on your hours.

      Heavy Duty Vehicles

      These guys handle more difficult loads, but they are also higher-paying loads. These trucks are more expensive, but they also pay more. Heavy-duty means a gross weight of 32,000 pounds or more, light-medium duty is a gross weight of 32,000 or less.

      Rollback/Car Hauling

      Rollbacks are also an amazing industry to create a towing business in. After having experience with rollback owners, there is a lot of money in it. 

      how to start a tow truck business

      Rollbacks can typically fit one vehicle on the back, but it is easy to haul wherever you go. Rollbacks are popular for transporting vehicles from one place to another. Examples are vehicles you buy at an auction, if you’re moving somewhere and a car won’t start, if you’re in a parking lot and you have a flat tire. You don’t need to call an official tow truck, you can call a rollback.

      Buy the Truck

      Once you decide what field you want to enter as a tow truck driver, you need to decide where you want to buy the truck.

      Do you want one used, or new? Used trucks will definitely save you money if you do the labor yourself, but it will also be less reliable (most of the time). You can buy trucks from DUI auctions, copart, craiglist, or other sites that operate in a similar manner. You can find amazing deals if you are patient. Just make sure your don’t overpay for a lemon! It may help to get a second opinion before you buy a tow truck.

      Market Penetration

      There are multiple ways to penetrate the market and get your tow truck business out there so the public can find it.

      Find companies to contract with, and ask your city if they need a tow truck driver for parking meters. Motor clubs are great places to get your name out there. You can also reach people through social media, forums, and even by creating a website! But the primary thing is to find contracts with companies that need a tow truck driver.

      Hire Employees

      -Essentially, hiring employees for a tow truck business works the same as with truck driving in general. 

      Once you get your business going well, you can buy another truck, and hire someone to drive the truck for you. You will keep a large chunk of the profit for every day that you do work. Give it time, and you can expand to three, four, five, or even six trucks. You will keep a large profit from every truck you have on the road, and you can even have the trucks in different locations, to rack in more business and expand your reach.

      All in all, running a tow truck business is a profitable business if you want to stay local and be home every night. But, there are more profitable businesses out there. But, if you like driving locally, a tow truck driver may just be the right calling for you!

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