A roadside service business requires you to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Customers will need you to unlock their cars, jumpstart dead batteries, bring them gasoline, repair a flat tire or tow them to the closest auto mechanic.
Obtain all the tools of the trade. You will need a reliable tow truck, large gas can, locksmith tools, flat tire repair tools and jumper cables. Of course you must also know how to use these tools or hire someone who does. Or you can subcontract out some of the specialty work such as locksmith work. If you can afford to, purchase a flatbed tow truck so you will be able to service more customers with large vehicles.
Apply for a merchant account online and purchase a credit card machine. Charge set fees for each type of service you offer. Add a surcharge to any late night services. If you hire an employee to cover the late-night shift, take that added expense into consideration when setting your evening surcharge price.
Define your coverage area. Decide what is the farthest you wish to travel to service a customer. If it's 25 miles, then take a map and draw a 25-mile radius circle around your home to define your coverage area.
Check with the local police departments to see if there are any roadside assistance restrictions in force in your coverage area. When you speak to the police, ask how to get on their call list for when they need to call roadside assistance to a scene for an accident.
Check out your competitors and see how they market themselves or what special services they offer.
Advertise on roadsideservice.com, craigslist.org, the yellow pages and in your local newspaper. You may also consider affiliating yourself with companies like AAA, Allstate Motor Club, or Best Roadside Service.
Set up a business phone number and cell phone dedicated just for business and answer your phone 24 hours a day. If you are in a rural area that doesn't get cell phone reception, you may need to get a CB radio for your driver to communicate with you at your home base as well as a dedicated landline with a business phone number for receiving calls.
Call a small roadside service company in a neighboring city to ask questions about their business. Because you won’t be competitors, you may be able to find a small business owner who will mentor you.
If you can afford it, consider purchasing a franchise for a quick start-up with less trial and error.
It may be hard to compete with companies who have a large customer base and can offer services to their members for a flat yearly membership fee.