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Our towing industry needs a reputation overhaul & this founder has made that his mission

It was the end of our Chinese New Year dinner that was held at the Golden Valley restaurant in Melawati Mall (which, by the way, has great Halal Chinese cuisine). 

I was ready to go home when suddenly I couldn’t seem to find my car key anywhere. I checked all my pockets, tracked my footsteps, and even asked the mall management.

(For context, I usually hold them because I despise having anything in my pockets that may ruin my clothing line.)

As the fact that I had lost my keys dawned on me, I grew terrified. I quickly called my colleagues for help, and they returned swiftly to the mall to accompany me.

After concluding that my key was truly gone, my boss, Sarah suggested we call a towing service. It was the only option we could think of other than leaving the car in the mall’s basement, where it’d be prone to theft after we left.

Fortunately, she remembered calling a towing startup a long time ago and was able to retrieve the contact details.

The humble guy who answered the phone was extremely helpful in providing us with directions, given our complete lack of understanding of the situation.

On the other end of the line was Syahril Mirza, the CEO and founder of a towing operator called ResQ. He left us with some advice, and ultimately my family came over with the spare key, so we didn’t have to tow my car out.

But the experience left an impression on me. The majority of the time, I don’t give much thought to how towing operators work, nor do I keep their phone numbers in my contacts. When things get bad though, only then do we realise how much we need them.

So, why did Mirza choose to dedicate his time and energy to grow a B2C and B2B platform for automotive breakdown services?

Revealing truths about the towing industry

While driving down the PLUS-highway of JB-KL in 2017, Mirza’s car broke down in the darkest part. It was almost midnight and the only platform available was Carput. However, they had gone offline an hour ago. 

So he was forced to use an old-school method of finding a towing service: he called a few friends. 

Based on their recommendations, he received a quote from a towing operator for RM300. For that amount, he expected the tow truck to arrive in under an hour, which is pretty standard nowadays.

Nonetheless, when the towing operator arrived two hours later, he informed Mirza that he needed to pay an additional RM300. With few options left in a dire situation, Mirza agreed. 

On the way to the mechanics, he did his preliminary research on the industry, and combined with his own towing experiences (one where he had to wait two hours after an accident for help), he came to a conclusion: “The inefficiency was absurd.”

This inefficiency was one factor of why Malaysians find towing services untrustworthy, so as a B2C and B2B platform for automotive breakdown services, ResQ aims to eliminate the pain points of various stakeholders within the ecosystem.

Making a positive difference in the game

Mirza made the decision to challenge the status quo and change the game at that point. He saw this as an opportunity to make the environment much better for both car owners and towing operators. Hence, ResQ was born.

One of their operators towing a boat / Image Credit: ResQ

They’re like Uber for towing services, meaning their platform aggregates towing operators across Malaysia.

ResQ has developed an app to help connect car owners and towing companies, which is still in the minimum viable product (MVP) stage at this time. Towing, battery jump-starting, and refuelling are all possible features of the app. They also offer on-site battery replacement.

A few screenshots of the ResQ app

“Over the years, towing operators have always had a bad reputation from the media, saying they are not trustworthy people. It is a halo effect. Yes, there are bad apples. All industries have them,” he explained. 

It is still an ongoing battle today. 

Mirza told Vulcan Post that there are slightly more than 1,000 towing companies in Malaysia, and they have onboarded roughly 90% of them. But why not all? The companies are hand-picked based on specific criteria, in which the bad apples will not be chosen based on their criteria of peer-to-peer validations, customer reviews, trustworthiness, and more.

If you’re concerned about how your towing service will be billed, ResQ’s operators have straightforward cost parameters for their customers: distance, elevation, vehicle size and dimensions, and time (whether operated during rush hour or red-eye shift).

Did you know: A red-eye shift refers to someone who work very early in the morning or very late at night, whereby they may have red eyes from losing sleep.

In their mission to make this profession more respectable and honourable in the eyes of the general public, ResQ has attracted a steady stream of returning customers, establishing its credibility. 

Today, the startup estimates that 25% of its customers have come back for more services.

From Malaysia to around the globe

In addition to covering the entire country, including Sabah and Sarawak, they have a 30-minute arrival time in major cities (with normal traffic and weather). Which, in my opinion, is quite remarkable.

A poor Perodua Aruz being towed / Image Credit: ResQ

Over the past year, Mirza shared that ResQ has received requests from a number of countries to establish a presence there. They have demands in India, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and other countries. 

“We would love to be in those countries, but since we are bootstrapping, we have to be cautious,” he added. Therefore, our neighbouring countries of Singapore, Brunei, and Indonesia will be the first of many they hope to serve in the next 24 months.

  • Learn more about ResQ here.
  • Read more articles related to car services here.

Featured image credit: ResQ

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(UEN 201431998C.)

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