The trucking industry is so much more than just trucks and drivers. There is a lot more happening behind the scenes. Yes, drivers are ultimately the ones responsible for each delivery, but every haul involves a host of administrative services and processes working on the sidelines to make it a success.
It’s not as simple as just moving things from Point A to Point B. One of the most important gears in the engine is the truck dispatcher sitting on the other end of the dispatch line. They are a driver’s main source of contact and ultimate lifeline on the road. With this in mind, it’s essential that a dispatcher is as productive and capable as they can be. Below we will outline our top tips for how to be a successful trucking dispatcher.
What is a truck driver dispatcher?
A truck driver dispatcher is exactly as it sounds – an intermediary relaying messages and other requests from clients and administrators to the drivers they serve. This includes load requests, updates on estimated time to delivery, weather or traffic notifications, route diversions, and other details applicable to a specific driver or delivery.
Heavy haul dispatchers are also responsible for allocating new loads to their drivers as well as tracking vehicles. This is where things can get challenging. After all, at the end of the day a truck dispatcher is only as productive as the tools that empower them and as fruitful as the relationships they cultivate.
Why trucking dispatchers are so vital
Trucking dispatchers are typically the main point of contact between carrier and driver. For this reason, it is paramount that dispatchers establish good working relationships with their fleet as it often directly correlates with driver satisfaction, as well as overall productivity and profitability. This is especially front of mind in today's challenging operating climate in which driver retention remains a significant issue.
How to cultivate the driver-dispatcher relationship
A poor working relationship with dispatch can push a good driver to seek other opportunities. Here are a few tips to make sure driver-dispatcher relations remain harmonious.
Get to know their drivers
Given long haul drivers spend most of their time on the road, establishing a good rapport cannot always happen organically like it would between coworkers in an office. Most communication is done over the air and necessitates a little more finesse. Even small nuances from voice tone to inflection can make a huge difference when it comes to successfully relaying information.
In order to establish a good connection, dispatchers should get to know their drivers. It is important to ask about their lives, how they are feeling, and show care and consideration for any challenges they may face on the road. Both dispatcher and driver are more than just a voice on the other end of the line. They are people first.
Get inside the cab
It is difficult to cultivate a relationship with drivers without understanding firsthand the day-to-day responsibilities of the job. In order to thoroughly grasp the trials and tribulations of life on the road, new dispatchers should engage in a few ride-alongs. What better way to understand the nuances of driving a truck than to get inside the cab?
Experiencing a day in the life of a driver will give dispatchers a new perspective and, more importantly, sensitivity to frustrations. For example, missing an opportunity for rerouting to avoid an accident scene up the road can add significant delivery delays. More than that, being stuck in traffic can wear on a driver and introduce issues pertaining to hours of service (HOS) mandates.
These are the types of firsthand complications that can be avoided with greater dispatcher insight. It is in the passenger seat that they will truly learn how to dispatch trucks.
Listen to driver feedback
Not only is it important to ask questions and take an interest in their drivers, but it is equally as important for dispatchers to listen and truly absorb driver feedback. For example, let’s say a dispatcher sends over a load request with a tight timeline. It’s important that the dispatcher can pick up on the stress such requests may cause drivers.
By actively listening to driver feedback, dispatchers can avoid putting their drivers into these types of unhappy positions in the future. It's this kind of care and consideration that can do wonders for driver satisfaction.
Learn more about tips for coaching drivers with these five tips from a top driving coach.
Follow-up on driver concerns
A strong dispatcher is one that not only listens to their drivers, but also follows up on any issues they may be having. After listening to any driver concerns it is important to commit to resolve problems and make sure the issue is handled accurately and timely. As a driver, knowing their dispatcher is taking an active interest in their continued success can do wonders for peace of mind and satisfaction, especially given the disconnect with life on the road.
How to improve dispatcher operations
Although the relationship between driver and dispatcher is critical, there are other operational considerations to becoming a successful truck driver dispatcher. Time management is essential. In order to keep things running smoothly and drivers on the road, dispatchers need to optimize processes from dispatching loads to keeping track of their drivers.
Doing so without help can be an overwhelming task. Thankfully, there are tools to help streamline dispatcher operations. A comprehensive GPS fleet tracking solution is a powerful tool for a dispatcher to increase efficiency and productivity. Here are a few ways in which fleet tracking can improve operations for the better.
- Fleet visibility: With GPS fleet tracking, dispatchers have total visibility into their fleets and can track vehicle location in real time.
- Dispatching loads: Given total fleet visibility, a dispatcher can dispatch loads to the nearest drivers, saving time and fuel.
- Route optimization: Truck dispatchers can use traffic- and weather-related information to optimize routes for greater driver satisfaction.
- Geofencing: Geofences can alert dispatchers when their drivers are deviating from approved routes or relay when delivery is imminent.
- Delivery estimation: Truck dispatchers can calculate updated delivery windows in real time based on driver location and time to destination.
- Compliance: Given accurate driving time, dispatchers can ensure they are choosing routes that maintain compliance related to drivers’ hours of service HOS mandates.