A Behind The Scenes Look: The Life Of A Dispatcher
No, they’re not out on the road, battling traffic as they try to haul an 80,000-pound load and vehicle up a hill. But life as a dispatcher is just as complex, challenging, chaotic, and, we hope, as rewarding as that of a driver. The magicians behind every delivery, dispatchers ensure the system works seamlessly so freight gets where it needs to go, customers are satisfied, and drivers always arrive home safely.
While different people on the dispatch team have different responsibilities, here is an overall look at the day in the life of a dispatcher:
Plan & Coordinate Routes
Our planner strategically matches available loads with available drivers. This involves maintaining a mastermind’s view of where drivers start and finish each day, in order to plan the next day as efficiently as possible. Efficiency is a top priority, and the dispatcher maneuvers our drivers to ensure we’re not wasting trips, time, or fuel.
Our drivers work during the week and spend the weekends at home – but, of course, “home” is not the same place for everyone. Dispatchers thoughtfully plan routes that have drivers finishing their Fridays as close to their home bases as possible.
An important function of our dispatching team is monitoring the drivers’ logs. Safety is a top priority, and dispatchers ensure that our drivers have enough time to complete there assigned trips while remaining in compliance with laws regarding drivers’ hours of service regulations.
Say a customer needs a load delivered by a certain time. When committing to that load the planner and dispatch team have to make sure that we can do it legally within the Federal regulations on Drivers Hours Of Service.
What questions have to go through his or her mind? Does the driver have enough time left in his day of 14 hours? Does the driver have enough of his/her 11 limit driving time left within the 14 hour limit? Does the driver have enough of the weekly limit of 70 hours left? Will the customer get him/her loaded within all these time calculations the dispatcher is doing in their head? Can the driver get in their mandatory rest stops and off-duty time, and still get the load to its destination within the requested time frame? And – can we do all this keeping efficiency, cost and quality of service in mind?
Input & Process Orders
We deliver 65-80 loads every day, and these orders come in via email, fax, and phone a few hours, days or even weeks ahead of time. Dispatchers receive these orders, process them and input them into our system. They are also responsible for making sure rates are set and the right information is ready for our billing department. Making the decision to take a load needs to be made in a sometimes seconds. This is essential for good customer service. So many loads are taken within certain criteria even before we know who will be dispatched to move the load.
Our dispatchers are charged with delivering top-notch service to all of our customers: shippers, consignees and drivers. When a question, issue, or need for help arises, it is often our dispatchers’ responsibility to resolve the situation and expertly serve the diverse needs of all three groups.
Every day our team of dispatchers manages all of these priorities to ensure deliveries make their destinations on time; that our drivers are safe, happy, and in line with regulations and legislation; and that we operate as efficiently as possible. Thanks to their hard work these pieces come together to achieve outstanding, consistent results for our customers.
The Key to Driver Success
The dispatchers are a resource to several groups. To expand on the important piece they play with the drivers it should be pointed out that the dispatch team has to be tuned in to their partners – the drivers. Drivers are the face of the company and are on the fore front as far as safety, sales, and company reputation. Thus Dispatchers must work extremely hard to help the driver be successful and put them in a position to succeed. We need them to succeed, financially and personally. We believe in this so much that we currently have our dispatchers going through weekly online training on working with drivers, to improve retention, communications, and strengthen relationships.