For decades, delivery transportation continues to be a vital part of the American economy, ensuring businesses and customers have a broader reach to sell and purchase goods and products. That’s why dispatchers are the backbone of the trucking industry. A trucking dispatcher have the critical job of helping truck drivers to concentrate on routes and roadways and to safely deliver their cargoes.
Working as a trucking dispatcher can be a rewarding and exciting job. But there is also a pressure in this position. It brings a rush of adrenaline, and that feeling of anxiety and then relief as you count down the last 5 minutes before your driver makes his window time.The profession requires effective communication and organizational skills, and many truck dispatchers can even work from their home office. Additionally, working as a truck dispatcher can provide various opportunities to advance within the company you work for.
Truck Dispatcher Skills & Competencies
A certain skill set can make the difference between success and failure.
- Computer skills: You should be proficient with computer technology, able to learn company-specific programs, and access GPS monitoring programs.
- Analytical thinking: This can help you assess situations like unanticipated road closures. Should you reschedule or send the driver on an alternate route?
- Language skills: You should be fluent in English, and knowing a second language as well can be very advantageous and make you a stronger candidate.
- Interpersonal skills: You’ll be working with drivers, customers, and vendors, not all of whom will necessarily have the same goals in mind.
What Does a Truck Dispatcher Do?
The responsibilities of a truck dispatcher can vary slightly from company to company. A truck dispatcher’s job is essentially to manage freight on behalf of a carrier. For instance, using load boards and personal connections to locate freight that needs to be shipped, speaking to brokers, conducting negotiations, and eventually dispatching drivers and setting up their routes.
Some various truck dispatcher duties include:
- Acquire new freight loads and find potential customers
- Arrange freight deliveries and pickups
- Manage and create driver schedules
- Supply drivers with necessary information, documents, etc.
- Build and maintain strong relationships with drivers, customers, etc.
- Communicate and coordinate between drivers, customers, brokers, etc.
- Plan for most efficient driving routes
- Ensure delivery schedules are met
- Generate and track delivery invoices
- Follow weather and traffic conditions to prepare alternative routes for drivers
- Maintain accurate customer records, notes, and preferences
- Monitor and maximize mileage to minimize deadhead/empty-load hours and increase profitability
- Comply with state and federal transportation regulations, procedures, and laws
- Provide assistance, support, and crisis management for drivers, customers, etc.
Keys for becoming a successful dispatcher
Like any job, being a trucking dispatcher for owner-operators (and company drivers) has its pros and cons, but if you’re up for the challenge, Matrix will offer up a few tips to help you become a successful one!
Integrity and honesty have to be the cornerstone of your relationship with your drivers. As soon as you get caught just once in a little white lie, you’re done. You need to be sure you will not be trusted from them on. Form a good working relationship, since after all they are the face that delivers the loads to your customers.
Get to Know your Drivers
So, as a trucking dispatcher, it’s important to make an effort to get to know drivers on a personal level.
Not only will this improve the day-to-day working relationship, but it also shows the driver that you value them as a person instead of just another asset to move cargo.
At Matrix, Inc we have a personal approach with each of our owner-operators or their drivers. All of the intentions and practices that we are incorporating in our company are to meet and exceed their expectations because we understand that if we don’t have them, we don’t have a company. If you work with owner-operators, it’s crucial to provide them with what they are looking for from the market. Versus offering them loads that they would never pick up.
BE PROUDLY DETAIL-DRIVEN
Lists are a dispatcher’s best friend. Maintain a clear schedule and an updated “to do” list. Often, things come up and dispatchers are interrupted from whatever task they were working on. To make sure nothing falls through the cracks, detailed lists come in mighty handy! Then, check and double-check your work for accuracy, make your peace with multi-tasking, limit your distractions, and know your limitations.
Planning ahead minimizes last-minute changes and improves general workflow and productivity. A lot of time can be saved by setting up geo zones, adding subcontractors, and creating templates when you receive the job frees up a ton of your time on the day of the project. Spend 5-10 minutes at the end of the working day confirming plans for the upcoming workday.
Know Your Market
This includes knowing the best routes and shortcuts, as well as having a firm memory of current pricing. Local knowledge is one of the biggest assets you can have as a dispatcher. This knowledge will enable you to make the most efficient dispatching decisions on the fly – a valuable ability since time is of the essence for most contractors and haulers.
Last but not least, all successful dispatchers have one thing in common: they exude confidence. From start to finish, every aspect of dispatching requires you to sell yourself. When recruiting new owner-operators, can you promise them reliability and stable miles? When negotiating rates with brokers or shippers, can you reach higher because you KNOW your business will provide superior service. When something goes wrong, perhaps in no fault to you or your drivers, can you confidently say that you are going to fix it? Being confident that you can genuinely deliver on these promises will take your business to the next level.
Bonus Tip: Stay in shape even behind the desk
Some people have difficulty sitting for long periods of time (such as one of our dispatchers), or do not have enough time to move during their day. The brilliant idea for how a dispatcher can work at a desk and walk at the same time was born from our cargo van dispatcher. He recently bought an electric adjustable desk ( click to see an example ) so he can use it while walking on the treadmill. This way he can choose how to work in his home office- sitting, standing, or walking.