Truck drivers among the most valuable resources of any economy. By helping to carry raw materials to the manufacturing plants and then carrying the finished goods to markets far & wide and also to the ports for exporting, these truck drivers help to keep the wheels of the economy moving.
Undoubtedly, the truck drivers form the foundation of the transportation system. The safer they are, the more reliable they become in the eyes of the customers. But then, there are other cogs in the wheel of the trucking industry as well. And they are truck dispatchers.
Who Are Truck Dispatchers?
The job of truck dispatchers is to manage & coordinate the schedules of truck drivers. The primary objective of this activity is to ensure that pickups and deliveries happen on time, as per the schedule that has already been planned.
What is the Job of Truck Dispatchers?
When prospective customers call up the trucking companies, the truck dispatchers are the ones who primarily attend to these calls. Once they are clear about the shipper’s requirements, the dispatchers get in touch with the truck drivers to check the latter’s availability. Once that is done, the dispatchers would prepare the schedule to ensure the pickups and deliveries.
But the job of the dispatchers doesn’t end here. Throughout the duration of the journey, the dispatchers need to stay in touch with the truck drivers. The dispatchers do this to monitor the progress of the drivers and also to assist in solving any problem that might crop up on the way. And based on this monitoring, the dispatchers provide real-time updates to the customers regarding the expected delivery time & date. Depending on the size of the trucking company & the volume of business handled, there might be a single dispatcher or a team of dispatchers in the company.
So, to sum up, the job descriptions of truck dispatchers would be as below:
- Make a schedule of drivers so that they can collect or deliver shipments from/to shipper/consignees
- Maintain constant communication with the customers regarding the time of truck arrival, details of the shipment, and any other specific requests that customers might be having
- Make a proper route plan for the drivers so that they can reach the destination in the shortest possible time. And in the process, any route change needs must also be incorporated
- Generate invoices, freight bills, and other related documents
- Keep a complete record of calls that have been dispatched, driver routes & deviations thereof, pickup, and delivery times
- Maintain a track of the important rules & regulations that apply to trucking and also ensure that the drivers are aware of these rules and are also complying with them
- Keep a track of the drivers’ logs regarding arrival times and the dispatched calls
- Ensure that the repair & maintenance activities of the trucks are being carried on as per schedule
- Maintaining a record of customer grievances, if any, and also their shipping schedule specifications
What Does it Take to Become a Good Truck Dispatcher?
Truck dispatcher jobs are not just about taking some inbound calls & maintaining Excel sheets. Truck dispatchers spend long hours at work, and that too in a very focused manner. Some of the key skills that a truck dispatcher must have are:
- Attention to detail
- Multitasking capacity
- Excellent communication skills
- Empathy & compassion
- High levels of self-confidence
A truck dispatcher doesn’t have much of a downtime. He/she needs to be able to coordinate schedules, handle multiple calls from 3rd party vendors and their supervisors, and handle customer issues. They need to display confidence and decision-making capabilities. This also means that they must have very good communication skills, including listening skills. Also learn whether a truck driver have passengers while traveling or not.
A truck dispatcher has to work in highly stressful situations quite often. So, they need to be able to stay calm and not succumb to emotional outbursts. That’s why, truck dispatchers need to have a high degree of empathy & patience. That helps them to hear out the aggrieved parties and also to keep their own emotions in check. Also, frequent schedule changes might be necessitated. This means that the dispatchers need to factor in a high degree of flexibility in their schedule planning.
Is it Tough Being a Truck Dispatcher?
Well – yes and no. it’s a pretty serious job, so you need to be extremely focused, organized, and attentive to details. You would need to handle multiple requests at the same time. Something akin to a traffic constable! So yes, it can be stressful. But at the same time, it can be highly rewarding in times of experience, knowledge, and growth.
How to Improve Trucking Dispatch Skills?
- Always go for rides in the truck. Unless you are actually of the “been there and done that” type, you won’t have a proper understanding of how the sector works. Once you understand how the drivers go about their job, what challenges they face, and how they overcome these challenges, it would be much easier to prepare the scheduling as a dispatcher.
- Keep open the channel of communication with the drivers. Be approachable to them. It’s critical that they share their feedback with you. Be responsive to their feedback and also grievances, if any. Also, maintain close contacts with the marketing & finance departments. And ensure that the constructive feedback & suggestions are implemented.
- Stay updated about the latest technology that’s being used in the trucking industry. Using the shortest route or other forms of cost-effective planning would be a boon for the company. Data related to driver behavior, their availability, fleet maintenance, custom reports, e-ticketing etc. can be done easily and in much less time through software.
- Try to use a single channel of communication instead of multiple options like text, mail, voice, etc. Effective truck dispatch management software would assist you to streamline the communication process.
- Do not take up assignments that would leave the drivers excessively hard-pressed for time. Because in such cases, in case the drivers fail to keep to the allotted time, the company would be answerable. And this wrecks the company’s reputation. So, avoid taking up assignments that are unrealistic as far as maintaining timelines is concerned.
- Create a schedule for drivers that takes care of their availability and also complies with the relevant regulations. Let all the operators submit their availability. Take into account their off-time requests and other preferences. Once you have their availability, you can schedule them based on their performance levels. Also, maintain a record of subcontractors who have a truck surplus. This will help you to determine which operator you might refer to in time if a truck crunch situation.
- You would need to plan ahead. Add sub-contractors, set up geo zones, create templates for basic customer enquiry responses – all these would save a lot of time for you and enable you to focus on planning ahead.
So What Would You Need to Apply for a Truck Dispatcher Job?
- A high school diploma
- It would be advantageous if you have a bachelor’s degree in logistics or transportation management
- Preferred – past experience as a truck dispatcher
- Capacity to multitask – driver scheduling, route planning, and dispatching the drivers to the chosen locations
- It would be good if you have some experience with the existing transportation management software
- Proficiency in MS Word, Excel, Outlook Express etc.