Trucking company owners want to make money, and that means getting shipments delivered safely and ON TIME! Warehouse and dock workers want the freight’s arrival, consolidation, loading and departure to go smoothly and ON TIME! Drivers want their paperwork accurate and the freight ready to load or offload when they get to the dock. And much of the responsibility for all three falls on the dispatcher.
With responsibility comes perceived accountability. When something goes wrong, it is often the dispatcher who is blamed. It’s not uncommon to hear drivers complaining about dispatchers for making impossible assurances to shippers, or for misleading drivers about loads, accusing dispatchers of saying anything to get the load covered and the job done. Certainly there are some dispatchers who fit that description, but the majority are trying to satisfy all parties and are doing the best they can within the limits of their control.
HOW DISPATCHING HAS CHANGED IN THE COMPUTER AGE
The job description of the truck dispatcher has changed considerably in the last twenty years. Before the introduction of comprehensive computer programs to facilitate routing, dispatchers were usually former truckers and others who were familiar with the trucking business and the needs of the drivers. Many young drivers learned more about the trucking business from their dispatchers than they ever did from their CDL driving schools. According to the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), 2019 statistics show that there are between 350,000 and 400,000 active owner operators in the United States, and the majority of them have been trucking for twenty or more years. These truckers recall the pre-computer days when dispatchers were, in many cases, mentors and experienced champions for drivers’ needs. Instead, many dispatchers today are young men and women who have community college or vocational school training in using computer programs to expedite freight handling and transportation routing.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR BECOMING A DISPATCHER INCLUDE:
- Skill with Excel Spreadsheet programming and other truck dispatch software to access and interpret freight data
- Ability to monitor and track shipments en route
- Knowledge of routing strategies and compliance with DOT, NSC, and HazMat safety regulations
- Familiarity with load boards
- Ability to consolidate LTL shipments to maximize trailer utilization
- Interpersonal skills to communicate effectively with Management, customers, drivers and dock workers
- Patience, patience, and more patience!
Poet Robert Burns wrote, “The best laid schemes of mice and men so often go awry.”
Even the most carefully prepared plans may go wrong, and in the trucking business, that is often more the rule than the exception. The dispatcher must be a problem solver, dealing with poor weather conditions, road hazards and construction delays, mechanical problems, and numerous other unanticipated issues.
Being a dispatcher for a trucking company, especially a fleet operation, is a complicated and stressful job. They must consider the welfare of the driver and find the best possible routing to get the freight to its destination safely, efficiently, and ON TIME!
How about a round of applause for our dispatchers? Because we’re proud of our team and the service we provide at Canal Cartage, in Houston Texas.