When you think about dispatching, what comes to mind? Someone on the phone, behind several computer screens, talking and dispersing information is what many people imagine. Maybe a 911 dispatcher comes to mind saying, “911 what’s your emergency?”.
The job of a dispatcher differs and depends on what industry the dispatching is done for, however, there are several traits that remain the same. In this article we go over 4 of the most common mistakes that dispatchers make when working with drivers and customers.
This list of mistakes is composed by our managers at Ninja Dispatch, after training dispatchers and seeing the mistakes that are occurring. These are the key areas that we work on with any new hire, to make sure that they are the best truck dispatcher that they can be. If you are a dispatcher, make sure to take notes from what we are about to share with you because by fixing these errors you will become a more amazing dispatcher.
Mistake 1: Assume and don’t ask questions to make sure
This mistake is one of the most common mistakes made by a new dispatcher. It’s most common because in many different situations and businesses it’s ok to assume something, the repercussions are just not that big. However, the same does not hold true for the industry of trucking and logistics. A mistake done by assuming something can cost the dispatcher, the carrier, the driver even the shipper or consignee money.
If you work as a dispatcher, you NEVER want to assume anything. Absolutely nothing.
The job of a dispatcher is to be the middleman between different parties and the driver. Although you can be right by assuming something, eventually you’ll be wrong, and that mistake could cost you your job.
As an example, let’s say you get a text message from a driver saying “I’ve arrived”. The first thing you should do is check to see where the driver is via your ELD or GPS tracking. If you see that the driver is in Cleveland, OH and he has a pickup in Cleveland, OH and several local deliveries in Cleveland, OH, well then you need to dig a bit deeper.
You know where the driver’s location is, however you don’t know exactly what stage of the load they are completing. Did they arrive at the pickup? Did they arrive at a delivery? The only way to know this is to ask a question.
Who would you ask the question to?
In this situation where multiple outcomes could be true, you need to call and make sure. Even if it seems like busy work, it is 100% imperative that you make absolutely certain that you understand what is going on with the load.
The best dispatcher would never assume something, they will always make sure that they have the right information. This also decreases the chances of that dispatcher getting blamed for a mistake occuring.
A great life hack to make sure that this mistake doesn’t happen is to always send “confirmation” messages. These messages should be sent both ways, to ensure that both parties in communication have understood and expressed that they understand.
Mistake 2: Do not double check data
In the 21st century data and information are what moves trucks and logistics companies. More than ever carriers have technology at their fingertips that can help their business streamline and centralize the entire logistics process. Because of this, one of the most common mistakes that dispatchers make has to do with not double checking data and inputting it incorrectly.
This mistake happens most often with night dispatchers or after hours dispatchers that work with larger trucking companies.
Large trucking companies have customers with which they run repetitive routes. Meaning that every week, these companies have trucks that are running the same route, week after week, month after month.
The routes look similar, however they occur on different days, have different shipment and route numbers and may even have different drivers on the route.
So where does the mistake happen?
The mistakes occur when dispatchers are asked questions on a route, or maybe they need to close out a route. If the dispatcher does not double check data, they could be relaying or inputting information incorrectly.
How can you double check data?
A good dispatcher will not rely just on a route number to verify information and data. They need a 2nd number to always make sure they’re talking about the correct load.
So let’s say you have a route number, however this route number pertains to a particular route that is done each week, meaning you could make a mistake and look at a different week than the one you’re being asked about.
In this case the dispatcher needs to know either a trailer number, a shipment date, BOL number, or anything else that can help them double check that they’re on the right route.
This may seem like a very easy thing to work on, however it’s one of the most common mistakes made. When dispatching at night for large trucking companies that can have 200+ drivers, it’s very simple to overlook these details.
How to fix this mistake?
Always make sure to have a minimum of 2 verification points when looking at a load. You need a load number as well as another number that can clearly identify that you understand what you’re looking for.
Mistake 3: Get caught up on an issue and waste time
The business of dispatching trucks is one filled with problems. Let’s keep it 100% and call it what it is. Dispatching is a job where only problems will come up, that is why a dispatcher is paid to sit behind a computer and on a phone, even in the middle of the night.
If problems didn’t occur, there would actually not be a need for a dispatcher to work. So a way to think of what a dispatcher does, is that they are a problem solver. Sometimes the problem can be easy, such as a driver calling asking for an address or a pickup number. Other times a problem can be more difficult to solve, or maybe the dispatcher cannot even solve the problem.
The third most common problem and mistake that dispatchers make is that they get too caught up on a single issue and waste their time and energy on it, while not paying attention to the “bigger picture”.
There’s a common saying, if you’re going to lose, make sure you lose fast. What this means is that as a dispatching company, we teach our dispatchers to identify if a problem can be resolved by them. If the problem can be resolved, great, let’s get it resolved. If it cannot, well then let’s make sure we make a note and that the problem is communicated to the proper parties that could solve the problem.
It’s truly as simple as that and if a dispatcher can view any issue that arises through the lens of whether they can resolve the issue or not, their job will also become less stressful and complicated.
The number one thing we don’t want to do is to stay on the phone for 20 minutes with a customer or driver. By all means we are there to assist and help drivers, customers and whoever may call in. However, it’s equally important to make sure that we are paying attention to the bigger picture.
We’ve seen many dispatchers that will get stuck on a certain issue and also get very stressed because of the issue. There is no need for a dispatcher to get stressed if they know what they can solve.
How to fix this mistake?
The best way to fix this issue is by having good communication and good management when training a new dispatcher. Good management will assist and support a new dispatcher to make sure that they feel comfortable and confident in what they are doing.
When a dispatcher knows what they are doing, they are not likely to sit and marinate on issues that arise during their shift. This provides the carrier and drivers with a great dispatcher that understands the ins and outs of their trucking business.
Mistake 4: Take notes to fix mistakes and optimize
A good dispatcher will make mistakes, but a great dispatcher will learn from the mistakes that they’ve made, using them as stepping stones and building blocks to perfect their trade.
Mistakes will happen no matter what you do, which is why you need to learn from mistakes and see where and how you can improve by optimizing.
Of all the mistakes and blunders we’ve mentioned above, the biggest one is to not take note and see how to fix the mistakes you’ve made. By not taking notes, the mistakes will continue to happen and the dispatcher will never get better.
This is true from an entry level dispatcher position to a high level manager position. Managers and entry level workers alike can make errors and blunders.
We at Ninja Dispatch have been in the business of truck dispatching for a combined 20 years. We’ve encountered many problems and mistakes that dispatchers make, which is why our main focus is to properly train and teach new dispatchers.
Our work culture is extremely important to us. Throughout the years we’ve been able to build an amazing team that truly learns from each other and minimizes mistakes so that we can offer an amazing service to our customers and clients.
If you’d like to learn more about Ninja Dispatch and how we can help your business with dispatching and night dispatch, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be more than happy to have a chat!