Your dispatchers could be causing you turnover. Of course, they don’t mean to, but we hear it from drivers time and time again. Drivers often quit based on the way they are dispatched or a lack of assistance from their dispatcher.
You know how critical your dispatchers are to the everyday running of a trucking company. Without dispatch to organize and direct your drivers, nobody knows what’s going on and operations quickly turn into a huge mess. Your drivers and customers alike get aggravated, and this can lead to problems that send your drivers down the road to another company. But you can prevent those issues if you have great people working dispatch for you.
Dispatchers don’t have an easy job. Their role provides unique challenges that are different from those of the drivers they work with. In some respects, a great dispatcher is the hardest person to find. That’s why it’s so critical that you hire and retain good dispatchers.
So how do you find these dispatchers? Usually, dispatchers are either former drivers themselves or at least have worked in customer service before. This is all well and good, as there is no substitute for experience in the trucking industry, but it’s not enough to just understand the profession. Your dispatchers need some skills and traits to be great dispatchers.
It might seem redundant, but you would be surprised how many drivers get frustrated because of miscommunication with dispatchers. Interpersonal skills are very important, but the ability to clearly explain things to drivers is just as crucial. If you have dispatchers who are always on the same page as your drivers, you can save a lot of time and headaches. Work will go more smoothly and more likely to be done on time.
A common misconception is that dispatchers are like carrier pigeons. They simply direct the drivers and deliver instructions. That’s far from the truth. Dispatchers solve problems. To do that well, your dispatchers need empathy and compassion for the drivers they work with. Drivers need to feel like they can rely on their dispatchers to assist them with issues if needed. They aren’t calling a phone operator or machine; they’re calling an ally on the job who understands and cares about their problems. Dispatchers need to understand and remember this for the same reason: everyone’s on the same team.
You may have a team of hard-working dispatchers who both care and communicate well with your drivers, but still have problems. You’re dealing with human beings who sometimes have conflicting or competing interests in a profession. Conflict can lead to escalating tension and stress. Maybe dispatch has no other delivery in the area for the driver looking to make a few extra bucks while money is tight. Your dispatchers need to keep their cool and remain professional. Eventually, someone will yell at them for some reason, fair or not. They will have to deal with conflict the right way and know not to yell back or point fingers at people.
This is possibly the hardest trait to find and measure among any employee. Most of the time, you won’t know a dispatcher has good judgment until it’s tested in the field. But part of a dispatcher’s problem-solving skill set has to be the ability to weigh options and quickly make the right decisions. There will be times when issues arise and they will have to make a call on their own. It might only happen once or it could happen a dozen times. But a dispatcher with good judgment is a strong safeguard against both driver turnover and possible risks that could damage the company’s interests.
The skills listed above work best when cultivated over time in a supportive environment. No one is born the perfect dispatcher. People learn how to be a dispatcher through education and training. That’s why it’s most effective to have a leadership development program in place. A leadership development program like ours teach important procedures, skills, and best practices that dispatchers and other frontline leaders can use to retain drivers. The people interacting with drivers the most will learn how to do their jobs better to make everyone’s lives easier.
Great dispatchers can make a world of difference. Drivers will appreciate the great service they can provide and you will appreciate their ability to solve problems and prevent others from ever happening. Best of all, great dispatch will help retain more drivers so you can continue to grow your business.
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