A major reason for driver turnover that comes up time and time again is that drivers leave based on the way they are dispatched or a lack of assistance from their dispatcher.
Now, you know how integral 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 on down the road to another company. But you can prevent those issues if you have great people working dispatch for you.
Dispatchers do not have an easy job and their role provides unique challenges that are sometimes different from those of the drivers they work with. In some respects, it might be even harder to find the right people to play this part for you than other positions. That’s why it’s critical that you hire and keep 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, especially when it comes to the issues truckers run into day to day. 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 to even mention, 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 important. If you have dispatchers who are always on the same page as your drivers, you can save a lot of time and headaches.
A common misconception is that dispatchers are simply air traffic control. They direct the drivers and that’s the bulk of their responsibility. That’s far from the truth. Dispatch is there to help 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 need be. They aren’t calling a phone operator or machine; they’re calling an ally on the job who understands and cares about their problems.
You can have a team of hard-working dispatchers who both care and communicate well with your drivers, and still, you can have problems. You’re still dealing with human beings who sometimes have conflicting or competing interests. There will be times tempers get out of whack. 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 that 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 decision. There will be times 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.
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 and allow you to focus on other areas in need of improvement.
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