Five tips to becoming a successful dispatcher

Five tips to becoming a successful dispatcher

I thought I would give some time to dispatchers, that group of individuals who are either the most loved or most despised individuals in most trucking companies.

I have been a dispatcher. As with most folks who start a trucking company from the ground up, you end up performing almost all of the jobs until some critical mass has been achieved and you find that you are required to step back and play more of an administrative role. As with anything else in life, there were elements of the job I loved and there were parts I absolutely hated.

I always believed that if you had 40 loads and 40 trucks to move in a day, all in the right spot, it could be done by anyone in the office. But if you have 50 loads and 40 trucks, you’ll need a good dispatcher. There is an enormously gratifying feeling of accomplishment when confronted with copious amounts of freight to move and a limited amount of trucks to move it on when at the end of the day it is all covered. It can be a complicated game of chess.

The relationship between dispatcher and driver is as complicated as any in this world. Dr. Phil would go nuts trying to get all the bugs out. It is often a non-stop game of push and pull; the driver wants to know three moves in advance where they are going and what the freight is. The dispatcher is trying not to say too much for fear that the next load falls through and they will be accused of diabolical gamesmanship. All this being said, there are some simple rules that can make the relationship work to both parties’ benefit.

(Photo: iStock)

The support of the dispatcher

Whoever is doing the hiring must know that first and foremost, the foundation of the relationship must be solid. This is accomplished by knowing what each party’s expectations are of each other. If you’re a company that specializes in 2,000- 3,000-mile turns and the driver your company is hiring has to be home every weekend to get their kids, guess what, this isn’t going to work.

Spell out exactly what you expect of the driver including notice of time off needed, any particulars of the freight that needs to be discussed, check-in requirements, availability for work, etc. Get it in writing – your dispatchers need this information to ensure there is a successful relationship.

Have driver spell out expectations of dispatch

They may need to have every weekend off for family, they might have an upcoming series of professional appointments that need to be made, they may suggest that they expect to be dealt with respect. They might say that they have to get 10,000 miles a month to be successful. Whatever the individual’s expectations are, review them and make sure that you can accommodate them.

If the expectations of the individual cannot be met, you are going to have an ongoing issue with this driver until they quit or you fire them. Get it in writing signed off by both parties and review it each and every pay period.

Be honest, always

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it isn’t for everyone. If you, as a dispatcher, decide it would be easier for you to B.S. a driver a little to get an extra load covered, you are playing with fire and are likely to be looking for a new career shortly. Integrity and honesty have to be the cornerstone of your relationship with your drivers. As soon as you get caught just once in a little white lie, you’re done. This information will fly though the driver fraternity quicker than grass through a goose and you will not be trusted from then on.

Be consistent, with everyone

The last thing any driver needs is to think that some other driver is getting preferential treatment. Spread the sweet with the sour evenly throughout all of your drivers – do not favor anyone.

This will cause dissension and mistrust and when you’re called on it, you’re done. Every driver or owner-operator who has decided to spend their career at your company deserves every opportunity you can grant them to be successful. Remember that and you’ll be fine.

Never talk down to a driver or colleague

This one gets under my skin. Everyone on this planet deserves the right to be dealt with, with respect.

I was recently at a company that had a dispatcher the drivers hated. All the drivers despised this person, but the customers loved them.

What a crock! This person had never driven before, and I don’t have a problem with a dispatcher who hasn’t been on the road but it’s walk-a-mile-in-my-shoes time here folks. I have a million safe miles under my belt and I am proud of that. I also know that it can be a lonely lifestyle.

I know what it’s like to not be available when things go sideways at home and you’re two days away, etc. Now it’s time to talk to my dispatcher and they’re going to talk down to me? I don’t think so!

At the end of the day, this is a pressure-packed business and unfortunately people don’t always show their best colors when they are under stress. Now add in the pressure of Covid-19 and quite often emotions rather than common sense rule the day. Follow the rules and take deep breaths. Have an empathetic approach to problem-solving. These are two qualities each side of this situation need to practice with great effort to be successful.

Safe trucking,

rjh

Published at Thu, 18 Jun 2020 11:29:13 +0000

A look at race relations in trucking

A look at race relations in trucking

TORONTO, Ont. – Trucker
Ahmed Issa still remembers the testy conversation between two of his former Hyndman
Transport colleagues, one white and the other African-Canadian, a few years
ago.

Ahmed Issa
Ahmed Issa says the situation has improved “a lot” over the years. Photo: Ahmed Issa.

Apparently angered by the white driver’s attitude toward immigrants like him, the black man said, “You will soon be working for immigrants.”

“And, guess what
happened!” Issa said.

“Hyndman went bankrupt last year. Now both of them are working for a company owned by immigrants.”

The Somali-Canadian has been driving trucks in Canada for 25 years, and he believes the situation has improved “a lot” over the past few years.

It is not just workplaces
where minority drivers encounter problems.

Julius, who
doesn’t want his full name to be used, said he had been harassed by a white police
officer during a routine truck inspection because of his color.

“But my colleagues
treat me well,” Julius said.

Munroe
Munroe Thompson says his experience has been “pretty cool”. Photo: Munroe Thompson

Happy driver

Each driver’s
experience is unique.

Jamaican-Canadian Munroe Thompson said he never faced any discrimination in the 26 years he has worked at Erb Transport, and that he “gets along very well” with his colleagues.

Thompson, however,
said he had heard about problems at other trucking companies. He said his
friends were turned away when they approached some companies for jobs.

“I am just going
to be honest with you. My experience is pretty cool,” Thompson said.

“If I say there is a problem in my company, I would be lying. There is an open-door system, and all companies should be like that.”

Tragedy sparks
debate

Last month’s police killing of an unarmed black man in the U.S. has sparked a fresh debate on racism there and in Canada, with many activists arguing that the situation is not much better here.

The latest poll on racism in Canada showed that 61% of those surveyed
believe there is systemic racism in the country.

The Abacus
Data-CityNews poll was released last week amid continuing global protests over George
Floyd’s death.

It also showed
that more than two-thirds of Canadians think discrimination is common in the
country.

Len
Chaplain Len believes truckers need to socialize more. Photo: Abdul Latheef/Today’s Trucking

Building
bridges

What about the
trucking sector?

Today’s
Trucking
asked Len Reimer,
who drove trucks for 15 years before becoming the lead chaplain of Transport
for Christ mobile church in Woodstock, Ont., in 2002.

“I would like to
think that they are getting along well, but we do hear some negative comments,”
Reimer said referring to friction between immigrant drivers and white truckers.

“I wish that was
not the case,” he said.

Chaplain Len
Chaplain Len Reimer. Photo: Abdul Latheef/Today’s Trucking

Reimer attributed
the problem to a number of reasons including fears about job security and a
lack of socialization.

Reimer suggested
truckers should put their differences aside and work on becoming socially
friendly.

“I have spoken
with young immigrants. They were looking for personal friendship, and they were
having difficulty acquiring that.”

And he said, the
reason for that was white Canadians were “not necessarily accepting the
immigrants.”

“We (white
Canadians) need to socialize and build a bridge with them,” he said.

But socializing
goes both ways.

Issa, the trucker referred to at the beginning of this story, said he often finds people of all backgrounds staying in their own comfort zones, without interacting with each other.

“People don’t
socialize that much.”

Sikh Festival
The face of Canadian trucking has changed over the past two decades. Here, truckers at a celebration in Toronto last year. Photo: Abdul Latheef/Today’s Trucking

Changing face

The demographics
of trucking have changed dramatically over the past 20 years, with immigrants
from all over the world taking jobs traditionally held by white Canadians.

A study published in 2018 by Newcom Media, the parent company of Today’s Trucking, revealed that South Asians accounted for 43.7% of immigrant truck drivers in 2016, up sharply from 8.7% in 1991.

There were 22,000 driver positions open in Canada as of October, and pre-pandemic estimates suggest that the country would need close to 50,000 truckers by 2024.

Diversity and inclusion

With young Canadians not exactly flocking to the career, an increasingly common option is hiring more immigrants, which also means companies need to embrace diversity wholeheartedly.

Trucking HR
Canada has published
a range of material on diversity and workplace inclusion.

Trucking HR Canada
Angela Splinter. Photo: Trucking HR

“People come
to today’s workplace with different backgrounds and different needs and
expectations,” said CEO Angela Splinter.

“As employers look to manage a more diverse workforce, a review of recruitment and retention approaches is needed, along with a review of workplace practices, protocols and policies to ensure an inclusive workplace. “

Splinter said diversity is the mix, and inclusion is getting the mix to work well together.

Diversity is the
hallmark of Canada’s largest trucking company, TFI International.

“The proof is in
the people. We have got people from all kinds of backgrounds – different
countries, different religions and different perspectives,” said David
Saperstein, chief financial officer at the Montreal, Que.-based conglomerate.

U.S. protests continue

Protests over the death of Floyd have continued unabated in the U.S., and in Minneapolis, Minn., where the tragedy occurred, a truck driver was arrested May 31 after he drove into a large group of peaceful demonstrators.

Officials believe the driver’s action was not intentional. He has since been released, and the investigation is continuing.

The incident has prompted the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and other industry lobbying groups to issue warnings to truckers about potential problems.

They urged the drivers to take proper precautions and avoid areas of social unrest.

Published at Fri, 19 Jun 2020 13:02:20 +0000