Understanding the ins and outs of the trucking industry and what will be expected of you as a fleet dispatcher is essential to succeeding in your role. While many dispatchers start as drivers and owner-operators themselves, others may not have that prior experience and could benefit from an in-depth overview.
Dispatchers are essential for their drivers, helping them stay on top of the little things so they can focus on what matters most: delivering freight. Often, a dispatcher is the only person a driver interacts with throughout their shift.
Your communication and ability to optimize loads and routes can help make or break the success of a fleet. You may be the one working behind the scenes, but the services you provide as a dispatcher are invaluable to the industry.
For small to medium-sized fleets to succeed, they need to stay organized and make the most of freight opportunities by avoiding deadheading. However, staying on top of things like safety compliance, mileage tracking, routes, and loads can be a lot to handle. This is where a small fleet dispatcher comes in. A dispatcher can help carriers maximize their profits and operate efficiently by taking on the responsibility of connecting with brokers and shippers to find freight and optimize routes.
The job of a fleet dispatcher extends beyond simply finding loads for drivers, however. Dispatchers juggle several tasks and responsibilities on a daily basis, such as:
Communicating with brokers and shippers
Enforcing safety & compliance
The dispatcher is the glue that holds the fleet together. They communicate with owners, clients, brokers, and drivers. They facilitate core processes, and they try their hardest to keep everyone satisfied.
To be an effective dispatcher, you’ll need a great deal of energy, enthusiasm, compassion, and organization. As a fleet dispatcher, you have the opportunity to build relationships, grow the business, and help your fleet operate at a high level within a competitive industry.
As trucking companies adapt to a post-pandemic America, they will be looking to hire drivers and dispatchers to handle increased workloads and demand. And after experiencing incredible disruption, these companies will likely be looking for individuals that do not simply fit the bill, but for those who can do the job exceptionally well to help them bounce back and experience growth.
So, what’s required to get your foot in the door? How can you become a successful truck dispatcher? Let’s break down the basic requirements for getting started as a dispatcher and dive into some tips and habits that will help you succeed at the job.
While no formal training or education is required for those interested in becoming a dispatcher, there are certainly some courses you can take to boost your earning potential and give you an edge in the industry. Your high school diploma or a GED is good to have, though it’s not necessarily required.
If you have more time and the necessary resources, having an associate or undergraduate degree can give you even more of a leg up on the competition. Degrees in areas such as transportation, shipping, logistics, business, and project management can all improve your knowledge and skills to better prepare you for your job as a dispatcher.
Successful fleet dispatchers have many other skills and combine those skills with experience to bring more value to their trucking company. Skills you should focus on strengthening include:
Have a good understanding of the trucking industry and how it works
Be familiar with the market
Know safety compliance regulations
Be familiar with industry technology
Have solid communication skills
Work with a mentor who knows the ins and outs of the industry
Be capable of networking and building relationships
Master planning, scheduling, and organization
Managing a fleet as a dispatcher is no small task. Your drivers, clients, and brokers will be relying and counting on you to deliver and meet their expectations. For some, that’s part of what makes this job so exciting; it’s fast-paced and keeps you on your toes. You’ll use critical thinking skills as you develop schedules and plans, you’ll need compassion as you defuse situations and put out fires, and in many instances, you’ll rely on instinct as you run into problems that call for on-demand solutions.
Dispatching is hard work, but with the right management, communication, and organization skills, you’ll be on your way to having a rewarding career as a successful fleet dispatcher.
How can truck dispatchers gain the experience they need to improve their skills? For dispatchers, no formal training exists, but there are some steps you can take to boost your knowledge and gain the skills and experience you need to become successful.
For fleet dispatchers, there are three simple steps you can take to increase your understanding of the industry and ensure you are performing at the top of your game:
Become integrated within the trucking community: As a dispatcher, most of your work takes place behind the scenes. It’s possible to do this job without ever getting in the cab of a truck. However, if you want to better understand the industry and connect more with your drivers, it can be helpful to sit in for a ride-along or two. You can also gain an inside perspective of what it’s like as a driver by checking out some forums or other online communities.
Utilize Technology: Most fleets have implemented technology into their daily operations, like fleet management software. Fleet management software enables fleets to improve driver safety, lower fuel usage, improve routes, and improve customer satisfaction. By adapting to this new technology and becoming proficient at using it, you can set yourself apart as a fleet dispatcher.
Hone your people skills: Dispatchers have to communicate with many stakeholders across the industry, from their drivers to clients. It’s important you have strong communication and interpersonal skills. There are many ways you can build strong relationships, including showing appreciation, staying positive, putting yourself in others’ shoes, and exuding confidence.
Being good at what you do, no matter what industry you work in, requires constant improvement. Information you learned a couple of years ago could be behind the times and out of date. You’ve got to continually educate yourself and stay on top of the latest trends and advancements to excel and grow professionally.
In the freight industry, there’s been a lot of change, and some exciting trends are coming up in the next year. These new trends are something to keep an eye on, for dispatchers especially. As the industry changes, it’s important for fleet dispatchers to stay on top of what’s new to improve their knowledge and skillset and to stay ahead of the curve.
Load tracking: We live in an on-demand economy. Consumers expect services to be delivered quickly and on time. This is why many companies in the trucking industry have adopted technologies that support order tracking. For example, the Xpress Technologies Fleet Management software provides real-time tracking and load insight, giving you the information you need to set customer expectations. Additionally, the map search feature in the Xpress Technologies App can help you find loads to match driver routes and give you a summary of the trip when you arrive.
Advancements in tech: Dispatchers are now utilizing more technology than ever before. Searching for and booking good freight opportunities can be a very tedious process. In the past, dispatchers and owner-operators were forced to spend hours scouring load boards and making phone calls. Now there are apps, such as the Xpress Technologies App, which automates and optimizes the process. New technology accounts for lane and corridor preferences, route planning options that help you avoid deadheading (operating without revenue-generating loads), and many other variables to provide dispatchers with the best possible routes for their drivers.
Price fluctuation: As a dispatcher, you’ll need to stay mindful of changes in the market and the industry’s fluctuating rates. By being reasonable with customers now, it will help you maintain business in the future.
The trucking industry is changing fast. In the coming year, dispatchers can expect to see changes that are likely to affect how the freight industry operates. We understand that so many new advancements and changes can be overwhelming. It can take time to adapt. However, if dispatchers want to stay ahead of the competition and continue to succeed, it will be beneficial for them to be open to these changes and adapt to new technologies when possible.
The following are the three main areas in which dispatchers can expect change:
Increased usage of technology: Software programs, systems, and other devices are becoming more readily available and accessible thanks to continual advancements in technology. The Xpress Technologies App, for example, features a variety of tools to optimize fleet management for those working in the trucking industry. Becoming familiar with these new tools and other systems will help dispatchers gain an edge and stay ahead of an evolving industry.
A rise in e-commerce: As the country gets back on track after over a year of being shut down and working remotely, industries can expect to see continued growth in e-commerce. Especially now, individuals are used to doing everything online. More e-commerce could mean more business opportunities for dispatchers to seek out.
A greener business model: As more customers seek environmentally conscious companies within their supply chain, small trucking companies that prioritize sustainability will have a real competitive edge. While having a greener business model as a small trucking company may not be top of mind today, trucking companies that stay ahead of this industry trend will differentiate themselves in the coming years.
Retaining drivers is crucial to maintaining business and increasing revenue. If you lose a driver, you’ll need to dedicate precious time to finding a replacement. Additionally, you’ll risk losing out on loads and deals that your business has already established because you don’t have anyone to haul them.
As a dispatcher, you make all the difference when it comes to keeping drivers happy. At times, dispatchers may be the only interaction drivers have on a shift. One of the top reasons drivers leave a company is a poor relationship with the dispatcher. If you want to help the business grow and retain drivers, use these tips and tools for avoiding turnover.
Load tracking: Communicate calmly and clearly: Don’t let the stress of the day seep into your conversations with your drivers. Also, remember to listen to your drivers’ feedback. Communication is a two-way street. By showing your drivers that you’re receptive to their concerns, you’ll encourage them to be more receptive to yours.
Advancements in tech: Establish a relationship and build rapport: Some of the best dispatchers in the industry protect and treat their drivers like family. Even if you don’t become that close, it’s still beneficial to have a level of trust and respect built between you and your drivers. The more comfortable they are with you, the more they will trust your decisions.
Make the most of your fleet’s ELD: It’s your job to help your drivers’ loads go by as smoothly and efficiently as possible. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by utilizing the information gathered by your drivers’ ELDs. That information can help you better optimize loads for your drivers and help them stay in compliance with safety regulations.
The use of advanced trucking dispatch software has been on the rise for the past few years. As a result, small to medium-sized fleets have adopted the use of new technology to help better facilitate daily operations and grow their businesses.
Technology companies have demonstrated how technological tools could propel the trucking industry forward, and are developing more products than ever before. So how do you pick the right technology for your business? What should you look for in a product?
When deciding on what software or systems to use for your fleet, these are some of the top features you should look for:
Usability for dispatchers, owners, AND drivers: A tool that causes confusion among team members isn’t very helpful. When choosing software, be sure it is user-friendly across the board and that everyone on your team can use it easily.
Seamless integration with current tools: In addition to being user-friendly, you will want software that will integrate seamlessly with your operation’s existing structure and practices. There’s no sense in wasting time trying to implement a new system or software if it isn’t going to work well with what you already have in place.
Cost-effective: As helpful as it may be, any software is a means to an end. The last thing you want to do is spend a large chunk of your company’s resources on a tool that will not provide a return on investment. When you’re browsing the available tools on the market, ask yourself how the products will save you time and money.
As a dispatcher, you are constantly juggling multiple different things at once, so you want to make sure that the tools you’re using can help take some of the stress off your shoulders by helping you optimize operations. Choosing a no-cost suite of fleet management solutions that is available in one convenient place is a great way to make sure that your system is working for you, not against you.
Xpress Technologies offers a robust suite of products that puts everything you need as a dispatcher in one convenient place. Maximizing freight opportunities and improving your abilities as a dispatcher requires fleet management solutions that meet your needs and help your operation run more efficiently.
The Xpress Technologies suite of fleet management solutions offers:
A robust mobile application for drivers and dispatchers alike
An intuitive load board that learns from your load preferences
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