As a third shift off site reservation/dispatch vendor we are often asked how we juggle. If a caller determines they have reached an outsider one must work quickly because you only have a precious few seconds to gain their confidence. Having certain system credentials and access certainly helps, but in this line of work it is all about instant gratification: order input complete, confirmations sent, client is on the move, driver is on site — if the phone rings and the dots are in place, connect them and connect them quickly.
One concept we developed and many of our clients have adopted and enhanced is Three-Dimensional Dispatch. Three-Dimensional dispatch works because at any given time a transportation organization is using more than 5 primary operating systems. This approach is based on the simple theory that the best operating system remains the human brain and gives it another dimension in which to function.
As discussed previously, there are numerous components from booking to billing that are critical for success. It is a virtual symphony of parts that creates what appears to an outsider as a simple transfer. The meat and potatoes of the equation is the coverage to completion phase.
Once upon a time many years ago during the round headlight generation it was simple. All cars and drivers were created equal, dispatch could be based on first come first served or even by request if need be. Geographically based dispatching did not evolve until later because in the old days all vehicles were typically dispatched out of a central garage location more than likely by rotation.
Unlike the past where schedules and manifests were always static, today they are primarily dynamic. A combination of last-minute changes, app inspired impulse buys, and numerous other factors have put the modern agency’s schedule in a constant fluid state.
Many software providers offer dispatch capabilities today. The problem I have always found is that when dispatch is system or GPS generated it only works in what I call the perfect world.
The perfect world implies that all drivers are created equal, all vehicles in their respective class are always clean, full of fuel and ready to roll. GPS becomes the dictator and the show rolls on.
The unfortunate truth is that we are nowhere close to the perfect world. One prime example is that the chauffeur population appears to operate today in a mood based dynamic. Large numbers of the labor pool have adopted a gig-based thought process. What sets the successful manual transportation agency apart from the apps is a dispatcher in charge. A dispatcher who can fit the proper chauffeur to vehicle to client based on many more factors than location. Location and rotation dispatching always have and will continue to play a role, but it should not be the priority.
Another problem is the hand-off of “the board,” shift change, or having numerous dispatch personnel work the board.
The best answer I have found to ensure all the dots can be connected, and what has been historically used is a three dimensional, hands on model of the action at play.
You remember the old World War II movies where the generals move the toy sized tanks and troops around on the miniature battlefield? Or the old submarines where they had the glass panel showing their artificial horizon and position? Even as high tech as our own air traffic control system is, control towers still use landing and takeoff strips to regulate ground and air traffic often in a rotation type scenario. As the ground transportation industries slowly regain market share I have determined that the dispatch component needs to be transitioned into more of a nerve center type of department to oversee and control the flow.
What I have found to work best are good old Lego bricks and a label maker.
Basically, every class of car or bus is a color/shape, and every class of driver is a color shape that affixes to the vehicle. All drivers can be a specific color or size and adding blocks can indicate CDL status, specific licensing, security credentials, passport for crossing the border, etc.…
You can even create buildings or zones from Lego blocks.
You can have a small body shop indicating a car was in an accident.
A repair shop when they are down.
A hospital for drivers that are sick.
A hotel for drivers on vacation.
A jail for drivers on suspension.
A favorite of the many great uses is that once a company has their daily schedule of available vehicles and chauffeurs, they can connect them together or just lay on your printer/scanner and broadcast the roster to staff, groups, departments, etc.… It allows numerous staff members of all departments to get an instantaneous overview of the action and inventory at hand.
It is like a transportation version of a craps table: one overview, one dealer, and all parties can participate.
One of the several advantages of the Lego system is that the design and designations allow for endless combinations and possibilities to organize your primary, secondary and farm out fleets or providers when required. Between the type and color of the Lego bricks and the numerous colors and fonts of most label makers, the possibilities are endless.
This program is a simple, live, and three-dimensional dispatch department back up display component. The setup allows you and your staff the ability to mentally triple task since you have a live model to assist and back up your coverage concepts, scheduling scenarios, and what if equations.
We have one client who actually purchased die cast toy limos for a more realistic approach and another that couples together chess board pieces to delegate certain types or levels of individuals and groups as related to the dispatch at hand.
It is a completely custom and scalable solution to maintain efficient fleet control and asset deployment.