The Dispatcher Dilemma

In our industry’s previous life, the dispatcher played a very key role in the operation of one’s company. Although a large degree of their authority and actions may have been symbolic and attitudinally based, they nevertheless kept the train on the track and running on time.

One operator humorously described it years ago. He said his morning dispatcher didn’t clock in, he was sworn in.

Amongst the many challenges a modern-day dispatcher face that did not exist in the past was the fleet listened, took orders, and executed them. They had exclusivity, loyalty and, of course, old school work ethic.

Those days are gone and many of the old timer dispatchers have retired or relocated to the farm. The task today has many more levels and technological components that make each dispatch position a unique job with diverse responsibilities.

The big question is how does one recruit and train someone for a job likely without a clear training program for a position that may be one third improvisation to service an agency in a constant state of flux.

When this discussion arises you always have that one faction that claims every service has a driver waiting to be promoted to dispatch. On the other hand, there are people who consider the chauffeur population the company’s low hanging fruit and not desk jockeys.

I also sometimes think the position can be eliminated and spread amongst departments including the driving staff. All companies have unique requirements and painting any one group with a roller is likely bad business.

Personally, I think the answer is to whittle down by ruling in and ruling out certain behavioral traits and talents to at least have smaller pool to choose from. Obviously, you need a candidate that works well with others. While companies of all sizes have their chain of command in transportation the dispatcher in most cases is the chain of command. They must verbally interface with drivers, clients, and management.

The Uber and Pandemic has also taught me that a dispatcher needs to know when to make the ultimate sacrifice. Calling a client and regardless of fact or fiction, terminate the order. This process is a terrible by-product of the times yet it occurs very often these days. I believe the hospitality industry has a version of this called the “bums rush”.

Finally, this may appear strange to some. But if you find a potential candidate with one of the following four talents I suggest you hire them. It is difficult to explain but it touches on certain neurological advantages these skills afford them.

1)The ability to speak or understand pig Latin.
2) The ability to read Morse Code
3) The ability to play the piano
4) The ability to play Chess

In closing let me share one last word of wisdom for any dispatch or administrator:

Wherever you are in your office. Whatever technology you are using. Whoever you are communicating with. Always assume you are within proximity of a hot mic.

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