15 March

Useful tips for getting along with your dispatcher

Although truck driving is generally considered to be a lone wolf profession, you never really work alone – your dispatcher is with you every step of the way. To someone outside the trucking industry this – knowing you’re not the only one to shoulder the burdens of freight transport –  probably sounds reassuring, but cooperating with dispatchers becomes the bane of existence for the majority of professional truck drivers.

You and your dispatcher should be a team; you work for the same company and you have the same goal – getting the load from point A to point B.

The conflict between dispatchers and truck drivers usually stems from misunderstanding the job descriptions of both parties, so the first step towards peaceful cooperation is to know what are the dispatcher’s and the truck driver’s responsibilities and duties. Besides knowing which lines shouldn’t be crossed, as a professional truck driver you should always keep in mind that nowadays not a lot of dispatchers – almost none, in fact – used to be drivers themselves before they started working dispatch. Usually it’s enough to know your way around a computer and take a course in dispatch software management, which means that you can’t expect every dispatcher to completely and truly understand your role and what you go through on the road as a truck driver.

You and your dispatcher should be a team; you work for the same company and you have the same goal – getting the load from point A to point B.

Avoid arguing

This is a good piece of advice to remember in any situation, but it’s especially useful to remember at work. Getting angry when something doesn’t go as planned isn’t an unusual reaction, however it often causes a simple misunderstanding to grow into an issue, and then into a more complex problem. That’s why it’s a good idea to hit the breaks for a moment, and try to focus on figuring out what caused the problem in the first place, so that you can figure out how to sort it out.

When you have a confrontation with someone who is being verbally aggressive, it never helps to match their behaviour because that will only fuel the argument until it grows into a monster that will likely ruin your relationship. So, the next time you find yourself in a heated argument with your dispatcher, try to stop arguing, take a breather, and start from the top. If there is no way you can come to an understanding or a solution to fit both of your needs, then maybe your needs shouldn’t be the point of the argument. Maybe the only way to move past the issue is for everyone to put aside their wants and needs, and focus only on trying to find the most efficient and productive solution.

Offer insight and advice

Like we mentioned before, an extremely small number of dispatchers today have had any truck driving experience, and this is essential to keep in mind. In order to successfully cooperate with anyone in any given situation, it’s absolutely necessary to have a good understanding about each other’s duties, so that you know what you can expect from each other. The same applies to the trucking industry, where dispatchers and drivers should work as a unit and rely on one another in order to produce the best results, so don’t hesitate to offer your input. You might know something, or you might have noticed something others have missed.

The emphasis here is to offer help. Yes, you are the one driving the truck, the one who is responsible for the freight, the one who fights weather, and the one who has to deal with all kinds of road conditions. But, that does not mean that the dispatcher’s job is useless. The position wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t needed in the company. The most important thing is to always keep in mind that you both have a job to do, and that the best way to do it is to know that you can count on each other for support. This support can also come in the form of an advice – perhaps you know about a recent roadblock which would mess with the dispatcher’s route plan, or you just want to offer a friendly piece of advice you learned from other dispatchers you worked with in the past. Whatever the situation is, approach it calmly.

Make sure everything is sorted out before your trip

Every professional truck driver knows how much work goes into planning a good route. You know it’s not just getting the cargo from point A to point B. It takes time and effort to plan an efficient route, which is exactly what your dispatch is in charge for – planning a profitable route which will minimize the truck’s empty miles.

Because there are so many details to be taken into consideration, it’s always a good idea for a second pair of eyes to look over everything. So don’t hesitate to offer a helping hand, especially if that will minimize the chances of something going wrong on the road or at loading stops. Again, it’s important to remain polite, even if you have more experience than the dispatcher, because that’s the most efficient way to approach an issue – anger and arguing will only prolong the process and probably cause a few things to be overlooked.

Even though you are the one with years of experience behind the wheel and sometimes it feels like your dispatcher doesn’t understand you or what you have to deal with on a daily basis because they never worked as a truck driver, it’s good to be reminded that the vast majority of truck drivers never worked as dispatchers either. Working so closely with someone else requires both sides to be understanding of the needs of the other one, and at all times keep in mind that you both have the same goal. It’s not enough to tolerate one another – you need to cooperate with each other.