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Art of Dispatching - Advisor Article - Part 1 of 4

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THE ART OF DISPATCHING A TOPIC ORIGINALLY CREATED IN NOVEMBER OF 2005:

In this section of the Advisor we will examine dispatching as what it is… an art form. From the level of focus required to the finesse of the intricate dance known as dispatch we will cover this critical component of every towing operation. This article is the first in a series which will appear in every edition of the Advisor.

Dispatching is tough. It requires total concentration, a superb memory, good problem solving skills, common sense and an ability to handle numerous tasks that all need completion immediately. It is no job for a wimp.

A good dispatcher needs two types of abilities. I will classify them as technical abilities and artistic abilities.

The technical abilities involve, among other things, knowing the correct key strokes to make in order to view drivers, assign calls, and read and send messages. It includes the ability to learn and remember the streets and landmarks of the area in which the dispatcher works. These abilities can be taught, with time, through repetition. These abilities are not contingent upon the times of day, the volume of calls, the specific customer, or anything else. In order for a dispatcher to assign a call, he will need to strike particular keys or make specific mouse clicks in a certain order to achieve success. If a dispatcher is deficient in a technical ability, it is usually apparent, and further instruction can be suggested or demanded. Because technical abilities are learned, a dispatcher who is willing to ask questions, experiment, and do whatever it takes to be successful, can normally overcome deficiencies in this area. For this reason, I will focus on the other facet of dispatching – artistic abilities.

The artistic abilities are more problematic for most dispatchers because many of the traits within this area are inherent. A person is usually born with the ability to handle many tasks at once, or not. A person is usually born with the ability to work puzzles, or not. An argument could be made that dispatchers are not made they are born.

A dispatcher can be likened to a painter. A dispatcher can be compared to with a chess champion. A dispatcher can be equated with a football quarterback. All of there comparisons are legitimate, but inadequate. Why? Because a dispatcher not only has to be the painter, he has to create the picture with no input on the colors of the paint. Because a dispatcher not only has to win the chess match, he has to play several games at once, with only limited control over the movement of his pieces. Because a dispatcher has to march his team down the field to score a touchdown, as well as kick the extra point, provide the strategy, call the plays, and motivate all those with whom he competes. A dispatcher has a mind-boggling job that few are able to perform well.

It is with this realization that we explore the formula for success as a dispatcher. The list of ingredients is endless. Therefore, we will focus on a few of the more significant aspects of The Art of Dispatching.

CONTROL

Control the things over which you have control. Realize the variables that are within your ability to control and work hard to maintain control over those things. Leave the uncontrollable issues alone.

Here are a few items that are within the dispatchers’ control:
• A driver who does not provide accurate statuses.
• A driver who repeatedly shows up 10 minutes past his scheduled start time, inflicting the dispatcher with 10 minutes of daily agony.
• A driver who never answers on the radio when called.
• A driver who is rude.
• A driver who habitually breaks company policy.
• A driver who struggles with routing.
• His or her own temper.
• His or her own level of performance.
• His or her own commitment to excellence.
• His or her own attitude.
• The configuration of his or her own workspace.
• Customer expectations.

Here are a few items that are outside the dispatchers’ control:
• The weather.
• The volume of business each day.
• The attitudes of fellow employees.
• Traffic conditions.
• The boss’ attitude.
• Customer expectations.

Yes, customer expectations secure a place in both lists. Many times, a customer calls with an unbelievable request for a job. Instead of feeling aggravated or inconvenienced, it is the job of the dispatcher to do everything possible, in a safe, legal and honest manner, to accommodate the customer’s needs. The dispatcher must be able to communicate and negotiate with the customer so that the customer is satisfied with the performance and integrity of the company. Each time the customer has a positive experience, the expectations of the customer are changed.

If a dispatcher fails in his job due to habitual, inaccurate statuses by a driver, the failure is due only in part to the driver. The dispatcher must assume blame because he has failed to correct the problem. Corrective actions open to the dispatcher to correct many driver problems include training, motivation, confrontation or reporting of the problem to the driver’s supervisor. This is not to say that a dispatcher is responsible for every inaccurate status or late arrival on a call. However, the dispatcher is the only person with the ability to connect all aspects of a successful job – call entry, call assignment and arrival to the call in a timely manner. That is why a dispatchers' job is not just call assignment. Dispatch is the command center of the company. It is the place where hundreds of decisions are made each day that determine the success or failure of a towing company. Because it is the command center, it demands that the dispatcher be in control.

Make a list of 25 things that you confront each day that are within your control. Your list will include some of the items detailed above, as well as many others that are unique to each dispatcher. Do not allow these things to pass without comment, instruction, or commitment when they arise during your shift.

Dispatch demands that the dispatcher maintain control.

-Jeffrey Godwin
 

DennisMHDT said:

Good to see us dispatchers finally getting some credit in this industry.
 
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Brooklyn, We Go Hard.

 

acuranut said:

i have gotten alot out of these articles. helps keep things in the front of my mind that normally make their way toward the back. thanks to towpartners for providing them.

Greg

 

PGhrist said:

Dispatchers are VERY overlooked, usually our dispatchers are mentioned when something has wrong on call. I usually never see them being praised? "Don't ask me... I'm just the driver!"

 

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Good article on Dispatcher’s Ron and the qualities necessary to do that job. A qualified dispatcher is like playing the game of chess where, concentration, strategy and the right decisions morph from beginner to that of a competent strategist that can easily and efficiently balance the movements and actions of tow trucks and drivers, all-the-while, knowing where everything and everyone is. I appreciate your commitment, dedication and willingness to take-on more, “crap and difficult personalities”, in a ten-hour shift than any other person in the company. Dispatching has a huge learning curve that oftentimes takes years to perfect. It’s a rare occasion that a, “dispatch qualified”, applicant walks through your door. I wrote the article, “Dispatchers: Loved and Not Forgotten”, in American Towman’s , March 2019 issue, where I quoted Russian-American, chess master, Irving Chernev, who once said, “Likened to the game of chess, the best strategies make for a winning game … every chess master was once a beginner.”   As Ghrist say, dispatchers seldom are praised … so, I’ll take this moment to personally, say, “Thank you”, for your work because, “I couldn’t and can’t do the work you do.” Accordingly, I’ll ask, “Have you hugged your dispatcher today?”     R.   

 

.   


Randall C. Resch

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