As Fleet Dispatchers, you have an incredibly challenging, extremely complicated job. Some days, you’re conducting a symphony orchestra. Others, you’re herding cats. You show up for work each morning wondering what the day will have in store. Rain? Traffic signal outages? A driver who never shows up for work? A flat tire? A cranky client? So many influences in your workday are completely out of your hands. Follow these best practices, and you could bring things a little more under your control.
- Be proactive in your daily/weekly scheduling.
You may not be able to plan for everything, so plan for what you can. Know your vehicle servicing schedule in advance, but also consider anecdotal warnings: driver discussion about problematic steering or brakes, squeaks and squeals you heard last night as the fleet was being shut down, fresh oil drops in truck parking spaces. Calculate a realistic percentage of questionable vehicles (and drivers?), and mitigate surprises by incorporating these considerations into your regular schedule.
- Be ambitious but realistic in scheduling deliveries.
As a dispatcher, you are no doubt very familiar with the driving times and distances for regular routes in ideal conditions. But you also realize that wise dispatching goes well beyond a simple speed x distance formula. Do you live in a town that hosts a professional sports team? You can expect to see drive times plummet on game days. Is your fleet located near train tracks? A fire station? A school? In those cases, your drivers may face one or more unexpected slowdowns throughout the day. Schedule up, but be flexible. Real-time driver information and driving condition reports go a long way in helping you meet lofty delivery goals.
- Cheer up when it comes to customer service.
Rough day? Don’t forget the old southern adage: you can get happy in the same pants you got mad in. This maxim is particularly important for client- and customer-facing dispatchers. People get frustrated – there’s nothing wrong with that. Just be sure to channel your frustration appropriately. Don’t take it out on your drivers, and don’t take it out on your clients. Remember that getting angry does nothing to improve efficiency, and it could actually have a negative impact on performance. I realize you have that one client who is always changing things, and then, when you cater to his requests, he ends up not being there to take delivery. But taking out your frustration on a client through thinly-veiled sarcasm will only make the situation worse. Look at those pants you’re wearing, and get happy!
- Automate processes as much as possible.
Do you know what’s even better than being able to correctly perform every single complex step of a multifaceted, highly consequential office process? Foregoing the process altogether, yet ending up with the same result! That’s what automation can do for you. Regulatory processes alone can involve lots of complicated “hoop-jumping,” and failing to perform these processes correctly can result in fines, slow deliveries, or even a temporary shutdown. Automation benefits your fleet, not only with regard to speed, but also accuracy. Automation effectively removes human error from the dispatch formula and performs key processes so quickly and efficiently, you may forget that the process is actually occurring. Lighten your mental load by automating processes and save your focus for items 1-3 above.
Even the brightest supply chain manager with all of the resources in the world runs into snags sometimes. Keep these four tips in mind, and the troubles will just roll off of you – like a loaded pallet jack through the forgotten, open cargo door of a moving box truck.