Successfully moving freight across the country is perceived as the truck driver’s domain. But the truck driver’s job is only made possible by a huge team effort which requires input from:
- a sales rep to locate available freight,
- a customer service representative that takes the order,
- load planners who assign trucks to transport cargo,
- dispatchers who keep track of driver availability/proximity to available freight,
- mechanics that keep trucks in excellent working condition.
With so many moving parts required to keep one of the country’s most important industries moving, it’s inevitable that there will be many fractious relationships.
Drivers and mechanics arguing about whether PM is due or even required; CSRs and customers disputing location of freight and the constant struggle between drivers and dispatchers, to name a few. In many cases, drivers take their frustrations out on dispatchers & this can turn violent, even fatal.
But why is this the case? After all, both parties need each other to get any jobs done.
The root of conflict stems from a common misconception where drivers assume dispatchers either don’t want them to go home and see loved ones, lose their license by going past their HOS, or just trying to make their lives miserable.
But what they perceive as a ‘bossy’ dispatcher is almost always someone taking orders themselves. Little do they know dispatchers are simply middle men between all the parties involved. For most dispatcher jobs, their responsibilities include:
- scheduling loads to be picked up and delivered.
- monitor drivers to pick up and deliver loads.
- monitor driver daily logs & working hours for errors on reporting or other violations.
A major part of a dispatcher’s job is to coordinate the movement of loads, in a manner that’s cost-effective to the company. They do this by combining routes/loads to minimize how many trucks and drivers are on the road, at any one time.
This method of combining (& subsequent rescheduling) of runs is what infuriates most drivers as it often scuppers any plans they may have had.
This leads to drivers blaming dispatchers for giving them bad loads, difficult loads or loads that take them to places they don’t want to go.
But before you go off on a rant, spare a thought for the dispatcher who is on the frontline with the customer and has to field complaints from both parties.
In the trucking business, the dispatcher doesn’t have total control over the loads that they receive and dispatch. These seemingly random changes in direction can be blamed on the load planner who issues instructions to the dispatcher.
While a dispatcher may know how many miles their drivers like to run weekly, which states they like to run and how reliable they are, all that info doesn’t matter to a load planner.
Load planners are responsible for:
- distributing loads with an emphasis on reducing empty miles.
- work with dispatchers to select the best loads to service customer needs.
- prioritize load delivery.
- minimize down time between movement of loads.
- apply dispatch rules according to established company policies.
With these responsibilities, you can see that even load planners don’t make decisions on a whim. Their actions depend on customer requests first and then working out how to fulfil those requests within the company policies and budget.
Yet drivers blame every disruption on dispatchers. Let’s look at a common scenario: on a regional run, a driver can find themselves in 4 states in 4 days under the direction of 4 different load planners.
And the 4 runs may not add up to the driver’s weekly target. In situations like these, they get frustrated and start to wonder why their dispatcher didn’t do anything about it?
They didn’t do anything because they can’t. Again, it’s the load planner’s job to distribute loads to satisfy the customer and keep to company policy.
So what can you do to ensure you get the best loads?
As a driver, you have zero control over dispatching and load planning. Your dispatcher has little control on where you go as the load planner has the final say.
But you can affect your choice of runs and get in good with both dispatchers and load planners. However this can only happen if you have proven yourself in the first place.
The only way you can positively affect your load planning and dispatching is to have a reputation for making appointments and deliveries on time
When dispatchers know they can count on you, they will be willing to go to bat for you against any load planners. They can request and even plead with load planners to ensure you get the best freight possible.
On your part, talk to the planners when you can. Figure out what constraints they are up against and look for ways to help them as well.
Occasionally, you may find yourself on a run you don’t like but looking at the bigger picture, you soon realize you may be the driver the load fits best due to hours, location, equipment requirements etc. Looking at a job from that POV will allow you work more objectively. Plus it puts you in the good books of dispatchers and load planners alike.
If you have a reputation for being a team player, people will be more willing to work with you. The saying “you’ll attract more flies with honey than with vinegar”, is true in trucking as it is in life.
At Perfit, we know drivers need as many allies as they can get to ensure they can do their jobs safely and efficiently. That’s why we created the EMDECS fleet management software to help them keep track of crucial PMs. With one less thing to worry about, drivers and fleet managers can focus on delivering value to their customers.
Want to learn more about how EMDECS saves you time and money? Contact us here to learn more.