How Freight Dispatchers Support and Scale Your Fleet

June 24, 2020

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Key Takeaways

Learn more about the important role that freight dispatchers play in supporting your fleet and the telematics tools they can leverage.

Shifting schedules. Last-minute changes. Routing issues. The transportation industry requires a dynamic workforce to navigate the endless number of moving parts it contends with daily. Freight dispatchers play an important behind-the-scenes role within your fleet. They can help bridge the gap between customers, drivers, and owner-operators in scaling and managing your fleet. Freight dispatchers make sure your fleet has loads to deliver, stays on schedule, and meets customer requirements.

Truck dispatchers aren’t just for large fleets; they can help small motor carriers aiming to grow their business. Dispatchers scout load boards, discovering opportunities with shippers that have similar business needs. Their efforts help to build a steady customer base for smaller fleets.

Dispatchers help trucking companies streamline their operations and manage seamless customer experiences. Are you considering hiring freight dispatchers? Read on to learn how they can bring value to your fleet—plus, learn what tools will maximise their performance.

What is a freight dispatcher?

Freight dispatchers support a variety of business functions for a transportation company. Most job descriptions are a mix of support, operations, and customer service tasks. Depending on the company, dispatchers also work on back-end operations like billing and compliance.

Since freight dispatchers are in constant contact with your customers and drivers, strong communication skills are key. Dispatchers spend a lot of time coordinating with lorry drivers to minimise late deliveries. They also keep clients informed of drivers’ locations and arrival times. Customer service skills are vital to the job. Successful dispatchers can help strengthen customer relationships, encourage safe driving behaviours, and ensure on-time deliveries.

Freight dispatchers also analyse huge amounts of fleet data daily. To optimise delivery routes and manage incoming customer requests, dispatchers must consider endless variables. This includes everything from current weather conditions to the number of completed stops. Much of their day is consumed by liaising between your drivers, sales agencies, and end customers.

Managing these job duties can be tedious and stressful for full-time freight dispatchers. Smart telematics and dispatching solutions like Samsara can reduce the headaches of daily decision-making. For example, without a solution like Samsara, dispatchers would need to track deliveries by calling drivers and clients. With Samsara, dispatchers can track deliveries by viewing real-time GPS data displayed on an interactive map. They can even use Live Sharing links to give customers live ETAs via a shared URL, minimising the need for time-consuming calls and increasing customer satisfaction.

The outlook for dispatching as a career is favourable. The Department of Transportation projects that the number of freight tons moving throughout the transportation network will grow 40% by 2045. As freight volume increases, the demand for skilled freight dispatchers will also rise.

The difference between freight dispatchers and freight brokers

Both freight dispatchers and freight brokers serve as go-betweens for shippers and fleets when negotiating new freight. However, they are different in a few key ways. Here are the differences between freight dispatchers and freight brokers:

  • Freight dispatchers: Freight dispatchers are usually employees of an individual fleet. They are responsible for ensuring that drivers have loads to deliver and that they are on time. Freight dispatchers optimise routes and communicate status updates to your customers.

  • Freight brokers: Freight brokers are usually a third-party service. They arrange (or broker) the transportation of goods between shippers and carriers, helping to identify carriers who can take on loads. Freight brokers negotiate with carriers on behalf of shippers. Freight brokers are neither shippers nor motor carriers; they operate as a middle-man between those two parties.

Dispatchers represent your fleet’s best interests when finding loads. By contrast, freight brokers typically want to negotiate the lowest rates for carriers. Brokers receive payment based on the difference between the rates for shippers and carriers. As a result, they are more motivated to offer carriers a lower rate. Fleet managers looking to maximise their profits need strong negotiation skills when working with freight brokers. 

4 ways that telematics can help your freight dispatchers

An all-in-one telematics solution that provides real-time GPS data can help freight dispatchers save precious time. No more toggling between multiple screens to access the information they need. Comprehensive analytics platforms can help your dispatchers bring efficiency and business growth to your fleet in five important ways. 

1. Finding and securing optimal loads

When they’re first starting their business, managers of small fleets tend to source clients primarily from load boards. These online freight marketplaces are where shippers post loads and negotiate rates with carriers. Trucking companies can also post the available flatbeds or dry vans in their fleet, and freight brokers contact them on behalf of a shipper.

Fleet managers of smaller operations can turn to experienced dispatchers to help secure the most profitable and efficient loads. For example, freight dispatchers might consolidate deliveries based on shipment size and optimise routing based on real-time telematics data, including pick up locations. This maximises your return along every route. They also negotiate rates with shippers, ensuring that your business focuses on the most profitable freight.

Your dispatchers should possess an in-depth knowledge of your fleet, its capabilities, and the routes you routinely serve. An advanced telematics solution can help give them visibility into these details, so you can build a client portfolio that better matches your unique business offerings. 

2. Optimising route performance

Do some of your routes always seem to be delayed? Are late deliveries hurting your business? Inefficient routes can quickly become costly challenges that lead to wasted fuel, unhappy customers, frustrated drivers, and unnecessary vehicle wear and tear. Freight dispatchers can assess routes, identify inefficiencies, and adjust driver schedules. On-time deliveries keep your customers satisfied and your team feeling productive.

Keeping track of all your drivers’ locations and making last-minute route changes can get cumbersome. But, with the right tools, dispatchers can make data-driven decisions. Applications that display and analyse route data can support smarter, more efficient dispatching.

Samsara's routing tools offer unprecedented visibility into every route. Dispatchers can identify low-performing and high-performing routes by identifying trends in planned versus actual route performance reports. This allows inefficient routes to be flagged and adjusted. Our geofence technology also accurately measures estimated arrival times, completed stops, and when a lorry is approaching its next stop. With large volumes of real-time data at their fingertips, freight dispatchers can confidently make route updates and decisions at the moment.

3. Delivering best-in-class customer service

Freight dispatchers can double as customer service representatives for your company. Attention to client relationships has never been more important, especially amidst crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Dispatchers can play a major role in boosting customer satisfaction.

Dispatchers are responsible for communicating delays to clients, answering their inquiries, and managing expectations. This constant flow of communication builds trust and helps your fleet adapt to customer requirements that change on a whim. 

Using Samsara’s Live Sharing feature, dispatchers can give customers a shared URL that shows real-time ETAs. With visibility into live-to-the-second vehicle locations, your customers are less likely to inquire about the location of their loads—and they are better prepared to receive your drivers, decreasing detention time. Everyone spends less time waiting, and your fleet continues to delight customers with seamless deliveries.

If you are transporting perishable goods, your dispatchers can also take advantage of Samsara’s reefer temperature monitoring solution. Temperature monitors help ensure the quality of perishable assets upon delivery. Automatic alerts notify dispatchers of unsafe temperature fluctuations, preventing spoilage. In turn, they can provide additional transparency to customers and avoid rejected loads.

4. Managing relationships with your drivers

Drivers are critical lifelines in your fleet. Motor carrier companies rely on their drivers to safely deliver precious goods, collect proof of delivery documents, and invoice customers. But it can be tough to find experienced drivers.

Problems arise on the road around the clock. Your drivers need dispatchers who can resolve route issues fast and prioritise driver safety. At the same time, dispatchers need deep insights into driver behaviour to minimise expensive accident claims. It can be hard to gather this information remotely, but with Samsara AI dash cams, dispatchers can better identify and coach drivers on unsafe driver behaviour, while rewarding drivers with flawless safety records.

Dispatchers can also implement time-saving processes for their drivers, like paperless documentation. Samsara’s digital document capture relieves the burden of manual paperwork on both drivers and dispatchers. In 2019, Samsara customers saved 652,000 hours that would have been spent processing papers. They also avoided using nearly 11 tons of paper.

Maximise the productivity and efficiency of your freight dispatchers with Samsara

Samsara’s unified fleet management platform helps freight dispatchers optimise dispatch and routing, prioritise driver safety, and deliver outstanding customer service. Our set of solutions helps differentiate your business from competitors. Features like Live Sharing, in-cab safety alerts, and temperature monitors can help reduce the stresses of dispatching, attracting top talent. Thanks to real-time visibility and routing, dispatchers who use Samsara no longer spend hours at a time calling drivers and sales agencies, leaving every stakeholder in your fleet feeling satisfied.

See what Samsara can do for your dispatchers with a free trial.