Wednesday, December 24, 2008

End of the year Dispatcher levity

You think your job is hard... just be glad you don't have a boot camp for your job...

Here's an idiot that got sentenced to 3 years for impersonating a 911 dispatcher:
Randal T. Ellis, 19, was sentenced Thursday in Orange County Superior Court after pleading guilty to felonies including false imprisonment by violence and falsely reporting a crime. He also was ordered to pay $14,765 in restitution, nearly all of it to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Ellis was arrested last year after hacking into a telephone network and impersonating a caller from a Lake Forest home, saying he had murdered someone in the house and was threatening to shoot others. The technique in which a prank call is made to 911 dispatchers is known among hackers as "SWATting.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jedi Dispatcher... Use the Force!

What is a dispatcher, exactly

Wikipedia defines "dispatcher" as:
Essentially, the dispatcher is the "conductor" of the force, and is responsible for the direction of all units within it.

Wikipedia goes on to say:
Dispatchers are communications personnel responsible for receiving and transmitting pure and reliable messages, tracking vehicles and equipment, and recording other important information.

So Dispatchers are used to coordinate operations and relay information.

My first experience with a dispatcher was the dispatcher of Steuart Petroleum, back in 1983. I drove a heating oil delivery truck. At the time I thought all a dispatcher was supposed to do was to give me work...

The only three people I was looking out for was me, my self, and I.

The man dispatching Steuart Petroleum, Bethesda Maryland back in those days was Joe.
Joe used to come on the radio with this prefacing line:
"Be Advised...____ fill in the blank__"

From where I sat, in the cab of my oil truck, the only time I considered Joe's job and or what he had to go through, was when he was either giving me an delivery order that was going to give me some overtime... OR if he was going to give out that sweet gravy run to another driver!

But look at the first part of the definition above: Responsible for the direction of the entire whole.. not just my selfish little piece of the heating oil pie.

A Dispatcher is THE conductor

The conduit by which a given company or organization is successful or not.

Here's what the government says a dispatcher is and isn't:
Dispatchers schedule and dispatch workers, equipment, or service vehicles to carry materials or passengers. Some dispatchers take calls for taxi companies, for example, or for police or ambulance assistance. They keep records, logs, and schedules of the calls that they receive and of the transportation vehicles that they monitor and control. In fact, they usually prepare a detailed report on all activities occurring during their shifts

So why are dispatcher paid so poorly?

Ignorance, mainly... Management is ignorant, like I was at 25 years of age, with two toddlers to pay for, I was only looking out for me.

So what needs to happen?

Here, I'll give you a clue... This is coming from the US government mind you:
Dispatchers generally are entry-level workers who are trained on the job and need no more than a high school diploma. Many States require specific types of training or certification.

So... the one, single most important person to ensuring the WHOLE day's productivity... doesn't need any more than a high school diploma???

WTF? !!!

The economy is nose diving... the excesses of the past are long gone. A company is either profitable or it's history, and if a company is in the transportation industry, if it wants to STAY in the transportation industry, will:

  • Aggressively Hunt for Better Dispatchers

  • Give huge raises and/or bonuses to keep the good dispatchers they have now

  • Jedi Dispatchers of the world, remember this:

    Your company needs YOU a lot, I mean a LOT more than you need them!

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    Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    Dispatchers get blamed for every thing...

    I found a video on YouTube where some big city cab drivers are complaining about a GPS system not working or taking too long and the dispatcher gives the 'gravy' work to a cab with a functioning GPS.

    This is managements fault, but the dispatchers get the blame for it.

    And it seems there was a YouTube personality called "The Boring Dispatcher". The guy was a tow truck dispatcher, I just found out about him and found out he passed away.

    Here's a RIP video about the guy:

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    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Dispatcher Careers- Help Wanted Ads Welcome

    This blog describes what it's like to both BE a dispatcher and to be dispatched by one.

    I am a CDL licensed truck driver, with Hazmat and Tanker and Passenger endorsements.
    I've worked in the trucking transportation industry for over 26 years, and the non CDL delivery industry for 8 years before that.

    Over the course of my career, I've also been in the position of Being a dispatcher, for example, when I flirted with being management in the pizza business, I had to dispatch up to 30 pizza delivery drivers at a time.

    In a really busy pizza parlor, one that sells up to $5000 worth of pizza on a single Friday night, if you're a bad dispatcher, you'll soon have customer complaints for cold pizza being delivered AND have pissed off drivers complaining that they didn't make any money!

    If you were worried ONLY about the short term bottom line of that nights profit & loss, you'd be unconcerned over the drivers belly aching... ignore the driver dissatisfaction to your peril!!!!

    The following Friday night, most of them either quit outright OR called in sick OR lied about their car needing repairs and they wouldn't be able to come to work that evening...

    End result?

    Cold pizza, angry customers, angry drivers... and my boss angry at me as well

    On another note:

    This blog and 12 others that I publish is currently ranking so high in the search engines I can scarcely believe it. Every time I check another blog on employment, get a job, find a career, change a career is skyrocketing upwards in it's position in not only Google, but Yahoo and MSN Live Search as well...

    So.. if you found this blog in the search engines while you were researching online how to find more employees in your particular industry, I am actively seeking advertising customers for this blog and my CDL truck driver blog as well.

    That blog is

    The generic employment in Frederick Maryland blogs I run are here:

    If you are interested in running a help wanted ad in any of these blogs the fee schedule for an exclusive help wanted ad is only $12.00

    Contact David Bruce at

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    Sunday, November 9, 2008

    Dispatcher Can Ruin Company Moral

    A Dispatcher can look at his job two ways:

    He can make the drivers happy

    He can make the owner happy.

    Blue Mountain Express

    What a Great Dispatcher does is to walk that tight rope and make everybody happy.

    Sometimes an A**hole owner won't let you. Many business owners are control freaks, that's why they went through all the crap necessary to BE a business owner.

    Some business owners don't have effective management skills.

    Some business owners try to 'micro manage' a business.

    A good dispatcher can make or break a companies productivity. If the owner will get the hell out of the way that is. Let's take a recent job I had:

    It was driving a tractor trailer, shipping freight.

    The business model is to pay the driver by the mile, makes business sense because that's the way the trucking company got paid.

    A truck driver can legally drive roughly 600 miles a day:

    10 hours of driving time
    speed limit around 60 mph (at best)
    so @ $.38 per mile, an Over the Road driver can make $250 a day.

    That's fine... except:

    The trucking industry almost NEVER pays the driver to load or unload the truck.
    We've got to sit there, often FOR FREE. What if it takes 4 or 5 hours for your turn to come up and have the warehouse get around to unloading YOUR truck?

    So... what did the dispatcher do?

    Gave out the 'gravy', the high paying loads to his best drivers.

    And what do you think the rookies, the newly hired drivers got?

    Sitting at the loading dock for what amounts to less than minimum wage???

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    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Dispatcher jobs in Maryland

    So you want to work in Maryland as a dispatcher huh?

    Be advised, you're signing up to be the mediator between two opposing factions.

    You're just going to have to have to get used to one side being pissed off at you or the other side.

    What do I mean?

    On the one hand, you are in the employ of management and management has one set of goals and aspirations.

    On the other hand, the only tool at your disposal to achieve what you're being paid to achieve is your drivers... and they have quite another set of goals and aspirations.

    When I was a young hard working, eager to please Gung Ho go getter...
    I assumed that every one else would be or should be like me.

    Boy was I incorrect!

    I grew up in a family small business... if we didn't have customers the refrigerator wasn't full!

    My Dad taught me solid free enterprise Republican values and I took those work ethics with me when I left home.

    What I encountered was an adversarial relationship in the work force that appalled me.

    I also had some serious internal shortcomings... as a fledgling manager, a boss, I used what I later learned was 'management from the throne'.

    If I encountered stubborn or lazy employees I threatened them with loss of hours or getting fired.

    Well, there are only so many people available to work... in certain jobs nobody WANTS to work. You're actually lucky just to get someone to show up!

    ... if the business I started in, the pizza business, the target market was college kids and the only employees willing to work those night shifts were college kids, if we hired anyone else they just screwed up totally.

    Well... college kids are usually rich kids, the reason they even bothered to get a job was to get beer money, their Mommies and Daddies were doctors and lawyers and if I 'yelled at them' they just walked off the job (and I couldn't get any one to fill that job)

    You think you can just hire anyone to drive, at night, find everything and not get lost?

    You really think their that easy to replace?

    Try it.

    Some similar businesses have similar approaches to management, and these guys are rich and/ or foreign born (from another culture) and think that a Boss is SUPPOSED to be an asshole.

    This is untrue but you cant tell that to someone from another country that paid cash for his business...and you're stuck working for the idiot.

    So... you've got to keep this A**hole happy AND keep your drivers from walking off the job or calling in sick by the dozen.

    Walking a tight rope is more like it.

    So... what do you do?

    Look at your roster and look at the schedule.

    You're going to have to give somebody the crap deliveries and spread out the 'gravy' fairly.

    This amounts to pissing off the fewest possible people, don't screw everyone, or if you have to make sure you make it up to them.

    and if you're not doing this?

    You're not doing your job

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    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Best Dispacher Ever- Griffith Engergy Maryland

    Hands down, the best dispatcher I've ever come across in the 26 years I've been involved with Commercial Truck Driving in Maryland is the Head Dispatcher for Griffith Energy. Griffith heating oil in Cheverly Maryland

    Ashton Welsh.

    When I started at Steuart Petroleum in the winter of 1982, Bob Sears was the dispatcher, Bob gave me the employment break of a lifetime by hiring me to drive the truck no one wanted to drive.

    I didn't even have my truck licence yet, with God's Grace, Bob hired me first, then told me to go out and get a learners permit and tell the boss that I 'used to have' a commercial truck license but I let it *expire*.

    This was total fiction, but my job security was that no one else wanted to drive the little truck, the gasoline powered 1,000 gallon 'baby truck'.

    I was so green, and performed so badly that Ashton wanted to get rid of me that first season, Ashton was not the dispatcher that year, he was the 'driver supervisor' (the equivalent of truck foreman)

    The next season that I reported back to work (heating oil is not a year round job, we get paid so much in the winter that we DEFINITELY wanted to come back next winter)

    Over the next few years with tutoring from Ashton, I became a top producer, the route I had was close in: Bethesda and some Silver Spring, some upper Northwest DC, all along MacArthur Blvd.

    The stops were so close together many drivers didn't want that route - you never got a chance to rest, and the hose pulls were mostly UP HILL (steep hills at that)

    In 1993 Steuart Petroleum sold out to Griffith Energy, and Ashton Welsh became a top dog with Griffith.

    The best thing I liked about working for Ashton (I never looked at it as if I was working for Griffith, I was working for my dispatcher!) was that if I busted my ass when it was cold, my dispatcher would take care of me when it got warmer.

    You see, in the heating oil industry, as soon as it gets warm, the first ones laid off are the slackers, the schedule of who got laid off was directly tied to who had the best production (stops per hour, gallons per hour and so on)

    That way I had almost total control over how much overtime I got, and how long a season I had.

    I made so damn much money in the short winter months that I really didn't give a damn WHO I worked for in the summer... this way I got to drive a variety of different trucks/ different products:

  • Concrete Mixers

  • Roll off Trucks

  • Dump Trucks

  • Box Trucks

  • Trash Trucks

  • I was fearless... I could change jobs because the ash trays were full.

    the other drivers lived in fear: "What are you gonna do when it gets cold and the work slows down?"

    I didn't give a sh**!!!

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Match who you have with what they need

    The ultimate goal of a GREAT dispatcher is to match two disparate quantities:

    Who you have on duty right now

    What needs to get where.

    ...and what's going to make the majority of customers NOT be pissed off at us!

    meaning: WHEN

    Putting out the fires.

    When I was young I worked in a Pizza Movers, I think they're extinct now, the company moved into the Washington DC area soley to capitalize on the fact that the juggernaut Dominos hadn't got there yet.

    From what I could tell, Pizza Movers knew in advance that their days were numbered... Dominos was a Mid Western Corporation (Michigan if memory serves).

    This was back in the early 1980's, when the novelty of home delivery of take out food hadn't worn off yet. Dominos had the "if it's not there in 30 minutes you get $3 off" deal.

    Pizza Movers honored that offer as well.

    If we had one pizza on the east side and two on the west side... guess who got cold pizza?