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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    1. As a long time law enforcement dispatcher it isn't that the brass or upper management are ignorant, they just don't understand fully the amount of work involved with coordination at warp speed decision making on minimim knowledge that must be done by someone overseeing anywhere from 3 units to 70 units at any given time. Considered entry level position that 25% will not make through probation because the stress of the job and the multi tasking is not for the weak minded nor the breakable composure ridden applicant.

    2. thanks for your comment, especially coming from someone with the responsibility you carry.
      Across the board management seems to think dispatch is a lower level job, not really management.

      I'm of the opinion that the dispatcher is on par with management, if resources are not allocated efficiently there IS no customer service.