Tim Truzy is a rehabilitation counselor, educator, and former dispatcher from North Carolina.
What Is a Dispatcher?
A dispatcher coordinates incoming messages regarding the movement of vehicles and other individuals. Dispatchers usually work in factories, transportation centers (train depots, bus terminals, fire stations, etc.), and taxi stands. These skilled employees act as the central nervous system to deliver goods and services to the public. They must act swiftly and with confidence in making decisions. Dispatchers require the ability to look at the small pieces of what is happening around them and be able to see how these tiny things fit into the big picture for a positive outcome.
To accomplish this goal, the dispatcher must have several skills. First, he/she must be organized. In addition, the dispatcher must have the capacity to address details. He/she must be able to multitask. Next, the dispatcher must have solid people skills. These qualities are essential for managing chaotic situations which could erupt at any time during the work day.
Finally, the dispatcher must have the willingness to grow and change as his/her duties may expand or contract. For instance, the firm may hire more employees. Also, the company might acquire more trucks or cars. Another possible change may involve the extension of routes drivers take daily. There could also be a switch from one communication method to a new one. The most important secret to being a good dispatcher is exhibiting flexibility.
Eight Tips for Being a Great Dispatcher
Below are some tips for being a dependable dispatcher regardless of where you are employed.
When I worked as a dispatcher in taxi companies (which I did for nearly a decade), these guidelines helped me establish a good working relationship with my fellow employees:
- Start with a small company. Get your bearings. Learn the language of the trade. (In my case, I learned about flag-downs, drop-offs, and pick-ups).
- Learn the area where you and your staff work. Study maps to learn roads, streets, and towns that your company or organization serves. Watch traffic reports. Learn shortcuts from one point to another. This will help you coordinate quickly.
- Adapt to new technologies. Master different radio systems. CBs are still used in some taxi and trucking firms. Learn various digital phones. Some businesses dispatch by phone only, and the dispatcher must know how to use different types of communication devices.
- Study how computerized tracking systems are used. Many large firms use this technology. One of the tasks of the dispatcher is to find the person and vehicle promptly. Understanding this technology is essential for doing so.
- Develop good people skills. Many days will go smoothly. However, there will be times when everyone appears to have a short-fuse. A thick skin is required for a dispatcher. He/she must also know how to calm potentially dangerous situations in the workplace.
- Develop excellent scheduling skills. The dispatcher often schedules shifts for drivers and other staff. He/she also records incoming trips and notes drop-off times. A good dispatcher doesn’t leave his/her post until all the trips are taken care of for his shift. A dispatcher must be flexible with his personal schedule as well because of this fact.
- Provide superb customer service. The dispatcher is the voice of the organization. Be calm and polite even if the caller is not. Be patient. Try to resolve any issues for the caller if possible.
- Demonstrate a willingness to work with law enforcement. This ability is crucial because lives may depend on coordinating effectively with the police and other law enforcement agencies. Respond to inquiries promptly when they are made by the police. Check to see that all vehicles and drivers meet the standards necessary for working in your state, city, or other entity. If there are problems, then act to make sure all laws are in compliance.
These tips will help you become a super dispatcher!
Other Considerations Regarding Employment as a Dispatcher
Consider these points when deciding where you want to work as a dispatcher. First, 911 dispatchers may work long shifts, sometimes up to 16 hours a day. In addition, these dispatchers must deal with intense situations as well as callers who may make erroneous requests. Also, the current average pay for these workers is around $40,000 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, keeping paperwork in order can be demanding.
Yet, employment potential for all dispatchers is expected to rise across the United States. The expansion is fueled by the growing need for more of these employees in trucking, transportation, and other industries. Although the general educational requirement for most dispatching jobs is a high school diploma, promotional opportunities tend to depend on the organization in which a dispatcher works. Small companies may have fewer opportunities for training and advancement than large businesses or municipalities, for instance. However, there is one personal trait that must be considered which can determine your overall success as a dispatcher regardless of where you are employed.
Can You Let Go of the Day’s Stresses?
An important characteristic of long-time dispatchers is the ability to not “bring the work home.” Simply put: the dispatcher must be able to understand he/she has done his part for the company or organization for the day; Relaxation should commence after work. I would often read a book, go to the gym or spend time with family to minimize the impact of the eight hours I spent at the office as a dispatcher. Without question, a dispatcher needs a coping strategy once the job is done to reduce stress.
Generally, dispatchers tend to have high “burn-out” rates. Using coping strategies once leaving the job is essential. Such a personal Trait is crucial for longevity in the position. In conclusion, dispatchers must be able to know when the job is done and how to enjoy life away from their duties to be the backbone of their organization and the heartbeat of their communities.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Tim Truzy