In the U.S., over 70% of goods are transported by truck. The truck drivers behind the wheel are essential for the movement of goods throughout the country. But what about behind the scenes?
Drivers need ground support and to be matched with appropriate loads. That’s where truck dispatchers come in. Learn the basics of dispatching services and what they can offer to truck drivers, owner-operators, and the transportation industry as a whole.
And when you’re finished, check out the other articles in our ‘Truck dispatch services vs software’ hub:
- Simple guide to truck dispatching services
- Truck dispatch services vs dispatch software
- Best truck dispatch service companies
- Best dispatch software for trucking in 2024
What is a truck dispatcher?
Truck dispatchers primarily work to connect owner operator truck drivers with cargo loads. So while drivers are busy driving, dispatchers are finding the next load for their drivers to haul. Truck dispatchers also offer other types of support to drivers, such as:
- Assigning driver loads
- Making driver schedules
- Setting up driver routes
- Handling paperwork and billing
- Managing relationships with customers
- Relaying weather and road conditions to drivers
- Ensuring motor carrier compliance
How do dispatching services work?
Dispatching service companies work to manage freight on behalf of a carrier or owner operator. They locate freight loads and oversee their delivery, ensuring goods arrive on time and undamaged. Truck dispatchers also offer support for drivers by relaying important information and aiding with issues that may arise. This oversight is made easier by computer systems that track trucks en route and radios to connect directly with drivers.
How do dispatchers get loads?
Dispatchers want to find the most relevant loads for their carriers. Therefore, they work to understand everything about your business, so they learn which kinds of loads are the best fit. Then, they will use load boards, freight brokers, or professional connections to find suitable, high-quality loads.
The load boards truck dispatchers use are frequently the same as an owner operator may use themselves. However, their intimate knowledge of your business helps them find the best loads while saving you the time finding them on your own.
Should owner operators use a truck dispatch service?
While it is entirely possible to self-dispatch, the services offered by a dispatcher can help you run your business more effectively. For example, a dispatch service can find loads for you rather than searching for suitable loads yourself.
A truck dispatch service also helps owner operators manage customer relationships as well as paperwork, billing, and collections while you’re on the road. However, truck dispatching services can be pricey, so be sure to find one whose costs make sense for your business.
What are the benefits of using dispatching services?
The primary benefit of using a dispatch service is saving time. Instead of searching for loads and wasting time by chasing dead ends, you can spend more of your time on the road, earning money from high-quality loads found by your dispatcher. Dispatch services can also help with relaying information from the customer, managing schedule changes, informing on weather conditions, and assisting with vehicle problems.
Services a truck dispatcher can provide
Truck dispatchers help owner operators and carriers manage their business by finding loads, assigning loads and managing drivers, maintaining motor carrier compliance, managing delays, and other issues, and handling billing and collections.
Truck dispatching companies use a few methods for finding loads. Most truck dispatchers work with freight brokers, intermediaries that connect shippers and carriers. Dispatchers also search load boards or use load board scouts to locate freight. Sometimes they will even book loads directly with shippers or use their connections to find loads.
Assigning loads and managing drivers
Truck drivers move goods around the U.S. 24/7, for this intricate network to run efficiently, drivers should have as little downtime while working as possible. That’s where truck dispatching comes in. While a driver is out on the road, a dispatching service is locating the next suitable load for the driver so they can dispatch them as soon as possible to the following location.
Dispatchers will also stay in touch with drivers en route for their latest Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) to ensure they’re ready for the next load. Having pre-planned loads in this manner minimizes wait time and maximizes earnings.
Maintaining motor carrier compliance
With all the regulations in place to keep drivers safe, managing paperwork can be overwhelming for owner operators. Dispatch services can help uphold motor carrier compliance by monitoring driver logs and ensuring there aren’t any errors or Hours of Service violations.
Managing delays and other issues
In logistics, time is money. But unfortunately, there are things outside of a driver’s control that can put them behind schedule. Whether it’s because of severe weather or traffic jams, the most efficient route can often change after a trucker has already started driving. Dispatchers stay up to date on the latest route updates and relay them to drivers to keep them safe and on schedule.
Handling billing and collections
Paperwork can pile up fast but having dedicated support from a dispatcher makes billing and collections more manageable. Your customers will also appreciate receiving timely responses. And you can rest easy that you don’t have to send invoices or track down payments at the end of your day driving.
Truck dispatcher vs freight broker
Since they often perform similar tasks, it can be easy to confuse truck dispatchers and freight brokers. However, these two services are quite different. While truck dispatchers work directly with carriers to offer support, freight brokers act as intermediaries between shippers and carriers.
Freight brokers are required to be licensed and insured in order to operate, unlike dispatch services. Also, since dispatchers work for the carrier, they work in their best interest. On the other hand, it is in a freight broker’s best interest to negotiate a lower transport rate as their commission is the difference between the rate paid to the carrier and that paid by the shipper.
Freight dispatching services made simple
Whether you’re an owner operator or a larger carrier, dispatching services can help you manage your business. By connecting you with high-quality loads and providing support when you need it, a dispatching service can save you time so you can focus on the road ahead.
Dispatch services can be worth it by allowing companies to efficiently coordinate logistics and route drivers, though costs of software and staffing dispatch centers can add up. Dispatch services aim to optimize vehicle routing and workload allocation to provide responsive, cost-effective delivery.
Dispatchers route and track drivers to ensure on-time customer deliveries, leveraging specialized software to efficiently coordinate complex routes and logistics. Efficient dispatching involves advanced planning and scheduling along with real-time tracking and communication with drivers.
The two main types of dispatching are centralized dispatching from a central control center, and decentralized dispatching where dispatch decisions are made locally by systems or personnel based with the vehicles. A hybrid approach combines elements of both centralized and decentralized dispatching.
Sign up for a FreightWaves e-newsletter to stay informed of all news and trends impacting supply chain careers and operations.