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Truck Topics

Adequate Communication

By Sandy Long
Posted Jun 3rd 2014 4:04AM

535527653_c3850d71fd_z.jpgBack in the day, communication with dispatchers was one of the most hated things a driver had to do. This was not because they did not want or need to talk to dispatchers or brokers, but because of the hassle involved in it. One would unload then have to find a pay phone somewhere that had truck parking and wait their turn at the phone. This at times meant standing in line for an hour or so in all types of weather only to be told to call back in an hour.

It was better somewhat when one could find a truck stop that had pay phones inside or later on in time had phones at the tables in the restaurants. Even then, you would have to provide dispatch with a call back number and stay inside listening for the page that you had a call. Communication has vastly improved with qualcoms and cell phones, but for some reason, drivers disliking having to talk to dispatch and brokers has remained.

Communicating with dispatch or a broker is the basis of good business in trucking. While many companies have GPS tracking on trucks these days and can tell within feet of where a truck is at any time, dispatchers usually still require some sort of check in daily. This might be as simple as clicking on a macro on qualcoms or a quick phone call. This allows the dispatcher to know that the driver is ok and doing what they are supposed to be doing. Many companies provide their customers tracking privileges thru the company website. However, if that is not available, then the dispatcher can then deal with telling the broker or customer that information if required or adjust an appointment. Furthermore, with adequate communication, reloads can be prescheduled so the truck can keep moving.

Brokers also want to keep track of where their freight is daily, especially in multi-day runs. They too have to keep their customers updated on where the freight is and whether the truck is on schedule. While most drivers will tell you that brokers are annoying due to them tending to call a driver if the driver does not check call, a broker can also be a driver’s best friend if things go wrong; it just takes a little communication.

There have been many times in my career when I have been hung up getting unloaded which will make me late for reloading. Most times, if I keep in communication with the broker on the reload, if not the shipper themselves, load appointments can be adjusted to accommodate when I can get there. I have often had shippers and receivers wait after hours for me to get there when a breakdown or weather holds me up, just because I called them ahead of time. Worst-case scenario, appointments can be reset to the next day. The same works for breakdown, keep everyone in the loop, and usually they will work with you.

Part of pre-planning my trip is when I call a broker for dispatch. To make it so they do not call me, usually at the worst possible time like when trying to navigate a narrow turn, I always ask when they need or want me to call, upon arrival, upon loading, daily check calls or not at all. Then I abide by what they want. This makes life easier for both my dispatchers and me. It also allows the broker to fulfill their contractual agreements with their customers of letting them know the status of their freight.

The company I work for deals only with broker freight, they have no shippers of their own. As a company driver, it is my obligation to work well with the brokers we haul for to represent my company in a positive light. By doing this religiously, those brokers are apt to offer higher rates to my company to haul their freight; they also will tend to call my company when they have available freight instead of just posting it to a load board.

By doing the communication required by a company in doing check calls, loaded and empty calls and if anything untoward occurs, a driver builds their reputation within a company in a positive way. Dispatchers can depend on the communicative driver better than on a driver who does not communicate well and will tend to give the communicative driver the more sensitive loads. This can add miles to the communicative driver’s paycheck. Furthermore, if the communicative driver decides to change companies, that good reputation will follow them helping them to achieve a good job, just as an uncommunicative driver’s poor communication skills will negatively affect any job change.

Taking the two minutes required to send in a check in macro or make a phone call to check in as required, makes everyone’s jobs easier and can go a long way to alleviating stress. The benefits far outweigh the time taken. Thankfully, no one has to stand in line for an hour at time any longer in all types of weather waiting their turn at the pay phone.


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