Driving Transactions
Tuesday, April 16, 2024

BY LUCAS DIONNE

Dispatching is one of the most fluid and difficult jobs in your operation, one that requires a cool head and someone who can handle a lot of issues at once. And you made it through the hiring process: you have a brand-new, fresh-faced dispatcher ready to be the newest cog in your well-oiled machine. Now, you need to teach them the lay of the land. Whether you’re bringing on an experienced dispatcher or starting from scratch with someone new to the industry, you need to get them up to speed on your policies, procedures, and specifics so that they can be an effective member of your team. So just how do you go about getting years, if not decades, of institutional knowledge to these humans without overloading them in their first week?

Lucas Dionne ↹ Start small.
If a dispatcher is brand new to transportation and to dispatching, teach them one aspect of the industry at a time. Start with the basics: industry terms, vehicle styles, service types, and chauffeur lingo are some of the most critical pieces of information for a dispatcher to know. Remember to include as many of these terms as you can during training; just because you don’t have an Executive Sprinter in your fleet doesn’t mean they won’t hear the term from an affiliate.

If a dispatcher who has been with you for 15 years thinks they know everything, chances are they’re leaving opportunities for efficiency on the table.”
If you have brought on an experienced dispatcher, they may not need the same in-depth explanation of what the livery industry is, but they might need a refresher. Many dispatchers are coming back to luxury transportation after several years away; remind them of these terms and explain how things might have changed since they were last sitting in the hot seat.

↹ Take it in steps.
A dispatcher may not be your primary reservationist, but a good dispatcher will absolutely need to understand the concepts behind entering reservations. Make sure they can demonstrate how your organization builds accounts, quotes services, and books trips, even if this is not a primary function of their role.

Once they can demonstrate building accurate reservations and quoting services, teach them how to put a schedule together. Again, while they may not be the dispatcher responsible for scheduling the next day’s work, the concepts you teach here will be helpful when they inevitably need to rearrange several trips due to a flight delay, unexpected traffic issue, or weather event.

↹ Give practice examples.
It can be helpful to run through some “what-if” scenarios, even if you don’t make them roleplay it. Give them the situation and ask them for a step-by-step solution. If they run into problems, help them through it by making suggestions without simply giving them the answer. Teaching a dispatcher to think about problem-solving on their own could cut down on the number of panicked phone calls you get when something goes wrong, as well as reduce the number of dispatch-related service issues your clients experience. If solving the problem is ingrained in them from the start, they’ll do it without thinking about it.

↹ Repetition is key.
Repeating the same hypothetical situations, terms, and solutions will keep them at the forefront. The more they hear specific terms or deal with a situation, the easier it will get for them to remember them.
As they progress have the new dispatcher sit in the hot seat with the seasoned dispatcher helping them through their shift.”
Make this repetition a part of what you do: if you have team huddles, talk about a recent issue or scenario that arose and what the outcome was. If you don’t have regular team meetings, consider having a 15-20 minute huddle at least once a week to discuss. This keeps any repetitive situations top of mind and opens the opportunity for group discussions about possible resolutions.

Lucas Dionne ↹ Buddy them up.
Have them sit and observe one of your seasoned dispatchers for a couple of weeks. Start off with having them just observe and noting any questions they have as they go. At the end of these observation sessions, make sure to make time for the new hire to have an open conversation with the seasoned dispatcher.

As they progress, have the trainee sit in the hot seat with the seasoned dispatcher helping them through their shift. They can discuss questions as they go, but at this point in the training process you should start to see the new hire making some decisions about what the solutions are. The seasoned dispatcher will be there to make sure those decisions don’t lead to certain failure.

When it is deemed that the new dispatcher is ready, have them take control and make their own decisions. Their buddy should be there to assist as needed but shouldn’t have to walk through every step or every solution. If at any point the trainee starts to struggle, their buddy should be able to step in and help clear the situation, talk through what might have caused the breakdown, and then troubleshoot the resolution. If too many problems arise, then the new dispatcher may need to go back and repeat some of your training process until they master the concepts they are struggling with before going back on their own.

↹ Never stop teaching.
If a dispatcher who has been with you for 15 years thinks they know everything, chances are they’re leaving opportunities for efficiency on the table. I’ve been dispatching for going on 10 years and I still learn things regularly that help me to be a better dispatcher. Always foster a culture of learning, so that every person in your organization knows that the improvement process never ends.

Be open about what you’ve learned, so your team understands that you too are still learning new things every day. Did you catch a really great panel at an industry conference or association meeting? Share that with your team! Do you have a dispatcher who you think has great potential? Bring them to the next show or invite them to go with you to your local association event. Your curiosity and desire to be better at what you do will rub off on your team, and there are opportunities for growth in every corner of this industry.

Training can feel like an unwieldy beast, and it’s true that there is a lot of information to get across. But investing the time will help your dispatchers, new and old, to feel confident in their roles, and help them to better serve your clients. The more you invest in initial and ongoing training, the better your client experience and the more trust you can put in your team.   [CD0623]


Lucas Dionne is the Operations Manager for Limo Command. He can be reached at lucas.dionne@limocommand.com.