In some businesses, management wants to have the fewest number of supervisors to oversee their employees because their focus is on a number in a budget. Each department needs to stay a certain salary cap.
In our business, we look at things differently. While some fleets have 30 – 40 drivers per dispatcher, we average approximately 15 drivers per dispatcher. That means for the same number of drivers, we have more than twice as many dispatchers. Many businesses would see this as a negative because the cost per truck goes up when you have a lower fleet manager to driver ratio.
Why do we do it? There are multiple benefits to us that out-weigh the cost of the additional staff. Here are a couple reasons why we do it:
Improved relationships with our drivers. Think about the relationships you have with friends or clients. The less you have, the more time you can spend on developing that relationship and creating trust and a bond with them. This is the case with our dispatchers and their drivers. Our dispatchers have the time to get to know their drivers personally.
- Do they have family obligations for which they need to be home on a certain night?
- Are they early risers or night owls?
- Can they drive 700+ miles or do they keep it closer to 500 miles in a day?
- Do they want short runs or do they prefer long hauls?
- Do they have a preference as to the type of load?
When our dispatchers get to know these types of driver traits, they can look for loads that match a driver’s preferences, increasing driver retention.
As an example, one driver traveled with his wife and they wanted to see the US. When he was given loads around their home he was disappointed and annoyed. The fleet manager knew to send him on long hauls. Another driver had daughters in middle school and wanted to be closer to home or at least passing through to see them regularly.
While retention is important, we take it a step further by creating a family atmosphere in the company. We want our drivers to come to us with questions or issues before they become problematic. With less drivers to oversee, our fleet managers are able to help resolve issues quickly.
In fact, we once had a driver going from Los Angeles to North Dakota. He was delayed, but kept going. When his wife call to see when he would be home in Mississippi for his step-daughter’s wedding, we stepped in to coordinate as a team to get him home in time. We found a different driver (120 miles away) to take over the shipment, have the original driver park his truck so he could get to the airport, and reserved a plane ticket for him at the closest airport so he could be home in time to shower and be ready for the rehearsal dinner.
Improved relationships with our customers. The number of service failures are reduced when our drivers have the loads that more closely match their preferences. Customers have less service failures because the trucks are planned correctly and fleet managers and drivers are communicating as a team to get loads delivered on time by the best-suited driver. When our loads are delivered on time, our customers are happy. Because we have a higher driver retention, they get to know our customers and their delivery preferences. This continues to raise our customers’ satisfaction, and so on.
As an example, we had one driver who generally got on the road about 10 am and another one who was awake at 4 am every morning. Giving a 8 am delivery loads to the driver who was always up early makes sense. Dispatchers need to know their drivers well in order to keep both our customers and drivers happy.
In any business, it is important to keep your employees happy and engaged. They become your best supporters and advocates. But when you do it right, they become family too.
To learn more about AFC Transport and how you can become part of our team, go to https://afctransport.com/ or contact us at 331-333-8200.