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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — What would you do with an elephant? Not many of us have ever considered what we would do if we were handed the leash of that massive mammal. But that’s just the question Jeff Greene, owner of Greene Classic Limousine in Atlanta, asks when interviewing potential dispatch candidates. So what does holding a leash attached to an elephant have to do with getting a dispatch job?
“How they answer the question will tell a lot about a candidate,” Greene says. “The answer [uses] your analytical skills and makes you think through a process. Do you calmly go through a process or do you scream and run? These are the same skills you need to be a good dispatcher.”
Hiring procedures was an important topic among panelists at the LCT Show East session on dispatching. Joe Ironi, owner of Global Alliance Worldwide Chauffeured Services in Toronto, believes that good dispatchers have similar personalities.
“They are calm under pressure,” Ironi says. “They aren’t always the nicest guys. They are like air traffic controllers who don’t fluster easily. They know how to assess and deal with situations.”
Danny Bacher, owner of Topper Worldwide in Atlanta, looks for people who have had experience dispatching in other industries such as freight and shipping. “I look for dispatchers who have previous dispatching experience, not necessarily in this industry but in other logistical industries,” he says.
Finding Dispatch Candidates
Finding a good dispatch candidate takes more than running an ad on the local job boards. Bacher, Ironi and Greene all agree that law enforcement officers and firemen work well as dispatchers. “Law enforcement personnel are great [because] they have been put in stressful situations and have been given stress training,” says Greene, a former police officer.
Bacher suggests thinking out of the box. “We advertise on the DOT [Department of Transportation] website that we are looking for dispatchers to get people from the trucking and freight industries. Tow truck operators and others who work with the DOT [use] the site.”
Experienced chauffeurs also can become good dispatchers, Greene says. “Chauffeurs already know the area and how you operate so if they have the right personality, they may be good to train in this role. In our office, all chauffeurs sit in dispatch and the same with dispatchers; they must be trained as a chauffeur.”
Training someone to dispatch is a long process. If they are new to the job, it can take two to three years before that dispatcher is completely trained, Ironi says. “You can’t just plop a person in a dispatch position and expect success. Dispatchers have to get to know a lot of chauffeur personalities. There are a lot of moving parts. They also need to be able to deal with clients. This takes time and a great deal of exposure.”
Ironi believes that within the first three months of the job an employer will know if the candidate has what it takes to be a good dispatcher. “We all have the habit of holding on to the wrong people too long. Sometimes it is better to let them go and be forced to find someone else.”
“We have worked with our software company to set up training software,” Bacher says. “We can populate the grid just like it was real life and they can do the work as if it were live.”
Greene suggests making the dispatcher train as a reservationist first. “Our dispatchers must spend 30 days in reservations. They must be able to take reservations and understand pricing.”
Ironi adds you should have good procedure manuals. “We made our own but there are companies that will come in and do them for you.”