Dispatching plays a key role in getting the best use from a limousine fleet, keeping customers satisfied, and getting the billing correct. When the run is dispatched, the dispatcher must make sure the chauffeur completely understands the following:
* The pickup time. As a general rule, chauffeurs should be advised to arrive 15 minutes in advance of the scheduled pickup time. * The pickup location, itinerary, and any special instructions. * The time period covered under the service - whether the chauffeur needs to collect payment for the initial service or any extended time, the rate to collect, and the acceptable forms of payment. * The type of service, such as airport transfer, anniversary, corporate, VIP, and so forth.
The dispatcher monitors the progress of the chauffeur to the pickup location, making sure the driver is traveling in the right direction and will be on time. If there is any possibility that the chauffeur will not be on time,t he dispatcher should contact the client as soon as possible. Ideally, this call should be made 15 to 30 minutes in advance of the scheduled pickup time.
When this call is made, give the client the expected arrival time. Be sure that this time frame is a reasonable estimate. You are much better off telling the client that the car will be there in 30 minutes and having him arrive in 15 minutes. Most important, do not wait for the client to call you. This is very unprofessional. If the car happens to arrive on time, this will reflect positively on your operation.
Periodically throughout the service, the dispatcher needs to check on the status of the ride to make sure that it is going smoothly.
After the run has been completed, the dispatcher needs to collect the finished paperwork and the vehicle keys from the chauffeur. The dispatcher should ask the chauffeur whether everything went well with the client, and whether the vehicle is in good operating condition. If there were any problems with the run - the client or the vehicle - the dispatcher needs to address the problems immediately.
The dispatcher also must make sure the chauffeur knows who the principal client is. If there are several passengers, the passenger who is booked and is paying for the ride is the principal client. That person is the only individual the chauffeur should take direction from, unless advised otherwise by the principal. It's important that the chauffeur never discuss the rate or payment with anyone other than the principal client.
Tom Mulligan, president of Metropolitan Limousine in Chicago, says dispatching and reservations work hand-in-hand. "Everyone is familiar with the various positions in my operations," Mulligan says.
Some limousine operators have their dispatcher call to verify flight arrival times. Any information about schedule changes is then relayed to the driver. The dispatcher must notify drivers of any messages while they're on the road, giving them address changes or other instructions as appropriate. Also, the dispatcher can relay messages to the customer via the driver's radio.
Some dispatchers print out computerized job sheets for chauffeurs the night before. Such job sheets can include information such as pickup times, cross streets, directions and billing. However, the dispatcher retains the flexibility to change schedules at the last minute through two-way radios or cell phone.