Operations

How To Manage On-The-Go Communications

Jim Luff
Posted on May 5, 2016

Many companies and dispatchers expect chauffeurs and drivers to update their status on-the-go by text message or phone call without regard to safety or passenger inconvenience. Dispatchers calling drivers late at night to confirm early morning runs disrupt sleep.

Text, Call or Tablet?       

Three methods are commonly used to communicate and update the status of a vehicle. These include an old fashioned telephone call, a text message, or a tablet prompt that automatically updates cloud-based dispatch software. 

Obviously, the latter of the three is most efficient. However, it may not be the safest. Calling or using a voice-command is probably the safest method since the eyes never have to leave the road. This method is ideal for indicating the vehicle is enroute to the pickup location or arriving. But once the client is onboard, you don’t want your chauffeur shouting voice-commands into his phone. You also don’t want him typing out a text or searching for the “POB” (Passenger On Board) button on a tablet while driving.

Using Codes

If you must use texting or phone calls, develop a code system that reduces the time on the phone or the number of characters needed to convey the change in status. A quick phone call to dispatch with a message similar to, “Vehicle 22 is POB,” is quick and efficient. No further conversation is needed, and pleasantries such as hello and goodbye can be replaced with a simple, “Thank you.” A single digit text code can be used to relay the status of a trip beginning with “1” to indicate the vehicle is enroute, “2” when the vehicle is on location, “3” when the passenger has boarded, and “4” to notify dispatch the passenger has been dropped.

Early Morning Runs

Everyone wants to make sure a chauffeur with a 4 a.m. start time knows about it and will arrive on time. A common practice is to call the chauffeur the night before to confirm it one last time. It offers peace of mind to dispatchers to hear the driver acknowledge the early morning trip. It should be common sense if we want the driver to be well rested. Most people need at least an hour to get ready for work and commute. This means the chauffeur should get up at 2 a.m. Factoring in an eight-hour sleep period, the chauffeur should plan on being in bed by 6 p.m. This means NO PHONE CALLS after that time. It is inconsiderate to call a chauffeur at 9 p.m. to confirm a 4 a.m. trip.

Affiliate Calls To Your Chauffeurs

It is common for affiliates to ask for the phone number of the chauffeur on a farmed-out trip. Most companies freely provide the chauffeur’s cell phone number. This means your chauffeur has to answer to the affiliate dispatcher and his dispatcher, causing redundancy and double work for him and more chatter in the vehicle.

Do you really want anyone calling your chauffeur on the phone while the passenger is in the vehicle? It looks bad to the client for the chauffeur to be on the phone even if the discussion is about the client. Why not consider having the affiliate dispatcher communicate through your dispatcher? If your policies dictate a chauffeur notify dispatch every time his status changes, your dispatcher will have all the information the affiliate needs to update their system.

Keep Communication Safe

Everyone wants to know each job is going smoothly. It is important dispatchers can rapidly provide a client with the status of a vehicle upon receiving a call. However, safety should always be a priority; texting while driving is illegal in all but three states, so never ask your chauffeur to text while driving.

Implement policies that require a chauffeur to text his enroute status before putting the vehicle in drive mode. We all have the urge upon receiving a call to ask about the location of a vehicle or text the chauffeur. Unless he is long overdue, you don’t need to communicate further if he’s told you he’s on the way.

Related Topics: distracted driving, driver safety, Jim Luff, mobile applications, mobile technology, New Operator, Safety, small-fleet operators, smooth operations, tablet computers, technology, text messaging

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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