Scheduling Chauffeurs — You Just Can’t Win

Jim Luff
Posted on June 2, 2010
Once upon a time, there was a little limousine company that had one limousine and four chauffeurs. Only one could drive at a time and work came sporadically with days in between with no work at all. All four chauffeurs had other jobs so pretty much whoever was available to drive got the assignment.
Soon the little limousine company had four vehicles and a total of eight chauffeurs and things were a little more complicated with a ratio of two chauffeurs to each limousine and about three of those chauffeurs were full-time and having priority over part-timers. They made their living being a chauffeur. There were rarely issues or complaints about who got the early morning assignments and who had the late night assignments since everyone was still just happy to have work when the work came in.
Within a decade, all that would change. The little company would grow up into a big company with many vehicles of different types requiring various types of licenses. The company would become DOT authorized and a new set of rules would be placed on the company such as hours of service for chauffeurs and mandatory sleep periods and days off. The company would have many full-time chauffeurs and many part-time chauffeurs all clamoring for hours.
And, so it was that I developed the “Rotation System.” In an effort to be fair, I created a list of chauffeurs available for assignment on each given day of the week. Each was allowed to choose two days off per week that we would never call them or schedule them unless it was an emergency or a request that they were free to turn down.
A brief overview of how it works: John is the first person on the list to be assigned on a given Monday. Bob is the second person and Carol is the third. On Tuesday, John is the second and Carol moves to the top to be the first. Of course, this is an abbreviated explanation since each day has a minimum of nine chauffeurs on the list with Saturday swelling to 15. 
The rotation list is meant to be a guide, not the Bible. The human decision must still be made based on experience level, venue knowledge, vehicle licensing issues, requirements of the client, and many, many factors. However, it seems like no matter how fair the intention is of the system, someone is always unhappy. So and so is unhappy because Michael doesn’t ever have to work on Sunday. But Michael chose that day off. Susie is unhappy because she gets all the early morning assignments. Not really though. It was luck of the draw that we had four early morning orders in a row and that is simply where she fell on the rotation list. She was next up. Had they been late night runs, she would have been assigned to those.
And today, I was accused of manipulating the schedule to try to make someone quit. Someone, I might add, that is one of the most valuable chauffeurs I have; someone who has been with me for 15 years; someone who knows as much about the company if not more than I do.
So, my true goal was to make sure he had the longest assignments, and that he made more money than any other chauffeur as only a handful of people have seniority on him. So, here I am thinking I am doing a good thing and he perceives it as a bad. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t when scheduling chauffeurs. It certainly isn’t my fault he is so valuable, has been so many places, and knows so much. It would be my fault for not using his talent and experience.
— Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor

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Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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