What Do Driver Managers Do?

Topic 1251 | Page 1

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Sheffield Mick's Comment
member avatar

This may sound naive and simple, but I would really like to know what my driver manager does. I know that she is always busy and when ever I have a question she will direct me to somebody else. She has fifteen drivers to look after so I do have sympathy with her having her hands full looking after that many people. But here's the thing......planners plan our routes and its up to us if we accept them or not. I some times ask my manager for advice on some of the routes.......me being the rookie......and she tells me its up to me.

Apart from the standard emails on safety issues.....I never hear from her....hardly any contact at all....I don't mind that if I'm honest. Even home time comes through the macro you send through on the Qualcomm. With it all being automated with Macro's just about covering every issue you might have.....hmmm.

I have to go for SIM training at a Swift Terminal....not all terminals have simulators and there is a time limit on taking the course. Again my driver manager is asking me to arrange this.....I don't even know which terminals have these simulators.....if anybody could help me out with that one, please let me know.

Please don't think that I have it in for driver managers....that's not the case, I genuinely do want to know what they do. They tell me that the job is very stressful.......Can anybody enlighten me on this subject please...thanks.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

Driver Manager:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

That's not simple or naive at all. It's an excellent question.

First of all, I think your dispatcher probably has at least 50 drivers, not 15. Most major companies assign 50-75 drivers per dispatcher during the day on weekdays.

Every company will be a little different when it comes to the duties and authority they assign their dispatchers. Some dispatchers have a lot of say in what loads get assigned to different drivers, some don't. And of course there are other factors which go into whether or not you'll have much luck trying to get assignments changed or get special favors once in a while:

  • The dispatcher's place on the totem pole
  • Office politics
  • The driver's place on the totem pole
  • How busy things are at the moment (don't expect much attention on Monday morning!)

...things like that.

Dispatchers predominantly communicate through Qualcomm and prefer that 100 to 1 over phone conversations:

  • Phone conversations disrupt the flow of their work
  • Dispatchers can work on drivers in any order through Qualcomm messages, keeping higher priority situations on top
  • Dispatchers can forward Qualcomm messages to relevant personnel when applicable
  • Qualcomm messages leave a trail that dispatchers can reference when trying to recall previous conversations
  • The trail of Qualcomm messages also covers everyone's but when there's a misunderstanding. Management can go into the system and see what was said

...there's probably 50 more. So the best way to keep from aggravating dispatch is to communicate through Qualcomm and keep your Macros updated. For those of you who don't know what Macros are yet, they're pre-defined messages like:

  • Arrived at shipper
  • Loaded at shipper
  • In route on time
  • Arrived at consignee

...etc. So keep those updated and keep communication over Qualcomm.

But overall the dispatcher is the one monitoring a group of drivers to make sure that anything special that needs to be taken care of gets the attention it needs from the proper people. Accidents go to the Safety dept, breakdowns go to the maintenance department, home time requests get prioritized in the load planning system, late deliveries get directed to customer service, etc.

Also, if there are special requests the dispatcher will handle those also. For instance, maybe you're an awesome driver but by the luck of the draw you've gotten three short runs in a row to the Northeast. Not good. You need longer runs, better miles, and to get the heck out of that area for a while. Dispatch will request that the load planners prioritize that driver and manually assign a certain type of load.

So their main job is to monitor their drivers, prioritize the importance of various situations, and make sure the proper departments get notified of situations that fall under their realm.

It's a brutal job. Every bit as thankless as being a driver. They're overworked, overstressed, and underappreciated. Above all else, they are the ones getting screamed at from all directions but they don't have the authority themselves to actually fix the problems. All they can do is relay the screaming between the driver and the various departments involved.

The more cooperative you are with dispatch, the more experience you get, and the more hard-working and reliable you are the more "points" you'll earn with them. Those points will earn you better miles, more dependable home time, and special favors when you need them.

Consignee:

The customer the freight is being delivered to. Also referred to as "the receiver". The shipper is the customer that is shipping the goods, the consignee is the customer receiving the goods.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Sheffield, I'm surprised that your driver manager only has fifteen drivers on their board, that seems like an extremely low number, but I'm also surprised that she doesn't offer any advice when asked, but just says it's up to you. My manager is a wealth of information when needed.

Different companies have differing amounts of drivers assigned to managers, but I think where I am at it runs around seventy drivers to a manager. I'm surprised that a company the size of Swift would have only fifteen people assigned to a manager.

As you get into this more you are going to realize that truck drivers are the biggest bunch of whiners and complainers that have ever been allowed to get away with such behavior and still keep their jobs. They are also a very independent group of people who usually have their own ideas about how things should be done, and when a driver manager has about seventy people like this on the phone all day telling them how they think this or that should be done and complaining about every little detail of their dispatched orders it does get to be a real pain. Personally, I think that's why they are stressed all the time, plus I think they are pressured from upper management to make sure that as much freight as possible is getting moved for the companies revenue goals. They also have to balance out what type of loads you're getting and where they are going. Some times they are trying to balance out long runs with shorter runs for your truck because they may get a better rate on the short hauls so that they can keep a certain amount of revenue coming in for your truck. They have a lot of benchmarks and goals that they are trying to reach just to keep their managers off their backs.

You're just out there steering and gearing, but they are sometimes in a boiler house of pressure to produce revenue that you are not even aware of. That's why they love a driver who gets the job done efficiently without bothering them. My manager once told me that what he loved about me is that I never bother him, I just do my job and he knows he can count on me to do what ever it takes. They get stressed because most of the time they are baby sitting what are supposed to be full grown responsible adults when they should be concentrating on the things that will keep them out of hot water with the people over them.

There are layers and layers of management in these trucking companies, and the driver is the lowest creature there. He doesn't have to put up with all the drama that goes on in those offices, and you can be glad of that. A lot of the stuff that I mentioned above is actually handled by the load planners in conjunction with the driver managers. Where I work they all work very closely together. Some folks say it's all handled by computers, and a lot of the routing and such like that is, but there is an awful lot of mental work done with adjusting schedules and time frames along with the needs of drivers for home time or sickness on the road, and the constantly changing variables of break downs, mishaps, accidents, drivers that get lost (yes that actually happens), and a host of delays due to traffic, bad weather, construction, trucks getting put out of service by the D.O.T., the list of problems the driver managers deal with can go on and on.

Be glad you're a driver and keep those wheels turning.

Driver Manager:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

Excellent question with excellent answers.

I think you misunderstood her having only 15 drivers. Mine has 67 drivers and we are sister companies. She wouldn't be staying busy with only 15 drivers.

And about the SIM training, you need to ask her which terminals have it. She's there to help you out. And you're a rookie, it's understandable that you'll have questions to ask. It's expected that you'll have questions to ask. Don't be afraid to ask. She won't hate you for it. When I started I made a mistake and my dispatcher really didn't like me for it, but now we are like best friends. Time heals, she won't hate you for asking.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Sheffield Mick's Comment
member avatar

Thanks guys for filling in the gaps.....I'm sure she said she has fifteen drivers....perhaps she is just learning the robes. I also don't turn down work just because I think the miles are low, I will take them if I have the hours left. When I'm not sure I will turn the job down (don't want to run out of hours which has happened)......But the same job comes back to me when I have the hours available.....which leads me to believe that nobody else wants to take it. Would I be right in thinking this?

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

If you don't have the hours to complete the load on time then before you reject the load message your DM telling her that you believe that you don't have the required hours of service to complete the delivery on time. Then give them an ETA of when you can deliver it assuming you would attempt to deliver.

They will either reschedule the load or give it to someone else. But if you don't have the hours to make the delivery then make sure you're talking with her. Don't just reject it without saying anything. Communication is key.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
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