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6 Vital Dispatching Tips to Keep Your Techs’ Schedules Moving

January 9th, 2024
13 Min Read

Whether you’re a trucking company or a business delivering home services to customers, your dispatchers fulfill the vital role of ensuring your techs perform at a high level and deliver awesome customer service on everything from emergency calls to sales opportunities. A strong dispatcher has a good working relationship with every technician, knows the exact location and specific skill level of each one, and how to get the right tech to the right customer at the right time.

Dispatching for field service management requires discipline, leadership, and effective communication skills to deal with the multitude of day-to-day challenges, such as planning efficient routes, communicating arrangements clearly to customers, and dealing with unwieldy, manual processes. All of these are time-consuming if you’re not using dispatching software (like ServiceTitan), at times making the job of a dispatcher seem like a mission impossible.

In our experience of delivering dispatch management software to thousands of field service businesses (such as plumbers, electricians and HVAC technicians), there are six general tips for ensuring smooth and efficient dispatching to keep your techs’ schedules moving:

  1. Hire the right dispatchers

  2. Prioritize “triage” in your dispatch process

  3. Front-load your workdays

  4. Focus on route optimization

  5. Use dispatching software to keep customers in the loop

  6. Automate and track your dispatch process to maximize profit

In this post, we’ll discuss in more detail the challenges of being a dispatcher. Then, we’ll walk through our tips and explain how our dispatching and scheduling software, ServiceTitan, helps field service businesses optimize their dispatching operations to deliver outstanding customer satisfaction on a daily basis. 

Note: These tips apply to general truck dispatchers and truck drivers in the trucking industry as well as business owners in the field services sector.

To find out how ServiceTitan helps optimize your dispatching and scheduling workflow so you can grow your business, schedule a free personalized demo here.

4 Dispatching Challenges 

A dispatcher’s role is multi-layered and fraught with complex problems. Here are the four key challenges:

Tight Deadlines & Uneven Flow of Work

Coordinating and managing jobs swiftly and efficiently so that every customer is satisfied is every dispatcher's challenge. Ensuring quick response to emergency call-outs with the least impact on scheduled work is another. Dispatchers also need to flex between the high volume of jobs in busy times and the lower demand in quiet seasons. 

Having the right attributes for the job and the best processes (and software) to do it is essential. We cover this in detail in our first three tips.

Inefficient Route Planning

One of the biggest pressures of dispatching is working out the most efficient routes that optimize your techs’ productivity and deliver your service to your customers promptly. Organizing this manually is extremely difficult with techs spending unnecessary time on the road (instead of doing actual work) and potentially keeping customers waiting. 

Throw curve balls like vehicle breakdowns, traffic problems, and hazardous weather into the mix, and chaos will soon reign. We cover how an automated route planner can help in tip #4

Poor Communication with Customers

Haphazard communication with customers is one of the most common customer complaints about service companies. If you’re using a manual system, you’re reliant on several parties — the dispatcher, the technician and the customer — to coordinate important messages with one another, such as appointment changes, missing parts, or delays. Hold-ups and mistakes are easily made, and the customer is left unhappy.

We explain how using dispatching software can solve this problem in tip #5.

Lack of Automation & Tracking

Outdated, manual processes (such as paper files and spreadsheets) take a lot of time to keep up-to-date and can lead to mistakes, especially when dealing with a large volume of work and complexity. Dispatchers are responsible for coordinating information for numerous customers and technicians, plus all those details dovetail into other business processes such as work orders and billing.  

In addition, using manual processes means there’s no way of tracking technician (or dispatcher) performance to improve efficiency.

We explain how automated tracking software can help in tip #6.

ServiceTitan’s dispatching software helps field service businesses (and successful truck dispatchers) create and automate schedules that optimize efficiency and allow for easy adjustments and reassignments. 

Here’s how our six tips will help you solve the issues we outlined above.

1. Hire the Right Dispatchers

Whether your company relies on dedicated dispatchers or combines CSRs and dispatchers into one position, the people working in those roles need the right skills and temperament to meet the demanding job of dispatching.

The best dispatchers are:

  • Great at multitasking

  • Good problem-solvers

  • Organized and detail-oriented

  • Good at navigating the local area/community

  • Assertive, confident, and effective communicators

  • Cheerleaders for your company

  • Knowledgeable about your company’s services

  • Quick learners and tech-friendly

When hiring new dispatchers, some interview questions might include:

  • Are you good at juggling multiple duties all at once? Please give a specific example.

  • Can you provide an example of how you handled an unintelligible caller?

  • Can you describe a dispatching experience where you made an important decision or addressed an emergency situation without your supervisor?

  • What types of dispatching software systems are you familiar with?

  • How do you keep track of all of your calls and the actions you take for the calls?

  • Ever felt overwhelmed by stress? What did you do to keep performing your duties?

With his experience of improving recruitment in the trucking industry as well as in the home services trades, Jody Underhill, senior partner at Rapid Hire, advises businesses not to spend too long on the hiring process.

“You make somebody wait two weeks for an interview, they’re gone,” Underhill stresses. “Right now, the average company is taking 42 days to hire a new recruit. And typically, the top talent can get a new job in 10 days.”

When you find somebody who looks like they check all the boxes, and someone who could represent your brand, hire them.

“You have to move quickly with applicants,” Underhill says. “If not, they’re gone to the next opportunity.”x

Learn more on hiring in the ServiceTitan Playbook and check out our job description template here. 

2. Prioritize "Triage" in Your Dispatch Process

Dispatchers decide which service calls are most important, and which ones can wait — a process similar to the one used by emergency room doctors and nurses to triage patients for acute or non-acute medical care, or the police department for emergency vs. non-emergency calls. 

In the training process, teach emergency dispatchers to master the triage dispatch process by clearly defining which calls require priority service. Those might include the following:

  • Customers with medical conditions or serious safety concerns.

  • Customers with maintenance agreements who pay for same-day service.

  • Customers whose business must shut down if immediate repair service isn’t available.

  • Customers whose service issue can be resolved quickly by a nearby technician.

A vigilant triage strategy optimizes your dispatch process so techs complete more jobs, while also boosting customer service and satisfaction.

ServiceTitan’s Software Helps Dispatchers Prioritize Calls

ServiceTitan’s dispatching software means the triage process starts as soon as the phone rings. Our call booking feature automatically shows the CSR if the caller is a new or existing customer and uses templates to guide them through the booking process so all the necessary details are gathered every time, consistently. 

If the caller is an existing customer, all their information (such as personal details, job and technician history, and property information) can be accessed immediately without keeping the customer waiting. CSRs can call the customer by name and also pull up notes or type new ones to log specific details such as a gate code. 

For new customers, the CSR is taken through a series of drop-down menus and custom prompts to ensure that all the correct details are captured. ServiceTitan users can set up the prompts to follow their own triage process, such as prioritizing emergencies or customers with existing service agreements.

Having all this information in one place means anyone in the company can view the information when they need to, calls are prioritized appropriately, and nothing is missed. 

Learn more about how to run a successful call center and our telephone answering and script advice in the ServiceTitan Playbook, and our tips on how to improve the customer experience here

3. Front-Load Your Workdays

Good dispatchers know how to schedule each day, so all of your techs perform at an optimal level to meet all of your customers’ needs. 

Depending on the trade, your company may choose to guarantee emergency or same-day service for a fee or if customers have service agreements. Jobs booked and completed on the same day provide great value for your home services business, not only financially but also from a customer service standpoint. 

To make this happen as often as possible, instruct your dispatcher to schedule non-urgent jobs in the morning and keep the afternoons more open to handle urgent calls that come in for home service issues throughout the day.

Here’s how ServiceTitan’s dispatching software can help.

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ServiceTitan’s Dispatching & Scheduling Software

ServiceTitan’s dispatch software offers color-coded, drag-and-drop features so jobs can be assigned to a technician based on skill or location right from the first call. 

You can book appointments days, weeks, or even months in advance, and use custom tags to flag technical specs. Scheduling changes can be made with ease, for example, when a customer reschedules or a different technician needs to be assigned to a job. So, when an emergency call comes in, the job can be slotted in without manually moving multiple pieces of information.

ServiceTitan also offers an add-on product, Dispatch Pro, with more advanced dispatching features. Using machine learning, Dispatch Pro’s algorithm runs thousands of scenarios to find the best technician for every job. This, plus its intuitive dispatch board automations, saves your dispatchers time, improves customer service, and maximizes profit. 

Learn more about how efficient dispatch management helps home service businesses in this post and why dispatch software helps grow your business in this post

4. Focus on Route Optimization

Sometimes, it's advantageous for a dispatcher to send a particularly experienced tech across town to handle a specific kind of job. It certainly makes the customer happy and often leads to referrals for future jobs.

Most of the time, however, dispatchers need to minimize their techs’ travel times. This means grouping jobs by proximity and tech availability on a particular day for optimal drive time and better fuel efficiency.

On average, Americans waste 54 hours each year stuck in traffic, so make sure your dispatchers use smart routing to direct service techs through potential cone zones. If dispatching techs from home, assign work orders in their local area. When customers call for home services emergency responders, they’ll be relieved to know your team is already in the neighborhood.

Prior to signing up for ServiceTitan, Georgios Gounaris, Senior Operations Executive of Cyprus Air in Alexandria, VA, and a former dispatcher for the HVAC company, says he used a convoluted process to determine each day’s schedule.

“We used to do the schedule by printing out the jobs, laying all the papers on the floor and kind of making it into a puzzle to see if the areas that we can easily send everything matched correctly,” Gounaris says. “And of course, we didn't have any GPS trackers in the trucks. We had to call technicians to find out where they were.”

ServiceTitan Optimizes Route Planning

With ServiceTitan, you can always deploy techs to the most efficient routes quickly and easily, regardless of how big your business grows. 

ServiceTitan’s route optimization feature organizes visits in the order that suits the technician’s location, taking into consideration any traffic delays and conditions. 

The software uses GPS tracking to track techs and job progress. Reporting real-time data via the activity feed, it logs the technician’s location when they are driving between jobs, when they arrive, and when they’ve completed a job and are ready to move to the next one. Being able to view the precise location of each truck live means dispatchers can group nearby jobs together and utilize the most efficient route.

5. Use Dispatching Software to Keep Customers in the Loop

We often focus so intently on making sure our dispatchers and techs communicate effectively that we forget the other critical person in the equation: the homeowner. 

Dispatching software for field service management allows companies to keep their customers in the loop, so dispatchers can notify the homeowner of any scheduling changes and interact with them in real-time. 

ServiceTitan Keeps Customers Informed in Real-Time

ServiceTitan’s dispatching software allows home service companies to:

  • Send automated email and text appointment reminders, and job confirmations.

  • Text customers a tech’s photo and profile, so they know whom to expect.

  • Give customers a tech tracker map, so they know exactly when to expect their tech.

  • Receive texts from customers who need to reschedule or inquire about an appointment.

  • Track equipment locations, supplies, and inventory.

  • See a customer’s work history and who serviced them previously.

  • Send messages to techs to update them on job details, delays, and more, maintaining a healthy working relationship.

Using ServiceTitan Mobile, techs are always in the loop and can access all the information they need on a job, such as customer profiles, job histories, prior invoices, voice notes, and more. ServiceTitan’s real-time notifications ensure that all parties are informed of the status of any job at all times. This increases efficiency and improves customer satisfaction. 

Rebecca Tenorio, Dispatcher and Client HAPPYness Representative for The Happy Outlet in Carson City, Nev., says she uses ServiceTitan’s dispatching software to send courtesy calls before and after each job, and also texts customers a link so they can track their technician and get a precise arrival time.

“It makes it so convenient for scheduling afternoon appointments for our clients who need to leave work to meet us at their house,” Tenorio says. “They appreciate being able to text and communicate with us.”

6. Automate & Track Your Dispatch Process to Maximize Profit

A key element of the dispatching process is the ability to track performance so you can review how your dispatching process and business is doing. Using software that can do this for you means you can track tech progress for problem-solving and assign highly skilled techs to particular jobs for maximum profit.

ServiceTitan Software Tracks Performance Metrics

When you use ServiceTitan’s software, everything is automatically logged — from the complete customer history and job specifications to any outstanding estimates or invoices. These metrics (and more) are used to produce reports so you can analyze the performance of your CSRs and dispatchers, your technicians, and your overall business. 

The ServiceTitan CSR scorecard lets you monitor dispatchers’ performance by reviewing incoming phone calls, the number of leads that were converted into new jobs, and view other helpful metrics to improve customer satisfaction. 

The technician scorecard lets you review technician metrics (such as generated revenue and memberships sold) to see which techs are selling and closing jobs. 

ServiceTitan users can filter dozens of KPIs (e.g. response times, number of jobs booked per dispatcher, and number of memberships sold by CSRs and techs), and view these via the software’s dynamic dashboard to get the big picture and where improvements can be made

Ready to Try ServiceTitan as Your Dispatching Software?

Dispatching software brings new technology to field service management companies and improves every aspect of your contracting business, from the first phone call for service to a job well done. Help your business improve efficiency and increase profits by putting a nimble, responsive dispatch process in place.

We've built ServiceTitan’s dispatching software (and our add-on Dispatch Pro) to help modern field service companies optimize their fleet management, improve customer service, and complete more jobs. The software allows dispatchers to make on-the-fly decisions as new jobs come in with simple drag-and-drop technology, so it's easy to respond to scheduling curveballs and match your best techs to the most profitable jobs. 

In addition, ServiceTitan lets you manage all your other business operations as well as your dispatching and scheduling, including, call booking, reporting, estimating, invoicing, marketing, and more. 

“The power with ServiceTitan isn’t that we get a truck to the house 10 minutes faster,” says Andy Piercefield, President of Coolray Heating and Cooling LLC, serving the Atlanta Metro market. “The power is that we know what that house bought from us before, we’re able to access them easily, and we can cross-sell them other products.”

To find out whether ServiceTitan is the best dispatch software to help grow your business, schedule a free personalized demo here.

ServiceTitan Software

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business. Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.

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