How To Manage The Dispatch Board

Dispatch is the backbone of a profitable service department;  everything balances on this role.

Dispatchers require:

  • Patience to qualify each service call in order to maximize
  • Effective communication skills to handle both customers and technicians effectively.

However, time and time again, I see many companies ignoring this process, resulting in too many calls and missed revenue opportunities.

In this post, we’ll apply this theory to a real dispatch board, walking you through the day in the life of a dispatcher.

Remember, the dispatcher’s role is to put the right technician on the right call at the right time.

Diagram 1: Example Dispatch Board.

Diagram 1 shows what a dispatch board should look like. In this example we have a small business with three technicians:

Adam, a very strong communicator with an average ticket of $500 on demand calls.

Bob is growing and improving but his average ticket is only $250.

Chris is not growing and has a low ticket at $150.

When Chris is sent on demand calls the company misses opportunities and loses on average $350. In a culture of entitlement, the owner feels obligated to Chris because of his years of service which allows him to underperform. Read this article to learn more about this issue of entitlement.

On the left-hand side, notice that we have two unassigned columns; one for all demand calls and one for all service agreements scheduled for that day. The other three columns are for the priority based on the qualification process undertaken by the dispatch: AAA is for all clients, BBB is for customers and CCC for prospects. Explore this here.

Service agreement calls are colored in blue. If customers must have a time slot, the only certain option is the first call of the day. These calls can be dispatched on the day before.

Note: This is the only time that a service technician should get a call scheduled in advance.

As you can see all three technicians are working on service agreements and we have seven calls waiting; three of which are service agreements planned for today and four unfulfilled calls were received by the CSR yesterday.

Looking at the schedule for today, we know that we have a potential to run nine to twelve calls, from the fifteen to twenty weekly average. There are already ten calls on the board, let’s take a closer look at the details of those calls.

Two low opportunity calls:

  1. Mr Stingy who lives in Buford is an hour drive in traffic.
  2. Never Happy Halen is also a long 45-minute drive.

Two high opportunity calls:

  1. Old Faithful who never complains about price
  2. Mr Big Money on Gold St

Three planned service agreements:

  1. S Cooley
  2. D Mann
  3. R Pinn

At this point, the company’s board is at capacity. Seven calls are on standby and three are in progress. Depending on how the day unfolds, some service agreements may have to be rescheduled – it’s ok to do this one time. It may be worth referring Never Happy or Mr Stingy to the competition, but we’ll see how the day progresses.

Diagram 2:

09:00AM: Old Faithful and Mr Big Money have been assigned to AAA priority and the plan is to send Adam, with an average ticket price of $500, to both of these calls.

At this point the plan is not confirmed, the dispatcher needs to communicate with the technician to establish how long the job will take and which option Mr Faithful picked. (GroupMe is a great app to use for convenient communication.)

As the day goes on, the dispatcher will have more information and be able to forecast calls and develop an effective strategy.

Chris stays on service agreements because it costs less for the company running these calls. He may be able to meet all the calls, or some may have to be rescheduled, we won’t know until about early afternoon.

Notice: we have a new customer on Gold St and one on 125th ST. The CSR placed both in the unassigned column. Learn more about the role of the CSR here. One of the calls is a referral from Mr Big Money on Gold St – a very successful neighborhood for the company in terms of new customers and revenue.

Which priority is this call? Is it AAA, BBB or CCC?

The customer on 125th Street is new to town and spotted the company truck in their neighborhood. During a qualifying call with the dispatcher, we discovered he just moved into a house built 5 years ago. A simple system check for the winter is all that is required. The system that is working fine.

Which column would you place this call in?

Diagram 3: Dispatch board at 10:30 – notice the color codes.

Red: Urgent calls

Yellow: Non-urgent calls

Brown: Completed calls

Blue: Service agreements

Qualifying the calls further, the dispatcher has determined the urgency of each call. As an example, look at the following:

[one_third_first]New Customer:[/one_third_first][two_third_last]14 Gold St: No Heat, one system (Red)[/two_third_last]

[one_third_first]New Customer:[/one_third_first][two_third_last]125th ST: Wants working system checked (Yellow)[/two_third_last]

[one_third_first]Mr Stingy:[/one_third_first][two_third_last]No heat upstairs, but has another system (Yellow)[/two_third_last]

[one_third_first]Never Happy:[/one_third_first][two_third_last]No heat, one system (Red)[/two_third_last]

[one_third_first]Old Faithful:[/one_third_first][two_third_last]No heat, one system (Red)[/two_third_last]

[one_third_first]Mr Big Money:[/one_third_first][two_third_last]No heat, one system (Red)[/two_third_last]

Look at the logic of the dispatcher:

  • Old Faithful was dispatched to Adam $500. Mr Big Money will be assigned to Adam too, but later in the day.
  • 14 Gold to Bob $250 because the dispatcher perceived this to be an AAA priority as Mr Big Money referred him and he lives on Gold S
  • Big Money is still on hold because our plan is to send Adam $500.
  • Chris $150 was assigned another service agreement.

At 10.30, six calls have been dispatched. Keep in mind, the capacity is about ten calls per day, so some calls will have to be postponed or referred to the competition. Calls are still coming in.

If a scheduling decision involves moving customers to another day, they must be contacted by 12:00 noon. If you wait until 4:00PM they will be frustrated – wouldn’t you? Stay connected with customers and technicians, but remember, don’t rush technicians.

Late in the morning, the following GroupMe messages come in;

11:30 Adam $500: “Old Faithful, Gold blower motor, $1200, 3.0 hours, going to get parts and eat lunch.” As a result, he could reach his next call at 3:00PM, the last call of the day.

12:00 Bob $250: We also get a GroupMe text from Bob; “ Mr Big Money, Silver gas valve, $750, 2.0 hours”. So he will be available for his next call about 2:00 or 2:30.

12:00 Chris $150: “Cooley, SA on 1, no issues < 20 minutes. He is now available”.

Diagram 4: 2:30PM Dispatch board

Adam $500’s call to Mr Big Money is planned and on the board. But, there is a new addition: VIP 15 Diamond Ave. At 1:30, this customer called in, dispatch qualified him and moved him to AAA column, which Bob $250 was then assigned. Chris $150 was then assigned Never Happy Halen. As we know, Chris rarely sells and this customer rarely buys – this is how we match.

Mr Stingy was referred out to another company closer to his address. Tomorrow’s board is looking good, the weather looks cold and now a two-hour round trip for a probable low ticket call is off the cards.

  1. Pinn and 125th street were reset for tomorrow. We’ll see how 125th Street works out. He has potential because he saw our truck, and unlike Mr Stingy, he is close – so we’re willing to swap.

At 5:30PM, a GroupMe text arrives:

  • $500 Adam “Mr Big Money, Silver Option gas valve, $750.00 going home”
  • $250 Bob. VIP 15 Diamond Bronze Option capacitor $450 Going home”
  • $150 Chris “Never Happy Halen, $78 diagnostic nothing wrong”

It was a mistake to go to Never Happy Halen, next time we might consider referring her to the competition.

Successful dispatch means balancing the probability of profits and offering excellent customer care. If you’re not able to go to a customer, notify them as early as possible. Don’t be afraid to refer customers to other competitors because low revenue customers will be replaced by high revenue clients.

Be wise in the way that you dispatch and make the most of each opportunity. Businesses must be profitable. Those customers who are not profitable should be fired.

About the author, Roger Daviston

Roger Daviston is a personal growth consultant who gets measurable results. He facilitates and encourages individuals to change behavior and make different choices to achieve better outcomes.

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