For any growing trucking company, endless check calls are often considered a necessary evil. They eat up your dispatcher's time, and your drivers can’t stand them. While there are valid reasons for frequent check calls (and they help build trust with brokers), there is a better way.
Twenty years ago, this would all have to be done manually, and the only way to solve it would be to add dispatchers, which reduces your profitability and doesn’t scale well. In today’s world, it is possible to reduce your dispatcher’s workload by 30% and eliminate check calls entirely through live tracking software and automation.
“Truckbase has exponentially increased our back office efficiency. They’ve helped us streamline our processes as we evolve from a company with just a couple trucks into a larger organization.” -Bruce P., VP Bumpa & Sons Trucking
Check calls refer to calls and emails from a freight broker to a carrier looking for status updates on a load. For larger fleets with dedicated dispatchers, these calls and emails will often go to the dispatcher who then needs to call or text the driver. The broker can have a range of questions: Where is the driver? Have they been loaded? What is the ETA for the load? Can you send the bill of lading?
While some brokers will only make 1-2 calls a day, there are some agents who have been known to ask for updates every 15-30 minutes. This eats into your dispatchers’ valuable time.
When your tool of choice is the phone or two-way radio, you are limited by time. A check that reveals no issues is complete wasted motion. You are also more prone to miscommunication, which can lead to routing mistakes and further inefficiencies, which may in turn impact customer satisfaction. The more you can reduce the “all clear” types of back and forth, the more time you can save your dispatchers, and the more you can reduce errors, the more efficient your whole operation will be – and the happier your customers will be.
There are 4 main ways a trucking company can manage their check calls in 2023:
While ELDs and other GPS tracking systems provided a valuable first step in being able to see where a truck is, a fully featured dispatch software (or TMS) enables trucking carriers to deepen customer trust and to fully eliminate check calls through automation.
Modern trucking dispatch software solutions like Truckbase achieve this through five primary areas:
“Truckbase is the most intuitive and easy software I’ve found after evaluating over 20 TMS providers. Any dispatcher can pick it up within 30 minutes.” -Tom H, Owner of Herlache Truck Lines
A live tracking link is a unique link that you can send to your customers via email to view all relevant information on the load as well as the location of the load.
Trucking dispatch software like Truckbase provides all the relevant information and documentation your customer may want for that load in addition to the location.
The addition of the other documents provides you more control over what gets shared (e.g., stop sharing the truck location after the load has been delivered). It also provides more information than a simple GPS tracker because check calls often include additional questions, such as “is the driver loaded?” or “can you send a copy of the bill of lading?”.
With modern dispatch software solutions like Truckbase, dispatchers are able to view and access their truck location and other ELD information through their dispatch software (or TMS). The dispatcher can rest assured that they will be automatically alerted – and the driver in turn – if there are any issues that arise. Thus you can now leverage your dispatchers to do higher level human intervention that is both more stimulating and more impactful, than having them do rote checks.
When considering implementing live tracking, it’s important to think about your driver’s preferences for tracking on their phone vs. the truck. While phone-level tracking may seem simple, do they have any privacy concerns about tracking on their device? Are they comfortable with remembering to actively turn tracking on their device for every load? Are they comfortable with technology and using multiple apps on their phone when different customers request tracking through different apps?
In addition, do you wish to provide tracking to customers who don’t have a 3rd party tracking system in place?
Providing live tracking through an ELD integration with a TMS system allows you to provide more reliable tracking and simplify your driver’s experience with your technology.
Last, while some software systems only allow you to integrate with their own ELD or provide integrations with 1-2 ELDs, dispatch software like Truckbase allows you to connect with 30+ different ELD devices. This is key because it provides more optionality if you wish to change out devices in the future.
As you grow beyond solely relying on load boards and begin to have dedicated customer relationships, a dedicated customer portal serves two overarching functions: it reflects a degree of professionalism and reliability to your customers which gives them increased confidence in giving you their business, and it can dramatically reduce customer-facing calls by allowing for self-service status update checks. By providing them similar visibility into the progress, tracking, and real-time updates that your dispatchers can leverage, your customers can rest assured that all is on track and they’ll be notified instantaneously if anything is amiss. Transparency is key to building trust and deeper relationships with customers, and they don’t want to waste their time any more than you do.
Tying to the customer portal, the logical extension of real-time tracking is providing real-time updates as needed. These are tunable to the extent you would like more or fewer, positive or negative. Know where your trucks are, get updates on when the driver arrived at the shipper, is loaded, in transit, etc.
Being able to configure these updates for different customers helps with identifying issues with detention, builds customer trust, and can improve your carriers’ rating with brokers.
Similarly to customer updates, your driver updates will tend to be more frequent and more detail oriented than what your customers require. With these as well, tools like Truckbase can automatically ping your driver with relevant updates or change delivery destinations and requirements. If they need to rest to remain compliant, they can be alerted automatically.
Check calls remain a key frustration and barrier to growth for trucking companies, especially for those growing quickly. By harnessing the power of dispatch software like Truckbase and its various automations, you can meaningfully reduce check calls for your dispatchers, drivers, and customers. Improve the satisfaction of all involved, and scale your business without breaking your team.