Monday through Sunday, dispatchers and owners are hunting for loads that will turn out to be their next bar of gold. Ideally, the transporter can quickly be filled up with all small, pre-owned cars that are able to be picked up 24/7, all going to the same place, where they can easily be unloaded anytime, and full payment is a check already waiting at the delivery location. Then, as soon as the driver is empty, there's another load of used cars paying great, going straight back home and ready to go. Wow, is this really how dispatching for auto transport works? Unless you are an established carrier with larger contracts, probably not. You'll need to know How To Watch Out For Dispatch Red Flags.
If it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, in auto transport, it's almost always a duck.
Most likely, especially for newer carriers, every vehicle will be individually booked, each with a different broker (and each with their own list of requirements and expectations). Also, the pickup and delivery locations will be somewhat spread out and the payment method of each will vary. That's why the dispatching process is time-consuming and requires experience to properly execute. For the veteran dispatcher, part of your primary value is knowing how to identify which loads you never want to book in the first place. While these "problem loads" may or may not be obvious, you need to know the warning signs. Here are your biggest dispatch red flags for loads you probably don't want to book for your drivers.
After a load is booked and the broker sends over the dispatch, all of the information should be on that dispatch order. If you discover missing addresses, phone numbers, vehicle information and/or contact info, then you must take the time to call them back - and that's your first red flag. What do you mean they don't have all the information yet? How do they not have it? How do they not know which auction it is? Honestly, you already know something is wrong, you don't know what it is, and you probably don't want to find out the hard way. Plus, if the vehicle is not as described, or has a lift kit and over-sized tires that were never mentioned, drop it like it's hot. A driver doesn't have time to waste while you play detective.
Don't make the mistake of booking them all and thinking you were the smartest dispatcher in the room. You weren't.
If it's at Copart and it's not paid for, don't send the driver to the auction. If it's at Manheim and it's still in PSI (Post-Sale Inspection), your driver can lose a whole day waiting for it to become ready. If anyone ever says anything about the keys or the money still being in the mail, forget about it; your driver's busy schedule does not allow for unknown hours (or days) of waiting. This is exactly why calling and verifying a vehicle right after booking it is so valuable. Either don't book it at all, or call the broker and give it back, because this vehicle is not ready for pick up.
Even if the driver is able to winch the car onto the trailer, some vehicles are so badly damaged they will need to be "forked on" and "forked off." Therefore, the question of whether the delivery location has a proper forklift for unloading 'INOPs' has to be addressed immediately. Even if they have the forklift, will the driver be able to figure out the jigsaw puzzle of where to load an INOP on the trailer without it interfering with the rest of the schedule? Is the unit so badly damaged that broken pieces could fly off and damage other vehicles? Think it through before you book it; inoperable vehicles can turn into a logistical nightmare.
A driver doesn't have time to waste while you play detective.
Unfortunately, the auto transport work day contains too many unpredictable events for a car shipping company to fully guarantee an exact time for the driver to pick up and deliver; so when somebody explains to a dispatcher that the driver needs to be at a person's door to fulfill a guaranteed two-hour pickup window, it's probably not going to work out the way everyone had hoped. Small appointment windows are too specific and place too many constraints upon a driver that cannot predict the weather, construction delays, traffic jams, random truck issues and other unknown surprises. In auto transport, nothing is guaranteed.
Ground effects, spoilers, and low clearance can create enormous headaches for carriers by costing extra time and loading limitations on the trailer. That's why some veteran drivers will simply refuse to pick up a brand new or luxury unit because they already know about the high potential of running into a giant, hidden pitfall. Especially for the open carrier, booking high-end vehicles should be kept to a minimum, because it only takes one scratch to remove the profitability of the entire leg of a trip. But if the money is right (and you want to go for it) be sure to complete a perfect inspection report (CLICK HERE for that checklist) and protect yourself against a major damage claim.
This is a complicated industry full of additional expenses and a wheel of fortune of spinning surprises.
If it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, in auto transport, it's almost always a duck. Get real! There are not two or three exact cars listed by two or three totally different companies picking up in the exact same city and delivering to the exact same zip code. This is not your lucky day because it's all the same car! Don't make the mistake of booking them all and thinking you were the smartest dispatcher in the room. You weren't.
If the dispatch of a vehicle is going well, and then you get asked if you can transport the car at a lower rate than was posted, "Just Say No." This is a complicated industry full of additional expenses and a wheel of fortune of spinning surprises. The last thing you can afford is to give a discount on behalf of the owner. If it's not profitable to haul it, then don't book it. Most posted prices are the beginning of a negotiation - not the end. Say "NO" to cheap freight! After all, it's not personal; this is a business.
Having dispatched for the auto transport industry for many years, I can tell you many horror stories relating to each of these 7 Dispatch Red Flags. And I would love hear your stories and comments; please share them below. Thanks for reading and keep on trucking.
-- Super Jay