Should Owner-Operators Use a Truck Dispatch Service?

Having a dispatcher gives your trucking business the benefit of having every business process optimized. With big trucking companies, having a dispatcher is at least reasonable ‒ when you have a lot of drivers and a lot of clients, it only seems logical to have someone to manage it all in the most convenient way possible. You can hire a dispatcher yourself, or use dispatching services:

But what if you’re an independent owner-operator? Does it worth it? Well, there are a few opinions on whether you should use dispatch service or not. Your best option as an independent trucker is to dive deeper into the pros and cons of having a dispatch service and decide if you really need it.

What do truck dispatchers do?

So, you’re an owner-operator. Aside from trucking, price, and freight rate negotiations, you probably also have to do all the paperwork, find some good loads, provide invoices, and figure out the best routes. If you want to earn more and relieve yourself from extra tasks, hiring a dispatcher is your best option.

Freight dispatchers are nearly vital for most back-office tasks. They take care of scheduling, route calculation, price negotiations, and many more things. Basically, all you have to do as an operator is just load stuff, drive it to the final destination, and unload it if necessary.


To make things clearer, here is a list of services a dispatcher can provide you with:

1. Loads search. It’s the most important service ‒ especially if you’re relatively new to this business and don’t have many clients yet. A dispatcher will find you big loads and therefore increase your profits.

2. Route calculation and scheduling. Even if you don’t have many truck drivers, managing a tight and yet healthy schedule is vital for your success. Don’t forget that truckers need some time off to see their families ‒ this also has to be taken into consideration. A good dispatcher will find the most efficient routes and the most effective schedule that will meet both your business goals and the driver’s needs.

3. Compliance with safety rules. Safety should be your number one concern ‒ your registration depends on it! A dispatcher makes sure trucks are safe to drive and drivers are safe to go on the road.

4. Issue management. Bad weather, road accidents, tight traffic, and other things that might delay the ETA or even threaten the safety records of the trucking company are usually handled by dispatchers. A dispatcher finds the best routes, warns about possible bad weather conditions and gridlocks.

5. Customer care. Dealing with clients and contractors, maintaining good service, and making sure everything goes as planned is also the dispatcher’s job. Even more: dispatchers really often do price negotiations and make sure the company gets the most out of every load.

6. All the paperwork. Well, not all of it ‒ dispatchers mostly handle everything about billing: invoices, follow-up notices, payment processing. Basically, a dispatcher makes sure everyone sticks to the contract in this case.

So, yeah ‒ dispatchers are quite useful when it comes to running a trucking company (especially if you’re new to this or if you’re in transition to being an independent operator. Keep in mind that a lot of independent owner-operators fail from the start only because they can’t find decent loads and manage everything at once. The lack of time and the irregular workload can bring you down ‒ unless you have someone who will take care of it. And if you’re new to this business, your best option to hire a dispatcher is to hire them from a trusted dispatching company rather than looking on job boards for them.


Some tips on finding a dispatcher that can level up your trucking business:

1. Gather some reviews. Contact colleagues, read independent online reviews, and find a trusted dispatching service. If you find a service that both meets your needs and is trusted by some people you know, it’s your winning option.

2. Set your goals right. List services you need ‒ pay attention to details and include both things you can’t do (and want to delegate them to a dispatch) and things you objectively can do. The main goal here is to find a dispatch service that can do everything you can’t ‒ if they do a bit more, it’s even better.

3. Figure out the costs. The real value of the dispatcher is how they can increase your revenue. Calculate everything: how much the dispatcher will charge you and how it relates to the profit you get while working with them. If you can earn more with a dispatcher rather than without them, it’s definitely worth it, even if you’ll have to finance a dispatcher through factoring.

All in all, having a dispatcher will most likely profit your business. The only question is how soon it will be, but if you do good research, you get rewarded with good results.


Should you choose a dispatcher instead of a freight broker?

It’s worth noting that dispatchers are not the same as freight brokers ‒ some people confuse these two job positions.

Just for clarity: a freight broker is an independent contractor that matches carriers and shippers, taking a certain % off the deal’s worth as a payment. Freight brokers rely on taking bigger % off the deal from shippers, and this way carriers sometimes get paid less. Brokers are not evil for that ‒ it’s all about negotiations, and a professional broker is always a great resource.

A dispatcher is someone who works for you and is interested in creating more profit for your business. Some of them have their own lists of shippers, providing you with loads and money. On the contrary, some dispatchers use broker services ‒ this way, you’re paying both a dispatcher and a broker. Things like that should be discussed first, of course.

All in all, having a dispatcher is profitable in a longer perspective ‒ especially if you’re looking forward to bringing your trucking business to a new scale.

About Carolyn Lang