Every day, thousands of trucks, trains, ships and cargo jets are crossing the country to transport goods. Trucks alone move about 71 percent of the nation's freight by weight. In 2016, there were over 33.8 million trucks registered for business purposes. Without dispatchers, commercial truck drivers would not know where to go. These professionals play a key role in the transportation industry.
If you wonder how to become a truck dispatcher, research the market and the legal requirements. You can then decide whether you want to run your business from home, rent an office or partner up with a trucking company.
Understand Your Responsibilities
Before getting started, make sure you understand what a truck dispatcher does. Independent dispatchers are responsible for providing truck drivers with the information they need to pick up and deliver goods. Some assign vehicles or workers to customers. Others locate individual loads to match them with trucks that have enough space.
Most dispatchers handle all the billing and paperwork on behalf of their clients. Some even provide 24/7 support. You may also provide additional services, such as checking suppliers' creditworthiness and negotiating rates for the load. All of these activities require specific equipment.
Large trucking companies and governmental agencies employ their own dispatchers and provide them with the tools needed to get the job done. As an independent professional, you're responsible for renting the space and equipment. You can even work from home to cut costs and have more flexibility.
Comply with the Law
Once you decide to start your own dispatch business, research truck dispatcher license requirements. Even though this job doesn't require higher education, you still need a high school diploma to obtain your license. If possible, take a truck dispatcher course to expand your knowledge and increase your chances of getting your application approved.
Next, apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) online. This step is required for all businesses operating in the U.S. or U.S. Territories. Fill out the form provided and then submit via the IRS website.
After you receive an EIN, choose a business structure. Depending on your preferences, you can apply for a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), corporation or partnership. This will determine how much tax you pay and other legal obligations. In case you're planning to have employees, ask them to fill out Form W-4 and Form I-9.
As an independent truck dispatcher, it's not required to register with the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration. However, you still need to be familiar with how many hours truck drivers may legally work in a day. According to the U.S. laws, they cannot drive for more than 70 hours over an eight-day period or 11 cumulative hours during a 14-hour period. If you dispatch them across international borders, there are more laws with which you will need to be familiar.
Draft a Contract
Make sure you have a plan on how to dispatch trucks from home. Start by drafting a contract that outlines your services and fees. Be clear about what's included and which services are extra. Ask your clients to sign the contract before you start doing business together.
Set up Your Home Office
Get your office ready for the job. At the very least, you will need a sturdy computer and a printer connected to the Internet. Basic computer skills are essential. Invest in a quality phone system so you can effectively communicate with drivers, suppliers and partners.
Also, consider what type of software will be necessary. As a dispatcher, you must be able to set up truck routes, locate the load, review drivers' logs and create billing reports. Make sure you know the software inside and out.
Promote Your Business
Now that you know how to start a truck dispatching business, take the steps needed to make it happen. Once you meet the legal requirements, set up a website and promote your services. Build connections with trucking companies in your state and abroad. Register on industry-related forums and chat boards, engage in conversations and market your business.
Take the time to build relationships with the trucking community. Be proactive on social media, invest in sponsored ads and share industry-related news and tips online. Partner up with governmental agencies, manufacturing companies and local organizations that can spread the word about your business. The more you market yourself, the higher your chances of success.