Despite numerous warnings about work-at-home scams, a number of legitimate work-at-home opportunities allow people to perform constructive tasks for compensation without ever leaving the home office. Because a number of businesses, ranging from ambulance companies to towing services, rely on dispatchers, employment seekers can make money dispatching at home with only minimal hardware, some customer service skills and basic geographical knowledge.
Get a business license. Many home dispatchers work as independent contractors, and some states and municipalities require contractors to obtain a business license. If you are unsure whether or not your local municipality requires a license, consult your local clerk of courts.
Install a telephone line. Dispatchers rely heavily on telephone service to take customer calls and to communicate with drivers, and so a reliable telephone line is critical to a dispatcher’s success. If you plan to work with several different clients, you also need a way to identify each incoming call in order to answer with the appropriate greeting; while installing a separate line for each client works, using the telephone company’s distinctive ringing feature—an option that causes your phone to ring differently for each of five different numbers—may prove a more economical solution.
Purchase dispatching software. Prospective dispatchers can find a number of highly effective dispatching software suites online, and prices vary from free, such as the web-based version Dr. Dispatch, to thousands of dollars for professional dispatching solutions, including Autotask and TaxiCentral. If you plan to work as an independent contractor, you need your own dispatching software; if you will work exclusively for a single company, though, that company may provide its software.
Advertise your services. With all dispatching software and telephone capabilities in place, you are ready to attract clients. You can advertise in local and regional publications, or you can market your services directly to towing companies, ambulance services and any other organizations that manage a fleet of agents dispatched to field assignments. Myriad advertising opportunities allow each dispatcher to select her own method of recruiting clients.
Negotiate a rate with interested clients. When a potential client responds to your advertising and expresses an interest in your services, be prepared to negotiate a pay rate based on the number of dispatches you expect to perform. Some companies pay as much as $5 or even $10 for each dispatch, though high-volume organizations, such as taxi companies, may pay considerably less.
Maintain familiarity with client needs. Each dispatching client will have specific expectations and may require unique treatment. In addition, clients occasionally change their processes, and dispatchers must stay abreast of any procedural updates in order to remain proficient.
Invoice the client for your services. On a time period agreeable to both you and the client, usually every two weeks or once per month, send an invoice to your client. Use care to ensure each dispatch is included, thoroughly documented and appropriately priced. Include some venue, such as check remittance or an online credit card payment interface, for the client to remit your compensation.
While some home dispatchers work as freelancers for numerous clients, initially you may have more success simply seeking employment with a single company.
If you pursue employment rather than work as a contractor, never pay upfront fees to prospective employers; employers who require potential employees to pay fees are often not legitimate.