The day they took the radios away
“Bob’s Trucking Company” (that’s what I’ll call it) used to run efficiently. There was no need for useless communications stops, yet a driver knew when his orders were added to or changed. Fuel costs were lower, and engines lasted longer. Then one day, dispatchers and truck drivers came into work to find that their radios were missing.
The company had slashed the radios out of the budget. The purchasing manager said they were too expensive. What was expensive, that is, was the service contract that had covered the radios. In fact, dispatchers and drivers said that the radios themselves had worked fine and had never required service, which would make the service contract seem like a waste of money. But the company threw out the baby with the bathwater.
Not all communications were lost. Drivers had pagers and could still stop at payphones or call at delivery stops, but a certain amount of efficiency was lost the day they took the radios away.
I learned about this situation when I asked a friend who worked as a dispatcher at Bob’s what kind of radios they used. I got an earful that I didn’t expect.
He said that a driver often will be out on a route, and a new order will come in for a pickup on that route. So the dispatcher will have to page the driver and then wait for him to get an update. And most likely, the driver has already passed that point on his route, so he will have to backtrack. “I just talked to him,” is what is often heard around the office.
The phone calls, of course, increased “400%,” according to the dispatcher, not to mention the wear and tear on trucks from more communications stops. Free-flowing voice (or data) communications between dispatcher and driver was no longer SOP for this company.
The moral of the story to end-users: Don’t take your radios for granted.
To the dealers and service shops: Don’t let your customers walk away. If a service contract is so expensive that a customer will completely cancel, try to deal with them. Every customer has specific needs, and you can provide the solutions, whether it’s paging, or radios or mobile data terminals. Bob’s might still have radios if the dealer had asked the right questions and maybe arranged a better contract that fit Bob’s budget and needs.
Radio has always played an integral role in the trucking industry, from the CB radio to the mobiles and terminals of today. Mobile communications in the form of voice and data saves money and time, and in this day and age, it’s hard to believe that a trucking company would take away radios completely if they had been serving needs. So many products are available to help trucking companies run smoothly. Take advantage of the technology to get ahead in the long-lasting transportation business.