In a transportation company, the dispatchers are at the heart of it all. They coordinate with customers, truck drivers, and outside carriers to make sure all loads are picked up and delivered on time. To find out more about how dispatchers keep everything running smoothly, here is an interview with to Jodi Heidle, a dispatcher at Roane Transportation.
How long have you worked at Roane Transportation?
I’ve worked here since 2012, so it has been about 8 years.
How did you come to work at Roane Transportation?
One of the owners was a regular at the restaurant I worked at. When I moved positions, we talked and he set me up to work here. Initially, I was just a person to help answer phones in dispatch. When I started, there were just three people in dispatch. They were pretty short-handed, so they taught me as we went, and it just progressed from that until I became the fourth dispatcher.
What does your typical day as a dispatcher look like?
Currently, I have 25 drivers that I dispatch, and I also look over the brokerage team. So, it’s anywhere from booking loads to planning out their next events to selling loads to outside carriers. It’s a little chaotic; there’s a lot of moving parts.
What is your favorite part about your job?
It’s always busy, and it is a lot of moving parts, so it keeps you fresh. You can’t really just relax and watch time go by; the day flies by here. It’s like a big puzzle—you have to put pieces together to try to make everything work.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
It’s hard to please everyone. You have all the drivers that you’re trying to make sure are going where they need to go; you have the customers that have freight that you have to get out in a timely fashion and do what they need done; and you have outside carriers that are trying to get loads and you need to make sure they’re going where they need to go. You have to try to manage it all and try to please everyone to the best of your ability.
What is your best quality that helps you be successful in your job?
Probably multitasking. I’ve always been good at multitasking. I have a good memory, so I don’t forget what to do next, which is necessary in this job. You can be on the phone talking to someone about a load and then typing an email to someone else about a different load and trying to text a driver to dispatch them on something, all at the same time.
What makes for a good day at work?
All the drivers loaded, and everything covered. An easy day for us is if there’s an abundance of freight and we can just click buttons and move on. Right now, it’s really hard because of the coronavirus. Trying to find loads coming to Knoxville is very challenging. That’s what we’re struggling with every day, currently. But a good day would be if someone had six Memphis to Knoxville loads.
How would your coworkers describe you?
Bull-headed. I’m stubborn and very impatient. They would also say I’m aggressive when it comes to driver loads. They make fun of me because I only give 17 minutes of leeway for drivers to get someplace. However, these qualities benefit me on the job. Being aggressive when it comes to pushing the drivers is good because it encourages them to gain more miles and get off another load, which makes both them and us more money. The stubbornness is helpful in this business so that you don’t get run over, especially by outside carriers, when you’re negotiating rates and things. If you’re a pushover, then you’ll end up losing money. When you’re fighting for loads from other brokers to cover your own trucks, you have to be aggressive and hold your ground for whatever rates you want. It’s all a negotiation process and trying to be quick and as efficient as possible.
How did your previous job in a restaurant help prepare you for this position?
In the restaurant field, you have to have good customer relations because you’re working for tips, and you have to be personable and multitask. All of those go hand-in-hand with the same type of environment here. Here, you don’t see the customers or drivers face-to-face as much, but you still have to do all the same things over the phone as you would serving a table.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m really big into waterskiing. That’s my favorite thing to do. My husband works for a boat company, so we’re always out on the lake. The rest of the time, we’re working around the house. We have 2 children, and I enjoy playing with them. We also have 3 puppy dogs, so our life is kind of chaotic. We mostly stay home and play with the kids and the dogs.
What is your favorite thing to listen to when you are alone?
I have a very random playlist. I’ll listen to Imagine Dragons or Country music or oldies. It really just depends on what pops up.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and with whom?
I would go to either Italy or Fiji, and I’d go with my family. Fiji would be to go scuba diving, and I’ve just always wanted to go to Italy for no particular reason—maybe go eat the pasta. We were supposed to go to Italy this year, but that got shut down. We were going to meet up with my brother-in-law over there for a week. We’re going to try again next year, though.
Who would you say has inspired you in your life, and why?
The director of Patricia Neal. His name is Al Kaye, and he’s a recreational therapist. He does all the innovative recreational center activities. He teaches people with disabilities how to fulfil their life and live as normal of a life as possible. In the summertime, since my favorite activity is waterskiing, I volunteer at all the waterski clinics, and we teach people with disabilities how to waterski. We have adaptive waterskis that we use. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to run the clinic myself—that’s my goal in life. But to be like him would be awesome because he’s a very giving person; he never thinks of himself first. He spends every weekend but three a year volunteering his time to help these kids and adults do these activities. He does snow skiing, canoeing, rock climbing, waterskiing, golf, shooting. He even spends his birthday every year up on Snowshoe Mountain skiing with the kids.
What would you tell someone who is interested in applying for a job at Roane Transportation?
It’s a very family-oriented company. You’re an actual person here, not a number. Every morning, the owner is back in dispatch talking to us. He actually knows about our families, what we like to do, what we don’t like to do. He knows the drivers personally. All the management here is very nice. If you have a problem, they will be there to help you.
Trucking Company That Values Its Employees
Roane Transportation in East Tennessee is a highly reputable transportation firm specializing in flatbed trucking and transportation. From our truck drivers to our maintenance crews to our dispatch workers, our company values each and every one of our employees — we truly are a family. So, if you’ve been looking for a new career or just a company where you are more than a truck number, contact us today to learn more about us!