Most of the time, a ready-mix producer operates under the direction of the owner or general manager. These leaders guide the dispatch manager, who decides which customers will receive concrete on a particular workday. However, in some companies, the dispatch manager receives little guidance or information from management about which customers should be a higher priority, and how much variance from a promised delivery time is allowed.

The general manager and sales manager have two primary goals. First, to provide service in a way that will cover costs and produce a profit. Secondly, to meet the customers’ expectations and keep the promises made when the order was placed with the dispatch office.

On the other hand, the goals of most dispatch managers are maximum production and output. Most dispatch managers believe they are judged only by the number of cubic yards of concrete delivered each day. They feel that service and time commitments are important, but come second to production. Dispatch managers may also feel that they must accept all orders and find a way to get everything delivered sometime that day.

These situations require communication and oversight by the general manager, who must inform the dispatch manager of the appropriate goals and priorities. The dispatch manager must know which customers are ranked in the top 25 and ask for guidance when a possible conflict could arise. The dispatch manager must also be educated about the profit potential of different types of commercial and residential projects, taking into consideration things like travel time and time needed onsite to place the concrete.

I am a strong believer in not only establishing rules and guidelines, but explaining the reasoning behind them. Terms like “profit and loss” can be taught fairly easily, and information like this should be shared with those who have a part in day-to-day decision making.

I believe success comes when Sales and Dispatch work together on a daily basis. The sales team represents the eyes and ears for the dispatch team, to ensure concrete delivery goes smoothly and problems can be resolved quickly out on the jobsite. Good delivery directions and points of contact are the responsibility of the sales team. Directions that are stated as a page number in a map book won’t work when the new subdivision and lot number aren’t even listed on the map. When it appears that multiple deliveries will be made to the same new subdivision or commercial jobsite, the sales team must visit these jobsites and gather information on lot numbers, entrance and exit points, and the location of authorized wash-out areas.

This information should be printed out and given to all drivers who may be making deliveries to these jobsites. It is also a good idea for someone from the dispatch office to visit the jobsite with the responsible sales rep to get the lay of the land and meet the foreman in person. In this way, a dispatcher has the ability to “walk a driver in” to the new jobsite for deliveries.

In future articles, I will talk more about the importance of communication between all parties working in the company, as well as the importance of each driver involved in the delivery process.

Tom Johnson has spent the past decade getting to know the ins and outs of the concrete industry from various viewpoints including driver, salesman, dispatcher, and quality control professional. Contact Tom with comments or suggestions at johnsontf@hotmail.com.