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How to change your decision-making for successful self-dispatch

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Effectively self-dispatching may well be the most difficult task an owner-operator business is saddled with. There are a seemingly unending number of moving pieces that will affect the outcome of any decision made about any load. Yet the difference-maker when it comes to load selection might ultimately be your mindset -- whether you’re able to accept the responsibility and tap into your critical thinking faculties, or not.

It's sure that the big decision to leave the comfort of a company’s protection in the form of a steady, predictable paycheck and well-developed support systems is one that many come to regret. The rigors of self-dispatching can turn an owner’s world upside down at the start.

There’s a reason dispatch service providers for independents proliferate, after all -- many new owners are ill-prepared to do it on their own. Yet consider that the fees you’ll pay to any service provider can be substantial, and on top of the margins a broker earns on the movement of a load that we all love to complain so much about. Fees for a dispatch service can be as great as 10% -- annualize this and it can easily reach a $15K-$20K cost.

Why not pay yourself to do this job?

[Related: Time to account for independent dispatch services in regulation?]

In the book “Outliers: The story of success,” author Malcolm Gladwell describes research that showed that for people to become a world class expert in a particular subject, those individuals studied and practiced in excess of 10,000 hours in efforts to perfect new skills.

The skills needed for expert self-dispatching won’t be learned in a few days of online classes, orientation or reading. Yet it’s unrealistic to imagine any truck owner investing 10,000 hours, the equivalent of more than a year’s worth of 24-hour days, to perfect a new skill such as dispatching -- or any aspect of this business, for that matter. With the speed at which new services and technologies are changing, even the experienced are sometimes frustrated. The successful, however, know how to combine their historical knowledge and habits with the way customers are going to communicate information now. 

The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the 2022 edition of Partners in Business.
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