How to Start a Dispatching Home Business

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Dispatchers accept loads for motor carriers and relay the load information to the driver.
Dispatchers accept loads for motor carriers and relay the load information to the driver. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Without dispatchers, commercial truck drivers would never know where they were supposed to go. Dispatchers provide drivers with the information they require to pick up and deliver their next load. Independent dispatchers are responsible for locating the loads and often sign contracts with shippers and brokers for their customers from the dispatcher's home as opposed to company dispatchers that work as employees for trucking companies in an office. Pay is dependent on the arrangement with the driver or customer. Some dispatchers receive a percentage of the load revenue, some receive a set amount per load and a few receive a set weekly amount.

Things You'll Need

  • Phone
  • Fax machine

Work as a dispatcher for a trucking company few months to a year before starting your own business. While this will not teach you everything you need to know -- that can take years -- you will learn the basics and required processes to dispatch trucks. There are many federal and state rules regulating motor carriers. Dispatchers need a working knowledge of the laws that their drivers must follow. Knowing what mechanical issues can cause the U.S. Department of Transportation to shut a truck down and how a driver's available hours of service will affect load delivery is essential to a dispatcher's work.

Apply for your Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service. Even though you probably will not have employees when you are starting your business, an EIN provides documentation you need to open business bank accounts and allows you to separate your personal and business finances. As a dispatcher, you do not have to register with the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration or the DOT, but you should learn the government regulations regarding motor carriers and drivers by studying the regulations for carriers listed on the FMCSA website. (see Resources)

Sign up for membership on various load boards. Not only do load boards provide access to available loads, you can use the message boards on them to contact owner operators and small trucking companies to offer your services. Trucking magazines typically have load board advertisements you can use to locate services; you can find free magazines at most truck stops.

Write a contract for customers, outlining your services and charges. Typically, a motor carrier will not sign a long-term contract with a dispatching service, but your contract can be load-to-load, self-renewing. This means that neither of you are responsible for maintaining your business relationship beyond the load that the driver is currently delivering. However, you can do business with each other again without having to sign a new contract.

Advertise your services. As an independent dispatcher, you need motor carriers and loads. Put up flyers in local truck stops, and mail post cards to carriers informing them of your service. As a dispatcher, you cannot directly take loads from manufacturers but you can be a representative for your carriers and arrange for the carrier to provide transportation services for the manufacturer. The FMCSA does not require dispatchers to receive a broker's license.

Tips & Warnings

  • Your availability for your customers is essential to the success of your company. Make sure your drivers can get in touch with you at all times when they are working.
  • Contact your local government offices to determine what, if any, licenses you need to operate out of your home.
  • Review the FMCSA regulations regularly as they change often.
  • You need a broker's license to accept loads from manufacturers in your own name instead of in the name of a motor carrier.

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