Dispatching is assigning you a load. Load planning is having the next load lined up. How well it's done will have a direct impact on your paychecks so I will tell you how to help your dispatcher help you.
If you don't run miles, basically you don't get paid. The only way you can positively affect your load planning and dispatching is to have a reputation for making appointment on time and early.
Ideally you want your loads pre-planned. This means that when you leave out on a run, the dispatcher will already have or be looking for a load to dispatch you to another destination. This way when you're empty, you don't sit around waiting for him/her to find a load. You already know what the next move is.
So prior to you making your appointment on the first/current load, you contact the dispatcher with a planned ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival). That is the information that the dispatcher needs to plan.
When you are actually empty call and dispatch will send you the information
for the next pick up from near that location.
That's what good dispatchers do. Some dispatchers will give you that information in advance.
Also if they are not sure about YOU, they might wait until you are empty. Some companies allow the dispatcher to coordinate loads like this for the week or at least a few days into the week at a time. Other companies will not. A good way for you to ruin your own ability to get preplanned loads is to not be reliable.
Think about it, if you won't show up on time to your deliveries. The dispatcher can't predict that when you will be empty. Why would he/she promise another company that you will be there by a certain time if he/she is not sure based on your past performance? He can't in good faith.
So there is a catch 22 for some companies. Although they would like to dispatch early, they won't allow dispatching on loads early. They won't allow preplanning or limit the number of days out for fear of drivers causing them to look bad to the shippers that they would promise a pick up time.
Most smart companies or dispatcher however, will just not pre-plan that unreliable driver early but will pre-plan the reliable drivers that have proven themselves. That's more money for the company and the good driver.
I have never had a problem of consistently waiting extended periods of time for a load. At all companies that I drove for, I would come across drivers for the same company every now and then who delivered to the same locations and talk about having to wait for loads.
I would say, "Well, if you think about it, how can they plan your loads early if they don't know whether or not you will be there when you are supposed to." "Like I said, I will get there when I get there. I don't make a difference, they are going to do what they want to do." Now that attitude will certainly not be one that helps out your trucking career.
So you have to look at the big picture and kind of handle the position as you would want a driver to handle the position if you were the guy in the office communicating with the customer, hoping the driver did this one with a certain amount of care for his/her job performance and customer service.
If you look at it that way, at a good company, you will not hurt too much for miles and look forward to your paycheck.
A job as a dispatcher could be a great opportunity for a truck driver who wants/needs to get off of the road. It is also a good position for a drivers wife to learn about and possibly pursue.
As drivers we love a dispatcher who has actually been behind the wheel!