Today we are joined by a real veteran of the industry, Sarah Geller. With several years of internal IT and Service Management experience inside an MSP, Sarah understands the challenges and value of leveraging a Dispatcher in the Service department. We asked Sarah the hard questions around the importance of dispatching and why MSPs embrace and don’t embrace this role. She reveals why an MSP needs a dispatcher, misconceptions, and the metrics that justify the spend for a non-billable resource.
Expert Q&A: Professional Dispatch Management
What do you believe is the difference between the role of the Dispatcher vs. Service Manager?
The Dispatcher manages and disperses service tickets. They own your schedule. They know how to put together a profitable schedule and can handle difficult conversations. They are your first line of defense.
The Service Manager is responsible for managing the financials and the overall health of the service organization.
You have often said, “Dispatching is the foundation of an MSP.” Why is this not an industry-shared belief?
Dispatchers are the first line of defense against a panicked, or frustrated customer. A good dispatcher will have a knack for asking the right questions to get to the real issue. They are masters at de-escalating problems and instilling confidence that your team will resolve the issue quickly, making this role foundational to the customer experience.
Is there a number or a metric the Dispatcher should own in which to be measured?
Yes! Dispatchers must own Billable Utilization – the percentage of the time tech resources are available to be billed vs. the actual number of working hours. The gold standard for billable utilization is 75%. Meaning, if there are 40 hours in a week, 30 should be billable. When we see numbers like 95% billable utilization, we know that either a technician is being overworked or someone is doctoring the number. Often owners think that technicians can control how billable they are, but a well-trained dispatcher will ensure techs are fully utilized.
What are some of the misconceptions MSPs have about the role of dispatching?
There are several, but this is probably the most common: Most MSP leaders believe the Dispatcher should be technical or have a technical background. Just the opposite is true. Your Dispatcher needs to understand the impact of an issue without jumping in and solving the problem. They will do a better job of serving the client by understanding which questions to ask and assigning a qualified technician quickly who can solve the problem.
When is an MSP ready to hire a dispatcher?
Once your MSP reaches a specific size, it’s impossible for a one person to do both jobs effectively. Each MSP must evaluate its financial health to determine if service revenue a non-billable resource and still reach it’s financial goals.
What is the common challenge when deciding to hire and add a dispatcher to the mix?
There will be a cultural shift, especially when instituting the dispatching model. Technicians may not react positively to having someone other than a technical person set their priority of work. Some techs may resist working tickets in the assigned order, preferring to cherry-pick their favorite tickets and clients. This is a HUGE shift from the norm where the technician is typically king because they are the billable resource. The dispatchers must own the schedule while the service team owns the delivery. It’s a team effort.
What is the threat to the organization if you don’t implement the dispatching role?
Dispatchers own the schedule. They will prevent technicians from cherry-picking tickets and fight against the urge to show favoritism. Ultimately the dispatch model prevents “knowledge silos” that can occur when knowledge is not shared. It also prevents a technician from taking that knowledge with them to competing organization.
Free (Dispatching) Advice to Owners & MSP Leaders
“Protect your Dispatchers. The good Dispatcher knows how to put together a profitable schedule and can prioritize emergencies and handle the phone ringing non-stop. Protect these resources as they are critical to your company’s success. Your customers will come to trust the Dispatcher and will know that no matter how disruptive the emergency, it is about to get better!” — Sarah Geller, BMK Application Consultant.
Professional Dispatching & Service Help
Dispatch and Service are the backbone of your service business. It’s not enough to just solve your client’s technical issues. To achieve the next level of customer delivery, you have to master advanced dispatch and service concepts, models, and ultimately a blueprint for managing and leading profitable service teams. Let us help you build a thriving service team.
Many of us come to the job with little to no industry training. Become industry certified when you sit for the Dispatcher and/or Service Manager Certification courses. Each course provides 12 hours of instructor-led training around best practices, industry norms, and KPI targets with other professionals in your industry.