Will Calls Are Highly Effective at the Theater; Not So Much in Dispatch

Jim Wagner

        

Last century, after starting two world wars, countless local wars and much discord, the devil wanted to do one last dastardly thing before returning to hell.  He decided to introduce the will call to the Ready Mixed Concrete Industry.

Will calls, by themselves are not evil but what we humans have done with them is.  Contractors place will calls thinking the producer will do something with this information.  Things like order raw materials, bring drivers to work, save trucks, and turn down conflicting orders.  The producer, on the other hand doesn’t know what to do with them.  Trucks cannot be sitting idle, and who wants to commit drivers and trucks to a maybe?  If the contractor is not confident of proceeding why should the producer?  The will call is regulated to a “thanks for the notice” and no action is taken.  It's this disconnect that is the cause of most problems.

Best Practice producers today have set firm policies for will calls and have informed their customers in writing and verbally what these are.  Many produce a Customer Service Pamphlet which is handed out when a job is bid and again during the course of the project.  These pamphlets are intended to ensure that there are no misunderstandings and bad feelings.  They include will call policies, who can take an order, hours of order taking, how much a contractor can add to an existing order once underway, order-back policies, and so on.

The most commonly accepted will call policy is no will calls before 10:00 in the morning and a two-hour advanced notice for releasing a will call.  All will calls should be released by 3:00 PM the day before or better yet at an agreed-upon release time when the will call is placed. The problem with a two-hour release is that a customer could call at 2:00 for a 12:00 will call and request 4:00.  That is the two-hour notice as asked for, but that is not what you want.  You want a 10:00 release for a 12:00 will call.  It would behoove the producer to explain further that if he does not call at the time agreed upon, the CSR will try to contact him but if contact is not made, the order will be removed and the will do the best they can when contact is made.

When a will call is placed, the Customer Service Representative explains that no drivers nor trucks are scheduled for will call orders.  That happens only when the order becomes firm.  It is never OK to state that it’s just our policy, a logical explanation is always better.

The Customer Service Representative (CSR) may explain further that to keep the price of concrete as low as possible they cannot have trucks sitting around doing nothing at a cost of $125 per hour each.  For this reason, a will call is not even scheduled until it is firm.  The CSR could even offer to save trucks for the order at $125 per hour if it is that important.  The charge would start 40 minutes before the job start time and last until the order is firmed up, or the contractor tells the producer to release the trucks.

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