Priority Dispatch Makes Every Second Count with AT&T Enhanced Push-to-Talk

About Priority Dispatch

Founded in 1973, Priority Dispatch (Priority) has grown from a local courier company to a leading provider of delivery and logistics services. With approximately 90 employees and more than 800 independent drivers and vehicles, Priority makes about 500,000 deliveries a month from Michigan to Kentucky − around the clock, every day of the year.


Priority needed dependable push-to-talk (PTT) communications coverage to reach drivers in all service areas of its expanding business. Reliable communications coverage was essential to secure compliance requirements for its healthcare customers. The company also wanted to consolidate its multiple devices on the same network for more streamlined operations.


AT&T Enhanced Push-to-Talk Service (Enhanced PTT) gives Priority the reliable, nationwide PTT communications it needs to keep up with its growing business and customer demands. Equipped with Samsung smartphones, Priority’s drivers provide frequent delivery status updates, resolve issues, and accept requests for urgent deliveries. Using AT&T Enhanced PTT’s Web-based Corporate Administrator Tool (CAT), Priority reassigns drivers to different coverage area groups in seconds. Signature-capture devices running on the AT&T Wireless Network provide healthcare customers with the needed signatures.

Growing Business, Large Footprint

Founded 40 years ago, Priority Dispatch in Cincinnati, Ohio is a leading provider of delivery and logistics services in the Midwest. Even through tough economic times, the company has organically grown by continuously finding new ways to provide value in this fast-paced industry.

Much of Priority’s business is dedicated to delivering life-saving pharmaceuticals to hospitals, doctors and nursing homes. At the same time, its services continue to evolve in multiple industries: delivering lost luggage from airports, parts to auto repair shops and books between libraries, to name a few.

Priority’s drivers are independent contractors with multiple years of service. With its unique model, the company is mindful of the work environment it creates: treating drivers well translates into happy customers, low turnover, and fosters loyalty among these entrepreneurial contractors who have a stake in Priority’s success.

A Push-to-Action

With its same-day service, Priority Dispatch considers push-to-talk communications invaluable to providing responsive services and critical when fulfilling urgent, unexpected delivery requests. As the company expanded its client footprint, it needed reliable coverage for its drivers and dispatchers.

“In addition to push-to-talk, we wanted a network that could handle multiple devices for emails, text messages and signature capture for proof of delivery,” said Steve Pate, director of Information Technology.

Pate, along with Network Manager John Pohlman, launched an exhaustive initiative to determine the best PTT solution to meet the company’s requirements. The team selected and tested three major wireless networks based on the quality of connections and set-up times. “The set-up time for AT&T Enhanced Push-to-Talk was fastest, connecting in one-second or less,” said Pohlman.

Pohlman decided to put Enhanced PTT on the AT&T Wireless Network to an additional test. With smartphones in Columbus and Toledo, Ohio, Lexington, Kentucky, and Nashville, Tennessee, Pohlman initiated a call using the speakerphone on his smartphone in Cincinnati headquarters. “I literally jumped when I heard simultaneous ‘chirps’ from all phones. I expected some delay from phones in areas that I felt didn’t have great coverage historically. It was the fastest push-to-talk connection that I had ever heard that wasn’t running within four walls.”

“AT&T Enhanced PTT was head and shoulders above the others we tested,” added Pate. “For us, going with AT&T was a quality-of-service move.”

When Silence is Golden

More than 600 Priority drivers are now equipped with Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro rugged smartphones and Enhanced PTT for instant communications with dispatchers and each other. Samsung Galaxy S® III smartphones with Enhanced PTT are used by managers who need reliable communications for other business matters. In addition to Enhanced PTT, the AT&T Wireless Network also supports hundreds of other Priority drivers and their devices designed to capture clients’ signatures for pharmaceutical deliveries.

“We implemented the Enhanced PTT solution in less than 15 business days,” said Pohlman. “Our AT&T team is terrific. They prepped the smartphones for distribution, which saved us about 20 hours of work.”

Pohlman conducted training in multiple cities. “The application is very, very easy to learn. It was simple for our drivers and dispatchers.”

Pate summed up the implementation, “I could not have imagined the roll-out going any better than it did. In fact, the only thing I heard was silence. We implemented AT&T Enhanced PTT and we waited 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, and we did not hear about any problems from anybody. Not from the drivers, not from the dispatchers, not from management. A week went by and we heard nothing. I cannot think of a better outcome.”

The Multiplier Effect

While many of Priority’s daily delivery routes are essentially fixed, with little deviation from routine schedules, other deliveries require constant communication between drivers and dispatch. With Enhanced PTT, a dispatcher can broadcast a delivery request to find the closest available driver.

Not only does this capability enhance Priority’s reputation for reliable and prompt service, it also provides drivers opportunities to earn additional revenue. “We want to help our drivers as contractors be as successful as possible,” said Pate. “AT&T Enhanced PTT helps us create the type of environment that they want to stay and work in for many years.”

The efficiency of instantaneous PTT communications is cost effective – an average PTT conversation lasts about 30 seconds, as opposed to a mobile phone call that averages six minutes – eliminating unnecessary network usage and costs.

Priority encourages drivers to communicate with each other using Enhanced PTT. This comes in especially handy when a driver confronts a problem such as a vehicle breakdown. A group PTT conversation initiated by a dispatcher can connect drivers in the vicinity that may be able to help – allowing the dispatcher to move on to other pressing matters, increasing back-office productivity while still providing a remedy for the situation. The cost impact of this may not be immediately apparent, but consider that if it required a dozen mobile calls to locate the right driver, over one hour of a dispatcher’s time would be spent. Multiply that by the number of occurrences among 800 drivers over weeks and months and a substantial block of valuable time is saved.

When comparing drivers’ push-to-talk connections and conversations with those made by cell phones, Priority estimates a $15,600 in productivity savings per driver.

“Enhanced PTT has a multiplier effect,” explained Pohlman. “It helps our dispatchers and drivers be more productive. It also reduces labor costs by letting drivers talk with each other to get their deliveries completed quicker.”

Some Priority customers have been given Samsung smartphones so that they can use Enhanced PTT to communicate directly with drivers covering their routes. For instance, on-site managers with major airlines contact a Priority driver directly when a lost bag turns up and timely pick-up and delivery is needed.

Priority considers one of its main differentiators to be its delivery management system for pharmaceuticals. Every delivery event is managed from the origination of the order, to pick-up, to delivery that incorporates proof of delivery, including recipient signatures. The chain of custody Priority maintains is a hallmark of its service and can be a matter of compliance.

“With the AT&T Wireless Network, we now have the needed coverage for our signature-capture devices,” said Pate. “Our ability to transmit signatures back to our customers in real-time, instead of being delayed by hours: that is really huge.”

Everyone Benefits

When advising others who may be considering Enhanced PTT for their operations, Pate and Pohlman stress planning and thorough communications to both employees and customers about the new solution.

“In our case, the solution is a service to our contractors. But, in effect, everybody is benefiting: dispatchers, managers, operations people, customer service – and our customers. Ensuring that they fully understand the application’s capabilities is key,” Pate said.

“It’s important to note that a number of different devices work with Enhanced PTT, so no need for ‘one-size-fits-all,’” said Pohlman. “We were able to choose our devices based on the individual needs in our workforce, which was a major plus.”

Pohlman continued, “The application is just so good. Enhanced PTT is extremely impressive from start-to-finish.”

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