Hotshotting is a great way to build a trucking business for lower start-up costs. Because the vehicles and equipment tend to run far less than a semi, you can get into the business for under $30,000 if you know how to budget and plan ahead. Hot shot trucking is a short-term trucking niche. Rather than run long jobs across the country, hot shot truckers pick up time-sensitive loads that have tight deadlines.
They operate smaller trucks with a trailer attached, usually a flatbed, and tend to work on a more flexible, on-demand type of schedule.
But if you pick up jobs so suddenly, how can you guarantee you’ll earn enough revenue to stay afloat? That’s where hot shot trucking rates come in. In addition to making sure there’s enough demand in your area, setting the right rates will help you get maximum payout for every load. Before we delve into hot shot trucking rates and how to set them, let’s establish some common ground. First, some definitions.
Hot shot trucks are smaller than semis. They are either Class 3, Class 4 or Class 5 according to their Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).
Class 3: trucks are the lightest models, usually your standard pick-up truck, like a Ford F-350. They weigh between 10,001 to 14,000 pounds.
Class 4: medium-duty trucks weigh between 14,001 to 16,000 pounds. Examples include the Chevy Silverado Chassis Cab 4500 and the Dodge Ram 4500.
Class 5: hot shot trucks are the heaviest of the lot, clocking in between 16,001 pounds all the way up to 19,500 pounds. The Dodge Ram Chassis Cab 5500 and Ford F-550 are the leading models of Class 5 trucks.
Hot shot trucking companies operate on short timelines much like expedited shippers. However, expedited shipping still tends to have a more fixed deadline, e.g. overnight or guaranteed two-day delivery. Hot shot is on-demand, and when you pick up a job, the customer expects you to start moving immediately. The outcome of projects is often dependent on a hot shot trucker’s performance.
For example, if a construction site needs equipment stat, the driver is expected to provide their machinery to help them avoid project delays and overtime costs. They need a hot shot trucker to quickly deliver their supplies as quickly as possible. Most hot shot trucking jobs will be done in 24 hours or less. They’re truly on-demand transportation services for shippers in every industry. This is why you’re able to charge high rates for your 24/7 availability and guaranteed service.
Yes, there is, and always will be. Hotshotting has never gone out of business because there will always be a need somewhere for on-demand deliveries. However, the exact level of demand in your particular state may vary.
You might notice that there are a lot of hot shot loads in agriculture if you live somewhere rural, for example. In metropolitan areas, hot shot jobs tend to be linked more to construction, healthcare, car hauling, mail, and business.
The type of hauls you do will also affect what type of trailer and equipment you need. Bumper pulling allows you to run small loads as a hot shot driver without a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Other types of hauling will require you to complete CDL training that meets the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) requirements.
The average hot shot trucking rates are between $1.50 to $2 per mile. To calculate hot shot trucking rates, you have to consider not only how much you want to earn but how much it will cost you to run a delivery. For example, calculating your fuel per mile will influence how much you charge for a job. If you’re spending $0.80 per mile to operate, then you aren’t really earning $1.25 for every mile you drive — you’re making $0.45 cents.
Looking up a hot shot rate sheet can help you compare the average rates in your industry depending on the type of load, distance, and trailer. Comparing your rates to other businesses will help you get an idea of what’s fair to charge and what shippers are expecting to pay. Undercharging ultimately costs you time and money while setting you up for bankruptcy. On the other hand, over-charging leaves you at a disadvantage because your ideal customers will always pick your more affordable competition.
Bear in mind that there are some hot shot trucking jobs that pay more on average — hazardous materials like oil and gas, for example — but they may not be in demand as frequently as others. You could also struggle to get hired for certain high-paying jobs if you’re a total newcomer without any experience or reputation preceding you.
Start by exploring hot shot trucking load boards to get a feel for how much most shippers in your industry are willing to pay. For example, many boards have a minimum or standard rate that ranges from $1.25 to $1.95 per mile. Heavy haulers and flatbed hot shot truckers can charge more for their services, sometimes as much as $4 per mile.
Make sure that you also consider how your rates will impact workflow. The best way for a new hot shot truck driver to make money is keep loads consistent both leaving and returning. This means you want to deliver a load, pick up a new one, and haul it back to your original location to reduce paying for mileage and gas without a load (deadheading).
Maintaining a hot shot rate sheet will help you calculate rates based on the average cost of fuel per gallon and the fuel mileage you have hauling a job. For example, if you pay $3.15 per gallon and you average 20 miles per gallon on the road, then your fuel rate per mile would be $3.15/20, or $0.16 cents.
Keep in mind this is just the rate for fuel — hot shot drivers factor in the cost of their labor, business expenses, and take-home profit as well.
Also, consider the cost of insurance rates and how your policy may change if you take on more expensive types of loads. They may be appealing at first, but hazardous waste and heavy haulers, for example, have to pay for greater coverage than someone who takes more standard loads.
Be mindful of rates in your area so you can price your services appropriately. Hot shot trucking prices may change depending on the distance, job, and type of load you haul. It’s okay to modify your rates, experiment, and budget according to your needs. Bear in mind that as you get more familiar with the industry, it will become easier to tell how much a load is really worth and be comfortable charging the rate you deserve for your work.
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