Being a hotshot truck driver is a great gig, but it isn’t always easy to find the best loads. You’re likely already familiar with the highly competitive hotshot load boards. Getting consistent work can feel like a full-time job by itself, let alone driving, transporting, and managing your business on top of that.
Because hotshot jobs are time-sensitive, you can’t know when they’ll appear or how soon you’ll need to start driving. This can make it difficult to balance your owner-operator business with a profitable, steady workflow. Hiring a dispatcher for hotshot drivers can help your business become more efficient and offer better loads for your business.
What Are Hotshot Dispatch Services?
In any trucking niche, dispatchers connect owner-operators with shippers who are willing to pay well for the right drivers. Dispatchers work as a third-party mediator between you and the shipper, negotiating terms and rates so you both get the best deal.
With a professional dispatcher behind the scenes, you can get hotshot dispatch loads that are ideal for your own equipment and area. You get to haul the freights you’re best at while the customer gets fast, dependable service. It’s a win-win.
Pros of Dispatch Service for Hotshot Owner-Operators:
- Dispatchers can find consistent loads to help reduce deadheading.
- You can grow your customer base without spending hours looking for work.
- Dispatchers may be able to connect you with shippers in the industries you’re most interested in.
- They can handle backend paperwork, like billing.
- You may be able to secure higher pay thanks to their negotiations.
- Dispatchers offer support on the road and help with any issues.
Cons of Dispatch Service for Hotshot Owner-Operators:
- You have to pay a portion of every job for their services.
- Dispatchers tend to use the same load boards as any owner-operator.
- You’ll have to research and compare dispatch services to make sure you find the right one for your business.
Should You Hire a Dispatcher for Your Hotshot Trucking Company?
Dispatching services and self-dispatching can both be effective. The best call really falls down to your availability. If you don’t have the time to scour load boards and arrange shipments, then it can be difficult to manage your business on top of driving.
On the one hand, self-dispatching allows you to have complete control over your work experience. Dispatchers never assign you loads without your approval, but they may have to run several by you before you find one you want.
If you’re transitioning from being a company driver to an owner-operator, a dispatcher can help you find work and get started as an independent business.
Self-dispatching allows you to build a relationship directly with shippers, which makes it easier to build a strong brand image and good reputation as an owner-operator. Dispatchers handle the negotiations for you, so there’s less communication directly. Sometimes, there may be none at all.
You can potentially earn more through hotspot dispatch services by increasing your workload and reducing deadhead (driving a truck with no load). This means more time on the road hauling and less time searching and scheduling your next job. Having return loads can also optimize your fuel budget while reducing mileage between loads.
At the same time, you will take a hit because a portion of your earnings goes to your dispatcher. Although the thought of losing a percentage of every job is off-putting, you do get excellent service, consistent work, and additional business support through a dispatch service.
Tips for Choosing a Good Dispatcher
Hiring hotshot trucking dispatch services can be good for your business, but only if you know how to choose the right one. As in any industry, there are good and bad dispatchers. Knowing the difference may be hard at first glance, but these tips will help you do research and find the right dispatcher for you.
1. Identify Your Core Needs
You should have a specific list of needs to help set expectations for the dispatch service. For example, maybe you don’t mind finding loads, but you don’t want to handle the back-end logistics, paperwork, and communication elements. Make sure your priorities are clear, so you can ask the right questions and partner with the dispatcher best suited to your business.
2. Look for Industry Experience
Make sure that your dispatcher understands hotshot trucking’s unique needs and challenges. You want someone on your side who recognizes the importance of your niche and can offer the appropriate type and level of support. You should also investigate how long a dispatcher has been in business. Newer hotshot dispatch services can still provide excellent results at lower rates. However, you may be more comfortable working with an established company with several years under its belt.
3. Look at Their Payment Structure
Some dispatchers may hide extra costs in their services that double what you thought you would be paying them. You should always read and re-read any terms and conditions, package descriptions, and fine print before signing anything.
The actual cost varies by business. For example, some have fixed rates per load or per week while others charge a percentage (usually 5 to 10%) for every load. Payment methods will also vary significantly, so be mindful. Ask when and how each fee is collected. You don’t want to run into trouble having fees taken out of jobs before you’ve been able to effectively budget. You need to make sure that the dispatcher you choose is not only affordable for your business but delivers service and results that justify their price.
4. Test Their Knowledge
When you first consult with a hotshot trucking dispatcher, ask them questions about the types of loads they usually find, carriers they work with, and their other clients. They may not namedrop, but they should still be able to easily answer any and all questions. You could, for example, ask them how they find hotshot truck loads for their clients and get them secured before a competitor swoops in.
5. Ask for Recommendations
Ask other owner-operators if they use a dispatch service or prefer self-dispatching. They can refer you to reputable dispatchers as well as offer tips on the best load boards and job hunting strategies.
Word-of-mouth marketing is still highly impactful, and you’ll likely find the best dispatchers by asking people you trust for recommendations.
The Bottom Line
Hotshot truck dispatch services are a great choice for up-and-coming owner-operators or a busy driver who wants to offload some of their “office work.” However, since they can be expensive, you’ll have to do your research and ensure that any dispatcher you hire offers enough value for their price. Truckbase is a tool for owner-operators that can dramatically simplify office work that you might pay a dispatcher for. While you are still responsible for finding & booking your loads with Truckbase, you keep more of your paycheck than through dispatch services and spend less time planning your week, scanning documents, and billing clients. Schedule your demo today!