Portrait of Caucasian trucker in casual clothes standing by his truck vehicle and looking sideways. concept: hotshot trucking
Timothy R
By: timothy-ronaldson
Read in 9 minutes

Hotshot Trucking: A Great Way to Improve Your Profits

Owners of small trucking businesses are always looking to increase profits, and hotshot trucking might be one way to do it.

Unlike some other forms of trucking, hotshot trucking concerns single jobs that typically must be delivered in a quicker time frame. In many cases, these jobs deliver goods to one specific customer rather than a fleet of customers or a big company.

Some hotshot trucking jobs may require a full 18-wheeler to accommodate the load. Others may be smaller loads that can be transported on a trailer bed attached to a pickup truck.

Hotshot trucking can cover everything from short distances to interstate and even inter-country commerce. 

Is hotshot trucking something you should consider as a small trucking business owner?

It depends, of course, on your situation and the jobs you can get. Let’s take a closer look so you can decide if it’s for you.

Plus! You can download our FREE load boards guide, which will help you learn where to find the best hotshot jobs in the market!

Red Lorry on M1 motorway in motion near London. concept: hotshot trucking

What is hotshot trucking?

Hotshot trucking is more of an on-demand trucking service. 

A customer has a specific need for a good or product to be shipped, and often they need it done quickly. 

These jobs typically don’t involve full loads or stops to multiple customers. In many cases, it’s a small job when compared to other loads. However, these jobs are usually very time-sensitive. 

Because of the time-sensitivity and the specificity of the job, hotshot trucking can often pay nice dividends. On a per-job basis, in other words, hotshot trucking jobs may pay a considerably higher rate than other similar “normal” trucking jobs.

A hotshot trucker could earn more than $100,000 per year. Median annual salaries fall in the $49,000 to $75,000 range. Compare that to the median annual salary of owner-operators of traditional small trucking businesses between $45,000 and $80,000. 

The two salaries, then, are pretty close on a median basis. But there’s a lot that goes into the two that can cause quite the variation.

#DidYouKnow
If you’re located near a city or crowded suburban region, you may have more opportunities for hotshot trucking jobs—and higher-paying ones at that. 

Vector set of semi-trailer trucks. Detailed, side view, icons. Isolated on white. Flat style. concept: hotshot trucking

Hotshot trucking: pros and cons

Being an owner-operator of a hotshot trucking company has some pros and cons compared to the alternatives. 

Pros

One of the major pros is that the overhead isn’t as high as bigger trucks. Class 3 trucks are cheaper to buy, and the car insurance is cheaper, too, when compared to Class 8 trucks for long hauls.

These lower start-up costs help owner-operators make a profit quicker. That’s very important for the long-term success of a company. 

The premium rates you can charge for hotshot trucking jobs are obviously a huge pro. In many cases, you are the one who’s in the driver’s seat, so to speak, when it comes to pricing. The customer often has a dire need, and you can fill that need for them. This allows you to set a much higher price than you normally could charge for trucking jobs.

You can also decide which jobs you want to take and which ones you don’t. If you don’t like a proposed route or if the pay is too low, you can simply decide not to take the job.

Many drivers also consider variation in jobs a positive. With hotshot trucking, you could be driving a different route and delivering different goods every day. It’s hard for it to become monotonous or boring in this way.

Cons

On the flip side, hotshot trucking jobs aren’t regular. It’s harder to expect a steady income with this type of trucking job. As such, you need to be prepared for some good times and some not-so-good times. 

You may or may not be able to handle that financially.

Being an owner-operator also means you’ll need to maintain your vehicle on your own. For example, if you worked for an outside transportation company, the company may provide you with a vehicle and/or pay for maintenance and repairs. 

What you need for Hotshot trucking

In most hotshot trucking jobs, you will be driving a Class 3, Class 4, or Class 5 vehicle. The Federal Highway Administration classifies these trucks as medium-duty. They are typically one-ton pickups that you can use for commercial purposes.

Here is the breakdown of the various categories:

Class 3
  • Between 10,001 and 14,000 pounds
  • A basic pickup truck that is considered heavy-duty
  • Commonly used for last-mile delivery as well as contractors
Class 4
  • Between 14,001 and 16,000 pounds
  • Heavier trucks but still non-commercial classified
Class 5
  • Between 16,001 and 19,500 pounds
  • Some light commercial trucks also fall into this category

With these three most common classes, owners will often attach trailers for hotshot trucking jobs to carry the bigger loads.

In general, you will need liability insurance and proof that you’re the business owner to run a hotshot trucking company. If you intend to transport goods over state lines, you’ll need a number from the US Department of Transportation. 

Finally, you’ll need to have an Operating Authority, which is also obtained from the USDOT.

Traffic on highway with cars. concept: hotshot trucking

How to get hotshot trucking jobs?

One of the most challenging and potentially scary things about owning a hotshot trucking company is finding jobs. If you’re already the owner-operator of a small trucking business, you know the challenge of getting jobs in the first place.

If you can’t find any jobs, your endeavor will obviously not be successful. 

So, how can you find hotshot trucking jobs if you want to make the transition? 

Most hotshot truckers rely on load boards to find this type of job. The load boards are basically like job listings. They are online websites that list available hotshot trucking jobs. 

These sites will list available hotshot trucking jobs that need to be fulfilled. Customers will post their hotshot trucking jobs to these load boards. In it will be listed a description of the job, including what you’ll be transporting, the distance to the destination from the origination point, the desired price (possibly), and a deadline for when the load needs to be delivered.

From these load boards, you can bid on jobs and potentially even reach out to customers to finalize contracts. 

Some of the load boards will allow you to filter your searches by location, price, deadline, and distance. 

Do you want to find the best load boards out there? 

Download our FREE Load Boards Guide.

FREE Load Boards Guide: get ready for hotshot trucking

hotshot trucking: FREE Load Boards Guide, camino financial

Hotshot trucking is a great alternative to traditional trucking for many small business owners. The immediacy of the jobs can often drive the price of each job significantly higher than typical trucking jobs.

Many truck drivers like the convenience and flexibility of hotshot trucking and the change-of-pace that it brings to the daily routine. It’s also a great option for many because of the relatively low start-up costs compared to other types of trucking.

The key to success with hotshot trucking is finding jobs. If you can’t find jobs, you won’t be able to make money.

That’s why it’s so important to master load boards that feature hotshot trucking jobs. Download the “LOAD BOARDS GUIDE” to find all the sites where you can find hotshot work.

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We at Camino Financial are constantly striving to live up to our motto of No Business Left Behind. We do this not only by providing our customers excellent small business loans but also by providing education and support. Our load buyers guide is just another example of how we strive to do that every day.

 

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