What is Hotshot Trucking?

What is Hotshot Trucking?
Published on November 17, 2022

Hotshot drivers and operators are highly skilled professionals who transport time-sensitive, project-critical loads such as agricultural and heavy-duty equipment and construction machines.

Instead of the bigger trailers normally used by truckers to transport freight between states, they drive super-duty trucks with trailers. Most hotshot drivers don’t want to commit to a single vehicle transport company, so they operate as independent contractors, taking on assignments as they come along.

The Advantages of Hotshot Trucking

Hotshot trucking is usually how many truck drivers begin their careers. Due to rising insurance requirements and stricter regulations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is attempting to steer new drivers away from earning their commercial driver’s license (CDL) and then immediately buying a semi-truck – a choice that usually leads to failure.

Instead of spending a year learning to drive trucks, the FMCSA found that if drivers gain experience on hotshots while building up their CDL, they will become better qualified for roaming roads and highways with bulky large trucks.

As a result, once hotshot drivers have sufficient experience and a commercial license, they will grow as well-trained drivers ready and qualified to operate in companies.

It’s worth noting that the regulations and requirements governing hotshot operations are very similar to those of semi-trucks.

Learning how to operate a hotshot can serve as excellent preparation for launching a career in over-the-road trucking. hotshot trucking offers several benefits, including a lower barrier to entry and reduced cost of operation. Due to their smaller size, hotshot trucks are also easier to operate and learn how to drive and maneuver.

Hotshot Trucking vs. Expedited Freight

Though they offer fast service and move time-sensitive products, hotshot and expedited trucking differ.

Hotshots are Class 3, 4, or 5 trucks that pull a flatbed trailer for extra capacity. They often deliver time-sensitive items like ones in the power grid in factories and major projects.

On the other hand, expediters drive cargo vans, sprinters, straight trucks, and sometimes, tractor-trailers and make a rush or emergency deliveries. They’re generally exclusive vehicles and do “straight through delivery,” meaning no stops to pick up additional goods on their way.

Read more about Types of Trailers Used for Hotshot Driving.

How Much Do Hotshot Truckers Make?

In the hotshot driving market, drivers are their own bosses; they get the vehicles, market their services, and set their prices. Because of this, rates vary widely from driver to driver.

The amount you get charged per mile changes from one haul to the next and depends on fuel costs, your truck and trailer combo’s mileage rate, and several other factors like weather conditions and availability.

The amount of money hotshot truckers can make depends on several factors:

  1. The amount of time you spend on the road
  2. The type of vehicle and equipment used for hauling freight (dump trucks vs. straight trucks, for example)
  3. Where you operate, the demand in a particular geographic area can change dramatically over time
  4. Type of loads being hauled (cargo vs. construction materials)
  5. Experience level
  6. Fuel prices
  7. Your costs.

For successful owner-operators, it’s critical to understand all their costs so they can set realistic rates and remain profitable.

Starting a New Hotshot Trucking Business

Knowing what you’re getting into is critical when starting any business, and hotshot trucking is no different. Here are the top things to keep bear in mind before starting a hotshot trucking business:

Research your market

The key to any business’s success is sufficient planning and research. Knowing the target clients should be the number one priority, as there are many different types of customers, including construction companies, manufacturers, and retail stores.

Those clients are the ones who most prefer hotshots over other transportation methods. So, research this client located near your local area and try to know what kind of service they are looking for. Once you meet the client’s needs, they will never look for another service provider.

Know your costs

In addition to knowing what type of customers you’ll be targeting, you also need to know how much it will cost you to run your business and how much these clients are willing to pay.

Keep in mind the insurance premiums, maintenance fees, fuel costs, and other operational expenses such as hiring staff or leasing equipment in mind.

Know the competition

The hotshot market is very crowded, and some service providers might be older than you in the field. So, some clients will trust them over you as a fresh driver. You better be one step ahead by getting to know the competitors.

Find out who else is in the market and what services they offer their customers because it could help you decide what you can provide better than what they already do and win over more clients.

The Bottom Line

Whether starting a business or hiring one, hotshot trailers are a great way to transport freight from one location to another. They are a valuable investment for new business startups and prestigious companies.

While some people utilize hotshot trucking for flexibility and convenience, some premium auto transport companies like Tempus Logix can offer similar flexibility to ensure customer satisfaction.

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