The hotshot industry is different than most lines of work. You don’t exactly work nine to five, and you don’t have a set hourly wage. The pay is one of the biggest reasons people go into the hotshot trucking industry but wages will vary. There are some truckers that make $10,000 a year, and they only haul a few loads a month. Some truckers work every day, and they make up to $200,000 a year. It all depends on how much you are willing to work. Truthfully, if you are making enough money to cover your expenses (fuel, truck maintenance, load board fees, insurances, etc.) but you are still making a profit, you are making good money.
1.) Decide if you want to sign with a trucking company or a be an independent driver.
Both have their own positives and negatives, but you should decide what is best for you. If you sign with a trucking company you have more resources (a truck, dispatch, etc.), but they might keep a larger percentage of your driver fee. If you are an independent driver, you have to pay start-up costs, the price of fuel, insurance, and more, but you do get to make your own profit.
2.) Think about the location of your business.
It is important to consider the demographics of your location. Also, pay attention to any competition. Is there any other hotshot trucking businesses there? It is important to think about accessibility, laws, and additional costs (like taxes or insurance).
3.) Get the proper equipment.
Getting equipment is the first and (most likely) the most expensive decision you will be faced with. You want a super-duty truck and a big muscle trailer to make sure you can haul any load that comes your way. You do not want to be hauling a heavy-duty load on a cheaply-made trailer that was built in your neighbor’s garage. There you are swaying all over the road because the trailer didn’t come with a torque tube, and your frame cannot support the weight of your load.
Invest in a quality trailer so you can be safe and efficient on the road. It is important to do your research prior to purchasing to ensure you are making a smart purchase.
4.) Use hotshot load boards.
A load board is a great way for a hotshot trucker to get different jobs. It also puts you in contact with the potential customers. There are a variety of loads boards, and some are free and some are paid.
It is important to remember each one pays differently. There could be fees associated with particular ones. You have to test the water and see what works for you and your business.
5.) Bid well.
If you are using a load board, it is important to bid well. Don’t just take a load because it sounds like a fast way to make some money. You need to consider your expenses before bidding on each load. Your bid needs to be low enough to be competitive yet high enough to be profitable. The best way to do this is to know your expenses. Be aware of how much you are going to send in fuel, truck maintenance, payments, and any additional costs.
6.) Build a customer base.
Making connections and building a customer base is vital to your business. The best way to do this is to use load boards, but there are other avenues you could use. If you do a great job, they are more likely to hire you again, and you can build a long-term customer relationship.
7.) Target a particular niche.
There are a variety of niches in the hotshot industry and this is one of the best ways to build a customer base. There is a medical niche, commercial niche, agricultural niche, manufacturing niche, spare parts niche, perishable cargo niche, lightweight cargo niche, and the heavy-duty cargo niche. Depending on your truck and trailer, you can choose a niche that bests suits you.
8.) Avoid deadheading.
Deadheading is when a trucker is operating without hauling any loads. When a trucker is deadheading, they are wasting gas and adding more miles to their truck. They are not making any money, but in fact, wasting money. Say you are hauling a load from Birmingham to Louisville. You want to make sure you can haul a load back that way you are not just cruising down I-65 and not making any money. Schedule loads based on the way you are headed. This way you are not wasting money and driving unnecessary miles.
A lot of load boards have apps so you can easily schedule one on your phone, but it is best to plan ahead. When you plan ahead, it takes a lot of frustration and panic out of the equation.
Optimizing profits truly boils down to working hard and getting loads delivered efficiently. If you have any tips to optimizing your profits, let us know below.