Today, many trucking company owner-operators are getting started with carrying hot shot loads — time-sensitive freight that fits into smaller, more conventional vehicles versus the traditional 18 wheeler.
Hot shot carriers typically drive mid-size, medium- or heavy-duty 4x4 trucks pulling a flatbed or gooseneck trailer, although a number of other vehicles and configurations are used in the business. After investing in their hauling equipment, however, many find it difficult to begin realizing a profit. How does one find well-paying hot shot loads in enough volume to guarantee a return on investment?
Hot shot loads through a personal network
If you are a well-connected individual — particularly with those in the construction or oil industries that leverage hot shot shipping services the most — there's a chance you can negotiate with shippers directly, without a middleman. Ideally, you'll have total control of the rates you charge and the jobs will come to you. This is a hot shot trucker's dream scenario — the independent owner-operator who makes his or her own rules. However, for the overwhelming majority, this is not the reality. Relationships and trust will have to be built up over time.
Hot shot loads through a load board
Many turn to hot shot load boards to get their wheels spinning. A hot shot load board contains job listings sortable by search parameters such as truck and equipment type, your current base of operations and preferred shipping lane(s), hauling capacity and preferences, and so on.
Depending on the season and your location, there could be an abundance of opportunities awaiting you there. Unfortunately, competition for hot shot loads can be fierce at times, with carriers often undercutting one another to secure job bids, resulting in lower profit margins. What's more, there can be significant delays in payment processing, which can cripple your operation if your equipment is in need of major maintenance or repairs.
Patience, discipline, and consistency will be required of you as you work toward a profitable enterprise. Timely deliveries will gain the respect of hot shot brokers (work with both shippers and carriers) and/or dispatchers (represent carriers only), which will culminate in more leads. Smart load management will eliminate deadhead (mileage with no freight on-board) and pay higher dividends.
Hot shot loads through a carrier company partnership
Another route you can take is to partner with a carrier company directly. They'll have partnerships with freight brokers already built up and jobs already in the queue — your mission will be simply to drive the hot shot loads from place to place. Many will do their best to accommodate your schedule, how much time you want to spend on the road vs. off. National Logistics Network allies with carrier companies who care and reward hot shot drivers for their much-needed and tremendously valuable services.