If Hotshot Trucking Was That Easy, Everyone Would Be Doing It… And Succeeding At It!


OK kiddos, I’m sorry, but today I’m going to burst some bubbles and spell out the cold, hard truth about hotshot trucking… It’s not all peaches and sunshine.

Don’t get me wrong, it can be a great way to make money if you have the right temperament for this kind of work, enough financial backing, and patience to deal with government paperwork and red tape out the wazoo,…but there are distinct down sides to hotshotting that most of us ignore/deny/reject while we’re in the honeymoon phase of true love with the concept of being our own boss and raking in the cashola with our little truck.

The reality is … this business is tough, competitive, and extremely unpredictable. There is no such thing as a steady paycheck, and you are footing all of the expenses up front.  You will also be in direct competition with a thousand other hotshots for every load you try to book.  And some days, and weeks, you won’t win the work.

Honestly, if my better half BB was not supportive (both personally and financially) and gainfully self employed, we would not have made it though the first year ourselves.  It took both of us working our tails off and making huge sacrifices in time and money just to decide if it was worth starting into year 2.  There were days when we didn’t think we wanted to keep it going, and some days we were encouraged just enough to try.  It’s that tough.

If you’re not a “self-starter”, thick skinned, good with money management, and able to handle stress well, do yourself a huge favor and keep your day job.

I’m talking about entire weeks that slip by without a single load, when the bills still have to be paid, groceries still have to be bought, and the cash flow is in the negative range.

On top of that, there is the absolute necessity to keep back a little nest egg to finance the next load that might come your way so you don’t have to turn down work for lack of operating cash, the worry that goes along with each and every one of these slow periods, and the uncertainty that goes along with this line of work.

And honestly, this sort of stress is hard on everyone, and can be a real deal-killer for stay at home spouses, especially when there are babies still at home who need to eat on a regular schedule and Papa is sitting at home burning up the cell phone, scrambling for loads that just don’t seem to materialize.

Oh, it happens.  It happens a lot.  And it’s stressful.

Anyone thinking about starting a hotshot business needs to get a good dose of reality before taking the plunge.

I get questions every day from starry-eyed dreamers (no dis intended, they are just like I was 2 years ago) who want to start their own hotshot business and become independent over night.

Sadly, most ignore (or at least appear oblivious to) the advice I try to give, and I can’t help but shake my head and feel for them.  I’m talking from personal experience here, and would like to save them from some of the rude awakenings I had to suffer on the road to hotshot-dom…

So this post is a wake-up call to all of you dreamers out there…

This is a tough business to get into, and tougher still to keep the truck moving consistently.  If you (and your spouse!) aren’t fully committed to making it work, don’t burn up the family savings account or go into debt buying equipment that may end up sitting idle in the driveway instead of generating revenue. 

Let me put it this way… the truth about driving hotshot is that you will be on-call 24-7, 365.  You will never be separated from your cell phone, even during the most inconvenient moments.  Whether you run your own show or lease out to a carrier, you need to be prepared to ask “How high?” with a smile when the customer/carrier says, “Jump!”

And they may not call for days, but will still expect you to show up within the hour when they do call.  They will require you to be professional and treat people decently when you do get there.  No griping or rudeness is ever allowed while either at the shipper or the receiver.  It only takes you acting badly one time (criticizing the fork lift operator, pitching a fit over something, being just plain cranky or disagreeable) to get you blackballed from ever setting foot on their property again.

I can attest to this actually happening twice to a driver I know who apparently is grumpy and has some trouble controlling his mouth.  If you give anyone a hard time at pick up or delivery, they won’t call you again at all, ever.  Worse yet, they will call your company or broker and specifically tell them to never send you out to their location again.  And that kills your business.  Which makes you even broker than when you started.  Get my drift?

You will be called out on weekends, holidays, in the middle of the night, on your anniversary, the day of your baby’s birthday party, the night you have tickets to see George Strait, and just about any other inconvenient time you can think of.  Sure, you can turn down loads, but if you turn down too many loads, you get shuffled to the bottom of the heap and will sit idle for days on end.  Turn down enough, and you might as well sell your rig and get a day job because you will be starved out of the business.

You need to know ahead of time that the loads you get won’t always be $3 per mile runs.  Especially starting out, you have to take what you can get as long as there is some slim profit margin.  You will also need to know what it costs you to run and know your bottom line rate.  You will have to suck it up and take the bad with the good to keep the truck moving.  Some days you’ll make a little profit, some days you’ll make a real good profit, and some days you’ll hit a snag with truck troubles or some other unforeseen problem and not even break even.

Some days you’ll show up for your scheduled load only to be told it’s been cancelled.  Nobody is going to pay for the fuel you burn getting there and back home.  Your truck can and will have break-downs, and you have to keep it in top shape to stay compliant with DOT rules.  That costs money and time.  Nobody else is going to pay those costs, or for your down time.

Other days everything that can go wrong will go wrong.  Murphy’s Law kicks in and no matter how well you planned, the whole load will turn into a major pain in the neck.  It can be as simple getting pulled in for a Level I inspection that puts you half an hour behind schedule, hitting heavy traffic or serious construction zones, or just a combination of a bunch of little things that make a particular load feel like misery on wheels.

Now, I’m not trying to be discouraging to anyone wanting to get into this business, but I am telling it straight and not sugar-coating it a bit.  The truth is, you have to be mentally tough, financially prepared, and willing to suffer some for the payoff.

You also need to understand ahead of time that even when there is not a job in sight, the truck still has to be maintained, groceries still need to show up on your table, the lights have to be kept on, and you still have to keep a positive attitude going, or you will make yourself both crazy and miserable.

Now for some free, friendly advice that nobody will heed…

1.  Don’t go into this business thinking you can make the big bucks with a little passenger pickup truck, it’s too limiting to what you can load and carry.  At minimum a 1-ton flatbed is required, (bigger is better) and there is a reason for this.  Loads will be fork lifted onto the bed of the truck and you can’t fork pallets or whatever over the sides of a standard pickup bed.  A lot of what we carry won’t fit in a standard bed anyway. And while some loads may be 35 lbs, others will be 3500 lbs.  You need the bigger truck to maximize your load capacity and flexibility.

2.  Don’t go into this business thinking you can survive the first year without having at least $10K earmarked for operating expenses in the bank in addition to all  equipment expenses.  Some do, and they’re lucky, but the majority of new independent hotshots go out of business due to lack of operating cash within the first 6-12 months.

3.  Don’t go into this business until you do extensive, exacting research on what is required, and if at all possible, actually find someone already established to ride with for at least a couple of loads to see how it all works.  This work is not for everyone, and it’s better to find that out up front than after you plunked down 50K+ in start-up costs.

4.  Don’t go into this business if your spouse is dead set against you being gone for days at a time, they don’t dig the idea of being in the hotshot business, or they are attached to the idea of having a steady weekly income coming in.  At least, don’t do it if you value your marriage…

and

5. Don’t go into this business thinking it will be easy money.  Trust me when I tell you there is no such thing.  Anyone who tells you different is blowing smoke up… well, you get it.   It truly will take you a long time to recoup your investment.  Don’t buy into the line, “Hey, you can make enough in one year to pay off all of your equipment.”  Technically, in theory this may be true.  But in practice, that money you generate hotshotting still has to cover everything else you already pay from your current job, plus all of your start-up and operation costs.

If you’re still with me and not too discouraged, (a little discouraged is good, it means you’re getting the reality of it and paying attention) then you may just have a chance to succeed at becoming an independent hotshot.

Just know that it’s not an easy, overnight process.  The rewards can be very good, but there is also real pain and a lot of time involved in getting there.

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116 thoughts on “If Hotshot Trucking Was That Easy, Everyone Would Be Doing It… And Succeeding At It!

  1. Thanks for the ugly truth! Now I am second guessing some of my choices. But still very interested in becoming a driver. I know I can do this if given the chance and all the stars line up right.

  2. Marilyn, You are very welcome! Not to say it isn’t doable, its just a lot of work and I hate to think anyone will jump in and find out they’re over their head when it’s too late. It never hurts to second and even third guess, plan, plot, scheme, dig for more information, and get the whole scoop, or at least as close to it as you can get before you decide to commit time and money to any venture. Like any business start-up, it’s always more expensive than you think it will be and takes longer to just break even than you think it will.

    • hey i have a question what size tag do u need to get on ur truck if you have a dodge 3500 and a 40 ft gooseneck with 2 10,000 pound axles under it wouldnt that be a X4 tag or could you get by with a X3 tag

      thanks

      • I don’t know what you mean by X tags, but my Dodge 5500 and 40′ trailer combo required an apportioned tag just like a big truck. I believe if you’re hauling for pay yours would also. Hope this helps.

  3. I have been reading your blog posts for the last few months and I love that you will give the information to us straight forward and no b.s. sugar coating! I’ve been dreaming of starting my own hotshot business since I was a young boy and always been fascinated by driving and being out on the road.

    My future wife and I are going to be getting the financial opportunity soon to realize our dreams of doing what we want and I told her what I wanted to do and she is supportive of my 100%. But I would love some personal input on what you think and if I’m leaning in the right direction. I will have the finances to support all my start up cost and have enough put back for at least 1 year of income( at what I make at my current job which I hate). I plan to speak with an attorney and CPA to get all my legal and financial necessities in order. I also have a rather good business connections with an oil field company as well as a fellow driver and my former employer. Just wanted to know if you can give some advice/ help as to wether or not I’m doing this the right way and getting all my research and ducks in a row before I even attempt to sink 60k into a new business adventure. I understand you are a very busy woman and any help is much appreciated thank you and God bless!

  4. Justin, It sounds like you have the right idea. I like that you have done your research as that’s the most important step in prepping to start a new business. One of your bigger expenses will be your commercial/cargo/bobtail insurance, so you need to get a quote on that if you haven’t yet. But yes, you sound like you’re on the right path. You might start working those contacts to get a feel for what size loads they would have for you and work your equipment around that. Good luck, I think you’ll do great!

    • Thank you very much!!! And yes that’s my next big hurdle is getting quotes on all the insurance and what not, then after I sign my life away to all that, I need to apply and get all my dot and ifta paperwork in order. I’m super excited but also extremely nervous but think its good to be alittle nervous and cautious. I’m not look to become a millionaire or anything, just wanting to make some money and do what I love to do

  5. thankyou for your honest information. I’m going into a early retirement (I want to get away from shift work) and will have an oincome from retirement invest ments. I would like to start driving and your site has given me the best inside informstion of any.

      • I’ve been doing some reseatch and I can’t seem to find any loads for hotshots. Well not in south carolina at least. Can you give me advice it seems that hotshotting is relatively small in the trucking field….. What route should I go.

      • Mr. Kelly, unless you’re in an oil exploration area you won’t see much hotshot work going on. You might think about expedited hauling for industries in your local area, try to find a niche nobody else is filling. Knock on doors and talk to businesses to see what they need in your area is my best advice. Oh, and I do believe there are some trailers that are built somewhere in Georgia maybe, and those do have to be hauled to dealerships, so that might be something to look into, if anyone in SC is doing that type of manufacturing.

  6. I am curious where y’all are stationed out of, what town/city do y’all live in. Because I have several friends who have started hot shotting recently and have had more calls then they can handle. I feel like you are being very honest. I just think it has a lot to do with where you are trying to hot shot from. We live in Houston, which has a ship channel, which can not hurt. Anyway. Just wondered. Thanks, and great write up.

  7. Thanks for the comment! You’re right, location is everything in hotshot work. Houston is usually busy as all get out just for that reason, the port. Other really busy spots are the Midland, TX area, North Dakota, and it’s starting to heat up in SW Kansas and here in my area, S Central Oklahoma. Some of the hotshots I know in Houston have the same unpredictable work load though. It’s either feast or famine, even there, which I think is just the nature of the beast.

  8. Hi my name is Daniel and i have all the equipment to do hot shot. I have a one ton with a 45 foot dovetail trailer and a cdl with hazmat. I live in Alexandria Louisiana and dont know where to look to find loads or even who i could lease my truck and trailer. Could you give me a few ideas on who and where i could get my trailer loaded.any info would be appreciated

    • Right off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure ACME has that territory pretty well covered. Check for their local offices there and give them a call. I talk to some guys who haul for them and they seem to stay fairly busy.

      • I talked to them and i am waiting on a reply back.I also heard about uship.com and other internet services but am unsure of them.Going to south louisiana next week to talk to some oil field companies.Are the internet services worth looking into or should i just go to my local businesses and talk see if the could use my services. And then again i would have to talk to every one because i dont know who uses this type of service.

      • Unless you want to haul animals and cars, I would stay clear of Uship. Nobody in the oil business is going to be using them, the oil folks use brokers or deal directly with their hotshots. Talking to people is the key, just stop everywhere and hand out business cards. You should be able to have some made up quick locally, and they don’t need to be fancy, just make sure they know how to get hold of you and know your name. If you don’t lease out to an existing company you will need to get your own authority and insurance, which is a long process, and you can read through some of my old posts on how to do that. Wishing you the best!

      • I looked into getting my own authority and insurance going talk to sba next week to see if they can help.If not i will be doing it myself. Ive looked at all your post and was very helpful.I looked at uship.com and the other services on the internet. uship is free where the other sites make you pay so much a month. Dont want to get a subscription if it wont have any thing good on it so gonna wait to see what acme says and talk to the local companies. Hopefully it will work out for me. Would you suggest i talk to the local small business development center or do it myself.Thanks for the info.

  9. Just so you know, you may not pay on the front end of Uship with a subscription, but they do charge fees if you take a job from their site. As to the paperwork, if you’re comfortable doing it yourself it’s not too bad. The SBA is, IMHO, pretty much useless for anything practical, but yours may be helpful. If you don’t get into doing paperwork, there are agents out there you can hire to do the work for you to get you set up. Not sure what they charge but I don’t believe it’s too much. The other internet stuff (Internet Truckstop, etc.) don’t have hotshot loads, although they try to promote LTL as hotshot, which it is definitely not. Keep in mind whatever you do that a hotshot rate is at a bare minimum $2.25 per loaded mile and usually quite a bit higher depending on the cargo and the need to get it moved fast, and nothing you will see on Uship or most load boards will even come close to that minimum.

  10. LTL is my bread and butter. I love hotshot- but there’s waiting and deadheading involved that eats through the profit margin. I mix and match. I can’t wait a month to move a poodle 6 states over for 42$ minus fee’s and expect to survive, so UShips out for me. I make just as much if not more by pulling freight than I do running shot- the trick is in the demensional planning and routing. 123loadboard will get you started. It’s not a great loadboard- but many of the brokers will work with newer carriers and it’s a fair price for what’s offered. Brokers like Landstar/UTI/Dixon/Admiral Freight won’t let you pull for them immediately(they have prerequisites you won’t meet if you’re just getting started)but enough will that you can sustain while learning the ropes. When you’ve had your authority and have references established, switch to Getloaded or ITS.

  11. I’m more of a part-timer as a hotshot, which is the point (yes, I’d take well-paying hotshot runs every day, but then when would we get to spend the money?) but I like my home time too much to give it up entirely. And the poodle thing! Hahahahahhaha, oh yeah.

    I don’t use loadboards because they don’t list hotshot loads to start with. What they call hotshot is usually LTL, which isn’t my cup of tea, but thanks for posting this as it’s good info for those wanting to get into the LTL side of things.

    Poodle, hahaha, yep….

  12. First off thank you for your site. It’s just what I needed to know. Anyway I know you say that at least a one ton is needed but I have a 05 gmc seirra z71 5600 v8 and two new 18′ trailers one is cargo not having to rely on making job lists every week but seting up a few runs maybe a couple times a year. You know smaller loads than what you would probably carry could I and would I make $ or would it wear my truck out fast? Like I said I already have the truck and trailers paid for and would like to just travel a little and make some $ along the way I don’t work a job I’m a stay at home dad so it would be more like my vacation travels with collected pay of course wear and tear Would I be able to make enough of a run to make it worth it?

  13. Alex, You’re very welcome and I’m glad the info is useful to you. I would say it’s better to wait and plan for the proper equipment setup if you want to get into trucking.

    If all you’re planning on doing is vacation travel, no, hotshotting is definitely not what you want to get into. Yes, it would wear out your little truck fast, and the paperwork, licensing, and insurances required would cost you a lot more than you can make doing a few runs a year. (If I remember rightly it cost me around $2200 just for the paperwork side of things to get my operating authority)

    The other option, leasing, isn’t too promising for a regular pickup truck either, most companies want more flexibility than a pickup offers

  14. Tommy Joe says:

    SMBurns, I have a brand new 1ton with 40′ trailer and I am based out of El Reno,Ok Do you know of any companies that are interested it leasing on trucks??? Everyone says ACME but I here they don’t have a terminal anywhere around here… I want to stick with just Oilfield loads if possible but I’ll take what have to if that’s what it takes…

  15. Hi Tommy, I don’t know who would be up in your area, but I can tell you I’ve seen multiple postings on Craigslist so that might be a place to start. Another thing you can do is keep an eye out for hotshot rigs and get the company name off of their trucks while you’re out and about. There is also a website that lists trucking companies by state and city, you can check that out and start making some calls. Here’s the link… http://www.quicktransportsolutions.com/carrier/oklahoma/elreno.php
    Hope this helps!

    • That depends entirely on what equipment you’re running. On a big rig, it’s 12K on the steers, 34K on the drives and 34K on the trailer tandems. On my truck it’s not set in stone, as long as I don’t go over my registered limit (45K total) and my load is properly placed on the trailer, I’m fine. The limit for me is whether my axles and tires are rated properly for the weight, and that’s probably the biggest issue for little trucks. Does that make sense?

  16. Hello, I have really enjoyed reading your blog. Do you have any interesting stories to tell concerning run-in with LEO or weight station? Also, what should a new driver expect to pay in insurance each month?

  17. Hi John, and thank you. I do have one story that I might just turn into my next post, well, maybe two or three now that you have me thinking about it… And it depends on so many factors that insurance for a new independent can go from 5K right on up to sky-high, if you’re leasing to a reputable outfit it’s a lot more reasonable as you only pay for what you use. The other problem when you’re new and independent is finding a company that will sell you insurance, there are a tiny handful and they each have their own qualifying factors and some restrictions on what you can haul. Hope that helps!

  18. Hi Mrs. Helpful Lady, Im located in Baton Rouge, La . I was wondering how i go about finding back hauls while being leased to a company ? Do I find my own or rely on the company to do so ?

  19. Hi DoubleNickel,

    That’s one of the problems with leasing…

    Your company should be looking for back hauls…but many don’t do it. Being under a lease, you probably aren’t allowed to haul non-company loads, or if you are I’ll bet they have to be booked through your dispatch and billed to your company, at best, with you getting a small “finders fee” type percentage of the load for bringing a “new customer.”

    I’d talk to your dispatch and see what’s going on. A lot of the big companies just don’t care if you’re loaded coming back or not, they want you available for their next load outbound, so they want you to hustle back and not spend any time on a return load. It’s more efficient for the company but makes a big dent in the owner/op’s potential profit margin. Hope that helps!

  20. How do you suggest finding LTL freight if not on load boards? I am fairly new in the business and that is where I have been looking. Most of our trucks are in TX, about 6 in the Houston area.

  21. Sorry for double post.. please reply here. I forgot to check email me with reply…

    How do you suggest finding LTL freight if not on load boards? I am fairly new in the business and that is where I have been looking. Most of our trucks are in TX, about 6 in the Houston area.

    • Hi Jenna, one of the better ways to find steady freight is to find a good broker who has a good customer list. When looking for brokers, do some footwork and talk to others who use them, ask about their lag time between loads and pay, how many customers they access, and if their current owners are happy working with them. One really good broker can keep your trucks moving and they normally pay within 7-10 days. There is one catch, it has to be a good broker, and there are a lot of not so good ones out there, so research is essential. Hope this helps!

  22. First I just want to say I love how straight up you were about this job. I totally agree. Unfortunately my parents got into this business and all went south. Many people would tell my dad that hot shot was an easy line of work and would bring in big bucks. My dad quit his job and got into the hot shot business. He bought a truck and trailer, and started getting work left and right then the calls started going down. When his first payday came he was exciting thinkin he was going to be getting those big “bucks’ everyone would mention to him. But no it wasn’t like that. It was only a couple hundreds. He thought well maybe next check will be better but no they were all the same. So a month passed and he still hadn’t seen that large amount of money. They were behind on bills, and not to mention stressing!! Tere was days when they didn’t have groceries. But I agree with you about the stress, because I would even stress just seeing them in that situation. But long story short he says he will never get into hot shot again. I’m just glad he got out of hot shot and back at his old job. I should’ve read this post way before he got into the business lol but I agree with everything you said 100%! It’s a tough job!! Thanks!!!

    • Hi Evelyn, I’m sorry your dad got sucked in, it sounds like he was leased to a bad outfit like I was my first run out of the gate. It happens all the time and it really hurts the industry’s reputation. Hotshotting is hard, and it’s not the work itself that makes it that way as your family sadly found out. I hope they’re recovered from the experience and back on their feet!

  23. I’m looking at starting my own hot shot business. I live in Alabama. I have been looking for some companies to lease onto or a broker to talk to. Do you have any advice for me thanks!!

    • Hi Randell, I would start talking to folks in the oil field and see if you can make some contacts. If you’re in a non-oilfield area then you would be looking more at ltl (less than truckload) freight which is an entirely different animal. You’ll need to decide if you want to run on you own trucking authority or if you want to lease to someone like Acme. Good luck with your venture!

  24. Hello and merry Christmas. I live in Maine and am seeking to learn as much about hotshotting as possible. My boss has a construction business, and we have several one ton trucks and various trailers that we regularly tow around New England. He is interested in starting a hotshot operation, but we truthfully don’t know much about it. Any advice or information you can provide would be appreciated.

    • Hello and Merry Christmas to you also Austin. I don’t know if there is any oilfield work going on in Maine, to my knowledge the closest oilfield activity to you would be in Pennsylvania. If it’s not oilfield, it’s not hotshotting. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just a different type of trucking. You might check around to see if there are specialty industries who would pay decent rates for expedited parts deliveries to their factories or to finishing plants. There’s a lot to getting started, operating authority, insurance, and more. You have a lot to think about!

      • Hi. I am currently trying to start my own hotshot/freight hauling business and I need some advice and guidance if you could please? When filing for my own Authority do I need to put in for motor carrier or freight forwarder? Then on to license and bonding? What insurance do I need exactly? Would that fall under an umbrella insurance? Or do you actually need a surety bond? Also, if you could please give me any advice on price per mile to charge from bare minimum to an average rate. Keep in mind I will be hauling freight also. And not afraid to travel the United states. In my 3500 diesel dually with 30 foot dovetail. Wether hauling cars, trucks, trailers, gas well equipment, well heads. Etc. Please help with any knowledge you have. Thank you very much and have a great day.

      • Hi Sean. You’ll need to put in for motor carrier on the authority. You’ll need the required amount of insurance per FMCSA rules, those are posted on their site. I haven’t looked at them in over a year so don’t know if they’re still the same… you’ll need liability motor carrier insurance, and truck / equipment coverage. If you haul oil field equipment you will probably also need General Liability coverage. Those are all available from good trucking insurance brokers. Be sure to use someone with experience so that you get your insurance filings done as required or you’ll end up getting revoked after 30 days… Don’t ask me how I know this, lol….

        As to rates, it’s been well over a year and a half since I retired. I can only tell you what my rule of thumb was when I was running. Now that fuel is over a buck a gallon cheaper (dang it!!) my old rates may be excessive. I just don’t know. But for general freight I had to have $1.25 per mile. For oilfield it was minimum of $2.25 for just the truck and $2.50 and up for the trailer. If it was a short run (under 100 miles) then I charged a day rate of $450 for the truck/trailer combo. Keep in mind most of my oilfield runs paid well over my minimums, but I also averaged $3.79 for a gallon of fuel for the years I ran. Hope this answers all of your questions, if not just holler and I’ll try again. Good luck, you have a great day too.

  25. Excellent info, I really appreciate everybody sharing. I appreciate you for creating this opportunity to vent and share and make better decisions. Wish I found this 3 months ago.. A real challenge. I’m sure there’s opportunity in hotshots depending on location hubs terminals proximity etc plenty variables. gotta get consistent loads to have any chance. Plenty of folks don’t make it. Odds aren’t good but the rewards can be great if one of y’all got the secret sauce formula in ur area with consistent loads at highest rates . Drive safe. GOD bless us all.

  26. How do you maintain any decent gas mileage?? Short and long hauls. What’s the number 1 biggest regret mistake ?? infrastructure ??

    I really do appreciate this space you’ve created. Valuable info. Wish I Could’ve found this blog earlier just 3 mos ago. Made sum mistakes. And sum good choices.
    Pause…Reevaluate all options consider it all before committing

  27. Thanks for the comments G.I., as to your questions…

    Decent gas mileage is one of the things I really worked hard to maintain, by giving myself plenty of time (when possible) to get from point A to point B. Keeping the speed as low as practical is the number 1 mileage improver. Driving steadily is number 2. Slowing down and speeding up eat a lot of fuel. For these reasons I usually ran 55-60 max unless I was really pressed for time, then I ran the legal limit but I could sure see a difference in my fuel consumption!

    I liked short and long hauls for different reasons, but liked truck only loads the best of all. It’s hard to fit a 40′ or even a 20′ trailer through Starbucks drive through. Just kidding, but it’s hard to find a parking area large enough, close enough to hike for that particular brand of coffee. Long hauls were great for being a highway tourist, got to see a lot of the country and when I had time I did a little poking around off the interstate. But they also cut me out of some lucrative short loads as I was gone for so long, so it was kind of a gamble taking the long runs.

    My biggest mistake was getting impatient during my last slow period, then leasing to a big outfit who were far more concerned with getting my weekly lease fee than in giving me loads. I could have saved myself some cash and stress by just shutting down the company six months sooner. Of course I didn’t know at that time that I would need to quit driving due to a little health issue so maybe it wasn’t as much a mistake as just plain bad timing for everything there at the end.

    My biggest regrets are that I didn’t get rid of the 40′ trailer sooner considering I was running a 2-ton and had other, more lucrative options, and that I didn’t understand just how crooked some outfits are up front. The good part of that is that I learned fast and did fine once I got out from under the bad outfit.

    Not exactly sure what you mean by infrastructure, if it’s business-wise I’d say you spend a lot of time doing paperwork under your own authority and keeping all your t’s crossed and i’s dotted, if you mean road-wise, a lot of places have horrible road conditions (Houston is probably the worst overall but there are a lot of really bad roads out there.)

  28. Hey there, and thank you for the continued replies over the years. Lots of excellent information.

    I live in the El Paso, Texas area and have recently subcontracted with a company that hauls large enclosed trailers for cars and furniture runs. The gentlemen said they do long distance runs that pay, roughly, $2/mi plus your cut of the load itself. They ensure you always have a return load either to a nearby city or our home town. No fifth wheel strictly bumper pulls using their trailers. I get my own commercial insurance and DOT number.
    — Does this sound like a pretty good gig starting out, considering the company provides their own trailers and the broker lines up all the loads so you have almost no down time? I own a 2013 F350, used to work in the oil field.

    And another question; my wife is wondering if her and the kids can tag along on some of the runs I do. Are there any laws against this? I haven’t found anything being I own my own truck as a contractor and make sure to add the proper coverage on my insurance.

    Thank you again for all the other information contained here!

  29. Thank you Sue for your quick response!

    Here I was thinking my F350 was a big truck! If I’m misunderstanding the term, I read that the F350’s were considered 1 ton trucks? If not, what truck would you suggest upgrading to? I personally am a huge fan of Dodges. With that being said, I have faced the sad reality of reliability and I chose to go with a Ford super duty while working in the oil field. I was also told by a hotshot that works the oil fields he suggests getting a 4500 or 450 dually for what I would be doing; is this sound advice?
    I was told that I would have to stop at the scales and be subjected to DOT regulations and inspections, since I drove a rig before this I am completely comfortable with their constant hassling… I mean them keeping me safe from driving with a torn mud flap. Haha, just kidding.
    The mileage rate, he said, fluctuates but he prefers to give his drivers a rough estimate. He said most runs will be between $1.75 and $2.50 depending on how far the drive is. Mostly long hauls over 1,000 miles. He leaves it up to the driver to let him know if we want a single load, which is considered a load there a load back, or if we want to make many stops along the way with more loads for more profit. The ‘cut of the load’, as it was explained to me, was a percentage of the total loads completed while “on the road with a trailer”.
    Thank you!

    • If you are pulling a trailer and $3 a mile isn’t your rate, you WILL go broke, unless you get lucky enough to have return freight. Have your own authority & customers & stay on the phone looking for work OR you won’t make it. pc

  30. Thanks for letting me know the truth about this game. I do fully understand the rules of engagement and plan to do well. I am doing this as a part time player until I can move into it full time. I am a OTR driver and do know that things can get tough, but I’m a fighter and I will get there.

  31. Hi there.. well , I’m glad to have find this blog. lots of good Info here.. I have some questions for you Ma’am.
    I do want to start my own Hot shot co. Hotshot carrier.com has offer to help with all the paperwork , Authority, Licensing and Insurance Info. I’ll like that. and their premium is not bad. (I think) my question is… I have enough cash saved up to get a new truck and trailer. how can I benefit for taxes paid when I purchase the equipment if I don’t have a business yet? in order to star a company they need to know the type and weight of the truck and trailer to get their registration and license and insurance. so, what I do first?

    • Hi Carlos,

      If I understand your question correctly, you’ll need to get your equipment purchased and have the VIN numbers first for your carrier to get the ball rolling. Once they have the numbers and the paperwork completed they’ll be able to plug in your specific VIN numbers on the paperwork that you’ll need to carry in your truck.

      As to the taxes paid, you’ll want to keep real good records and you’ll be able to take taxes paid off when you file for 2015. Keep every receipt for everything you spend for the business, no matter what it is! I use TurboTax for Business which is a really simple program, but you still have to know what to enter and what category to make the most of your deductions and depreciation. Good luck! Hope this answered your questions and is of help to you.

  32. What would be your suggestion for getting started in North Dakota? I have been in the oil field for about 5.5 years now and have a few connections now. I haven’t read all of your blogs just yet, this is actually the first one. My situation is that my co-worker and I were wanting to get into that line of work starting that together. He has prior experience with running a company. What would be your best advice for us to research and figure out what to expect and how to go about with getting started?

    • I am considering hot shot and/or LTL, but really don’t know the difference, could you explain. Also, I have a Dodge Ram 2500 6.7L diesel Heavy Duty 8′ bed, after reading previous comments, it appears that I can’t do much with this truck, can you please advise?

      Thanks

      • Hey Drac, read my post explaining the difference between hotshotting and other types of trucking for an in-depth explanation… But… The short answer is hotshotting is getting parts to oil rigs in emergency situations. LTL is hauling a small partial load of whatever you can find to haul to wherever you can haul it, and most LTL haulers pick up multiple partial loads to get as much on their trailer as possible before starting a trip to deliver them.

        Your 2500 is a 3/4 ton truck, which is fine for very light stuff and day to day personal use, but not built to withstand the continual stress of towing a 40′ trailer loaded to the gills. To hotshot successfully you have to be able to do just that, pull a 40′, so the minimum recommended size of truck is a 1 ton. I personally like 2 tons better due to higher towing capacity and the fact that you can haul more weight on the truck itself.

    • Jesse…
      Sorry to be so slow in answering… I’d say your best resource for research, sadly, is this blog. The reason I started it was the fact that there was no information available to me when I was thinking of starting my own hotshot business. Read everything you can get your hands on and be sure you understand what you’re getting into before you lay out any cash. That’s my best advice.

  33. Hi, my husband started hotshot driving back in November. It was going alright until June when his dispatcher had a tragic family incedent. She has bravely been trying to keep her drivers going, but it’s not going very well. Does anyone have any advice for how to find another dispatcher? Preferably one that does not require leasing or contracting with them. Thanks so much

    • Sorry Jennifer, I never used an independent dispatcher so I’m not sure how you find them. Is your husband driving his own truck on his own operating authority or working for someone else? If he’s working for someone else, the owner of the truck should be able to find him another dispatcher.

  34. Hi, I so glad I found your blog. I am in the process of getting my own authority and running a hot shot business with my husband. We only plan to run on truck and start off part-time before my husband quit his income job. Do you have any suggestion on how much to pay a driver just in case my husband change his mind?

    Thanks,

    • Most of the big outfits pay in the range between 15% and 25% of the load rate to the driver. Having said that, if you aren’t going to run your own truck, especially with only one truck, you are better off not doing trucking IMO. Keeping good drivers is a constant struggle, and having any down time if you lose a driver can pretty much put you out of business altogether.

  35. Good evening I came across your blog as I was doing some research on hotshot loads since my dad is planning to invest money in a new business. He recently purchased 2 dodge dually 3500 and trailers, he will be leasing his trucks to a company but I want to make sure that he is making the correct decision. My questions is, is he doing the correct thing by leasing his trucks or should he start this business on his own? If he should start this business on his own, what would be the starting process and how can I get more info on this business? I am not familiar with hotshot loads but I would like to help my dad make this a successful investment. Please advice thank you.

    • If he has set-up and contracted with a legit customer (which I doubt btw), forego leasing on with anyone and go make some money.
      Without any experience and nothing but investment funding available, I’d have a hard time doing anymore than thinking about the HS business. Stay away from the HS game unless someone has taken you under wing.. pc

    • Hi Yesi,

      This is not a good time for anyone to get into hotshot trucking IMO, the oilfield is in a slump since the price of oil fell… if by hotshotting you are talking about actually hauling for the oilfield. If that’s not what you’re talking about then we need to have a separate discussion.

      Having said that, and understand here that if you had asked my advice before he bought equipment, I would have discouraged him from buying it….. unless your Dad has contacts in the business and has reliable customers lined up, then leasing to someone who is in the business would be the way he would probably have to go.

      Sorry to be so negative, the timing is just bad, bad, bad for any oilfield service type work.

      • It is also a bad time for anyone using loadboards (and thus using brokers). The current price on average is $1.37/loaded mile, And most loads we have to deadhead 150 miles or more. We have a truck that has been parked for 2 months now with a continual $1,660/month insurance payment. It is getting really bad. Really, really bad.

  36. Hi my name is Steve I m in trucking since 1990 I purchased a new dually 3500 HD 2015 new gator made trailer 40′ flat never pull a load yall have anybody want to buy

  37. I think I screwed up the online process I got my dba and eic # just need to apply for my mc # is there anyone I can hire to go threw step by step with the papper work

    • Check in the nearest large city for agents who do the paperwork processing. I know OKC has some, they do charge for helping but know what they’re doing, so it can make the process less painful.

      • Thanks for the help I have got my dot mc now looking into liabiliy insurance just looki g for some good factoring companies

  38. I really enjoyed the post and loved the insight. I am a IDOT employee with the ability to retire at 55. I drove OTR for years and my wife and I loved it but wanted something with a retirement. I have a friend with his own authority that I have been bouncing the idea of Hot Shot loads. I am at 6 years till I retire and plan on buying a 1ton diesel dually 4×4 crew cab and hopefully have it paid off by retirement.
    Thinking something along the lines of a Big Tex 40 foot with dove tail and ramps. I will have a decent income before doing this but not set for life and just trying to stay with the things I liked about OTR. Just thought I would throw some ideas out there and see what response or idea I might be a little off on. Thanks

    • Thanks for the kind words Ed, I have to say if, if, if, the oilfield makes a comeback, then yes, it might be something to do in a few years. Until then we can only hunker down and wait for the business to pick back up. Wishing the best for you!

  39. Thanks for the reality check. My husband and I are on the “road” to getting on the road. Fortunately, we are disabled veterans and both get checks from the VA every month. We have nothing tying us down; call us modern day nomads, so this idea of taking us where ever the wind blows will, at least I hope, serve us well. I have so many questions, but potential future competitors aren’t all that nice. My husband and I are both extremely well suited to the criteria you listed above as far as personality traits are concerned…well, you do have to have brass balls and skin as thick as leather to be in the Army.
    My questions are more “regulation” oriented than anything; for example….if both my husband and I are driving with a DOT approved sleeper on our truck….how many hours can we operate between the two of us? I have heard 14 hours max with 10 continuous hours of “sleeper berth.” Is this true? I just need someone in the business that will be my mentor…I don’t mind the cold hard truth…just don’t want someone that is going to be cut throat simply because I share a job title with them. I have a handful of people that are wanting us to haul for them, so the likelihood that I will step on your toes is very slim. Thank you for being so brutally honest and if you would give me the great honor of becoming a mentor to me, my email address is kristin6767@yahoo.com; I completely understand if you aren’t willing or able and still wish to thank you for the advice you posted above. 😉 I am happy you have succeeded and hope one day I can say that my husband and I succeeded. Take care. Love from Tennessee.

    Kristin

  40. Hi Kristin,

    Thanks for the appreciation, it means a lot!

    On the hours of service in a nutshell, you have a 14 hour window in which you can drive. The 14 hours follows a 10 hour or more off duty period, and begins when you start any kind of work. Within that window you can drive a maximum of 11 hours with a mandatory 30 minute break sometime during that period, but you have to take it at the 8th hour if you haven’t already. You can’t drive more than 8 hours without the break in other words…

    This is just the beginning of a convoluted set of rules governing Hours of Service. I never ran as a team driver, and never had a sleeper to log hours, so I can’t speak to the intricacies of team logging… But here is the link to the FMCSA rules on the subject…

    https://cms.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Drivers%20Guide%20to%20HOS%202015_508.pdf

    Just fire away with any questions, we can just post them here so they might help out someone else as well.

    Sue

  41. Pingback: How To Cancel 123loadboard Account | Lalataso-3

  42. Hello, i am interested in running a hotshot business but now i am questioning myself. I am currently a tractor trailer driver now and still very new at it. I am still doing research on hotshot but i don’t know what info to look for. I don’t want your comments to scared me out of it even though thats not your attention.. Lol but i want the feeling of being my own boss. So my question to you what adivce can you give me so i can be successful at it? And question number 2 if the business can cause so much pressure and negatively why are you still doing it? Thank you for the truth…

    • Hey Trei, I retired in 2013 when the oilfield started busting to answer your last question. Until the oilfield makes a comeback I don’t see how anyone can do much hotshotting since the call for loads is way down and the big outfits have most of what little work there is right now. Wish I had more positive news for you.

      • I have questions for sure. My Ex husband ran LTL/ Hotshot runs and his business only lasted for 2.5 years. 2013-2015. He had 3 box trucks and One Flatbead. Well these trucks always had maintenance issues. He found it very difficult to find routes back. He was covering SE region, going out of Atlanta. Now moving forward, my finance has suddenly (and I mean suddenly) decided to purchase a F350 and a 40+ ft Trailer with no cash flow for overheard. He’s going to work under someones Authority to learn the business (wouldn’t listen to me) and run his own business. Guys doing this same thing are telling him they are making $10/ monthly. I really don’t understand how because I was there during the rough time and stress of my EX. Do you think today things are different? I mean deadhead/ routes with freight coming back. Being there’s no initial cash flow, and money earned, please provide your view. I pretty much know what you may say…

        Al

      • If your area of operation is busy, go for it. I’ve got a complete rig for sale (BTW.)

      • Right now is bad for hotshotting due to the low oil prices and no work in the oilfield. We didn’t get many backhauls in the oilfield hotshot business, so it was considered normal to just run out with one load then come home empty for the next. I can’t say what’s going on in the LTL world, but if he’s looking at oilfield it’s still bad. With no cash to run on, I give him a month or two unless he just lucks out and gets in with someone who does have steady, good paying work, which theoretically could happen… I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

  43. thanks so much for your response…it’s just as I figured. He has so much hope, but honestly my finance didn’t do his homework and also just think…No Cash to work with. He’s going to work under someone else authority and pay them 10-18%. I told my finance.I don’t think he will have a load coming back and his pay per load “may be” $250-10-18%…such a lost. The guy he’s going to work for said he can get loads coming back but I really don’t have much faith in him. Thanks again!

    Al

    • Here I go again. I want to make sure I”m looking and calculating this load correctly. Savannah GA to Valdosta GA (160 miles, paying $300 one way for the load). $300/160 miles = $1.875 profit per mile. This is correct, right…such a loss…

      Thanks,
      Al

      • Unless you are able to have a return too, nope, #3.00 per mile one way (if you are plulling a float) will make you a living. Anything less than $2.35 one way without a float was my limit.. pc

      • Thanks Gary, by the look of things it may not be so easy to make $2.35 per mile, especially if you’re working off someone else’s authority. The company or individual you’re working for will take their 10% off the top. To answer my question, this is how the routes/ miles are calculated correct…example: $300/160 miles = $1.875 profit per mile….did I do this correctly?? I need to show someone so they will know how to look and calculate their profit or Loss.

        I appreciate your help,
        Al

      • If you are OK with that rate.. fine. If you plan on coming back empty, cut your rate in half, go for it if you can do it and make a living? Have you EVER figured the milege expense per mile and divided it by the minimum hourly wage? If you are wondering why the added $ 0.40 per mile, you are getting closer to the true expense of an operation.. pc

      • $300 for 160 miles would be $1.875 per mile, and the $300 is your net. Your fee to the company, your fuel, and all other operating expenses have to be deducted from that amount, and what is left over is your profit. Not a great deal IMO…Back when I ran it cost me about $.60 per mile just to run, truck cost, insurance, fuel, maintenance, taxes, fees, licenses, permits, etc. It would be significantly less now with fuel down to about half of what it was when I retired, but that’s still not great pay. It’s not horrible either, just not great, and certainly not $2.35 per mile.

      • Unless you were GIVEN your truck, I don’t think you are getting a true indication of your operating expense. Either things are booming or you would be better off parking the rig and driving a semi for someone. pc

  44. Thanks so much guys…SMBurns, so yes I’m correct when I explain the Cost/ Loss to my finance..you explained it well. Thanks so much! Gary, nope the truck wasn’t given nor was the trailer, he just financed both…I appreciate you both…

    Al

      • Here I am still calculating. It’s pretty evident I’m missing something. I’m seeing a pretty good monthly income right now. I’m going to break this down by Net – Expenses (sorry but I just can’t seem to leave this thing alone:-))

        Here we go:

        4 Runs a Day for 5 Days @$300 each ($1200 a day), when subtracting the %10 we will pay for each run to work under someone’s Authority ($120 each day), approximate fuel cost for 4 Runs Daily ($400 each day), that’s $680/ Day. $680 Day x 5 Days is $3400. $3400 x 4 weeks (One Month) is $13,600.

        We subtract the monthly insurance ($1100), subtract the monthly note for Truck and Trailer ($840), I see an actual monthly NET of $11,600 a month. Now this isn’t subtracting out the quarterly taxes.

        Am I correct in my calculations…Is this Correct? I hope I’m making sense here…

        Thanks again!
        Al

      • Let me give it a go…

        4 runs per day at $300 each = $1200/day x 5 = 6,000 per week x 4 = 24,000 per month gross.

        Your 10% to the carrier would be 2,400 per month.

        Not sure how you’re figuring fuel costs, I figure at very worst case scenario, you should get 5 mpg. Using that at 640 miles per day, your daily diesel should run you 128 gallons per day at about $2 per gallon, or $256 per day, $1250 per week, and $5120 per month.

        Insurance at $1100, note for $840, I’m getting $14,540 left so far.

        Some things you may not know you’ll also be paying out of that are taxes, both income and business, as well as IFTA, any fees and/or permits needed to get the work done, you’ll also want to sock away at least as much as you’re paying out for that truck/trailer note every month that should be earmarked for a replacement rig in 4-7 years. Its going to wear out the one you just bought, so plan ahead and have cash handy for it when its time to replace it.

        So figuring for all of that, you should expect to set aside another 25% of the “net” above for those items, $3635, which leaves us at about $10,905.00…

        And then there’s truck maintenance and repairs, tires, etc. Figure at least $500 per month set aside for these, and that’s if you do the oil changes, etc, yourself. When it’s time to buy tires, you will be laying out a big chunk of change, and you have to keep close tabs on the condition of your equipment. That leaves us at about $10,405.00

        You’re also going to have other expenses, depending on if you have to stay out overnight working, you may end up with motel costs, meal costs, etc. Figure accordingly for these. I won’t deduct them since you don’t say if they’re needed…

        And finally, a salary to the driver. Figure out what you want this to be and calculate it into the mix. For instance, if you pay the driver by the mile, the usual pay would be figured between .25 and .40 per mile. Let’s say you pay at .40, then your driver would cost you $5120 per month, leaving you a profit after all expenses of about $5285 per month net.

        (Remember, when you pay the driver you also need to deduct payroll taxes or pay them as a contractor which means they’ll need to save back money to pay their income tax.) You’ll need to consult a tax pro for which way you should go in your particular situation.

        Now, my concern with your scenario… If you actually do 4 runs per day at 160 miles each (round trip total miles) that would be a daily total of 640 miles, which, if done legally, may not be doable in one day.

        I found that with traffic, stopping for fuel, and other delays that a very good (legal and safe) day driving is somewhere around 500 miles…

        If each trip is 160 miles out then back 160 more, there’s no way to do that in one day obviously, and it would be really pushing it to get it done in two days, so you need some clarification on that.

        If it takes you 2 days to do the 4 runs then cut your gross in half per month and figure your expenses accordingly.

        And finally, I’m assuming your fiance is aware of the rules of driving and keeping a driver’s daily log. If not, he will need to study up on that and be sure his log is up to date as he goes through his workday.

        This reply was pretty long, but I hope it helps!

  45. Thanks so much, you really broke it down…I really appreciate you. We don’t have to calculate pay to driver, he will be driving his own truck, so without taking out Taxes and Fees that leaves us at about $10,405.00 month if 4 runs will be doable. He has a warranty for 40k miles, so he will renew before the warranty runs out. Please let me know if I’m correct and if you can think of anything else. He will start being a carrier for someone under their Authority next Wednesday. Thanks again!!

    Al

    • You’re welcome! And….Ok, let me start with terminology… When you sign on with a carrier you’re leased to them under their operating authority. So technically he’s going to be leased. This means he’ll have to post their dot number and name on the doors of his truck. He’ll also get IFTA stickers for each side of his truck. And he’ll be responsible for turning in fuel receipts and driver’s logs to the carrier, and I’m sure they’ll walk him through exactly what they expect of him.

      When I say pay the driver, I also mean pay the owner/driver. A lot of folks bypass this step and end up broke. Why? Because it’s expensive to run a trucking business and if you don’t pay yourself and budget that pay into the mix, when things happen like breakdowns and such, you’ll end up paying for the business expenses and have nothing left for living expenses and normal at home bills.

      It’s important also to note that I re-read your original post, and if I’m understanding you correctly, he’s talking about 160 miles one-way and then a return trip empty. As I said, if that is the case, he’ll only be able to do two of those trips a day at the very most, not 4, and that will be pushing the legal driving window very tightly, and two entire trips may not even be legally possible. He needs to see how that goes by doing a sample drive before he starts Keep in mind a driver only has 11 hours per day to actively drive and that is within a 14 hour window…. So what you’re thinking will be $10,405 per month may in reality be more like $5,000, and if that will pay the bills at home and keep the business running, then okay… If it won’t then he needs to think of a plan B to make more $$.

      That’s all I can think of at the moment, let me know if there’s anything else or any new developments, and I hope this is helpful!

      • Thanks again, Well as I stated earlier, he start this Wednesday. I’m very anxious to see how this goes in a month. I’m going to let you know how things go for sure. You’re totally Awesome and I appreciate you so much. I’m “Hoping” things go well, but I’m a little nervous because he’s really listening to everyone tell him how much money he’s going to make without really asking many questions. Starting Wednesday we will see how it all works out. Thanks again, I’ll speak with you soon, enjoy the rest of your Sunday and your upcoming beautiful week!

        Al

      • Al, I read through this whole thread and am curious if things are working out for you guys. Best wishes.

      • Hi, thanks for asking. Well my fiance’ is working/carrier under a friends authority, so the guy he’s working for is finding the routes for him on the Load Board (my fiance’ should get his own authority soon). So far OK I guess. Of course the more miles driven, the more money made it “appears”. After subtracting the fuel cost, the 10% for use of authority, the Truck and Trailer monthly cost and insurance, it’s a break even and sometimes a LOSS. The note is due on the truck and trailer and insurance early September and I think some of the expense will have to come from our personal account :-(…It’s still early in the game, but there’s only so much time in the day for one route it seems and no more. My guy isn’t doing this full time yet, he still works on his job 2-3 days out of the week. Although fuel cost is low, the traffic eats up quite a bit of the money made for the trip. The first route my finance’ carried, the trailer had a flat ($200 service call and $30 used tire). I don’t know yet how it will all pan out (trying to stay positive for him). He has much confidence that it will work out since there’s a lot or routes out there. The problem is, he never has a route in distance on the way back. So getting paid one way with no return back. I’ll keep you updated.

        Thanks again!
        Al

  46. Hi guys, I’m back. We’re thinking of hiring a driver realizing it’s going to be more overhead. How do we calculate the pay rate for the driver. For example, if the driver runs 500 miles, is there a flat rate or percentage you would pay the driver??

    Can someone please use my scenario of a 500 miles route and help me calculate pay for a hired driver.

    Thanks,
    Al

    • Okay, I’ll give it a shot…

      To start with, a driver usually is paid by percentage of the load in hotshot driving. In big truck driving it’s usually figured per mile. But of course those are generalizations and it can be done either way.

      For a hotshot diver the range of pay is usually between 25%-40% of the load pay. If your job is 500 miles at $2 per mile, or $1000 total, the driver at 25% would be paid $250 for the trip.

      If you want to go with a per mile rate, most of the big outfits start somewhere around .42 for inexperienced newbie drivers and the rate goes up from there depending on experience. If that’s your pay method, for your 500 mile job your newbie beginning driver pay at .42 per mile would be $210.

      Remember, in either scenario you are also responsible to take out taxes and prep W2 forms for your drivers as they are employees and not contractors. You may also be responsible to deduct and submit things such as wage garnishments and child support as an employer.

      And just hiring a driver is a daunting task, check the requirements for background checks and paperwork that must be done before anyone is hired, it’s posted at the FMCSA website. You’ll also need pre-hire drug testing done for every potential new hire driver, and you’ll need to be in a consortium for that and random testing that’s also required after one is hired.

      It’s a lot to think about and a big step to start hiring drivers. Hope this is helpful.

  47. I am about to buy a hotshot company(4 heavy duty Dodge Rams,and all his runs and contacts),I had realized a lot of what you had said in this article.What I have a question about is ,Is now a good time ? In general and with the election coming up? If our economy gets a boost will I be ahead of the game ? I was never expecting $3.00 mile runs, I was planning it on $1.30 mile runs.

    • Are you talking about actual oilfield hotshotting, or ltl freight? If oilfield, no way.

      I don’t know enough about LTL really to give good advice there.

      It also depends on what you’re spending and what his contacts and equipment are worth vs. what you’re paying. IMO contacts are not worth big $$$ but may be worth a little. There’s no guarantee without actual contracts that you’ll get the contacts’ business.

  48. hey hi thanks for the hard kick in the teeth i am a truck driver with several yrs of experience well over 20 yrs however in the last 13 i have had to let my cdl,s go because i got so sick spending a lot of time in the hospital for various things so it has taken this long plus finding a new doc to actually help me with my problems and tell me what is going on and not keep me in the dark like my old doc did so now that i am getting all of my health problems back on track i will be going back to what i love shifting gears and getting it done i think i have a contract with one of my favorite companies i believe it is a ten year contract set to increase my pay by 3.82% each yr until the contract runs out its great to have some connections to help me get hooked up but besides that its also an even better feel to put a stop to all of my naysayers that have told me that your to damn fat and slow you cant do that you have to many sicknesses that keep you down just go dream in a bucket and shut up fat boy so yeah i am getting this done i have already lost 34 lbs now thats not much but it is a start but i have a lot further to go but i am good with that as long as it keeps falling off i have only been doing this for 6 weeks so i hope by the end of april or the first of may i will be where i can do something but yeah i need to do this for myself it is validating to get to do as i should have been doing all along from way back but i now am getting there as far as the truck and my employ with that company its all coming together just as i had hoped it would be but i am just happy to be out of that hospital where i can be free again to look at the things that interest me to say what i want and most important driving again not just truck to drive anything so thanks scott

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