I have said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, the independent hotshot trucking business is a roller-coaster ride like just about no other occupation can be. One day you’re on top of the world and staying busy with good loads, the next day it’s over.
There’s a darned good reason I dish out hotshotting advice with a sharp tongue, this business is tough, and as I’ve just had proven to myself once again, it’s not just unpredictable, it’s exceedingly so, over the top unpredictable, and it takes either a real thick skin (or a thick skull) and a penchant for self-abuse and misery to survive it.
If your sensibilities are tender and you can’t take that advice and survive my bluntness, then it’s probably a fact that you’ll never survive in this business that’s cursed with Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde style fluctuations on a pretty regular basis.
Do I sound negative? I’m not feeling negative really, just making an honest, realistic, and direct observation from the inside of the business looking out.
I’ll say it again for you wannabe hotshots…
If you do decide to get into this business be prepared for anything at any time and hold on to your shorts. It’s a wild, maddening, frustrating, and sometimes completely baffling business that can make a sane person completely nuts faster than a 1970s muscle car can get from 0 to 60.
And if I was that car, I’d be sitting right at 59 right now, with just a little nudge I could go over the edge and blow a gasket at any moment.
For example, right stinking after tax time, and I mean exactly the moment we forked over taxes for last year and made our 1st quarter payment for this year’s taxes, my business just laid right down and died.
And I mean died. It didn’t even have the decency to have a few warning death throes, no sir, it just dropped right where it was with no drama whatsoever. It didn’t make a squeak…
It actually took me a little while to figure out that it was dead.
After all that good work I did over the past three years, really busting my butt to generate customer loyalty and all that stuff… it took a while just to realize what had happened. I mean, I normally have some time in between loads I book and until it goes past a certain point it just seems slow but relatively normal.
That’s what I figured it was at first, slow but normal, not slow and dead.
But that’s what it was, I clearly see it now, at least now that I have the advantage of being able to look back on the past month or so, and after putting out feelers to those customers and getting at least enough information back to be able to put two and two together.
This was the result of the hard-to-swallow but true fact that my little handful of reliable customers, for a variety of reasons, decided to either go belly up or stop using hotshots all at the same exact moment in time, leaving me hanging out here on a very, very thin limb a long, long way up off the ground.
And not due to anything I did, by the way if that’s what you’re thinking.
No indeed, there were other completely unrelated forces at work in this suddenly fatal plot and though they probably have no relation to one another, through the evil genius of “the worst possible timing” (also known as Murphy’s Law) they all contributed to hammering that last nail into my poor hotshotting business’s coffin.
Because they’re not telling me straight up what the troubles are, or telling me outright that they’re not using me anymore forever, but just delicately dancing around the edges and giving me little hints that other forces are at work here, I’ve had to read between the lines to figure out what has happened. And I don’t blame them for being tight-lipped, they’re probably seriously busy dealing with the problems that are keeping them from needing me and don’t want any drama from me if they just come right out and tell me what’s going on, when what’s going on is obviously nothing for me at the moment.
(Besides that, their situations are none of my beez-wax, so I have trod gently and very carefully with my inquiries and not pushed the issue with my dear customers. I wouldn’t do that to them as fortunes can and do change and I’ll be here when and if that pendulum swings back the other way. )
Not that drama is my thing, but they probably don’t know that and don’t have time to find it out.
I’m sure that all they know is things have changed in their particular environments and they are changing to keep themselves on the right side of the ledger. Me and my business don’t work into the important side of that type of equation, which is normal when you’re in a service industry like I am…
But none of that helps me feel any better about the position it leaves me in now. Which is starting back at square one and rebuilding my business from the ground up.
Hopefully I’m a little savvier than I was the first time around, and hopefully I can pull this off before it’s time for me to actually retire. In fact, I really hope to get things rolling again and be able to keep myself semi-busy and relatively profitable until that happy day actually arrives.
But for now I’m not such a happy camper, just the idea of starting over really, really stinks. And I have nobody but myself to blame, which is even more aggravating.
It’s not that I’m mad, I’m beyond mad, and not at my AWOL customers, but at myself for having gathered too few eggs into my basket. It doesn’t take much to break a few eggs and from now on I’ll remember it’s good to have a couple or even a few spares to fall back on.
And now that I have gotten despair and doom and gloom out of my system, gotten at least a halfway good grip on what happened, and figured out what I need to do to protect myself from a repeat of this particular dire and disturbing situation in the future, I have a plan, a scheme, a pretty good (if I say so myself) idea of where to start this time around.
With a lot more hard work, a little luck, and maybe just a touch of prior experience I may pull this thing off yet… Stay tuned…