Hello Folks, I’ve been working my poor self half to death chasing loads for my guys, and not keeping up with my blogging as I should, for that I apologize. Turns out chasing loads is a full-time (I mean every waking moment) job that never ends… but that’s not exactly the point of this post.
Now I’m going to vent some and share a little dose of reality, and offer up another cold hard truth about hotshot trucking… and for that I don’t plan to apologize. But you may thank me later if this little bit of preventive warning keeps you out of hot water… or from getting into a less heated liquid substance, but still way in over your head.
Let me start with one fact about hotshotting that everyone ignores, and unfortunately so, since it matters to each and every hotshot’s bottom line. I know it drives me and my guys crazy, we deal with it as a fact of hotshotting life every day. That fact is this; there are too many trucks out there these days, and not enough loads to keep them all running. Which means that we sit as much as we run, and that’s not exactly the optimal situation for anyone trying to eke out a living in this business.
There, I said it, out loud, in front of God & everyone. And it’s true. And it makes life as a hotshot, whether you’re leased or independent, much harder than it otherwise needs to be, since the competition is intense even during good times. And now is not a good time for trucking, for a lot of reasons.
So let’s look at the issues that are making life so hard for the average hotshot trucker.
One is the simple fact that trucking companies make money off of trucks that are leased to them. The companies don’t care if the trucks leased haul one load a week or five loads a week. Loads on truck equals cash flow, and that’s all that most trucking outfits are after.
The problem is that some companies don’t know when to slow down on leasing new trucks. They figure the more the merrier, but the result is obvious, when they get more and more trucks, and not more and more loads at the same rate, someone is getting left out on the load end of the business.
And it’s usually everyone leased on who is affected, not so much the company itself. When there’s less work to go around nobody gets fat, everyone is hungry, and the competition is even more fierce than usual. The only saving grace is that the less persistent and more impatient new hotshots usually give up after a few weeks and go back to their day jobs, which restores the balance somewhat between trucks and loads. At least until the new batch rolls out and leases on thinking they’ll get rich overnight hotshotting…
Another problem is that our economy has been beaten to a bloody pulp by government interference, over-regulation, and a lousy excuse for an economic policy over the past decade or so. Which means that there’s less work to begin with than the old-timers were used to seeing. It didn’t help that we had the oil spill in the gulf, or that the EPA is running rampant, all of these things hurt our industry and it takes a long time to recover.
Which brings me to the expense of hauling those loads…as you may or may not know, the hotshot pays the expense to move the load then gets paid a set amount for that load. Whatever is left over then pays off other operating expenses, taxes, and wages to the truck owner/driver, and whatever is left out of that is, in theory anyway, profit.
Well, equipment is expensive to obtain in the first place, repairs are high, and fuel is so dear these days that it’s difficult to make a profit, particularly when there are too many trucks in the pool and not enough loads to put on all of them at any given time.
The guy who misses a load today also misses out on making operating money for tomorrow, or repair money that he has to spend to stay legal to haul, and so it goes. It snowballs, and with expenses so high, by the end of a week, if a guy has only one or two loads, he’ll end up taking home, oh, say, about the equivalent of 10 hours work at McDonald’s, give or take a little after all of his expenses are paid. And between hunting loads and hauling loads, and doing the paperwork involved in all of the above, he may have (and normally will have) put in a lot more than a 40 hour work week.
Oh, and McDonald’s won’t call you out at 2 am …
I guess what I’m saying here is this… If you are thinking of hotshotting, you might want to stop and evaluate the big picture.
Now is not a good time to for inexperienced newbies to jump in, most who have lately have jumped right back out again after being “burned.” I hear a lot of sob stories about guys who just dropped $50K on a truck and another $12K on a trailer, only to find out that the meager loads they can manage to scrape together won’t make the truck payment, let alone buy fuel and pay all of the other expenses. And they cry that they were treated unfairly, cut out of the “good loads” and generally abused. The fact is that everyone is in the same boat, when there is an over-abundance of trucks and an under-abundance of loads, nobody is happy, newbie or veteran. The veterans just know how to hunker down and hold on until things improve.
I think I can safely say I’m a good source for this information, considering the fact that my life now revolves around my computer screen doing the scraping together of loads for my guys, and let me tell you, it’s not easy, it’s not making anyone rich, overnight or otherwise, and even the old timers are having one heck of a time keeping their heads above water and paying the light bills these days.
That’s all I’ve got today, maybe things will look better tomorrow.