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A hot shot truck may seem like your average car: You can see many of them on the road and you may think to yourself “Hey! Doesn’t this truck look a little weird?” when in actuality you will be looking at what people in the industry call a “Hot Shot Truck”. Most of the time, these trucks are slightly bigger and more powerful than your average truck, and they are specified as Class 3, 4 or 5 type trucks that are used for towing and delivering urgent items. In the majority of deliveries, the urgency comes in the form of time management, because companies use hot shot trucks, or work with hot shot trucking companies because they need to get something to somewhere as soon as possible.
Hot shotting can be explained with three words: simple but intense. The reason for the simplicity aspect of hot shot trucking comes from the jobs that a hot shot trucker takes. Unlike other trucking businesses, a hot shot driver serves only one customer at a time. However, this simplicity also brings along a degree of intensity, because the hot shot driver has to complete the job as soon as possible to attend to more jobs to make enough money. This means hiring a hot shot trucking company will get you faster results, and you will have the ability to follow the operation closer. The operation of hot shotting is pretty simple as well, whether you are a new company or an independent driver, you need to find jobs in your area, and you need to maximize the work that you do during your work hours. So while becoming a hot shot driver is easy, the hard part starts when you have to be as fast as possible to satisfy your customers.
The answer to “How to become a hot shot driver?” is fairly easy. You need one crucial thing, and other requirements are just details. You need a truck. Without a truck, and a specific type of truck at that, you cannot become a hot shot driver. You need a well-maintained and good small truck that will not give you any problems in the long run. After you buy your truck and get all the necessary components you need, you have to decide what type of trucker you will be. Are you going to be a contractor? Are you going to go independent and look for jobs yourself? Are you going to be a driver for a specific trucking company? Answering all of these questions is important if you are just starting up because they may shape your career path. After the preparation and licensing, you are good to go for your first assignment.
The steps, training and licensing required on how to become a hot shot driver are slightly different and somewhat easier when compared to training for the operation of bigger vehicles. You do not need additional training other than the training that you receive when you first start driving for a company, and if you are already experienced in driving vehicles that are slightly bigger than an SUV, you will have no problem adjusting to hot shot trucks. When it comes to licences, however, some important things should be known. You do not necessarily need a Commercial Driving License (CDL) but without it, you will be limited to a certain weight so getting your CDL is recommended. In terms of mandatory licenses, you need to acquire licenses required by the country and states that you will be operating in to not face any problems while conducting business.
When starting your hot shot business, there are some tips and important things to consider that will make the operation of your business much easier in the long run. The first important tip is: Get yourself a truck that lasts. Sure, the new truck with all the bells and whistles may look good when parked outside the garage, however, what you mostly need to think about when operating a business like hot shotting is maintenance costs because while that new truck may look good, it will be no use for you if it breaks down every 500 miles. This is why it is important to do your research thoroughly to find the truck that will give you the least amount of headaches in the long run. The same thing goes for employees. Finding people you can trust and working with them to solve any problems that come in front of you, and even more importantly: making them feel like they are a part of the organization rather than simple workers will boost your business to incredible success.
There are not many things you need to start a hot shot trucking business. You need the specific equipment for the types of jobs you will attend, reliable trucks, and a spacious garage for your trucks. Acquiring these things will get you a pretty solid base, and do not forget: the important thing is the quality of the equipment you have.
The pros and cons of hot shotting kind of make it a job where you have to decide for yourself if you want to get into it or not. On the positive side, the start-up cost is pretty low, and you can make fairly good money if the work is steady and you are hitting your mileage goals for the month. When the fact of low maintenance and insurance cost is added, it seems like a pretty good deal. However, there are some downsides. The first of these downsides is the unstable workflow. Companies do not need hot shot drivers as much as they do long-haul drivers, so you have to work with many companies to keep the workflow stable. Another downside is the fact that you have to have drivers ready 24/7 because hot shot drivers have to respond fast and get the job done as soon as possible.
The main difference between hot shot trucking and traditional trucking is the size of the operation. Since you are dealing with much smaller trucks, the jobs that you do are done in a much shorter period, and the cost to get a job done is not as high. However, by having larger trucks you can do bigger orders, making you more money in the process.
When it comes to hot shot freights, the first thing that you have to understand is the distance. Not the load itself or the weight, but the distance. The distance of hot shot trucks is much shorter than long-haul trucks, therefore making the job time a little shorter. However, some hot shot drivers drive to other states or even across the country, so this makes hot shotting a miniature version of semi trucking. The amount of cargo is usually between 10,00 and 19,500 pounds, depending on which class your truck falls into. Additionally, you also have to carry a trailer with you when the job requires certain types of equipment.
The logistics of hot shot trucking are extremely important because, unlike semi trucking, hot shot trucks have to attend to multiple jobs before they can make a profit. Hot shot truckers have to maximize their work time, leaving little time to rest, and they have to be extremely planned to not run into deadheads. Deadheads are extremely important because if you, as a hot shot trucker, do not cover your deadheads, this means you waste time, fuel, and money. You need to also calculate the hourly rate of your trucks so you can cover all of the expenses, and make enough money to keep the business going.
Most of the regulations that cover the hot shot trucking businesses come from insurance companies and licenses that you need to operate your business. The rules and regulations may differ depending on the state that you are operating in or the insurance company that you are working with. It is extremely important to keep up with routine controls and regulations because losing even an hour in the hot shotting business can be detrimental to the survival of your operation. When it comes to having the best practice, the most important thing you can do is to have your own set of rules and controls, apart from the external ones. Running your business to your standard will make other regulations feel like a cakewalk.
Surviving in the hot shot trucking business is not an easy task. A lot of companies want their job done fast, and without any errors, so when someone or some company makes a mistake, these companies usually do not show any mercy. However, if you are willing to grind out for a couple of months, and have a solid plan about how you are going to approach the industry, you can make it. If you look around, a lot of hot shot drivers will talk about how they started small and planned out their work extremely carefully to get and keep clients.
Insurance is important for every business, but the importance of insurance is much more important when it comes to hot shot trucking businesses. You have to have insurance because not only you are responsible for your equipment and your workers, but you also have a responsibility to your client’s cargo. This makes it mandatory to have insurance. Protecting your business also comes from how you do your operations. You cannot always depend on insurance when mistakes happen: you have to know how to solve the problems and make sure that those problems never happen again.
The most basic strategy for marketing your hot shot business is to start locally. If you live in a big city with lots of factories or big workplaces, you can be sure that they all need hot shot drivers whom they can depend on. The best way to start is to do door-to-door sales, especially to companies that value their time. These companies are great customers to showcase your skills and work ethic because they are always in need of fast deliveries.
There are many challenges in hot shot trucking, especially if you are trying to build your business. The most important challenge that you will constantly face is planning. If you can figure out a planning solution, whether it is using a dedicated software or having a spreadsheet, you can overcome any problem that you face, because the skill that you develop with correct planning will help you see the problem before it even arises.
Staying competitive in an industry as cutthroat as this is a no-brainer, because if you are not competitive, you may lose your business before you even purchase your first truck. Understanding and accepting the fact that you have to be extremely hardworking, especially the first couple of months will prepare you for what is about to come. You can also get ahead in the industry by keeping up with the latest trends: whether it is using the latest technology to navigate your drivers or having the latest equipment, keeping up with the ongoing trends will get you quite far because it will show to your clients that you are ready to improve in a moment’s notice.