Hot-shot trucking is a specialty niche in the trucking industry requiring expedited services. “Hot” shipments are especially time-sensitive and therefore cannot typically be consolidated to save money. Think of “hot shot” freight as flying “first class” whereas LTL loads are flying commercial.
Hot-shot trucking offers some key benefits for independent contractors looking to break into the transportation industry.
1. Hot-Shot Trucking Requires Less Upfront Investment
The primary benefit of hot-shot trucking revolves around its startup costs. Owner-operators can find lauds to haul as small as a few boxes or as large as a full truckload, therefore, your initial investment in a vehicle can be scaled.
2. Hot-Shot Freight Loads Involve Less Waiting Time
Horror stories of waiting and lost driving time due to long loading and unloading times span the Internet. Since hot-shot loads are time-sensitive, they typically require less time to load and unload. Less loading time makes freight more attractive to drivers, and drivers realize the benefits of extra time on the road, improved hauls and increased income.
3. Local and Regional Deliveries Offer Extended Time at Home
Another benefit exists in the form of increased time at home, not spending nights in a sleeper berth of larger OTR modes or countless motels. While some hot-shot drivers may spend the night out due to mandated time off-or for long hauls, the typically-smaller delivery area means more time at home. This translates to better management of familial and personal responsibilities, less stress, and often healthier lifestyles.
Meanwhile, the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations, which caused uproar throughout the industry, are also changing. In August 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a proposed rule that would let drivers pause the 14-hour clock for 30 minutes[LZ1] . The rule has received wide criticism, and a decision remains uncertain. Regardless, drivers run a lower risk of violating the HOS regulations with smaller, localized deliveries such as those found when hauling hot-shot freight.
4. Hot-Shot Drivers’ Ongoing Operating Costs Are Lower Than Larger, LTL Carriers
Drivers’ perpetual costs are lower for hot-shot trucking. The cost of operating a Class 8 truck in fall 2018 was $1.69 per mile, up 6% since 2017[LZ2] . Drivers can run hot-shot freight in a vehicle as small as a pickup truck; a 2010 Dodge Ram 2500 cost only 85 cents per mile in contrast to operate — saving 84 cents per mile[LZ3] .
5. Hot-Shot Trucking Enables Greater Self-Management
Lastly, hot-shot trucking lets a driver be his or her own boss. Drivers set their schedules, determine rates, choose freight, etc. Now, this benefit comes at the cost of managing an independent business, such as billing shippers and collecting payment. Again, those costs keel in comparison to the expenditures, as well as risks, in operating a Class 8 truck or fleets of larger trucks.
The Big Picture
Benefits and demand make now the perfect time to enter the hot-shot market or prepare for a successful 2020. While the trucking industry started to decline through 2019, experts suggest a sharp return of trucking value and demand in 2020. The market began to return to pre-2018 levels at the dawn of the 2019 peak season.
Still, 2020 will likely see a resurgence of hot-shot deliveries and demand, with for-hire freight, inclusive of hot-shot trucking, growing again in Q2 2020[LZ4] .
If you are looking are an independent-contractr or owner/operator looking to break into the same-day, rush industry with “hot shot” loads, give us here at First Call Trucking a call. We are always looking to add to our current team of qualified drivers.
Author bio: Steve Capper is Managing Member and CEO of InstaPay Flexible, a payroll-financing company for staffing agencies. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the California State University system (majors in both Marketing and Accounting specialties). In 1992, Capper teamed with Managing Member/CFO Steven Elias — then a veteran of the staffing industry but currently retired — to start InstaPay Flexible.