Maybe you have always wanted to be a truck driver. Maybe you are or have been an OTR driver for a trucking company and are tired of not being home more. Or maybe you have always wanted to have your own business, be in charge of your own schedule, and be home most nights, but all you know is “trucking.”
Have it in mind that you can leverage that desire and/or experience into starting and operating your own hotshot trucking business. While truck drivers will always have to go where the loads are, being a hotshot driver gives you more control of what you carry, where you go and in short, gives you more control of your schedule—and income.
Trucking is without doubts one of the most lucrative business in the United States. Today, U.S. trucks transport 75 percent of all freight in the United States — over $986 billion in annual revenue (2020). This number is forecasted to grow by 75 percent over the next 10 years.
As long as people have demand for products, moving freight will be necessary for years to come. But before taking this step, make sure you have a good understanding of hot shot trucking and what it entails.
Hot shot truckers are independent drivers who transport goods for businesses and freight providers. They operate Class 3-5 trucks, which are smaller than semi-trucks and trailers.
Generally, hot shot truckers place bids on online auction websites. This is how they get in touch with freight providers and companies that require their services. They can specialize in one or more areas, such as lightweight cargo, commercial cargo, medical cargo, perishable cargo and so on. Most work is local and regional, so they have more flexibility than standard truck drivers and don’t need to spend as much time away from home.
Just like it was stated above, a hotshot trucker is a freelance truck driver in the freight industry. They can own their own vehicle, but they’re not always required to have their own truck since some trucking carriers provide freelancers with a vehicle to deliver cargo.
Howbeit, hotshot trucking isn’t perfect, nor is it right for everybody. So, let’s consider both the advantages and the disadvantages of hotshot trucking.
What are the Pros and Cons of Starting Your Own Hotshot Business?
Indeed, becoming an owner-operator seems much more enjoyable and profitable than working under a dispatcher for a larger trucking company. However, truckers should understand that there is still a lot of hard work and responsibility that goes into owning and operating a trucking businesses and the decision to move away from a larger trucking should be extensively considered before taking action.
It is advisable you weigh your options and follow these lists of pros and cons to decide if being an owner-operator is right for you.
When you start your own hotshot business, you have more room to make your own decisions on what loads to haul, who to work with, and how often to work than when working for large trucking company. Note that being able to make these decisions on your own has many benefits and keeps the owner-operators in control.
Coupled with being more independent, owner-operators have to the freedom to be flexible and work on their own terms. You have the platform to make your own schedule, which is great. Though you still have to somewhat manage your time around the demands of the shipments, owner-operators are dependent on themselves to get things done and therefore have the flexibility to run their business the way they want.
Also have it in mind that owner-operators set themselves up to make more money than truck drivers working under a company because they claim a much bigger share of the profits from each load. Note that by owning the truck, setting up the contract for shipment, and delivering the goods, owner-operators control every part truck driving responsibility and therefore collect the profit for themselves.
If it seems you were working long hours under a dispatcher for a large trucking company, then know that you will have to work harder. Owner-operators work even more than company truck drivers because they have more work load to cover on their own. From maintaining the truck, to setting up contracts, to actually hauling the freight, owner-operators don’t have much downtime.
Note that although being in charge of your own business can seem like a positive, it also comes with the responsibility of being held accountable for any mistakes. Owner-operators have to always be on top of their work and the pay adequate attention to government regulations if they want to successfully run their own trucking business.
Have it in mind that until you have created a working reputation in the industry and are getting loads regularly handed to you, starting off as an owner-operator can very stressful. Coupled with the need for adequate funding to run your own operation, until the profits start to roll in, owner-operators have to steadily be networking and building their brand as a reliable source for hauling freight.
It can be quite costly to start a trucking business, like it is expensive to start any business. However, there are financing options, especially in the transportation industry. So, although it can be expensive, there are options for you to become your own boss.
Just like with most things in life, hotshot trucking has both its pros and cons. So, it’s imperative to do your own research and due diligence before you dive in. Also note all the relevant laws — both federal and state — if you plan to start your own hotshot trucking company. It is advisable to discuss your situation and business plan with the Department of Transportation (DoT) and get all of the legal issues — especially licensing — taken care of before hauling any loads.