Although still a relatively (Hot shot sleeper) small segment of the overall transportation industry, market share has been growing steadily in recent years.
It was born out of a need for shippers to move cargo faster, more efficiently, and with less hassle and planning than was common with the big players in the industry.
Compared to the trucking and LTL sectors, it is largely dominated by single-truck operators and small fleet owners who have enjoyed the low pay and poor lifestyle typically associated with driving company trucks.
Hot Shot Trucking Vs. Expedited
First, let’s look at the differences between hot shot and expedited trucking.
Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they really shouldn’t be.
Simply put, car carriers operate smaller rigs, carry lighter loads smaller than a truck, and offer more flexible and time-sensitive services than their Class 8 truck counterparts.
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We’ve all seen them on the highway.
Big twin Dodges, Chevys and Fords with aftermarket chrome kits and international single axles and baby trucks pulling trailers loaded with everything from custom brands and insulation to shiny new dumpsters and classic cars.
Hot shot sleeper combo units typically fall into the Class 3-5 range, giving them a gross weight between about 10,000 and 26,000 pounds.
The hot shot and expedited freight industries share a number of similarities, but as the name suggests, expedited freight is more focused on highly time-sensitive freight.
Here we are talking about extremely valuable, irreplaceable and perishable items and those that are absolutely necessary to keep production facilities running.
There are some exceptions, but express operators usually do not run combination vehicles.
Instead, their cargo vehicles are Sprinter-style vans and vans, and flatbed trucks—the latter of which are easily recognizable because their sleepers are often larger than their cargo spaces.
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Find a good trucking company to work with
If you’ve spent any time in the industry, you probably already know that not all shipping companies are the same.
This goes for truckloads, LTL, hot shot carriers, and everything in between.
There is nothing worse for a new driver than unknowingly signing up with a struggling or less reputable carrier.
This is especially true after months of preparation and large initial cash outlays.
If you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself in this position, you may wish you’d never left the relative safety of your corporate driving job.
The good news is that with a little research and planning, this scenario can be completely avoided.
Is Hot Shot Trucking Profitable?
Like many questions in the trucking industry, the answer can be yes, no, or maybe.
That’s because there are so many variables involved—many of which you’ll have little control over.
Some business-savvy operators who have mastered the art of cultivating relationships, operating efficiently, and finding consistent high-dollar loads are very successful.
But on the other hand, there are plenty of hard-working, well-intentioned truckers who have experienced colossal failure.
If you have time, take an hour or two and watch a few YouTube videos about trucking.
Type “make money hot shot sleeper trucking” or “with hot shot trucking worth it” in the search box and see what comes up. Not only will you be entertained by what you see, but you will also learn a lot.
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Disadvantages and risks of hot firing
Driving a company truck may not offer most drivers the freedom, income, and lifestyle they desire, but compared to running a one-truck business, it’s a pretty low-risk gig.
As a company driver, you could be stuck on a paycheck or stuck at a Des Moines truck stop if the company you work for goes bankrupt. But otherwise you usually walk away unscathed.
On the other hand, if you’re a hotshot owner who mortgaged your home to buy expensive equipment, you (and your family) could be at risk if the economy or the company you rented from shuts its doors unexpectedly.
What you should know before starting a business
More than a decade ago, when hot-rod trucks started appearing on the scene, they largely flew under the regulatory radar.
The spirit of the ‘Wild West’ permeated the fledgling industry.
Do you need a CDL?
However, they are heavily targeted by the DOT these days because hotshot owner operators typically don’t have their commercial driver’s licenses. They are often much less informed about the regulations that apply to them than Class 8 truck drivers.
CDL licenses are divided into three groups – Class A, B and C.
The manufacturer’s powertrain and trailer weight ratings and gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) will determine which (if any) hot shot you’ll need to haul.
What about the brakes?
You will also need to determine whether your truck and trailer will need air brakes, a light, medium or heavy bogie and how they will need to be attached to the truck bed.
This information is readily available, so familiarize yourself with it.
In all trucking industries, it is important to be aware of the rules relating to axle loads, proper load securing and Hours of Operation (HOS) regulations.
Most hot shot sleeper trucks are flatbeds, so knowing the proper way to secure your load is vital for safety and regulatory reasons.
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Are there operating hours rules for Hot Shot Trucking?
It’s a common misconception in this business that HOS rules don’t apply, but they do when moving commercial cargo.
Earn a few extra bucks here and there!
Especially in the northern oil fields, where trucking originally took root, it’s common for farmers looking to make a few bucks in the off-season to hook up an old trailer to an even older pickup truck and go trucking.
If you guessed that their equipment is usually not that good and that they don’t understand DOT regulations at all, you’re right.
Many hotshot operators also do not have proper insurance and often lack the necessary permits and licenses to operate in the states they travel to.
It’s a sad truth, but hot drivers tend to be looked down upon by their big rig counterparts for the above reasons.
What is the best truck for Hotshot Trucking?
- Chevy Silverado – 2500/3500 Heavy Duty
- Ram 2500/2500 Big Horn
- GMC Sierra 2500 Denali Heavy Duty
- Ford F450/550
- Ford Superduty Commercial F-250 XL, F 350 XLT, F450 Lariat
- Check online
- Contact reputable carriers and brokers and ask them about their equipment requirements
- Join hot shot sleeper driving groups on Facebook
- Meet at truck stops and talk to real drivers
- Contact truck dealers and tell them you’re thinking of doing business