Would you like to know how to truly succeed in hotshot trucking?

Most people measure success in terms of money and popularity. But to be a real success in hotshot trucking, you need to think beyond those things. Don’t get me wrong — money is important, but it’s not the most important metric of success.

Here are six keys to achieve real, long-term success in hotshot trucking:

1. Execute With Speed and Efficiency.

You need to have the ability to adapt or bounce back quickly. Regardless of whether it’s a win or a loss, the quicker you get through it, the better off you’ll usually be.

For example, there may be times when you don’t do enough research and you end up spending a ton of money on something that you shouldn’t have spent to begin with. The equipment didn’t last as long as you thought it would. When this happens, it’s very easy to just give up. But those things do happen. Don’t let that set you down or stop you for so long that you can’t keep going. In this industry, you need to learn how to bounce back quickly. Just keep going. Don’t stop.

At other times, you’ll have a winning streak. You might make a whole lot of money in one single week. You’d then feel amazing. But be careful. That doesn’t mean you can then stop working the next week because that would turn your one amazing week into two mediocre weeks when you average them out. So it makes sense to keep working. Keep pushing yourself forward!

2. Put Safety Compliance Over Short-Term Profit.

Remember this: The easiest way around compliance is compliance. Sacrificing safety is never an option. Industry secrets and all are fine but safety should never be compromised. So stay informed by doing all the research and asking all the right questions. And follow FMCSA rules.

“Bending the rules” or “beating the system” will usually come back and bite you in the butt. It’s why we have the ELD, more inspections, and more restrictions on what we do.

Each time you get caught doing something wrong, it just raises your CSA score and causes you to get pulled into the weigh stations more and get more inspections, thus causing you to lose more time. Aside from losing time, you also lose good money when you pay high attorneys fees to fight tickets. And when your insurance goes up, that’s more money off the table once again.

Plus, admitting to breaking the law can cause you to become a target. Those in your niche in the industry may also be targeted and such complacency can worsen the reputation of hotshotting. So please think of the impact you have when safety and compliance is not your industry focus.

3. Don’t Be Paralyed By Perfectionism.

Things break. Nothing works perfectly. Nothing ever works the way it should 100% of the time. There’s always going to be something wrong, something to fix, or something you can do better. So while aiming for perfection isn’t bad, not being able to work unless everything is perfect is.

This is especially important with trailer repairs. There may be times when your trailer will break. If you’re doing a lot of loads, this may even happen several times. And when it happens, you need to fix it as quickly and as cheaply as possible, just to keep running. Because at the end of the day, aiming for perfection during your breakdown is going to slow you down way too much. Too many of those slowdowns in a row will inevitably affect your income far too greatly.

Imagine trying to have somebody come out to you and fix it on a Sunday. It would have taken much longer. It would’ve been way more expensive. And that could have delayed your load.

So understand that it’s never going to be perfect. Nothing is ever going to be ideal or exactly the way you want it. You just have to learn to operate as close to that as possible.

4. Maintain Your Equipment, Health, and Relationships.

Avoid cutting-corners or short-term thinking. Someone once said it’s like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound. It will stop the bleeding for now but you won’t make it in the end. If you kill someone because you fell asleep at the wheel or your trailer lost an axel, your company is finished. Patch what you need to get the delivery done, then permanently stop the “bleeding.”

  1. Maintain Your Equipment

Obtain the right truck, trailer, and other equipment. It might be a little bit more expensive, but quality is cheaper in the long run. Then, take care of your equipment. Don’t let your truck/s go out of service. If you take care of your trailer (assuming it’s of good quality to begin with), you shouldn’t need to get a new one every year. Also, keep in mind that changing tire sizes has its drawbacks. The manufacturer put on the size that matches the horsepower, transmission, and gear ratio of the truck. Putting larger tires on reduces power. So study the pros and cons first.

  1. Maintain Your Health

Not getting enough rest is dangerous. Strive to get enough sleep. Don’t rely on energy drinks to get you through the day when you are tired. These power drinks or drinking coffee continuously is unhealthy. Both only cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and make you hyper. They do not make you more rested or awake. Then when you fall asleep driving and have an accident, your racing heart will just pump your blood out on the ground faster. It’s not worth it.

  1. Maintain Your Relationships

Take good care of your family or your significant other. It’s not easy finding a good partner or spouse who supports you in life. You don’t want your wife to end up with the mailman or your kids on drugs because you cared more about making money than nurturing your relationships.

5. Be On Time With Your Deliveries.

This is by far the most important key. Executing with speed and efficiency, prioritizing safety compliance, letting go of being a perfectionist, and maintaining equipment, health, and relationships, should lead to being on time with your deliveries as much as physically possible. Remember, the higher the percentage that you can deliver on time, the better off you’ll be.

Of course, it goes without saying that delivering on time should be a matter of proper time management, not speeding, which is a violation of the second key on putting safety compliance above short-term profit.

So aside from proper time management and personal discipline, invest in the right equipment so that you could be more punctual. That will justify the cost if it will help you deliver on time.

So if you’re the type of person that’s constantly running late or constantly trying to catch up or something like that, then this job might not be for you. It’s that crucial. This is by far the most important thing you can focus on. Nothing else matters if you do not deliver on time.

6. Be Persistent and Consistent.

There’s an investing adage: “Time in the market is more important than timing the market.” Hotshot trucking for the next 3-5 years is far more important than trying to hotshot only when the rates are good. Just begin right now and set yourself up to learn along the way, so then later you could capitalize on that experience. Gaining experience in this business is much better than trying to time it. You can only get a $3 mile rate when you’ve hauled a couple of $1 to $ 1.50-mile rates. You can only capitalize on the good times when you’ve been in the troughs or in the low points.

The Bottom Line

Think of these six success keys as a circle. The first key is to be quick. You’ve got to hustle hard. You cannot drag your feet in this business. But in all your hustling, remember the second key: put safety compliance over short-term profit. Sure, there will be times when things will break down and you can’t have everything working perfectly. So remember the third key: you can’t be a perfectionist. Do whatever gets it done the quickest for the least amount of time, effort, and cost. That’s the best thing for the job at that moment. But don’t rely on those band-aid solutions. To prevent future emergencies, remember the fourth key: maintain your equipment, your health, as well as your relationships. All these four foundational keys should help you carry out the fifth key which is to make your deliveries on time. Nothing is more crucial than this. Finally, you’ve got to be persistent and consistent to succeed. This leads you back to the first key, and so on.

This all builds your momentum. That’ll make it easier for you to stay in this business than it is to get out. You’ve got to think long-term in this business — three years at a minimum. Don’t bother starting if your plan isn’t to stick to it for three years or more. Are you prepared for the sacrifice? Are you ready to put in what it takes? Only you can decide if this is gonna be worth it.

What do you think of these keys? Let us know what you think in the comments.