If you’re a hotshot trucker, you must have known by now how challenging it can be when it comes to finding loads. And not just any kind of load, but the good, high-paying ones.

What Is a Hotshot Load?

A hotshot load is any amount of goods transported in a hotshot truck.

When transporting goods, it is split into two common trucking/freighting types: an FTL or a PTL.

An FTL or Full Truckload is a type of freighting mode that means a load will take up an entire hotshot truck by itself. It is considered to be the most expensive and most efficient type of transporting.

Many truckers prefer this full-service type of freighting because transit time is lesser. Since there is only one load, it means it is headed in one direction only. Since there are no other loading stops, travel time is shortened. Hotshot truckers, then, can come back home to their loved ones in less time.

On the other hand, PTL or Partial Truckload is a type of freighting mode that only takes a part of the trailer. It is a share-a-space, share-the-cost kind of shipping mode. Here, a client’s load shares trailer space with other customers’ cargo. 

The drawback of this freighting style is that it is slower in transit times. Your clients’ freight is hauled together with other clients’ loads. This style means there are multi-stops since loads are headed into different destinations.

Hotshot truckers’ source of bread and butter are loads. As a hotshot trucker, there are two things you should keep in mind when choosing loads:

  1. Find out loads that you are planning to haul. Make sure that it fits into the trailer you have purchased.
  2. Do the math. Calculate your average costs per mile and make sure it gives you some returns after a haul.

Secrets to Finding a Good Paying Hot Shot Load

Every owner-operator has his/her own business goals and a system on how to achieve them. There are top three main goals that every owner-operator has to keep in mind and should be doing daily:

1. Build Relationships

Networking is an excellent way to get consistent loads.

Whenever you do meet a new broker, try to work with them. Carry loads for them frequently. This act shows that you are a trustworthy, hardworking, and reliable hotshot trucker.

By the time of the third load, they’d be able to recognize your name and number. They may even make you their favorite hotshot trucker to work with.

The more you build solid business relationships in your pocket, the better you and your hotshot trucking business will be.

2. Communicate

There is a saying that communication can make or break a relationship. That statement is also true in hotshotting.

Ensure that excellent communication is happening between you and your broker. Today’s tech can be your friend and will help you stay in touch with your broker via email, text, or phone.

As much as possible, keep communication frequent. As the saying goes, stay on top of mind. As you keep your broker in the loop by updating them regularly, you will remain on their minds.

When on the job, communication is always valuable. Always notify your broker of the status at all stages of the load delivery. The information you will give will make it easier for your broker to pass it on to his/her shipper.

If the load is delivered, give courtesy to your broker by emailing that the delivery is completed. In case there is trouble, don’t delay in telling your broker. Delaying will only break your broker’s confidence in you.

Staying in touch doesn’t stop at delivery. Let your broker know you are ready to bring the next load to its destination. A simple heads up to him/her can be all it takes to get your next hotshot load.

Remember, communication, when done poorly, can bring complaints against you. But when done correctly, it can bring praises to you.

3. Use a Load Board

There are tons of load boards out there in the market. Most of these load boards charge truckers with a monthly subscription fee.

To get the best load board/s for you, do some research into them. Look for ones with reasonable rates to offer in the freight lanes you want to serve. If you see a reliable load board, sign up to them. Signing up to a few dependable load boards increases your probability of getting the best loads.

Also, don’t forget to complete your company profile on each load board. Your profile helps expand your reach so that shippers can have a way of contacting you.

5 Ways to Find Good Paying Hot Shot Loads

1. Work Through Your Network

Leverage the people you know first. This means focusing on finding loads in your network. It boosts the chance of you having to directly deal with the client rather than with a middle man. You will be making more for yourself.

Sometimes, no loads pan out from your contacts. If it does, it is now time to shift your attention to getting your hotshot loads in load boards.

2. Look Into Today’s Market Potential

The hotshot market is growing and changing from time to time. Some moments it favors your business, while at other times, it doesn’t. Keeping up with the changes is always a good idea. Finding out which markets are strong can bring you more loads.

Go to your frequented load board and do some lane searches. You want to be in the lanes that are giving a good ratio of spot freight. If you are in areas with a load-to-truck ratio of 2.5 and higher, you are in the freight lane with best pay rates.

Seasonal markets are also great places to find good-paying hotshot loads. Seasonal markets tend to provide last-mile delivery. Due to the increasing demand of omnichannel retailing, last-mile delivery is becoming a favorite for sellers.

For example, around the holidays, e-commerce stores are doing a lot of shipping. Some of them might need your help. Get in touch with them directly, or you might know of a broker who has contacts with these types of stores. Take advantage of these times to be able to help bring their loads. Check out the market at your load stops, too. This is just in case you can line up the opportunity to pick up more loads when you complete the current job.

3. Have a Plan

Having a plan to pick up loads on the drive back can be a great plan in finding a good-paying load. It is a much more efficient strategy as it eliminates deadheading.

If you are to look for loads in advance as part of your route planning, don’t do it on the eleventh hour. It may be difficult to find loads then. Better rates are there on pre-booked loads.

4. Remember the Law of Supply and Demand

Supply and demand always dictate trucker rates. With this in mind, being aware of what is being hauled at certain times can a good idea.

5. Not All That Glitters Is Gold

Sometimes, the money is not in the highest paying hotshot load. Sometimes it is found in a series of average paying loads that when compounded together can create a massive paying hotshot load.

The Bottom Line — Be Consistent

It might sound counteractive, but it’s not. Big, high paying loads rarely make you an instant success. But if you want to succeed in your hotshotting business, you have to understand that small, constant steps (e.g., networking, looking for loads, showing up for work daily) will give you the momentum you need to reach your success.

In short, don’t stay on your couch, wishing your hotshot trucking business’ success. Instead, keep showing up and stay consistent (even if you can’t see any result). Simple disciplines done daily have big payoffs.

At first, you won’t notice the difference in a month or even after a year goes by. Things may relatively stay the same. But give it three, four, or five years, and you’ll see how far you’ve come.

Let go of the need to get the highest paying loads for instant success, instant results. Real and lasting success does not come fast. Be patient and stay consistent.