We’ve had quite a few questions and comments since we did our hot shot episode. If you haven’t listened to it, you should go back and catch it. Follow this link to Episode 40. I thought it would be a good idea to follow up with a little more information about the subject. This post will focus on the get-in costs. I want to focus on four areas of the cost of entry.
Hot Shot Trucking, What You Need
- A Truck.
- A Trailer.
- The Business End. Authority, Insurance, Compliance, Etc.
- Paying Freight.
Certainly, there’s so much more to it than these four, but let’s start with these basics.
Buying a Truck
Whether you’re buying a semi or a one-ton dually, if you spend more than $15,000 on your first truck, you’ve spent too much. Sure, a typical one-ton dually diesel hot shot truck will set you back 45 to 60 grand if you buy new, and a new semi is double that, but that’s not how to start out. Somewhere around that 15 grand mark should get you going.
Look at websites like TruckPaper.com. There are plenty of Freightliners with Detroit 60’s in our starter price range. Yes, they have some wear and some miles, but those trucks are easy to maintain and can get great fuel mileage. They might not be your dream truck, but they will get you started.
Look at one-ton diesel trucks for around that same target price. You can cherry-pick a Ford 7.3 or a Dodge 5.9 in that same price range easily. You may pay a little more for a 4×4, but you can still find some deals. You’ve got lots of options. I don’t recommend the older Duramax engines, or the newer Fords. It may be a subject for another post, but start out with what’s proven.
The Trailer Question
The trailer is where it get’s tricky, and where traditional trucking may have an advantage. You can lease on to a carrier and pull their trailer. Sure, you will be paying a small amount to use theirs, but it’s an initial expense you don’t have to come up with.
The trailer is a different story when it comes to hot shot trucking. If you’re hauling campers, you don’t need a trailer. Camper haulers also have the advantage of great mileage on that bob-tail return trip. If you’re thinking of a flat bed trailer and loading two trailers at a time, I would highly advise against it. The weight might be okay, but the aerodynamics are awful. The wind resistance will cause way more drag than the truck was ever designed to take.
If you’re hot shotting anything other than pull-behind RVs, you really need to know what you’re planning to haul before you buy a trailer. You also need to have a good idea of the empty miles for your business plan. If empty means dragging several thousand pounds of trailer behind you, it’s an expense that can eat up all of your profits, fast.
The Business End of Things
The big difference here will depend on weather you are leasing your truck on with a company or going with your own authority. If you’re leasing on with a carrier, 18 wheels or hot shot, they usually have a lot of help with things like base plates, cargo insurance and your vehicle liability insurance. Leasing on is a great way to go unless you really know what you are doing, especially your first time out.
Hot shotting on your own? This is the area where a mentor can really save your bacon. If you know someone successful, and willing to show you the ins and outs of the business, you may be okay. You’ll find that the insurance companies aren’t sure just what to do with you. You may also have a little trouble finding the freight that pays well. Remember, those cheap and heavy loads really wear on your equipment.
Freight That Pays
I really struggled with this one. It belongs at the top as far as what you do first. You find the freight, then truck, trailer, etc. If you live in Texas or Oklahoma, and you plan to service the oil fields, you need a dually and a flatbed. You can see what others are using, then do the same. I hauled RVs, and served southern Canada. That dictated a 4wd, and the 50% deadhead rate dictated 3.62 gears.
If you’re buying a big truck, you need to know their lanes and their average weight. Who wants to get 5mpg when you could be getting 7.5 or more? If you’re going to pull flatbeds, you probably don’t want a condo cab. A flat-top or mid-roof would be better suited for the freight.
If you’re going into this for the first time, you can always start with that budget Freightliner and lease on to a carrier. From there, you can learn the business and talk to people in other segments. If you decide hot shot freight is for you, start out with your big truck. You can trade off for the smaller ride when you find your niche. Hot shots drive a whole lot more that one-ton dually pickups.