Home Legal Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks: Where To Find Them?

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks: Where To Find Them?

by Kelvin Yates

If you have a truck at home, you may be wondering what can you do with it to earn some extra money. This is where hot shot loads come in, and it could be a good way for you to earn some extra cash all the while driving your beloved truck. But what hot shot loads for pickup trucks can you haul?

This post will discuss everything you’d want to know about hot shot trucking. From what it is, how to get started, and of course, where to find hot shot loads for pickup trucks. Here’s our table of contents to help you navigate through our article and find the relevant information:

Hot Shot Trucking

In case you’re not already, let’s first get familiar with hotshot trucking. What’s hotshot trucking? What are hotshot loads? Well, hotshot trucking refers to trucking jobs that involve hauling relatively small loads that are time-sensitive. Often to a single customer and location.

The loads you carry are called hotshot loads. Hotshot loads are also often referred to as LTL (Less Than a Truckload) loads. This refers to loads that are less than the maximum load of freight or semi-truck, hence less than a truckload.

As mentioned, these loads are usually time-sensitive. In many cases, it may need to arrive on the same day or even within hours of ordering. Since delivery needs to be quick and doesn’t require a freight truck, smaller consumer trucks are ideal for the job. This means you can use your truck at home.

What Is Hotshot Trucking

We’re not quite sure. But we think it has something to do with the time-sensitive and speedy nature of the job. And since “hot” is sometimes associated with speed and urgency, that’s why they call it hotshot trucking.

What we do know is how the demand for hotshot trucking came about, which has to do with drilling and rigging equipment. Many say that it came from the days of the oil rig boom. You see, parts of oil rig equipment can fail during operation. If a part fails and the operation can’t continue, this would mean costly downtime.

Delivering parts with a freight truck would not make economic sense since the loads are less than a truckload. Nor would it be quick enough to avoid the rig being dormant and losing money. Hence the need for hotshot trucking; quick same-day delivery, for a lot less than delivering with a freight truck.

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks

Nowadays, almost anything can be a hotshot load. This includes oil rig parts and equipment, construction equipment, and even medical equipment. Some car dealers may even use hotshot services to deliver a car to their branch or a fellow dealer in a different area. As you can imagine, these loads don’t always require a freight truck.

Instead, they can be delivered by using a full-size consumer truck with the help of a trailer. The gooseneck trailer is often the trailer of choice. As for the trucks, hotshot truckers often use heavy-duty trucks such as the Ford F-250 or Ram 2500, although their light-duty cousins such as the Ford F-150 may suffice in some cases.

Hot Shot Trucking Jobs

Interested? Before we go any further you need to weigh the pros and cons, here are the pros of hotshot trucking:

  1. Lower startup and running costs than being an operator of a freight truck. Since you can use full-size trucks rather than freight trucks, they cost a lot less. A freight truck’s price starts at $45,000 secondhand, while new full-size trucks start at $39,000.
  2. Better pay. Due to the time-sensitive nature of the delivery, hotshot loads usually pay more.
  3. It’s fun. You’ll be driving your beloved truck and making money, that sounds fun even for us and we don’t even drive trucks.

Of course, hotshot trucking is not without its downsides. Here are the cons that you should be aware of:

  1. You’re in charge of your truck. Unlike driving for a trucking company, you’ll be in charge of your vehicle. So, you’ll need to pay for everything including maintenance, fuel, and insurance amongst other costs. Of course, if you’ve been an owner-operator, this isn’t a big deal.
  2. Jobs are not always available. Hotshot trucking is essentially freelancing. So, you might not always find a job, and you might even struggle to find jobs from time to time. This leads to the next drawback:
  3. You’ll need to make yourself available. Jobs can become available at any time, including on weekends and holidays. If you’ve been struggling to find a load to haul, or you don’t want to miss money-making opportunities, you’ll need to make yourself available at all times. Sometimes you’ll need to sacrifice time with your family.

How To Get Into Hot Shot Trucking

So, still interested in hotshot trucking? Let’s discuss more on how to get started. The first order of business is to make sure you have the right truck for the job:

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks, Getting Started #1. Getting The Right Truck

As mentioned, you’ll need a full-size pickup truck. Your compact or even mid-size trucks such as a Toyota Tacoma are not powerful enough. And as mentioned, ideally you need a heavy-duty full-size truck. This includes the Ford F-250 and other Class 2A trucks or above.

Quick guide about truck classification, they’re classified by the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or GVWR. This is the truck’s maximum weight that includes the maximum payload capacity and determines the class rating.

Class 2A are trucks with GVWR that range between 6,001 – 8,500 lbs, which includes light-duty trucks such as the Ford F-150 and its rivals. Meanwhile, the Class 2B trucks have a maximum GVWR of 10,000 lbs, which includes certain models of the Ford F-150, and the F-250 and its rivals.

Meanwhile, Class 3 trucks have a weight rating between 10,001 to 14,000 lbs. This includes trucks such as the Ram 3500, Chevy Silverado 3500, and Ford F-350. As mentioned, Class 3 trucks are probably the most ideal for the job.

This is because Class 3 trucks are powerful and have high tow ratings, but still, have plenty of creature comforts for personal usage. Whilst Class 4 trucks and above don’t have this and are meant purely for commercial usage.

We recommend getting at least a Class 2B truck, as Class 2A may limit the type of hot shot loads for pickup trucks you can carry. Additionally, get a diesel variant. They often have more torque, which is what you need for hauling. And of course, they use less fuel which allows you to save money and increase profits.

We recommend taking a look at Ram vehicles; they’re powerful, comfortable, and often regarded as the most luxurious amongst its rivals. But really you can’t go wrong with Ford’s or GMC’s offerings either.

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks, Getting Started #2. Get A Trailer

The next order of business would be to get a trailer to haul the loads. Consider these:

  • Bumper pull trailers. They’re versatile and easy to use, but they’re mostly for smaller and lighter loads.
  • Dovetail trailers are similar to bumper pull, the main difference is they have a slight inclination at the rear end. Convenient for loading loads that may require the angle.
  • Tilt deck trailers can tilt down, which can make loading a lot easier. This will be very helpful to load cars with low ground clearance.
  • Gooseneck trailers are suitable for hauling heavy loads. It’s still versatile and relatively easy to drive on the road, making it a very popular option among hotshot truckers.

Overall, a gooseneck trailer is probably the most ideal if you’re going to commit yourself to hotshot trucking. However, they are expensive, costing between $11,000 to $16,000 on average. Additionally, they require a specific hitching system on your truck as well.

Also, some states will require you to have the training and sometimes certification to haul gooseneck trailers across states. This brings us to permits and licenses:

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks, Getting Started #3. Sorting Permits And Licenses

There are three things that you will need to sort out: commercial truck driver’s license (CDL), USDOT (Department Of Transportation) number, and MC number. You need a CDL if your truck and load exceed 10,000 lbs. Otherwise, you’re limited to loads that don’t exceed that.

A USDOT number is necessary if you’re going to haul loads across state lines. If you’re planning to only deliver loads in your current state, then you’ll need a state DOT number instead. Meanwhile, the MC number is your operating authority number. You’ll also need this if you’re going to cross state lines when delivering loads.

We recommend watching the video above to get a better understanding of what you will need to get started in this business and all the permits involved. The gist of it is if you’re planning to deliver loads across state lines, you should get both the USDOT and MC numbers. You can apply for them at the FMCSA website.

Other regulations that you should be aware of is that the Department of Transportation requires these things if your vehicle and load weigh more than 10,001 lbs:

  1. A driver’s logbook.
  2. The truck must have a fire extinguisher onboard.
  3. DoT license plate and load sticker.

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks, Getting Started #4. Insurance And Other Documentation

In addition to the permits and licenses, there are other documents that you should have:

  1. Proof of insurance. Find an insurance agent who’s familiar with the trucking industry and consult with them about which plan might be ideal for you. Insurance will come in handy to protect you from potential losses on the road.
  2. Vehicle documents are obviously necessary, including title and registration.
  3. If you’re serious about the hotshot trucking business, it’ll be a good idea to open an LLC in your state and have your business license with you.

And of course, have all the USDOT and MC numbers with you whenever you’re hauling your hot shot loads.

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks, Getting Started #5. Other Equipment

Right, after you get your truck, trailer, permits, and other documentation sorted out, it’s time to get some more equipment to keep you safe on the road and make sure everything goes smoothly. Here’s what we recommend you keep with you on the road:

  1. A phone with a stable cellular network.
  2. Stable internet access.
  3. GPS or satellite navigation, although your truck may already come with this. You can also use the satnav on your phone.
  4. Cargo straps.
  5. Basic hand tools and safety equipment, including a fire extinguisher.
  6. A laptop should you want to find loads when you’re on the move, although you may be able to do this from your phone.

That’s about it you’ll need tools that can keep you going on the road, and a phone should you need to call someone for help.

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks, Getting Started #6: Hot Shot Trucking Process

Okay, now you have all the necessary equipment and permits, how do you get started? Here’s what the process of hotshot trucking is like:

  1. You’ll need to find a hotshot load job. You can find them in load boards or via a local hotshot load agent or broker in your area. More on this later on.
  2. Should you accept the job, you’ll need to go to the pickup point of the load, probably at the shipper’s warehouse somewhere. Note that sometimes hot shot truckers bring a tag-along driver with them.
  3. After loading and finishing some paperwork, well, then you drive to the destination. A GPS will come in handy if you’re not familiar with the destination.
  4. Unload the cargo at the destination. Afterward, you can either look for another hotshot cargo nearby or return home and look for a job back at home. It’s up to you.
  5. Payment will usually be processed after you finish the delivery.

Note that the payment process differs depending on the load board you use, your broker, and the client as well. This brings us to the financial side of things:

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks, Getting Started #7: How Much Money Will You Make

Hotshot truckers are paid per mile; from the pickup point to the drop-off destination. On average, hotshot truckers earn around $1.50 – $2 per mile. However, rates may be as low as $1 to $1.25, but this is still acceptable. Urgent and specialized loads are usually between $2 to $2.50.

In some cases, you may be able to negotiate your rates. But load boards (we’ll discuss more after this) sometimes don’t allow for negotiations, but you can view how much the shipper will pay you, and often there’s a tool to see how much you’ll earn per mile.

To help you decide the minimum amount of money you should make per mile, add your total expenses and divide them by the total of miles you expect to drive per year. These expenses include fuel, maintenance, license and insurance costs, and supplies amongst others.

That’s the total cost of running your business. Afterward, you’ll arrive at your expense per mile, and then determine how much profit you’ll need to make a living.

The video above suggests you can make anywhere between $1,200 – $4,500 of profit per delivery. It doesn’t explain how to calculate the rates you should charge in detail, but it’ll give you an idea of the money you can make out of hotshot trucking, as well as the costs involved.

Final note, you should be wary of deadheading. This is when you need to drive without cargo to pick up a load. Essentially you’re driving without being paid. We recommend reading an article on Truckstop about deadheading to learn more and how to avoid it.

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks, Getting Started #8: Networking and Building Relationships

In the hotshot trucking industry, relationships matter. Knowing the right people can get you prime jobs, repeated business, and even referrals. Here’s how to get started:

  • Join a Trucking Association: Associations like the National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC) offer valuable resources and networking opportunities. By attending events and seminars, you can meet brokers, other truckers, and potential clients.
  • Local Businesses: Get to know local businesses that might need hotshot services frequently. It’s not just about big corporations; even smaller local manufacturers may have urgent delivery needs.
  • Referrals: Once you’ve done a few jobs and proven your reliability, ask satisfied customers if they know anyone else who might need your services. Word of mouth remains a powerful tool in this industry.

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks, Getting Started #9: Maintenance and Upkeep

Your truck and trailer are your lifelines. Keeping them in optimal condition ensures fewer hitches on the road and builds trust with clients. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • Regular Inspections: Before and after a job, thoroughly inspect your truck and trailer. Check for any irregularities or issues that could cause problems down the line.
  • Scheduled Maintenance: Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for both your truck and trailer. Regular oil changes, brake checks, and tire rotations can help you spot potential issues before they become major problems.
  • Emergency Kit: Always have an emergency kit on hand. This should include first-aid supplies, flares, spare tires, and other items that can help in unexpected situations.

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks, Getting Started #10: Professionalism and Reputation

Your reputation will make or break your hotshot trucking business. Here’s how you can ensure you always leave a positive impression:

  • Timeliness: Always be punctual. If you promise a client a certain delivery time, ensure you stick to it. Delays can occur, but always communicate in advance.
  • Clear Communication: Keep your clients in the loop. Use technology to provide regular updates on your location and estimated delivery time.
  • Quality Service: This goes beyond just delivering on time. Ensure cargo is secure, handle items with care, and always be courteous and professional.

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks, Getting Started #11: Continuous Learning and Training

The trucking industry continually evolves with new technologies, regulations, and best practices. To stay ahead:

  • Training: Seek out opportunities for additional training. Whether it’s a new driving technique or learning about advanced cargo-securing methods, always be open to improving your skills.
  • Industry News: Subscribe to industry journals and online forums. Being aware of industry trends can help you adapt and offer services that are in demand.
  • Feedback: Listen to feedback from clients and other truckers. They can provide invaluable insights that can help you refine your services.

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks, Getting Started #12: Technology and Tools

Leveraging the right technology can streamline operations, keep you connected, and even save you money. Here’s how:

  • Load Boards and Apps: Beyond the traditional load boards, many apps now allow truckers to find hotshot jobs on the go. Examples include Truckstop, DAT, and uShip.
  • Fuel Efficiency Apps: Apps like GasBuddy can help you locate the cheapest fuel prices on your route, saving you significant money in the long run.
  • Route Planning Software: Tools like Google Maps or Waze not only provide directions but can update you on traffic conditions, ensuring timely deliveries.

In conclusion, entering the hotshot trucking world requires dedication, the right equipment, and continuous learning. By focusing on relationship-building, ensuring the maintenance and professionalism of your operations, and leveraging technology, you’re on the right path to building a successful hotshot trucking business.

Find Loads For Pickup Trucks

So, the main question then is, where do you find hot shot loads for pickup trucks? You can find them in load boards, which are online marketplaces to find shippers and/or brokers. Here are some load board recommendations:

1. Trucker Path

Trucker Path is a load board app where you can find hot shot loads to haul. They boast 800+ brokers and over 150,000 daily loads, and there have been well over 300,000 downloads.

You’ll need to send an SMS to download the app. And they’re available for both iPhone and Android phones. Note that they’re free, but there are limitations and you’ll need to purchase their membership to have certain features such as an ad-free experience and unlimited load views.

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks

The membership starts as low as $199/year and goes up to $899/year. Check out their website to learn more and see if you’ll find the membership worth it. They also have an in-app GPS feature, although reviews say it’s not great.

One last thing to note is that they’re not specialized for hot shot loads. So, be sure that you’re looking at hot shot loads when browsing in the app.

2. Trulos

Trulos is another free load board for you to find hot shot loads. Unlike Trucker Path, they’re completely free. However, we noticed that the site does have a lot of ads, which is understandable since it’s free. But it does make the site feel a bit cheap, and it’s generally not as nice to use as Trucker Path.

Trulos also doesn’t specialize in hot shot loads, but there are plenty of them on the site. They also have a live freight rate feature, which means you can browse loads while viewing the live rates for them.

3. 123 Loadboard

Unlike the other two above, this site only lists hot shot loads. Additionally, you’ll have to pay for a membership which starts at $35/month. And if you want features such as industry rates, mobile app access, and a load planner, you’ll need to pay somewhere between $45 – $55 per month.

Don’t worry, there’s a free 10-day trial included in the membership and you can cancel it if you’re not satisfied. But we can’t say just how easy or difficult the cancellation process would be.

4. Truckstop Load Board

Truckstop is another excellent site, although they don’t specialize in hot shot loads only. Similar to 123 Loadboard, you’ll need to purchase a membership which costs between $39 to $149 per month. But there’s a free demo available.

5. Other Sites And Hot Shot Load Agents

There are other sites worth mentioning for finding hot shot loads, but we’re not going to discuss the rest of them in detail. If you find that none of the sites we mentioned suits you, try these instead:

  1. Freight Finder.
  2. Free Freight Search.
  3. DAT load board.

If you’re still not quite happy with our recommendation, try searching ‘hot shot load boards’ on Google and it will return plenty of results. You can also find loads by searching for hotshot load agents and brokers near you. If you’re lucky, there might be a few near where you live.

The video above from Tow Piglet should give you an idea of what it’s like to find hot shot loads via a load board and then contact the broker. He records the phone call conversation and shows the process so you can understand better how it all works.

Facts: Board Platforms for Pickup Trucks

  • Hot shot loads are smaller and time-sensitive loads that can be transported via load boards, which are online platforms connecting freight with carriers.
  • Hot shot loads can include pipeline hauling, RV hauling, livestock hauling, and construction hauling.
  • The top 7 hot shot load board platforms for pickup trucks are Trucker Path, Truckstop, Trulos, Freight Finder, 123Loadboard, GoShare, and Free Freight Search.
  • Trucker Path is a free load board that offers over 150,000 loads daily and provides refined search results through its mobile app, with membership plans starting at $16.67 per month.
  • Truckstop is one of the first load boards and offers premium services like real-time updates, rate analytics, and decision-making tools for a membership starting at $39 per month.
  • Trulos is a free load board designed for owner-operators, offering all-in-one services, specialized LTL board, and freight estimations.
  • Freight Finder is a great free load board for finding hot shot loads for pickup trucks, with over 15 different vehicle and load search options available to drivers.
  • 123Loadboard offers a free 10-day trial and an extensive broker network that posts loads, with integrated tools like multi-haul planning software and a monthly subscription charge of $35-$55.
  • GoShare is a mobile platform for interacting with shippers and offers different types of loads like LTL, movers-on-demand, middle-mile-on-demand, and final-mile-on-demand loads.
  • Free Freight Search is a free and easy-to-use load board that requires registration and offers limitless and free search features, with expensive membership packages for premium features.
  • Hot shot loads can be transported by pickup trucks, particularly medium-duty to one-ton trucks that fall under Class 3, Class 4, or Class 5.
  • Hotshot load pay rates range from $1.50 to $2.00 per mile.
  • Hot shot trucking can be a profitable career, offering benefits like flexible work hours, self-employment opportunities, and the ability to set your own schedule.
  • Hot shot trucking can also have disadvantages, including unstable work opportunities, the need to bear all costs, and pressure to build a steady client base.

In Conclusion…

To summarize, hot shot trucking is delivering loads that don’t fill a freight truck and are usually time-sensitive. Hence the need for a smaller truck that can deliver it quickly to wherever the cargo needs to be. These loads are often referred to as LTL (Less Than a Truckload).

If you already own a pickup truck, especially Class 2B trucks or above, this can be a way for you to make money. Whether you want to do it full-time, or as a way to earn some extra cash, you can consider hot shot trucking. It’s a great way to earn money while driving your beloved truck.

It’s also a great option for those who are struggling to find a job for whatever reason. You’ll be self-employed, and if you do it right, you can make a great living out of it.

Hot Shot Loads For Pickup Trucks

Our final advice, if you’re looking to do this full time, get the CDL and other permits necessary for you to drive a truck and load that weighs more than 10,000lbs. This also allows you to deliver cargo across states, which allows you to take more jobs and make more money.

However, if you’re only looking to do this part-time, then those permits are probably not necessary. But note that you’ll be limited to smaller loads within your current state. In any case, we hope this has been helpful, and good luck!

You may also like

Leave a Comment