How to Start Hot Shot Trucking

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Becoming a hot shot trucker has many benefits– the main one being that you are your own boss. If you’re considering becoming a hot shot driver, the process is similar to going into business with a Class 8.

The difference?  Hot shot trucking often involves only one destination and can be on a tight time schedule, so companies will usually hire contract drivers to complete only one run at a time.

Hot shot loads are usually expedited in a flatbed truck and are often industrial material. Most hot shot loads are local or regional, making this type of trucking ideal for those looking to spend a lot of off-time at home. A typical hot shot trucker wage is similar to that of a Class 8 driver.

Steps to Becoming a Hot Shot Driver:

  1. Apply for USDOT and MC Numbers

Your DOT number serves as a unique identifier for your company when dealing with safety reports, crash investigations, inspections, reviews and audits. To apply for a USDOT number, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website.

The process of getting your DOT number from the FMCSA differs for first time applicants and applicants who have already registered for a USDOT number or looking for additional authorities. Read through the FMCSA steps to ensure you’re filling out the right application.

If you’re planning on crossing state lines, you’ll also need an operating authority in addition to a DOT number. You can apply for your operating authority, also known as your MC number, here. There are some filing fees (listed on the FMSCA site), so you’ll want to be aware of those before you start the process.

  1. Purchase Insurance

Liability insurance is one of the largest initial costs to starting a hot shot trucking business.  Most freight brokers require a minimum policy of $1,000,000 in liability coverage.  According to Commercial Truck Insurance, policies for a hot shot trucker can cost from $7,000 to $12,000 annually.  

To receive the proper amount of coverage, you’ll also need:

  • your DOT number
  • membership in a drug and alcohol testing group
  • the required driver qualification filings
  • to follow the hours-of-service regulations
  1. Purchase Equipment

The equipment costs for hot shot businesses are far less than those of a Class 8 trucking business. The two main purchases include a truck, usually a pickup, and a flatbed trailer. There may be other small pieces of equipment needed such as bungee cords, chains and anything else you need to secure your load down.

The type of truck you buy is up to you. Most drivers start with a Ford F450 or F550 or a similar model from a different automaker, like Chevy. Smaller trucks such as an F250 or F350 would also work, but the wear and tear would be greater because light-duty trucks are often at their limit when carrying hot shot loads.

Carefully weigh your options and budget to decide which type of truck will work best for your business. YouTube can be a great source for vehicle reviews. Depending on what type of truck you purchase, when combined with the cost of supplies and insurance, you may be able to begin hauling hot shot loads for as little as $50,000.

  1. Find Loads

You can use load boards such as DAT TruckersEdge to find hot shot loads to haul. Load boards can help you to develop relationships with customers you often purchase loads from. 123 Loadboard is another solution to finding freight. Many load boards have apps and mobile sites, so you’ll be able to have access to loads 24/7.

Why Become a Hot Shot Driver?

  • Low startup costs. Hot shot trucking has the lowest startup costs of any trucking niche.
  • Simple licensing procedure. If your hot shot truck hauls under 10,000 lbs of goods, you don’t need a CDL.
  • High pay rate. Income for hot shot truckers can be as good or better than those in Class 8.
  • Local loads. Because of the time constraints, most hot shot loads are local or regional, meaning you’ll be spending less time on the road and more time at home.

hot shot trucking

If you need extra cash to fund your startup hot shot business, invoice factoring is a great solution. EZ Freight can help you secure low-cost funding to ensure your company’s success. Give us a call or fill out this form to get started today!

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