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How to Set the Best Hot Shot Rates Per Mile

Hot shot trucking involves delivering time-sensitive, expedited loads for a single customer. The term comes from the Texas oil fields in the days when truckers would wait outside plants for a part to be completed. Then they would rush the part to the oil field so the company could continue production as quickly as possible.

hot shot trucking rates per mile

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Today, hot shot truckers often carry similar freight, such as construction or industrial mining equipment. Hot shot trucking is usually done with medium-duty trucks from 3/4-ton to 1.5-ton capacity trucks outfitted with multiple hitches, from gooseneck to fifth-wheel. They might also use load-balancing trailers to haul various types of equipment.

How much do hot shot loads pay per mile? It depends. Hot shot delivery rates vary by location, freight type, and urgency. Here’s a quick guide to hot shot rates.

How are hot shot rates calculated?

Hot shot trucking rates are based on a variety of factors. In general, they tend to pay well because they are last-minute loads that must be delivered on time. But the specific hot shot rate you get will depend on what type of equipment you have, the size and type of load, and your geographic area.

Hot shot truckers are often quoted a flat rate for delivery. To determine the rate per mile, divide the flat rate by the number of miles the trip will take.

How much do hot shot loads pay per mile?

Hot shot load rates vary a lot, depending on the driver, the load, the shipper, and the urgency of the cargo. A hot shot rate sheet may have lower rates for loads considered “partial,” as well.

Generally speaking, hot shot hauling rates are around $1.50 per mile. Some jobs, typically urgent ones, pay as much as $2 per mile, but they are not common. This is balanced by loads with a more typical minimum of $1 to $1.25 per mile.

A good starting point to negotiate rates is around $1.50 unless you know the broker or shipper is willing to pay more or it’s a specialized load. Know ahead of time what you’re ultimately willing to accept for a haul. Balancing a few well-paying loads with less profitable routes to cover deadhead time can help your business run a steadier profit.

Questions to ask before setting hot shot rates

How do you set your own hot shot rates and create hot shot rate sheets? First, ask and answer a few key things.

  • What are your expenses? How much do your truck and trailer cost each month in payments, insurance, and maintenance? Calculate this by dividing your monthly payments and financial obligations by the number of miles you plan to drive per month.
  • What will fuel cost? To get a rough hot shot cost per mile, estimate the average fuel price per gallon you expect to pay and divide it by your average fuel mileage when hauling a load. For example, if fuel is $2.50 per gallon in your area, and you get 15 miles per gallon, $2.50 divided by 15 is approximately $0.17 per mile.
  • How much money do you need to pay yourself? The salary you need includes everything from your mortgage to household costs, childcare, and any other obligations you have. Again, take this amount and divide it by the number of miles you will drive in an average month.
  • What type of load is it? Hot shot drivers generally get a higher rate for full-truckload, oversized, or HAZMAT loads and a lower rate for small loads.
  • Where is your home base? If there are a lot of hot shot truckers in the area, rates will likely go down. But if there’s high demand and few truckers, you can charge more.
  • What does the trip look like? Consider not just the number of miles, but also tolls, difficult roads, and other factors that could affect the run.
  • How urgent is the shipment? By definition, the hot shot trucking business involves urgency. But some loads are more urgent than others, and shippers are often willing to pay a premium for these.

Once you’ve totaled the expenses above, add a percentage for savings (in case of emergency expenses or other unexpected costs). Remember, you want your hot shot business to do more than break even. The total of all the above (expenses, fuel, salary, and savings) is the base rate you should charge per mile. Then consider adding on based on the details about the load and location.

hot shot truck with load.

Once you have this calculation, look up truck load rates in your area. Do they match what you need to charge? Some sources say you should never charge lower than 68% of the local truckload average rate. Also ask:

  • Are there plenty of loads available in your area?
  • Do the loads have set dates and times for delivery, or are they flexible?
  • What is the load-to-truck ratio in your area? (Low is better, as this means you can price more aggressively.)

Keep in mind, all rates are negotiable. And it’s just as important to look to find out if the destination area has frequent outbound loads so you can avoid deadhead time. A good way to do this is by using load boards.

Use load boards to negotiate the best hot shot rates per mile.

How does a load board help you? There are many things you can check using a hot shot load board, including the following:

  • Check accurate market rates with Rate Insights.
  • View load-to-truck ratios in your area.
  • Access historical rate trends for hotshots.
  • View broker information – days to pay, credit scores, and more.
  • Negotiate the best rates with confidence using the data you’ve gathered.

If you know the rates in your area and what they have been in the past, you’ll understand what brokers and shippers are used to paying. You can also use this information to spot trends: are rates going up or down, or staying about the same?

Load boards also help to find loads near your destination, so you are not returning home with an empty truck. Avoiding deadhead miles is a key to making your trucking business profitable.

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Use Truckstop.com to find hot shot loads.

Once you have your rates figured out and what you need to make your business work, use the Truckstop.com instant booking feature to book loads with brokers you already trust. Book It Now allows you to secure loads outside of normal business hours so you can book when it is most convenient for you. The faster you secure loads, the more time you can spend on the road making money. 

No matter where you are with your hot shot trucking business and developing your hot shot rate sheet, Truckstop.com has the hot shot loads and booking tools you need for your business. Sign up for the Truckstop.com Load Board today to keep your trucks rolling!

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