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How to Set the Best Hot Shot Rates Per Mile

Hot shot trucking involves delivering time-sensitive loads for a single customer that must be expedited for several reasons. The term originates from the Texas oil fields and a time 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.

Today, hot shot truckers often carry similar freight, such as construction equipment, industrial equipment used in mining, and more. 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.

hot shot trucking rates per mile

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

How much do hot shot loads pay per mile?

Hot shot loads rates vary a lot, depending on the driver, the load, the shipper, and the urgency of the cargo. Hot shot rate sheets 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 shipper is willing to pay more or the load is specialized. Realize there may be a negotiation, and ultimately you decide on what you are willing to accept for a haul. Balancing a few loads that pay well with other loads 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 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. 

Once you’ve totaled the expenses above, add a percentage for savings (in case of emergency expenses or other unexpected costs). Remember, you want to do more than break even. The total of all the above (expenses, fuel, salary, and savings) is the rate you should charge per mile. 

Once you have this calculation, look up truck load rates (TL) in your area are to see if they match what you need to charge. Some sources say you should never charge lower than 68% of the local truck load average rate. You’ll also want to ask some other questions, too.

  • 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 that all rates are negotiable. It is also just as important to see if the destination area has outbound loads often so that you can keep busy and 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 do load boards help you? There are many things you can check using a hot shot load board, including the following:

  • Check average market rates.
  • View truck-to-load 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 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?

You can also use load boards to find loads near your destination, so you are not returning home with an empty truck. Avoiding deadheads is a key to making your business profitable.

Book It Now Load Confirmation

Use Book It Now for hot shot loads.

Once you have your rates figured out and what you need to make your business work, use Truckstop.com’s instant booking feature to book loads right away. The faster you secure loads, the more time you can spend on the road actually 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 load boards and booking tools you need. Contact us for a demo today!

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