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Hot Shot Trucker's Guide: How to Find Hot Shot Loads

Finding hotshot loads can help grow your trucking business, quickly. Follow this beginner's guide to finding hot shot trucking loads to ge you started in the game.

6 mins readNovember 20, 2022

Are you a beginner in finding hot shot loads? Start here

Hot shot trucking involves small, time-sensitive loads that are often less than a full OTR truckload. You do not have to have a big rig to pick up these high-paying loads, and you can move them using a flatbed or medium-duty truck.

These loads are an excellent choice for small-volume truckers, but finding loads can be challenging. This guide will help you find loads and grow your small-load trucking business.

How Truckers Can Find Hot Shot Loads

If you want to be a hot shot trucker, you need to find loads to carry. You can sometimes find loads through your network, but most hot shot drivers turn to load boards.

Load boards allow shippers and brokers to post jobs where carriers can view and book them.

Some load boards are free, but others charge a monthly fee for carriers:

  • Free load boards can have out-of-date or inaccurate information and might offer lower-paying jobs.

  • Paid load boards often have more accurate information and better-paying jobs. Also, you can get current rate information and find a higher volume of higher-paying loads. On paid boards, brokers are often background-checked and approved, which means you can be confident that you are getting the best loads from trusted sources.

Searching for a Hot Shot Load?

Once you have found a board where you want to search and signed up for an account, it is time to begin your search.

STEP 1: Log on to see dashboard - The first thing you need to do is to log onto the platform. From the main dashboard, you can go to the load board. Once you are there, you should click on "Searching" in the menu bar, then click on "Loads" to begin looking for new hot shot loads.

STEP 2: Search for hot shot loads - You can search for loads by origin or destination. One thing to pay attention to is your trailer selection. You can select "Hot Shot" as your equipment type to make sure the loads are right for your vehicle. You will also need to enter the maximum load for your vehicle.

STEP 3: Set automatic alerts: You can choose to be notified with an audible alert when someone posts a new load that meets your needs.

STEP 4: Reapeat above steps with new searches - The load board allows you to add up to seven additional searches at once if you wish to maximize your results. You can run different origins or destinations to get more results.

These are seven of the best hot shot load boards in the United States based on the most popular online reviews:

  1. Hot Shot Carrier
  2. 123 Loadboard – Hot Shot
  3. Expedite Loads
  4. DAT
  5. FR8Star
  6. TruckStop
  7. uShip – Hot Shot

Searching for a Hot Shot Load

Once you have found a board where you want to search and signed up for an account, it is time to begin your search. The first thing you need to do is to log onto the platform. From the main dashboard, you can go to the load board. Once you are there, you should click on "Searching" in the menu bar, then click on "Loads" to begin looking for new hot shot loads.

You can search for loads by:

  • Trailer type*
  • Origin or Destination
  • Total distance
  • Shipment type (Equipment, Container, Freight, Commodities, Livestock)

If you wish to accept the load, you can contact them to begin negotiating. Once you agree to a rate, you can start hauling.

You can find additional load information and negotiation tools by clicking the "View More Details" button on the load card. This gives you an expanded view.

If you need any further information about the load, you can contact the company.

Finding Good Rates for Hot Shot Trucking

One of the most important factors in successful hot shot load trucking is setting your rates. You must make a profit that exceeds your driving costs.

DON'T LOWER RATES TOO LOW: Many new drivers are tempted to negotiate their rates too low to attract clients, but this can be a mistake that will hinder your ability to earn a living and make the business a success.

INSTEAD, BUILD YOUR REPUTATION TO CHARGE MORE: When you are just starting out in trucking, you will not be able to charge as much as more experienced drivers. You will need to build your reputation to make higher levels of pay. As you build your reputation, you can easily double your beginning rate in time.

For instance, if you start out at an average of $1.50 per mile, you can easily raise your rates into the $2-$3 range as you build the trust of your clients.

Setting your rate too high or too low is a common beginner mistake. Some of the most important expense categories are those associated with picking up and dropping off the load. Driving costs typically include:

  • Fuel costs
  • Dispatch and factoring services
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Insurance premiums

Check out the infographic below from JBF Consulting on the break even cost per mile for truck drivers.

Remember to subtract your operating expenses from your earned-per-mile rate. The amount that is left is what you can put in your bank account.

One of the best sites to find the best rates and loads that meet your specifications is It is best to start with two or three of the best-paying loads and start building your reputation.

As you become more experienced and get more reviews, you will be able to get steady work and build a repeat clientele.

Insurance Requirements for Hot Shot Loads

When you register on load boards, you will be asked to provide your insurance information before you can begin accepting loads.

Some types of insurance you might need include:

  • Public liability insurance
  • Freight insurance
  • Passenger insurance
  • Cargo insurance
  • Surety bond insurance
  • Endorsements for certain loads

You can expect insurance amounts to be higher for those hauling hazardous or valuable loads. Some load boards, brokers, and shippers have insurance requirements that go beyond those required by the state or locale.

You will need to comply with the insurance requirements of every state in which you intend to travel. Once you know what type of vehicle you will be driving and the types of loads you will carry, you can begin comparing insurance companies and rates.

Once you have insurance and have met all the other requirements, you will need to file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

They will ask for documentation of insurance and that you have met all the other requirements. The FMCSA will verify all the requested information before giving you the authority to operate.

Decide What to Haul from Load Boards

One of the most important decisions you will make is what types of loads to haul. Each of the options has pros and cons.

Perishable items: You can choose to haul perishable items that must meet certain temperature and documentation requirements during transport.

Hazardous materials: You can also choose to haul hazardous materials (Hazmat) which often pay more than standard loads, but which might require special equipment or need special training.

Some interstate routes require a TSA background check to hault Hazmat. You may be required to provide information about previous employers, relatives, and driving records.

There is a fee to pass a TSA background check, but if you pass it, you can find higher-paying loads. Check out the DMV for more information on hauling Hazmat.

Takeaways to Find Hot Shot Trucking Loads

Here are some key takeaways to help you succeed to find hot shot truck loads:

  1. Make sure you charge enough to cover your costs.
  2. Explore load boards to find the best ones.
  3. Always respond to requests promptly.
  4. Do your best to make sure every customer is satisfied.
  5. Ask for reviews from happy shippers and brokers.
  6. Make sure you have a dependable phone on the road.
  7. Consider a laptop and Wi-Fi hotspot for the road.
  8. Invest in a good GPS.
  9. Make sure to carry sufficient safety equipment and tools.

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