Do you want to know how to get started in hot shot trucking or “hotshotting”?
Here are the basics you need to know, from Alex (Tow Piglet), a popular YouTuber and one of the experts in hotshot trucking today.
But first, keep in mind that you won’t get it perfect right away. When you’re just getting started in this business, it’s not going to be easy, like some people with more experience make it look.
Yes, it will be very messy at first. But that’s OK. You’re learning. You always start somewhere.
You may even be tempted to compare your progress to someone else who has been in the business for a whole lot longer. Be sure you don’t do that. Be kind and gentle with yourself.
In this article, you are going to know the exact steps you need to take in order to get into the transportation or trucking business. Then you can go out there and make some money to provide for your family during these really weird 2020 times that we are having now.
1. Get a Medical Card
The number one disqualifier for a lot of people is a medical card. If you cannot get a medical card, look into the possibility of driving a sprinter van or something similar. The law says that any vehicle that’s 10,000 pounds or less does not need a medical card. So if you cannot get a medical card, go look into sprinter or expediting vans.
2. Consider Whether You Need a CDL
The second thing you really need to decide about this business is: Are you going to get a CDL — yes or no? That decision creates two paths. If you’re not going to get your CDL, the number one thing you need to understand as a non-CDL transporter is that you will not get hired for any jobs. So if you decide to not get a CDL, jobs are very unlikely.
You’re probably gonna have to become an owner-operator so that automatically means you need at least $15,000 to $20,000 startup cash. So if you’re going to choose the non-CDL route, make sure you have at least 15-20 grand and understand you’re going to be an owner-operator right away. That also means you’re going to have to find a company to lease under. Since very few companies take non-CDL trucks, you might have to get your own motor authority number. So only do this option if you are a little bit experienced in the transportation industry or at least know some stuff about it or have a little bit of experience.
The other option is get your CDL. When you get your CDL it comes down to three options:
- You can be a driver. There’s nothing wrong with being a driver. Tons of people are drivers with their CDLs.
- You can be an owner-operator. That means it’s your truck and trailer or you’re leasing the truck and trailer. But basically you take care of your equipment and then you find a company that leases your equipment and your services.
- You do all of it. Not only are you the driver of your own truck and you maintain and operate your own truck, but you also do all of the company stuff so all of the company requirements managing the whole company booking your own freight all of that so you’re vertically integrated in your business’s operations.
The Company Driver
Understand that this is a W-2 position. If you’re working as a company driver and it’s not your truck (you’re driving somebody else’s truck) and they’re paying you 1099, that is not okay. That’s a big problem. That means, they’re avoiding paying taxes and ultimately companies like that don’t last. If you’re going to be a company driver you have to be paid W-2.
The one thing that a lot of people overlook being an owner operator is that you’ve got to get your equipment first. Otherwise, you really can’t be an owner-operator. So go get your truck and trailer first. Then start looking for companies to sign up with.
Hopefully, you have a nest egg or some money saved up because it might be 2-3 weeks before you start making money from the company you leased under. So make sure you’re set up really well before you in.
Insurance is by far one of the most expensive things right now — 20, 25, or 30,000 a year quotes. That means you’re now putting $7,000 down. So before you even consider getting your own authority, make sure you go get a test insurance quote first.
What if you’re totally brand new and you don’t even have a truck? The easiest way is to go to a dealership and find a truck on the lot that you like. Take a picture of that VIN number and then when you go do your insurance test quote and they ask you for a VIN number, give them that VIN number.
Do the same thing with your trailer. Give them the VIN number of your trailer as well. This way they can give you a very accurate test quote.
Aside from the checklist, here are some essential resources — some of the processes and systems — that will really help you become more efficient.
You are welcome to send Alex (Tow Piglet) a message on Instagram. Sometimes it takes him a while to get back to you, but he does reply to every message. If you have a question that you want him to answer, that’ll probably be the quickest way to get a response from him.
2. Facebook Group
If you don’t have an Instagram account, try the Facebook group — Hotshot Trucking With Tow Piglet group. There’s almost 4,000 people in there now. It’s one of those places where you can get all of your questions answered really quickly because the stuff doesn’t get deleted.
If you’re planning to join the group, try out the search function first. See if your question has already been answered. If not, go ahead and ask it. Oftentimes, someone new comes in and it’s the same questions over and over.
Another free resource is email. Alex reads every email, though he might not be able to respond to all of them. If it’s a question he hasn’t answered yet or maybe something new that has just been uncovered, he might make a video about it and give you your answer that way. But if you’d like to point out that he has made a mistake in a video, feel free to do it via email. It’s a quick way he can issue a correction or update the video. Email is super beneficial for this as well.
The final resource is his website (towpiglet.com). It’s a little bit bare bones but it’s not just for information, but to help you guys find work, like if you want to be a driver.
He’s not going to be the only one to reach out to you if he’s interested in your skills. The point of that connections website is to connect you with other companies that are hiring as well.
It also works for owner-operators. To get work as an owner-operator, select which equipment you have. There are companies that are leasing on that type of equipment right now. Some of the equipment added are box trucks, semis, reefers, and flatbeds.
This will really be a good, centralized location for people to find work. That’s all free. The companies on the other side are the ones that pay to get to see qualified candidates.
They just made a massive update. Alex and the developer have been working and working. So instead of you just filling out your application or just filling out the information and waiting for a company to contact you, you can be proactive in your search as well. So now, you can actually see companies that posted jobs.
So now, if a company is looking for an owner-operator, you know for a fact that they’re hiring. Or they’re leasing people on. And so now you can mark that you’re interested. And when you do, your information gets directly sent to them.
You don’t have to sit around and wait. As an owner-operator, you can actually send out your information to them also. So super convenient and awesome. It can be a resource that you can take advantage of and get to work as quickly as possible.
When Alex started five years ago, this was not available to him. So understandably, he was so worried about getting fired for any little violation from the company he was leased under.
Now that’s been remedied. That’s been fixed. Now, you can find a company to lease under. Or maybe with his videos, you can learn and get your own authority.