Box Truck hot shot?

Discussion in 'Expediter and Hot Shot Trucking Forum' started by knothole, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. knothole

    knothole Bobtail Member

    Feb 14, 2014
    Hello all. I'm looking for info on using a 3500 or 4500 with 16ft box & lift gate for hot shot, regional, or dedicated route. I'm a 57 yr old building contractor, but due to hip injury & replacement, and the housing meltdown a few years ago, I'm looking for a new career. I'm no longer able to do a lot of the physical work a traditional hot shot truck & flatbed trailer require, and would prefer to stay smaller, less than 26K pounds, to avoid the many of regs etc applying to larger trucks, including traditional expeditors. I ran 2 box trucks when I was building, so I'm familiar with this size & can do the maintenance on them myself. Replacements are easy to come by, and I'm thinking a standard box would be preferable to a Sprinter due to being able to load 2 pallets side by side rather than one behind the other. More cubic ft available for freight. I know there would be some trade off between mpg vs more freight. After housing crashed & took me with it, I used my smaller 12 ft box as O/O to do courier & local delivery for 2 1/2 yrs. Ran pharmaceuticals in the morning & office supplies in the afternoon. Picked up the occasional hot shot load when they came around, but there weren't many of them. Didn't make any real money, but managed to stay out of the red. I got a 70/30 split, but after fuel, fees, cargo ins, scanner rental, etc, there wasn't enough left to get ahead. So, I guess my question is, Do you think I can drum up enough business with a box truck to make it a worthwhile, profitable venture? What type customer would be best suited to box truck delivery? I have a few ideas in my head and maybe a couple ideas where to start looking for customers, but I'd sure be interested in hearing y'all's viewpoint on something like this. I'm currently in East Texas oilfield country, but home is Knoxville, TN. I had to move here to look after mom. She's not doing so well. So I'm not real interested at this point in OTR, but wouldn't mind maybe 1 or 2 nights out. Any help, pointers, or information is greatly appreciated. Sorry about the lengthy post. Just trying to be thorough. Thanks in advance.
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  3. rwdfinch50

    rwdfinch50 Medium Load Member

    Nov 6, 2007
    Leesburg, Fl.
    My suggestion is to join OOIDA ( if you haven't already done so. They can lead you in the right direction and help you to get your own authority and all the paperwork that's involved. They have a service to do that for you. You'll need to have operating authority for what you want to do, unless you lease on to one of the expediting companies, and they'll take a percentage also.
    After you get your authority and insurance, you can go on the load boards and look for LTL (less than truckload) freight that will fit in your truck.
    Hope this helps.
  4. Ridgeline

    Ridgeline Road Train Member

    Dec 18, 2011
    Are you talking about expediting (box, van or sprinter) stuff or Hotshot (flatbed, open or enclosed trailer) stuff?
  5. knothole

    knothole Bobtail Member

    Feb 14, 2014
    Thanks for the replies. I understand the authority and insurance thing, but that's not what I'm asking. Likewise with OOIDA. I just don't know if there's enough freight from shippers or brokers on a consistent basis for a 350 series (1 ton) 16 ft box truck (or van) with lift gate. Not a Sprinter. Not a straight truck. Not a cargo van. GCWR somewhere around 13,000. Something similar to this.
    I already have 2 box trucks (12ft & 14ft) but they're too high mileage for this type work. I will replace them, or at least one of them, if I think I can get enough work doing this. Otherwise, I'll just keep them as a storage building on wheels and try something else.

    I already did the local courier thing which is NOT a profitable way to earn a living. Neither is local delivery, such as furniture or appliances. I'm thinking more along the lines of on demand LTL freight from various manufacturers and/or fabricators, regional delivery, critical time delivery, maybe LTL line haul, maybe auto parts, maybe household moves. I don't know. That's why I'm asking if this might be worthwhile or not. Has anyone done this type work with this type truck?

    I don't mind calling on local businesses to try and get their shipping orders, But local can only provide so much work. To do this on a consistent basis, I need multiple shippers or perhaps a single shipper with a lot of loads and hopefully some back hauls. So a broker, or at minimum, a subscription to a load board is necessary. Just looking for info to determine if this is worth pursuing before jumping into the deep end.
  6. Reverend Blair

    Reverend Blair Light Load Member

    May 30, 2011
    Winnipeg, MB
    Try to find a couple of local manufacturers who can supply enough steady work to at least pay the bills, then pick up other work for the gravy. That's how successful independents around here seem to do it. You may also want to consider getting a trailer on a pintel hitch to tow behind. it would increase your load size (likely not your weight unless you have a CDL B though) and is a relatively cheap option.
  7. FarmerTransportation

    FarmerTransportation Light Load Member

    Dec 26, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I'll give you what I can from my limited experience. There are loads for smaller trucks. I run an F350 pickup which limits me to a 2200lb load, and I find enough work to keep me afloat.

    What you have to consider is how much profit you need week to week or month to month to keep you going. Try to get your budget in line based upon your own operating costs (how much mpg to you get with your vehicle, what are your fixed expenses, etc) and determine what you need to make per mile to hit your necessary profit level. I also look at what each load would pay and try to figure what I would earn after deducting fuel and trip expenses. Sometimes I'll take a load that pays less per mile than I'd like but which will at least provide enough raw profit to pay the lights and locks.

    I will also accept a lower per-mile trip if I can find another load coming back. I deadhead at 18mpg so if the trip out pays well enough I don't worry about it. The caution is that if you run long enough without sufficient profit to stockpile cash for equipment maintenance and eventual replacement, you will wind up with a worn out piece of equipment and no way to replace it and keep going.

    I've been using load boards to find my work, and I've also been calling on local businesses as I have time to get my name out. All of my business so far has been from the boards and, as I said, I find enough to keep me driving. My profit needs, however, may be smaller than yours.

    I had originally hoped to be able to run within a 250 mile radius of home, but I've found that if I want to drive regularly I have to take some trips that require overnights. I run out of Pittsburgh, PA and have taken loads to North Dakota and Florida. I don't have sufficient space in my cab to use it as a sleeper, so I have to overnight in hotels. Be sure to add that into your budget if your situation is similar.

    If you have your operating authority and DOT number, take a stab at one of the boards. I recommend Internet Truckstop and there are several more. See if you can find some loads that meet your equipment's capabilities. Some of the boards will let you log in as a guest and take a peek at the range of loads available.

    Good luck to you! I can tell you that I've not regretted taking the plunge. And I'm having enough fun at it that I'm thinking about buying a flatbed.
  8. sparks7270

    sparks7270 Bobtail Member

    May 13, 2021
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