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Maximizing Earnings in OTR Hot-Shotting: Choosing the Right Trailer

Are you contemplating entering the world of hot-shotting? It's essential to understand the critical role your trailer plays in determining your success and earnings in this industry. Let's dive deep into the specifics of what type of trailer you need to ensure you're positioned to make the most out of your hot-shotting venture.

Trailer Setup:

To start, let's address the non-CDL setup. Currently, I cannot recommend this configuration due to a significant decline in the freight per truck ratio since 2022. Operating without a CDL license presents numerous challenges, primarily because of the limited weight and length capacity. This limitation severely restricts the number of available loads and often results in low-paying hauls. Remember, the key to maximizing earnings lies in the ability to haul more weight and longer loads.

So, what features should your ideal hot-shot trailer possess? At a minimum, it should have dual tandem 12K axles. Additionally, the trailer's length should be no less than 40 feet, preferably with a dove tail and fold-down ramps. The rationale behind opting for 12K axles or larger is straightforward: the more weight you can haul, the more money you can potentially earn. Even a slight difference in axle capacity, such as between 10K and 12K, can significantly impact the number of loads available to you. Furthermore, having the ability to add partial loads is crucial for securing high-profit hauls.

Now, let's discuss a game-changer in the hot-shotting realm—the 53’ hot-shot step deck manufactured by Diamond C. This innovative trailer boasts an impressive 40k weight capacity rating and typically offers 2-4 times more load availability than the standard 40’ gooseneck, depending on the location. While investing in this setup may require a substantial initial cost, it will more than compensate for the cost. Not sure if other manufactures make a Hot-shot 53’ Stepdeck like this. But I sure wish they would!

Picking the Right Trailer:

Now that we've covered the basics let's delve deeper into the key factors to consider when selecting the perfect hot-shot trailer:

  • Length Matters: Opting for a trailer with a minimum length of 40 feet will increase load availability and have the availability to add partial loads.

  • Dove Tail Advantage: Running a straight trailer will be limited on the type of equipment and vehicles you can haul. You will only be able to haul high-clearance motorized equipment. The dove tail trailer with the fold-down ramps can usually haul anything from a small SUV and up in clearance. I do not recommend the hydraulic ramps. The Hydraulic ramps are great for loading vehicles and equipment, but because of the extra weight it requires for the hydraulic system and trailer design, it reduces your weight capacity. Also, the hydraulic lift trailers cost more and will make less money on average because of the reduced cargo weight. Only a minority of your loads will be motorized vehicles, so do not limit yourself in weight capacity for the majority of your loads.

  • Air Ride vs. No Air Ride: The decision to invest in an air ride system on your hot-shot trailer is often a matter of personal preference. While air ride trailers may offer slightly more load availability, the initial costs and maintenance will be hard to justify.

  • Trailer Brand Reliability: Well, this could be a controversial subject as a lot of guys and gals think the trailer they have is the best. Could be the best, but what makes a trailer the best and is the best what I need? I will not bash any trailer brands but will let you know what I think is important in a trailer. I will say I know of a few brands that recently had some problems with components on their trailers. This was mainly because of the Covid era. They were not able to get the tried and true components they have been using for years. Therefore they had to use untested components to be able to produce trailers which were in high demand at the time. Choose a reputable trailer manufacturer known for producing high-quality, durable trailers. Look for models equipped with top axle manufacturers like Dexter or Lippert, as this ensures easy access to replacement parts when needed.

  • Torque Tube: You will want a trailer that has a torque tube so that you will not have a lot of flex. Some manufacturers do not use torque tubes. I even had one claim their trailers do not flex. Just walk away if that's their claim, they all flex but will flex a lot less with that torque tube.

  • Tire Specifications: Opt to have at least 14 ply all-steel tires. All-steel tires are the steel wire-reinforced sidewall for trailer tires. This helps sidewall damage when running over things like curbs.

  • Quality Check: Conduct a thorough inspection of the trailer’s quality. Paying close attention to weld quality, paint coverage, and overall construction. Lots of these things are easily repairable. But consider them as red flags of the type of quality they are putting out. Is the welding high quality or does it look like someone stuck chewing gum on it? Does it have weld splatter in the weld areas? How about the paint, does the trailer have 100% paint coverage or did they miss areas under the trailer? Pay attention to the quality details as these could be red flags for poor quality.

  • Winch Installation: Installing a winch on your trailer will pay for itself quickly as it opens you to more available loads. More available loads mean more money.

  • Other Upgrades: Ask yourself, will this upgrade make me more money, save me money, or save me time? If not, you probably do not need it. Keep in mind when you add a lot of extra options at the dealer you will have to pay a 12% federal sales tax on that commercial trailer. So a lot of things can be done after the purchase.

  • New vs. Used: When it comes to purchasing a trailer, you'll need to decide between buying new or used. This is a personal choice again but if you have not shopped new trailers this year you will be shocked how much they have gone up. You can find a lot of good deals on used trailers and most of the time they already have a lot of the equipment needed. Remember that a $30,000 new trailer is not going to make you more money than the same used $15,000 trailer. Do not forget that 12% sales tax on your choice.

In conclusion, selecting the right trailer is a critical step in maximizing your earnings and success in OTR hot-shotting. By prioritizing factors such as length, weight capacity, and quality, you can ensure that your trailer serves as a reliable and efficient tool for securing high-profit hauls and building a thriving hot-shotting business.

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