Hotshot Start Up Costs


Breaking the Pig to Get in the Rig

average start up costs?
— New Hotshot Motor Carrier

How much do you need to roll?

What are the average start up costs for a new hotshot motor carrier? Do you have enough to keep you running until the checks start rolling in?


The ten-thousand dollar question

It’s more than just gett’n a truck
— have truck - will work for food

Researching on Google, to learn the things you need to do for a hotshot start up - you're gonna get hit with tons of results for companies that will offer you services to handle your business. Even when you dig down to just find information, there's a bunch fools gold of false info out there. 


How long does it take to get MC Authority?
— Timing is everything


Assuming you do everything on time, it takes approximately four weeks to get active authority. Once you register with the FMCSA, it will take 2-3 days to be put on the register. Then, there's a 10-day protest period. If your BOC3 and Insurance gets filed, it then takes about 6 business days to be active. 

Don’t apply for authority in Oct or Nov
— You'll start smack dab in low freight season

Freight is seasonal. C’mon and take a look>


Start Up Cost Snapshot

Your numbers will vary (such as insurance costs, based on driving record, etc). But this is a pretty good look at what's average and the ball park number of pennies you should have in your bank.

LLC $400

You don't have to have an LLC. And the formation and filing of one may be a different cost in your state. Choosing an LLC or a DBA, we'll chat about that another time since this story is just about the numbers. 

FMCSA Registration $300

This is NOT that hard to do yourself. It's online. Fill out the blanks. We'll do a walk through of that another time. 

USDOT Registration $0

Signing up for your MC/USDOT comes in one step on the FMCSA site. 

BOC3 $36

Ok, first, you're going to see a ton of companies out there offering this. Some are like $200. Get real. This is your process agent, meaning you have an address in every state. It's a regulation requirement. And...this is a ONE time fee. Not annual. Don't get suckered by someone. 


Sales calls & emails start pounding you when you submit the MC application.
— It's freakin annoying.


Commercial Insurance $3700 down, then $1000 monthly

Aside from your truck and trailer, this is a biggie. You need $750K liability per the regs. But that's not what you want. Brokers will require 1-Million liabilty and 100,00 cargo insurance. The average annual insurance, with truck and trailer protection, is $13-19K per year. The down payment is usually 25%, then you have monthly payments. Plan on $3000-4000 down. On average you'll be paying $1000 per month, but I've seen some at $1900 a month - cause they didn't shop around.  


I’ve seen carriers pay $900-1900 per month. You have to shop for the right agent.
— Shop around - this is a lot of $$


Drug & Alcohol Consortium $199

This included the consortium enrollment, pre-employment drug test, all random test fees for the year. You can also choose a 'flat fee" service, meaning every test required for the year is included. Per regulations, you have to be in a random drug pool. The regs want more than just that $60 lab test. 

Driver Qualification $12

You need a min of a 3-year history of driver records - and it HAS to be certified!

UCR $72

You must register for UCR.

Home State-DOT $205

You also have a state DOT number. In this sample, the Texas DOT fee was $205. Your state may vary. It essentially is the intrastate authority.

ELD $39

You all know, or should know, about the ELD. (Electronic Logging Device). You are required to have one. On average they cost $20-40 a month. Some companies require you pre-pay for the year. If you chose an ELD that did not require an annual payment; you might have a 36-month contract. If you pay annually - you can expect to shell out about $250-350 for this. 

IRP/Apportioned Plates $550

I'm not even going to start yaking with you about whether or not a hotshot needs apportioned plates. I'm going to tell you - In a Ram 3500 + 40ft trailer + load capacity of 16K# = you ARE over 26,000 pounds. 


Stop trying to say you’re underweight. Get on the scale, with that cookie in your mouth.
— Hefty, you're over 26,000 pounds combined.

IFTA Registration $0

You need to have apportioned plates to get IFTA. But we already touched on that. Anyway, IFTA is nothing to be scared of. In fact, it makes weigh station stops a breeze. 


No IFTA? You’re gonna pay per-trip permits for each state you roll.
— No permit? No IFTA? = Huge fines.

Federal DOT Inspections $80

Both the truck ($40) and trailer ($40) HAVE to have a Federal DOT inspection. Keep the a copy of the record in your cab. 

Truck & Trailer $$

Obviously you need a truck. Most chose a RAM 3500. Some go used, some new. The down payment, monthly payment and/or cash out the door will vary. Shop around. 

The trailer is harder to get financed than the truck. Go see for yourself. Be prepared to spend about $15K on a new one. 

Equipment >$1000

Regulations will require specific things, like fire extinguisher, safety....etc. But the job requires things like chains, binders, tie downs, PPE, and so on. The tarps are probably the most costly on the list. 


Can you just help or do this for me?!

Absolutely! Contact us and we’ll help you out!

So you’re looking at roughly $6200 fees, PLUS truck & trailer costs, and reserve to keep you rolling.
— Don't leave the bank empty

Do not, I repeat, do not leave that piggy bank empty. You're gonna need a cash safety net for all kinds of things. And, even if you factor, there's gonna be some money out the door that you need to rock and roll. 

Don't risk your investment.
Dispatching is your road to revenue.


So don't break that bank, but you're gonna rough that pig up. The truck down might be $0 or it might be 10, 20% down. The trailer is likely 25% down. Start up costs. Equipment costs. Initial operating costs. So really, all're probably looking at a solid $10,000 if you finance the truck and trailer. 

Hit the Pig
— Get in the rig

This pig is gonna get hurt.