Customer fulfillment is the driving force behind a company’s success. It leads to profitability, more purchase orders, and enduring business partnerships. For logistics companies, it’s also the difference between an on-time delivery and a service failure. There’s a lot at stake for shippers and 3PLs, but the goal for both is ensuring that products get delivered when they should be. Sometimes shipping managers run into circumstances where a PO cannot be fulfilled by relying on conventional FTL or LTL options due to time constraints. That is when shippers look for logistics companies that offer hotshot service, an expedited shipment through air or ground transport designed to deliver time-sensitive materials as fast as possible. This article looks at hotshot logistics, offering readers a guide for understanding its key advantages, best practices, and some valuable tips for when you consider using a hotshot to fulfill an order.
Hotshot Logistics: Understanding the Concept
Hotshot logistics, or hotshot trucking, refers to an industry practice providing dedicated transportation that ensures immediate and direct delivery to a receiver. Suppose a customer has a product that requires a regular LTL shipment using a flatbed, reefer, or dry van, or expedited transport in a sprinter van or box truck. However, the customer needs the shipment delivered immediately and cannot wait on an LTL carrier’s multiple pickups, load consolidation, and delivery schedules. This is when ordering a hotshot is the more practical solution.
The shipper pays a surcharge to have the load picked up immediately and delivered to the receiver as quickly and safely as possible. Shippers commonly use hotshot logistics to prevent manufacturing companies from avoiding a production halt. For example, a major print shop in Chicago is critically low on paper right before the holiday rush. Facing the potential for catastrophe, the shipper, based in Florida, orders a hotshot with team service and has a skid of supplies delivered overnight, ensuring that the customer can continue doing business as usual.
Hotshot Logistics: A Closer Look
Shipping a hotshot load depends on a variety of factors that influence the type of equipment needed, the available service options, and the associated costs. When you partner with a transportation service provider specializing in hotshot logistics, they will ask routine questions about the commodity being transported, the dimensions and weight of the product, and the special load requirements necessary to fulfill the delivery. Not all 3PLs offer specialized hotshot transportation, partly due to the complex nature of developing adequate capacity with the equipment necessary to fulfill that type of transportation.
Some transportation providers also have geographical limitations regarding what areas of the country they can actually service. On the other hand, there are some hotshot logistics companies that not only offer direct shipping throughout the continental United States but also into Canada and Mexico. Companies like Wicker Park Logistics even offer guaranteed on-demand capacity sourcing for all shipments, including spot loads and regular load volume. Through technology, carriers can even log in to Wicker Park Logistics’ digital platform, get instant rate quotes, match with carriers, and get real-time shipment visibility.
What Customers Come to Expect with Hotshot Transportation
When a company orders a hotshot for one of its shipments, certain expectations must be fulfilled to ensure the transportation goes as smoothly as possible. Here’s a list of some common service features customers should expect when booking their next hotshot load.
A Range of Trucks and Equipment
Your hotshot logistics provider should offer a range of vehicles specific to your next shipment's load requirements. An experienced hotshot service provider already has the carrier density necessary to fulfill the unique operational requirements needed to fulfill your next order. Wicker Park Logistics has the capacity that includes pickup trucks, sprinter vans, box trucks, small straight trucks, large straight trucks, and refrigerated units. Depending on the load, carriers may need trailers like lowboys, stepdecks, flatbeds, or goosenecks. The drivers also must secure any gear needed to secure the cargo, like chains, straps, tarps, and racks.
If a shipper needs a hotshot load in a pinch, they call on a transportation service provider that offers North American customers guaranteed capacity sourcing in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Wicker Park Logistics is one of the few hotshot logistics providers that offers a dense network of carefully vetted carriers to handle all domestic and cross-border hotshot loads.
Excellent Communication and Real-Time Visibility
A nightmare scenario for all shipping managers involves a carrier going dark while hauling one of their high-priority loads. Hotshot loads are time-sensitive and require up-to-the-minute load notifications that ensure on-time pickup and delivery. Tracking capabilities are crucial and have become the standard in the logistics industry. Wicker Park Logistics provides all customers with technological solutions that support their unique operational requirements. Customers can access a fully customizable API that connects directly with their existing TMS, allowing shipping managers to log in and get load notifications and GPS tracking updates. They can also communicate directly with an operations team who monitors your supply chain 24/7.
Best Practices for Effective Hotshot Logistics
Effective hotshot logistics don’t just happen. It takes a highly coordinated approach that involves streamlining communication, leveraging technology, building a reliable network, and maintaining compliance with transportation regulations. Here are a few best practices in each of those areas.
Streamline Communication for Rapid Response Times
- Establish Clear Channels: Ensure clear lines of communication between dispatchers, drivers, and customers. This can help resolve any issues quickly and keep the operation running smoothly.
- Disseminate Regular Updates: Regular status updates are crucial to managing expectations and ensuring that everyone involved is informed about the shipment's progress.
Leverage Technology for Efficient Tracking and Dispatch
- Use Advanced Software: Employ advanced dispatch and tracking software to manage orders, optimize routes, and track shipments in real time.
- Make Ample Use of Automation: Use automation to speed up dispatch processes, reducing manual efforts and minimizing errors.
Build A Reliable Network Of Hotshot Drivers And Vehicles
- Don’t Skimp on Recruiting: Invest time and resources in recruiting reliable, experienced hotshot drivers. Their expertise can significantly impact the quality of service.
- Train, Train, and Train Some More: Regular training and development programs can ensure that drivers are well-versed in best practices and safety guidelines.
- Vehicle Maintenance is a Must: Regular vehicle maintenance is crucial to prevent breakdowns or delays.
Maintain Compliance with Transportation Regulations
- Safety First, Always: Ensure that all safety and transportation regulations are met, from securing loads properly to drivers adhering to Hours of Service rules.
- Ensure Accurate and Complete Documentation: Proper documentation of shipments, driver logs, and vehicle maintenance records can help maintain compliance and provide necessary evidence during audits.
Book Your Next Hotshot Load with Wicker Park Logistics
When shippers partner with a transportation service provider that offers a range of value-added services, they gain the peace of mind that regardless of the freight and delivery expectations, their customer orders will be fulfilled without question. Wicker Park Logistics was built on the idea that no loads should be left uncovered, no matter the circumstances. For that reason, they build transportation networks around their customers' unique needs, no matter the circumstances. Hotshot loads are just one of their specialties, and if your company has an urgent shipment, don’t hesitate to contact their experts today!