What is a Hot Shipment?

What is a Hot Shipment?

Freight 360 By Freight 360

This load is really hot! Needs picked up immediately.  How often do see this in a customer or prospect email?  Pretty often, right? Let me ask you this, do you do anything different with loads that are urgent? Do you charge the same? Is it the same amount of work?  Don’t worry because In this blog we’ll cover how to determine if it really is a hot load.  Or if your customer is just trying to get you to hustle for free.  

Let’s start by defining what a hot load or shipment is.  It is a shipment that needs to be loaded urgently, that day or possibly in the next few hours.  Because it’s either creating issues for the shipper or because the receiver is in desperate need of the cargo.  There are a lot of causes of hot shipments, but at the end of the day the thing that matters most is that it gets picked up without fail.  No ifs ands or buts.  

Let’s start with the questions you should be asking your customer at the beginning.  When you receive an email that states a load is hot and must pickup, the first thing you should do is pickup the phone and call them.  For one, it’s an opportunity to build more rapport even if you don’t move the load.  Second, you’ll need to ask some questions to determine the context of the load.  Or the situation that your customer is dealing with.  

Questions to Ask

You should ask the following questions, “Hey Cindy, I just received your email about the hot load from Miami to Boston.  Just had a couple quick questions.  What’s your target rate on this move?  Or your ballpark on what you’ve been paying for this lane?  I just want to get my arms around this shipment for you.  We can definitely get you a truck today.  We just need to know how urgent your customer needs it.  Are you looking for team drivers to run this straight through?  It might be a little more money but if your customer really needs this, we can get it there in about half the normal transit time.”  Now pause for a second.

Why do you think I’m offering to get it there in a half the transit time for a bit more money?  I’m asking about the most extreme solution to the issue so that I can get more information from Cindy about this load.  I’ll learn a lot just by how she responds to those questions.  You’ll typically hear one of a few things.  First, they might say, “oh no Ben, it’s not that urgent.  We just need to make sure it delivers as scheduled.”  You may hear, “That’s great, this customer was supposed to receive this a few days ago and we haven’t been able to get it picked up.”  


What I’m listening for is how urgent is this shipment.  For instance, if the market for this lane right now is $2,900 to $3,500.  That’s a pretty big range.  The load boards are also showing loads posted as high as $4,000 right now.   The degree of urgency of the shipment is directly related to the amount the shipper is willing to pay.  If this load has to pickup in the next 2 hours, I’ll need to pay close to the top of the market to make sure it gets picked up.  Probably close to that $4,000 or a bit more to make sure it gets loaded.  

Pickup Window

The other reason, you’ll be on the higher end of the market is to ensure that carrier you’ve booked doesn’t drop your load for a better paying load.  And finally, the less time you have to work on it, the less trucks that will actually be empty and within a close enough radius from your shipper to make the pickup window.  A great rule of thumb is 50 miles for each hour you have.  If you have 3 hours, you can book a truck within 150 miles, 2 hours, 100 miles and so on.

How hot is it?

Now back to Cindy, if she says that this load is important, but not important enough to pay above the bottom of the market.  We’ll say she’s only willing to pay $3,200 for this.  Even though, that’s the same thing they always pay for this lane.  What does that tell you?  It tells you that yes, the load is a little more important then normal.  But, not important enough for your customer to care enough to put their money where their mouth is.  These are the situations that I’ll post the load up and field inbound calls, but won’t make any outbound calls.  Why? Because I’m not going to burn the most precious resource I have, time, if my customer is willing to pay for it.  

Covering the load

If it turns out to be really urgent, then I’m going to quote her 15-20% above what I think I’ll pay.  In this case I would bill $4,680.  I would post the load up for $4,000 at first and see if I received a hit.  Every 5-10 minutes I’ll up my post by $100 until I’ve covered the load.  If I’m still now getting any hits, I’ll start making some outbound calls to trucks posted within the radius I’m working.  That’s it.  


Remember the questions you ask will determine whether or not it’s a hot load at all.  It’s very common for shippers to use recently onboarded brokers and prospecting brokers as free resources.  They’ll send over lanes for quotes that they don’t even have shipments for.  Why do they do this?  Because they don’t want to waste the time of their brokers they’ve been working with for years.  So when they’ve got lots of brokers emailing about wanting to do business with them, they use it to their advantage.  A key takeaway is that you shouldn’t ever been hustling to cover a hot load until you’ve verified that it is actually an urgent shipment, and that they are willing to pay what it would cost to have it treated as a priority.  One without the other won’t do you any good.

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