“So I’ve got a dually and a gooseneck trailer outside. How do I get started?”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this question about flatbed hauling from showroom walk-ins this year. What I can tell you, however, is that in 2021, I’ve noticed a substantial increase in the number of independent hotshot haulers coming to Harp’s Tarps to get started.
Many people are new to the business and looking to make a complete career change or have flatbed hauling be their side hustle. The reasons for getting into the business differ from person to person. However, the appeal of the business is largely the same for many. In the hotshot hauling business, you get to be your own boss, set your own hours, and most importantly, take back control over your work life.
I’ve seen the COVID-19 pandemic take the driver’s seat in a lot of people’s lives. Most haulers that walk into our showroom simply want to take it back. You could say they are taking back the steering wheel both figuratively and literally.
If this is you, I hope I can be of some help.
Flatbed hauling can be a lot of things, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. There are countless tools to help you not only get your cargo load from point A to point B, but also do so safely and efficiently. Keeping your load protected keeps you safe financially, safeguards your business relations, and helps you to avoid pesky tickets from law enforcement.
Always remember the 5 P’s: “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”
Here is the “Flatbed Hauling Starter Pack”:
While purchasing a flatbed tarp may seem obvious, there are several important elements to consider. This is especially true when purchasing your first flatbed tarp. Two important questions are:
- What are you hauling?
- Will your load change throughout your trip?
A lumber tarp will typically have either a 6 foot or 8 foot drop (meaning the vertical coverings on either side will be 6 or 8 feet long) and a tarp tail. Lumber tarps are typically recommended for high rising loads and get their name from being associated with lumber hauling. They have a tarp tail to deal with the increased backwards pressure that will be placed on the tarp from larger loads. Many hotshot haulers choose to go with a 6 Foot Drop Lumber Tarp, as they will hardly haul loads large enough to require an 8 Foot Drop Lumber Tarp.
A steel tarp runs smaller than a lumber tarp and will usually have a 4 foot drop. There are two types of steel tarp: a Steel Tarp With Tail or a Steel Tarp Without Tail. As the name states, they are typically used with steel loads. Many haulers appreciate the versatility of steel tarps and they can be used to protect just about any cargo load.
Both lumber tarps and steel tarps should be bought in sets of two to fully cover your trailer bed. However, you can also opt to go with a 3-Piece Flatbed Tarp that includes two standard flatbed tarps and a center piece tarp. These tarps are popular since they are universal and can be arranged in different ways, meaning they can cover just about any load. If your loads change often, this is the tarp to go with.
Pictured: Corner Protectors
Corner Protectors & Pre-Tarp Blankets
The lifetime value of your Flatbed Tarp is important. Having to get repairs done or even purchasing a replacement tarp can set you back. Many novice haulers don’t recognize that your tarp also needs to be protected while protecting your load. It only takes a single tear for the structural integrity of your tarp to fall into jeopardy.
To avoid this, you can purchase a Pre-Tarp Blanket to cover your load. A pre-tarp blanket provides a protective insulating layer that will protect your tarp from sharp loads. Additionally, you can purchase Corner Protectors and VeeBoards to put at the corners of your load to prevent damage from naturally forming sharp angles. These tools will easily pay for themselves over time by increasing the lifetime of your flatbed tarp.
Pictured: Rubber Straps/Bungees
When you purchase your flatbed tarp, you will notice the rows of Dee-Bands lined with metal Dee-Rings. These Dee-Rings are used along with Rubber Bungees to secure your tarp to your flatbed trailer. Quality Rubber Bungees will keep your tarp secured and will prevent it from flying away on the road. We highly recommend purchasing bungees that are made in the USA. Cheap bungees from abroad don’t last long and can snap once frayed. A cheap bungee can cost you an eye if it snaps when you least expect it.
Pictured: Load Binder Strap with Flat Hook End
Load Binder Straps and Ratchet Buckles
Load Binder Straps and Ratchet Buckles are great for securing loads that cover the entire width of your bed. Most straps come in lengths upwards of 30 feet, meaning you can attach one end to the side of your trailer and stretch it over the bed to secure your load. Make sure you purchase a buckle as well to secure the strap without having to tie it to the bed by hand.
Pictured: Grade 70 Ratchet Binder
Chains and Ratchet Binders
Steel Chains and Ratchet Binders are perfect for securing oddly shaped cargo loads, such as construction equipment. Steel chain be easily wrapped around different shapes and is strong enough to withstand forces that other straps can’t handle. You will also need ratchet binders to secure your chains together. Make sure you are purchasing ratchet binders with every chain, as they go hand in hand in securing your load.
Pictured: Coil Racks
Similar to load binder straps, Coil Racks can be used to secure the load on a flatbed. Typically they are used for steel, lumber, or other objects that run the risk rolling around due to vehicular motion. Steel and lumber are two of the most common load types, so we highly recommend getting several coil racks just in case.
Once you’ve purchased these items you should be good to go! That’s all there is to the flatbed hauling starter-pack. You’ll be on your way to running a hotshot hauling business in no time.