First you need to know what your true operating cost is. It's the only way to know what you should be charging. Operating cost, plus a fair paycheck, and a little company profit should be your goal. This style truck and trailer running OTR usually has a Operating cost ranging between $0.60 to $0.75 cents per mile. These are the operating costs of the Owner Operators I load, they all run these smaller trucks pulling trailers. Knowing your true Operating cost allows you to be competitive.
Can you get a hotshot pipe load for $2.00 or $2.75 a mile? Sure at times you'll catch one, but realistically At these rates everyone in their brother will probably be undercutting that rate and you'll be sitting wondering what the problem is.
If you plan on deadheading back from every delivery point then maybe $2.75 is a realistic rate for you. However if this is your plan maybe you should rethink it? Why not charge a more ralistic rate that a Broker can take to his customer or a Shipper direct will approve and then find a load taking you back in the direction you need to go? I can tell you from a Shippers point of view he doesn't think he or his customers should be paying a round trip mileage rate on every load. Personally i don't blame him. After all it's not the Shippers responsibility to ensure a backhaul for you. This is just one of the risks you take being a Owner Operator.
Expedited loads, and Loads going into an area where there's absolutely no chance of you finding a backhaul from should have a higher rate per mile then lets say a load with plenty of time on it, or loads going into a big city where freight is more abundant.
You have to ask yourself how you personally want to run? Do you want to haul a load everyday, or do you want to haul a load once a week or once every two weeks? I run my trucks daily at a fair rate, they produce a profit for every mile. We've compared and found that at end of the year our guys come out way a head of the guy who sits all week/month demanding a premium rate. Nothing wrong with sitting and demanding a premium rate if you can afford to do it. I don't know many people who can do it in this economy. In this business the wheels have to be turning or you won't make it.
Everyone has their own way of figuring, this is just my way of thinking at the moment. Hopefully some of this may help you. In a better economy I may choose to sit and wait for loads that have a premium rate. After 25 years of experience some of the best advice I can offer you is try to be flexible. Be realistic when fiiguring what you'll haul for.
My business isn't based around hauling full loads, we move LTL freight.
Good Luck Gary M&H Logistics www.hotshotltlcarrier.com