IT consultancies employing multiple technicians have a decision to make: Should the company reimburse employees for expenses associated with their personal cars, or should the organization purchase or lease fleet vehicles?
Advantages to using fleet vehicles
While reimbursing staff for the use of their cars is a simple method that sometimes minimizes costs, fleet vehicles offer numerous advantages. For instance, company-owned vehicles further branding efforts; fleet vehicles enable the organization to better manage maintenance to ensure staff vehicles remain safe, reliable, and operational; fleet autos often provides cost and tax savings; and these vehicles can serve as an employee benefit.
IT consultancies that dispatch techs to multiple points of the compass on a daily basis (as does my firm) are wise to consider purchasing or leasing fleet vehicles. We've standardized on a single make and model, and each vehicle features the same logos and marketing treatment to ensure our brand is professionally and consistently represented throughout the community. The benefits are apparent. We regularly receive comments on the cars, and service calls are routinely generated due to the manner in which our vehicles stand out. Further, when we've been approached by the local media to comment on computer and technology articles, we're often asked to appear in photographs with our cars. Our fleet vehicles have, in fact, become part of our brand.
Should your IT consultancy operate fleet vehicles?
Determining whether fleet vehicles are appropriate for your organization is a question that, ultimately, only an accountant familiar with depreciation, capital costing, and tax rules can properly assist you in making. But you can assess whether your IT consultancy is heading in the best direction by considering the following questions:
- Do vehicle reimbursements regularly exceed a few hundred dollars per employee per month?
- Are any staff members regularly losing time tracking staff mileage reports for personal automobile use and processing related expense claims?
- Have any service calls required rescheduling due to an employee experiencing car trouble?
- Do the vehicles employees currently drive to client sites reflect well on your organization?
- Is your IT consultancy attempting to build a professional brand within the communities it serves?
- Does your IT consultancy wish to strengthen its employee benefits program by offering trusted staff a take-home vehicle?
- Is the consultancy seeking opportunities to bolster its advertising and marketing efforts?
If the answer to even two or three of these questions is yes, make an appointment to sit down with the firm's accountants to explore the benefits of operating fleet vehicles. By reviewing current expenses, weighing the typical advantages fleet autos offer, and determining potential cost and tax benefits, your IT consultancy may find that investing in fleet vehicles will ultimately minimize costs, boost the organization's image, and improve employee morale.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.