Travel expense tips every small business needs to know

August 16, 2021

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Bolt Business

It’s a common mistake for managers of small businesses to assume policies and guidelines for business travel are something only larger enterprises need to worry about. But if there’s one thing you don’t want to leave open to interpretation, it’s what qualifies as an “acceptable expense” for a business trip. You’ll be forced to learn the hard way when an invoice for a 3 night stay at a 5-star hotel lands on your desk.

Setting an appropriate travel expense policy can be tricky, especially for a small business. On the one hand, you need to make sure your employees feel supported on the road. On the other, you don’t want to be left holding the bill on an all-expenses-paid vacation! Here are some top tips for finding a happy medium.

Be as clear and specific as possible

A business travel policy is basically a framework of limits set around how your employees travel, their accommodation allowances, and your company’s preferred suppliers or booking channels.

A recent study of travel trends by Expedia Group found that only 60% of businesses have any sort of travel policy in place. If your company falls in the 40% of businesses without clear policies, don’t worry — setting one up is much easier than you think. Here’s what you need to focus on:

  1. Outline what your company’s approvals process might look like;
  2. Set guidelines for bookings and reservations;
  3. Set clear expense limits;
  4. Make sure the policy is assigned to a clear owner within the organisation.

A final thing to keep in mind when creating your small business travel policy is that it should be simple enough to apply to the entire company.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that all teams and employees should have equal expense budgets, however. Your Sales team will likely require a higher allowance than others since their job probably requires them to travel to meet clients more often than other employees in your company.

Use technology to gain the upper hand on expense management

You might think, “How hard can it be to keep track of a few receipts and pass them over to Accounts?” On the face of it, you’re right. It shouldn’t be hard.

But this sort of random, manual system becomes far more difficult to manage when you’re not just dealing with the expenses of a single employee’s 3-day business conference trip. Consider every one of your employees submitting their business travel expenses across the entire year.

At this point, the lack of formal processes can really take its toll on your company’s bottom line. The sheer amount of effort that is required just to keep things running means potentially hundreds of wasted hours of work by your team. Imagine how much that’s going to cost you in salaries.

Fortunately, that’s where solutions like the Bolt Business Team Account can save the day when it comes to streamlining business ride accounting.

The Team Account allows managers to set employee-specific car travel expense allowances. There’s also no more receipt-chasing, as all invoices are automatically forwarded to your finance team after each ride.

Bolt Business Team Account administrators get a monthly summary of employees’ rides and expenses, and all of the billing is taken care of without a single paper receipt. Not only will you streamline your business, but you’ll save a lot of trees in the process!

On that note, it’s worth remembering that Bolt rides are carbon-neutral throughout Europe.

Reward employees for being travel-savvy

In most small-to-medium-sized businesses, employees are the ones in charge of booking their own travel and accommodation. Making them responsible for the logistics of getting from A to B, while your company has no set rules for work travel, can create a culture of overspending. Accidental, or otherwise.

It all comes down to human nature. Even the most thrifty individuals tend not to pay as much attention to the price tag when it’s not their money that’s being spent.

So if you’re looking to create a culture that encourages employees to make smart financial decisions in all facets of their job description, especially work travel, consider adopting a reward policy.

It may sound counterintuitive, but by rewarding thrifty employees for sticking to their business travel budgets, you’re encouraging all your employees to manage their trip expenses better.

Incentives can include anything from an annual bonus to a special gift or extra privileges. Don’t be afraid to get creative when it comes to setting a good example for travelling on the company’s dime!

Find a partner that suits your company size

If your business isn’t quite a multinational conglomerate (yet!), and you’re looking for a solution for a relatively small scale business, finding a reliable partner to manage your business travel expenses can be tough.

When it comes to business taxi rides, a Bolt Business Work Profile might be better suited for your small team. The Work Profile allows individuals to:

  • receive tax receipts with pre-filled company information on them, ready for the accountant;
  • choose an email address to receive the receipts to;
  • easily switch between their personal and business Bolt profile before ordering a ride.

A Work Profile can be created at any time by going to the Payments section of your Bolt app.

And remember, as your company scales, Bolt Business will scale with you. We have convenient solutions for companies of all sizes, helping them manage their travel expenses with ease.

Streamline your team’s travel expenses with a Bolt Business

In addition to saving on ride fares in more than 40 countries around the globe, the Bolt Business Team Account’s intuitive platform streamlines all your company’s travel expenses onto one easy-to-use dashboard.

Learn more about Bolt Business and how we can help your SMB cut down on travel costs and make expense management a breeze!

Bolt Business

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