Elaine Pofeldt is a journalist whose articles on entrepreneurship and careers have appeared in Fortune, Working Mother, Money and many other publications. She is a former senior editor at Fortune Small Business magazine and an entrepreneur herself, as co-founder of 200kfreelancer.com. Her book, “The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business,” was released in 2018. She writes “Your Business Credit,” a weekly column about small business and credit, for CreditCards.com.
I’m worried my employees are charging gas on the company card more than they should; what options do I have?
There are different ways you can encourage your employees to spend less on gas, even if you think they might be skimming money using the company card. Some of them include:
Dear Your Business Credit,
Thanks for your time. I have an issue. I run a small business and we drive A LOT. Each day is different.
I have a few employees and each has a truck with a company card for gas- and truck-related expenses. It’s impossible to compare mileage traveled to gallons in the tank.
I am worried my employees may be skimming money by offering to buy someone’s gas on my card for cash in hand. They could also put 75 percent in the tank then have a friend pull in and continue to fill up their friend’s car on my card.
I cannot figure a way to prove this or stop it if proven, other than setting them up to see if they do it.
Can you think of any way to stop or prevent this? – Cody
When it comes to the types of theft you are worried about, there isn’t a cut-and-dried solution.
Good help is hard to find today, but one important first line of defense is to screen employees extra carefully before hiring them.
Doing things like calling a few extra references can go a long way.
See related:Handling employee abuse of business credit card
Reward employees who spend less on gas
But the employees you are worried about already work for you, so that approach won’t work at the moment.
For situations like this, a “carrot” approach might work best.
You can motivate your employees to spend less on gas and deter them from skimming money without making them feel like you’re looking over their shoulders.
For example, you might offer a financial reward or gift certificate to any employee who reduces the amount spent on gas below a certain baseline every month.
Giving someone a $50 gift certificate is a bargain if it saves you from $200 worth of theft.
See related:Best credit cards for gas purchases
Setting up written policies on employee card usage
Another way to reinforce that you will not tolerate theft, without insulting your team, is to ask an attorney versed in the law of your state to draft a written policy on credit card usage by employees.
- Make sure the policy covers what will happen if someone makes unauthorized use of a card by placing fraudulent charges on it.
- Ask employees to sign the policy once it is drafted, the way you would any other written policy they need to read.
- Someone who is tempted to fill up his buddy’s tank on your dime might not be as ready to do that if he knows he might lose his job over it and has signed paperwork showing he’s aware of this.
Tip: Deciding how to give your employees credit cards so they can make company-related purchases is a dilemma most small-business owners face. Reimbursing workers for business charges on their personal cards and letting staff borrow your business card when needed are just two of five business expense card options for employers.
Replace employee cards with a reimbursement system
Depending on how much the employees are paid, you might also consider canceling the credit cards and asking them to lay out the money themselves and submitting the receipts for reimbursement.
Having to wait for reimbursement might deter them from submitting inflated bills, since it will affect their personal cash flow.
It all comes down to how serious you think the situation is. Good luck and please let me know how things work out.