SOP Friday: Travel Policies
Karl Palachuk / Karl Palachuk
From time to time you need to travel out of town. As with everything else, it’s good to have a travel policy in place before you need it. If you’re a one person shop, it’s good to have a written policy (and follow it) so you can justify your expenses if you get audited. As you grow, members of your team may need to travel for business.
Out of town travel almost always falls into two categories: Service delivery or training. Training includes conferences. In some cases out of town travel might include sales.
Travel policies are pretty straight forward. So I’m going to post a sample and then discuss the few variables you need to make some decisions on.
|Policy Memo: Out of Town Travel
Date: November 2013
To: Staff of KPEnterprises
From: Karl W. Palachuk, President
Re: Travel Out of Town
Please note the following guidelines for out of town travel:
Notes Regarding the Travel Policy
The key to success with a policy like this is Keep It Simple. Your travel policy should be fair and common sense.
The mileage and “commute” rules are similar to those discussed in the Employee Expenses post. The goal is to mesh well with that policy and stay within the spirit of tax regulations. You also don’t want the employee to be out of pocket for reasonable work expenses.
You can define out-of-town as you see fit. We used Microsoft Mappoint to plot the expected driving radius for 30 minutes and 45 minutes from our office. The resulting map included almost every client we had. Rather than make technicians look up a convoluted map, we just drew a circle around it and that came about to about miles. That’s where we came up with that number.
When I travel personally, I never accept the insurance add-on rip-offs because my insurance company is always reminding me that I am covered and don’t need them. But when anyone else rents a car on my behalf, I absolutely want the “walk away” coverage. This is a reasonable expense and you need to figure out how to pass it on to the client.
One item where you might want to save a little money is with shared hotel rooms. I travel a lot and I really appreciate the opportunity to have privacy and feel that I am truly “off work.” So I never share a hotel room. The two times I have made an exception to this I did not sleep well. That’s just me.
Another area you might want to look at is frequent travel programs. I don’t need the hassles of trying to maintain a company-wide program and split up points among employees.
My final advice on travel policies is to make them as short as possible. Don’t worry about complicated scenarios unless they arrive. Update the policy when you have some new or different circumstances. And be flexible about one-time events. For example, if and employee wants to take a side trip to go to a wedding as long as they’re across the country, just work out a fair deal. Start with an “exceptional” ruling and don’t create a complicated policy that will never be used again.
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SOP Friday – or Standard Operating System Friday – is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a
successful and profitable consulting business.
Find out more about the series, and view the complete “table of contents” for SOP Friday at SmallBizThoughts.com.
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All material Copyright (c) 2006-2012 Karl W. Palachuk unless otherwise noted.