business operational expenses

Take The Mystery out of Operational Expenses

Posted by Stacey Papp

Like a lot of Americans, you probably have a credit card – data from 2014 estimates about 72 percent of people in the U.S. have at least one. 

Some people, of course, choose never to get a credit card, and are fine without it (as long as they have other ways to buy $2 million albums), but for many people, a first personal credit card ranks up there with their first job – a step taken toward financial autonomy. Credit cards, when they’re used right, are a way for someone to make purchases – especially large purchases – without shelling out cold hard cash up front.

The operative words there are when they’re used right. While plenty of people responsibly manage their purchases on credit, there are others who treat the piece of plastic in their wallets like it fell straight off the tree your parents said didn’t exist, and end up with some serious sticker shock when the bill comes. 

The happy news for those folks is it’s easier than ever these days to manage purchases in close to real time with credit card apps for smartphones that constantly update with pending and posted charges, alerts that send a text or email when a purchase is over a certain amount, or money management tools like Mint that keep track of spending by category.

Being able to track money as it’s spent and where it’s being allocated is just as critical for a business as it is for a person – and fleet managers and operations leaders can tell you there are a lot of expenses involved in a fleet business.

Here’s just a short list of where the money goes:

  • Vehicle purchase and maintenance
  • Fuel costs
  • Salaries/wages (including overtime)
  • Equipment purchase and maintenance
  • Education/training
  • Insurance (vehicle, business and employee)
  • Office space overhead and supplies 
  • Advertising/marketing
  • Employee benefits
  • Taxes
  • Website hosting 
  • Hiring/recruiting

Yikes. And that’s not including the expensive variables that come out of nowhere, the stuff of fleet manager nightmares – vehicle breakdowns, collisions with other drivers, jobsite accidents ... we’ll stop because you probably have chills right about now.

And with a business, sometimes it’s harder to track expenses, because they’re a) coming in both constantly and sporadically, b) coming from multiple sources, c) sometimes unexpected … you get it.

Fortunately, there are ways to manage business expenses that don’t involve you staying late on a Friday night, surrounded by a half-eaten pizza and piles of paper as you wonder what everyone else is doing with their lives. One way, of course, is how lots of people manage their personal expenses: technology.

And according to Business2Community, it’s one expense you won’t begrudge: “Invest in technology products that will improve your business efficiency and help you serve your customers better; this will pay dividends in the long-term.”

Fleet management software can benefit a business in plenty of ways, not least of which is helping to manage expenses. For starters, it can send invoices and receive payments via the web and keep the information in the cloud for easy access – which is can eliminate several stacks of paper right there. It also can integrate with popular accounting programs like QuickBooks, meaning you aren’t entering the same numbers multiple times and accidentally missing a zero here and there.

It can also pull up easy-to-read reports telling you how much fuel you’re spending each month and how that compares with last month or the same month last year, or what the best-selling products or services are, or whose timesheet had an awful lot of OT recently – basically any piece of data you need to know about money coming and going.

By creating visibility around expenses and automating some of the less pleasant tasks like data entry, tech tools like fleet management software are worthwhile investments that can help a business grow and be more productive and efficient. A money tree may not exist, but getting a better handle on expenses can make you feel like a million bucks.

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