The Deal On Wheels

What your company vehicles say about you

Whether it's the cars driven by your sales staff or the trucks driven by yourservice or delivery people, your company vehicles are an extension of yourorganization. To be sure they project a positive image, set a policy outlininghow company vehicles are to be used and maintained. Chester Pallohusky, vicepresident of operations with US Fleet Leasing in Carrollton, Texas, says abasic policy should cover the following areas:

Driver eligibility. Do the primary and other authorized drivers(including other employees and members of the primary driver's family) havevalid driver's licenses and acceptable driving records?

Fuel procurement. You have a range of choices regarding how fuel will bepurchased, including gasoline credit cards, special fuel purchasing cards andreimbursement programs. "Fuel expense is roughly two-thirds of the operatingcost of your vehicle," Pallohusky says. "You certainly want to control thatexpense." So choose the payment method that will make it most convenient foryou to monitor fuel costs.

Maintenance. Establish a preventive maintenance schedule, and set up amonitoring program to make sure your employees adhere to it.

Personal use. Are employees allowed to use their company cars forpersonal activities? If so, you need a system that tracks that use for taxreporting purposes.

Replacement. Schedule vehicle replacement cycles, either in terms ofmonths or mileage.