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Trends in transportation: fleet managers convince their CFO that cash and fuel cards no longer work

8 December 2022   |   11 minutes read
Transportation driver
Transportation driver

Fleet Managers and Operation Managers are increasingly convincing their CFOs themselves that cash and fuel cards no longer work, as they experience on a daily basis the immense frustrations among themselves and drivers. The current economic situation and fuel crisis call for new solutions in a transport sector where mutual trust is traditionally low.

Three trends for transport companies

Drivers as well as their Finance and Operations departments experience a lot of frustration around expenses and claims. And those frustrations are increasing, as a result of three key trends for transport companies.

One is that drivers are increasingly having to fill up at other places because of the current fuel crisis. This also occurs at filling stations where the driver does not have a fuel card, while due to high inflation and economic recession, nobody wants to advance costs out of their own pocket anymore. Meanwhile, the huge staff shortage is forcing transport companies to make things easier for drivers with innovative solutions.

  1. Drivers sometimes need to refuel in other places
    The current fuel crisis is making it difficult for drivers to invariably fill up at their regular locations. In other cases, the crisis makes it difficult for drivers to fill up at least at the petrol station chain for which they have a payment card. In practice, it means that drivers must swerve on the road, for instance if fuel is not available at certain locations.The war in Ukraine, current economic developments and the high price of diesel and other fuels make it attractive to fill up across the border in more advantageous countries. In other cases, it is necessary, for instance, because certain petrol stations do not have sufficient supplies. If no payment card is available for the alternative filling station, drivers and the transport companies look for alternatives. A payment card from a particular filling station then no longer offers a solution.
  2. No one wants to advance out of pocket anymore
    The same economic situation and soaring prices, combined with massive inflation, are creating an additional challenge for drivers. Whereas in the past they were willing to advance unforeseen costs out of their own pockets, this is now much less common. Many drivers do not want to advance the cost, and others simply cannot advance it.They call the transport company they work for to make extra money available. Or they use an emergency envelope with cash money, which in turn the company has no control over. It leads to solutions that both drivers and the transport companies do not like, so for which they would like to find an alternative.
  3. Transport companies should make it easier for drivers
    Finally, there is a lot of pressure on transport companies. The current staff shortage in several markets in Europe is leading to great difficulty in finding new drivers. Companies must try harder to attract staff, and then cannot use frustrations over expenses and allowances. It increases the urgency to act now.

Much frustration for drivers as well as Fleet and Operations Managers

It is mostly Fleet Managers and Operations Managers at transport companies who experience this frustration. They are often called even in the evening hours and on weekends, by drivers who need extra money on the road. This is true, for example, when they need to divert to another filling station, just as when they suddenly have to spend the night elsewhere, when they need to have a repair done or when they incur other expenses.

And even at the time when a driver only has to incur the regular costs, it leads to a lot of administration, and frustration. Drivers must keep perfectly accurate records of expenses, and then submit a claim in Excel. Or they can use a fuel card, but then it is the Operations Manager who then has to check whether transactions are all correct.

Transport companies have traditionally been reluctant to issue credit cards to drivers. Many of the drivers only work for a relatively short time with the same employer, or even do seasonal work, and therefore do not build strong and loyal bonds. Mutual trust is too fragile to give a credit card in the company’s name, which would allow the driver to pay all expenses. The fuel card is an exception to this, but it does not allow for paying for repairs, overnight stays, and fuel at non-affiliated filling stations.

Solution for (large) transport companies

At Soldo, we offer a solution that works for both (large) transport companies and drivers. Our payment solution allows drivers to settle at the transport company’s expense. That applies to fuel, as well as overnight stays, lunches, repairs, and other expenses. That is, if authorised by the company.
Thanks to restrictions on specific spending categories, certain geographical areas and in other areas, it is possible to set exactly what a driver can spend. Then the transactions are immediately visible, from one clear dashboard.

Good practices at Titans and Sendsio

These advantages is the reason why many large transport companies we work for are happy to benefit from. A good example is Titans Group. They were not looking for a fuel card because it would make them dependent on a specific fuel supplier. On the other hand, they did suffer from high expenses and temporary workers in the peak season. With Soldo, they offer their drivers a simple payment solution, combined with a smart app. This gives Titans Group full control and all the necessary insight into transactions. Drivers, on the other hand, do not have to advance anything, even if they suddenly must swerve and fill up in an unusual place.

Sendsio also chose Soldo. This makes the monthly closing a lot less time-consuming, and day-to-day management is much less burdensome for Fleet Managers and Operations Managers. For them, a declaration now takes 30 minutes, whereas previously employees spent an average of half a day on it. There are no more advances and recoveries for fuel, overnight stays, and lunches. Moreover, the company has interfaced with their SAP software. As a result, even the organisation’s CEO and COO have real-time insight into costs and keep an overview more easily

Faster and with real-time insight and overview: Soldo

At Soldo, we offer a complete, user-friendly, and convenient payment solution. Transport companies use a payment card for drivers, which they can set up themselves. This prevents drivers from having to advance costs themselves or becoming dependent on specific suppliers for fuel, for example. It is no longer necessary to provide a credit card, while drivers can still pay anywhere with credit card is accepted.

Thanks to real-time visibility, overview, and possible links to, for example, SAP software and ERP systems, all data are always easily available. Links with the existing accounting software, for example, ensure that transactions are immediately entered correctly in the administration.

Would you like to know more about how Titans Group and Sendsio use our payment solutions? Or are you curious how your company can benefit from this? Together with my colleagues, I will be happy to explain it to you, even if, as a Fleet Manager or Operations Manager, you would like to do the talking yourself to convince your organisation’s CFO.

Check out Soldo.com or book a free, no-obligation demo to experience it for yourself straight away.

🎙️Podcast: Leveraging Real-Time Data with CFO of Transfix

 

 

Christian Lee, CFO at TransfixCFO Christian Lee left WeWork in early 2021 for Transfix, a hypergrowth startup and leading freight marketplace connecting shippers to carriers. On this episode of The CFO Playbook, Christian talks about disrupting the supply chain industry in midst of economic crisis, describes why automation is in his top three priorities for this year, and underlines why Transfix places real-time data at the center of every decision they make.

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Transport companies: control all expenses easily with one smart card

25 November 2022   |   7 minutes read
Freight driver - transportation

How do you control fuel costs made by drivers when they are on the road, across borders, or even in different time zones? It is a challenge many transport companies face. Asking drivers to pay out of their own pocket leads to frustration, and corporate credit cards require a lot of paperwork. There’s an easier, more efficient way to manage these expenses. 

Sometimes, transport companies can resemble administration offices. Operations and finance departments work overtime to process and check all (fuel) payments. Meanwhile, drivers must pay large sums of money out of pocket to do their jobs, save receipts, fill out forms, and wait to be reimbursed.

To add to these challenges, diesel prices have become a huge issue for transport companies. And according to current fuel monitors, there’s not much hope of improvement.

Paying in cash or with prepaid fuel cards

Fuel payments and other business expenses are often disregarded in favour of operation and logistic improvements.

As a result, too many companies with fleets of over 100 vehicles still allow drivers to pay for fuel themselves or with prepaid fuel cards. However, these debit cards are often restricted and come with a lot of limitations, causing dissatisfaction among drivers. These restrictions also make it difficult to cover overnight stays, road repairs, or parking fees.

This solution doesn’t benefit fleet managers and financial controllers either, and may even put the company at risk. Cash payments can encourage fraud, corporate credit cards are often misused, receipts get lost, and there’s no way to track spending in real time.

Admin hassles

For transport companies, accounting can be complex – even if it’s just about fuel costs. It causes a great deal of frustration among drivers, accountants, fleet managers, and eventually CFOs.

Drivers have trouble managing expenses without having to work overtime on a daily basis. Especially when they’re on the road and have to fill up their vehicles – often across borders and sometimes in other time zones. This admin work involves processing payments, managing cash expenses, and processing claims in the company’s accounting system.

Accountants, fleet managers, operations managers, and even drivers waste too much time on these tasks, all at the expense of productivity. These unproductive hours cost money, and can’t be spent on their ultimate goal: getting from point A to point B.

Drivers must also prove what they have spent in cash, which adds to the hassle. Cash payments are hard to verify, but they keep them going and relieve the administrative burden. Checks may prevent business fraud, but they undermine the trust of those making the payments.

Top 5 benefits of using Soldo

Transport companies such as Titans, Girteka, Gruber Logistics, and Wallenborn all chose Soldo because it offered them at least one of these five advantages:

1. Easy payments for fuel and more

With a smart payment card which drivers can use for fuel as well as other expenses, there’s no need to go out of pocket while on the road. They don’t have to use a business credit card and provide guarantees or collateral in exchange. They charge just as easily for overnight accommodation, repairs and parking costs – even in different geographical locations.

2. Real-time view of costs

Soldo gives accountants, fleet managers and operations managers real-time insight into drivers’ costs while they’re on the road. They get a notification whenever a transaction happens, and can instantly top up drivers with only a few clicks.

3. Flexible spending and limits

Smart payment cards make it possible to set what drivers are allowed to spend in a way that works for you. You can choose what type of expenses employees can make, and where (such as specific merchants of geo-locations). This gives you total control over fuel costs and other business expenses while drivers are in transit, even in different countries.

4. All expenses in one place

You can track and manage all fuel and business expenses at once with the Soldo platform. It shows you all incurred costs in detail, whether costs are rising and where savings opportunities exist. And thanks to our auto-tagging feature, payments will be automatically sorted by category.

5. Increased security

Replacing cash with smart payment cards for expenses greatly reduces the risk of false claims and fraud. Moreover, should employees fail to comply with rules and regulations, you can easily lock their cards to disable spending and switch off cash withdrawals.

Smart payment cards with flexible options

Looking for a way to combine all the benefits of a business credit card with a system that saves you a tonne of admin headaches? Give drivers and other employees a physical card as well as a virtual alternative. Virtual cards are great for ad-hoc and online payments, for instance.

Soldo is the all-in-one management platform your transport company needs. Stay on top of every penny while saving time, and boost employee satisfaction.

Transportation companies: manage your business expenses with Soldo

Soldo helps you simplify business expense management by making administrative processes faster and more transparent.

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How to do a spend analysis in three easy steps

26 October 2022   |   11 minutes read

Are you doing a spend analysis at least once a quarter? Have you ever done a spend analysis before?

Not to worry if you haven’t – it’s never too late to build a new healthy habit into your company spending strategy. And, as the cost of living crisis continues to put pressure on your pocket, a good company spending strategy has never been more important.

Doing a regular spend analysis is essential for making sure the rules you set out in your expense policy on paper, are actually being followed in practice. Some people find spend analysis easier than others – their eyes seem to find patterns in spreadsheets, and meaning in piles of crumpled receipts. Others find the range of numbers disorienting and stressful, which is why the task is so often neglected.

The good news is that there are three simple steps you can follow to find meaning – and savings – in your list of business of outgoings:

Spend analysis step 1: see it

The first step of your spend analysis is all about visibility. If you can’t see it, you can’t analyse it. At this stage you’ll want to focus on unearthing everything you possibly can about the money your business is spending.

If you haven’t done this before, it can be quite overwhelming. Fortunately, your second spend analysis is almost never as gruelling as your first.

Round up the data

If you want to analyse your spend you have to know where to find the data.

Depending on how your business is structured, you may need to source information from a few different teams, so make sure you leave yourself enough time to do that during this first step.

For smaller businesses, rounding up the data might just mean opening a box of receipts in your desk drawer, or doing a search for invoices in your email inbox. Be thorough and always double check that you haven’t missed anything.

If you’re using Soldo, this step won’t take long at all. Just log in to the admin dashboard and download reports for the period you’re analysing.

Assess the round up process

Before moving on to the next step, take some time to reflect on how easy (or difficult) it was to round up the data. If it was difficult, this is a great opportunity to tweak your expense process so step one of your spend analysis runs smoothly next time.

If it was easy, don’t rest on your laurels – you should still look for other ways to make the process even better.

Spend analysis step 2: sort it

Now that you’ve sourced your data, you’ll need to sort it in a way that makes sense. That way your spend anaylsis won’t leave you feeling dizzy. The goal at this stage is to be systematic, so that like can be compared against like.

Say yes to tech

This is where technology comes in to your spend analysis (if you haven’t been using it already).

Excel is still the most widely used tool for expenses but spreadsheets can get messy pretty quickly and mistakes can slip in unnoticed. There are some great alternatives out there to help you manage and analyse company spend, including accounting software such as SageQuickbooks and Xero.

Although you might not consider yourself tech savvy, don’t underestimate how much you’re already doing on a normal day with your smartphone. From checking work emails or messages on the go to using your business banking app and maybe even tracking your morning run.

A spend management platform like Soldo brings these two kinds of technology together. You and your employees can use our mobile app to snap a picture of a receipt right at the point of purchase so you always know who spent what. And because our platform integrates with your accounting software, you’re never left with hours of month-end reconciliation or time wasted on tracking down missing receipts.

Sort purchases into spend categories

The best way to be systematic about your spend data is to organise it by category.

Your business will have specific categories depending on where you and your team need to spend money but here are some of the most common ones:

  • Travel
  • Food
  • Accommodation
  • Software
  • Office supplies
  • Marketing
  • IT
  • Telephony/internet

It’s really important to get the categorisation step of your spend analysis right. It’s even more important that you make categorisation a central part of your company spending strategy – if you haven’t already done so.

If you’re a Soldo user, you can create your own categories in the admin dashboard, and add the relevant category to every purchase – it only takes a couple of seconds. If you’re using accounting software such as Xero, you can add categories when you upload your expenses, or review and accept the software’s automatic suggestions.

Spend analysis step 3: study it

Ironically, analysis is the final step of the spend analysis process. Making your expenses visible, and then sorting them into categories, often takes longer than studying them for patterns and opportunities to save your business money. But if you’ve done the seeing and sorting steps properly, the studying step should be relatively straightforward.

Search for patterns

Start with one category, such as travel, then try to zoom out and look at your company spend with fresh eyes. You’re looking for patterns and trends in your company spending that you might not have noticed otherwise.

Finding patterns is not an end in itself. Instead, patterns are a means to spotting opportunities to cut costs or shift budget from one spend category to another. Patterns often highlight old habits that your business has taken for granted as ‘just the way things are.’ Challenge this. Why are you spending in this way? How could you do things differently?

Patterns can also show an over-reliance on a small range of suppliers. Challenge this, too – especially now as you’re faced with weathering an economic storm having just traded through a global pandemic.

Your suppliers may have had no choice but to increase their prices but, if you’re a loyal customer, could you negotiate a bulk discount? Is there a way you could organise your buying over the year to make better use of existing bulk discounts? Are you over-reliant on one supplier for a crucial regular item? What would happen if they folded or were unable to fulfil an order? Would it be safer to explore your options?

Study the outliers

The other reason to seek out patterns in your company spending is so that you can easily identify outliers.

  • Are there any expenses that stand out? Why do they stand out?
  • Has your business paid twice for something in error? Or have you overpaid?
  • Has your company spend unexpectedly increased in certain categories?
  • Should you adjust your budget to align with new needs, or adjust your spending to realign with your budget?
  • Are all of your employees or teams adhering equally to your expense policy? What can you do to ensure that everyone is sticking to the rules?

Studying the outliers is not about being picky for the sake of it. It’s about checking that everything makes sense – that every expense can be tied to a relevant business need.

The bottom line

Once you’ve analysed your company spend, it’s worth dedicating some serious thought to the time it took you to make sense of all the outgoings. If you manage your company’s spend well, seeing it and sorting it will be condensed into just a few clicks. And, once everything is in order, studying it should be fast, accurate and stress-free.

Find out how Soldo can make your next spend analysis a breeze or subscribe for more articles like this one.

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Easy spend management for care service providers 

23 May 2022   |   6 minutes read

Simple and safe spending shouldn’t be a challenge for care providers, but with shift working, high staff turnover and multiple locations, the backdrop to care spending is far from straight forward. The result, distributing and tracking funds can be an arduous task.

Add to this multiple ways of spending, petty cash, credit cards, possibly carer cards, it can be incredibly challenging to have full visibility and control over where your money is being spent.

You want carers to be focused on caring, not worrying about a missing receipt or how they are going to get the funds in the first place. You also, as a manager or finance team member, don’t want the admin and hassle that comes with it. Straightforward spending and reconciliation help you to focus on moving the business forward, finding ways to drive efficiencies and improve the bottom line.

This is where Soldo comes in. It provides a safer, more flexible alternative.

Complete spending controls

You decide how you distribute your prepaid cards, whether it’s to individuals, homes or teams, you can set it up to reflect your business structure and ways of spending. Budgets and rules can be customised in the platform, allowing you to decide where the cards can be used, giving you control over where and how money is being spent.

“The freedom that comes with using a contactless card is not understated. But controlling that freedom is just as important.” Cairn Mhor.

Once that’s in place you can simply move money where it is needed whilst having a real-time view of spending across the entire business. Combine with the deep insights the platform offers, you are able to stay on top of spending.

Employee independence

With proactive controls, teams spend money responsibly without involving finance. You can decide who can spend what, and where, ensuring your people have money when they need. Funds can be distributed between carers, homes or teams within a few clicks.

Easy expense management

Expense reporting can be done on the go, removing the need for receipts to be kept in a petty cash tin. The time saved on this task or the chasing that ensues can be spent focusing on strategic activities, such as opening new locations, streamlining suppliers etc. With automation and integrations with Sage, Quickbooks and Xero, manual data entry is reduced, removing inaccurate records, missed VAT claims and potential compliance issues. You also have an up-to-date view on spending data.

How it could work for your business

There are 3 main use cases for how you can segregate or distribute funds across your care service:

Give cards to service users

Instead of using service users’ personal bank cards, assign Soldo cards instead. Set weekly or monthly budgets in advance and give families a clear view of all transactions.

Give cards to care givers

Got carers on the road? No problem, give them a card with the money they need – all locked down by rules, so it can only be spent with pre-approved suppliers.

Give cards to each home

Move your money to any location, instantly. Cash can be managed from anywhere and distributed to anyone with the click of a button, whilst you have piece of mind that the money can only be spent with approved suppliers.

 

Have a different use case? Give us a call and we’ll work with you on how to solve it.

 

If you’re looking for a way to gain visibility and control over spending, whilst adding a layer of security, get in touch with us today. We’d love to help with your spend management.

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Introducing a new podcast that will help people in finance succeed (live now!)

2 March 2021   |   4 minutes read

Introducing a new podcast that will help people in finance succeed (live now!)


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Our team here at Soldo has watched the role of finance leaders change across the board for quite some time now.

Managing money is only one of many things you’re responsible for. You’re being asked to implement new technology, guide product and business decisions, and plan for the future.

But – as you know – staying ahead of the curve is challenging. So, we wanted to create something that would help you make a difference.

Enter The CFO Playbook podcast.

What is The CFO Playbook?

A weekly podcast where we talk to world-class finance leaders to learn how they:

  • Set goals
  • Manage teams
  • Leverage technology
  • Plan for the future
  • Improve systems and processes…and much, much more!

Where Can I Listen?

The CFO Playbook is available on your usual podcast-listening apps, such as Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsAmazon Music. You’ll also be able to read episode summaries and listen to the show on our website at cfoplaybook.fm.

When Does The Show Launch?

It’s up on all platforms now! You’ll find our trailer and the first episode live already, and our second episode will be released Thursday, February 25th.

How Can I Support The Show?

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts (or wherever you listen to podcasts!), rate or leave a review, and tell the world about the show on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – and be sure to tag Soldo.

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Amazon Music

Tune in every week and get ready to step up your game!

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Dough Dinners: Grabbing a slice of good advice

29 January 2021   |   6 minutes read

Dough Dinners: Grabbing a slice of good advice

Before the lockdown landed, Soldo took Dough Stories on tour around the UK to speak with founder and investors. Hosted in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Cambridge, the dinners were a chance for founders and investors to lean in, listen, question and be challenged, on the topic of raising and managing money.

We spoke with over 100 founders and investors from across the country, with representatives from Episode 1, Connect Ventures, Borrow a Boat, Feedr, Petalite, Fluence, Bristol Private Equity, Boost & Co., and Tumelo. They all shared one common perspective – starting a company is tough and scaling a company is even tougher.

In a survey of decision-makers at 250 start-ups, commissioned by Soldo, seven-in-10 said they found the funding process easy but 95 percent said they struggle when making spending decisions. For those who struggled to secure investment, one of the biggest challenges was being able to provide investors with a financial forecast (35 percent).

The dinners provided a forum for founders and investors learn from each other when it comes to raising and spending, because sharing knowledge is the only way to succeed and grow. Conversations were centred around financial transparency, burn rates, and diversity and inclusion.

Financial transparency: How much is too much?

There is no blueprint as to how transparent founders should be with their investors post raise, and as a consequence we found a large divergence in transparency levels. Some founders provided financial metrics to their investors by request while others provided investors with 24/7 access to all of their financials.

Reasoning for reduced transparency centred around the fact that that internal north star metrics being worked towards by founders are not necessarily those shared with investors, and can actually be at odds with the metrics investors care about. Increased transparency was championed for allowing investors to provide greater support to founders, negating the need for ‘unexpected, difficult conversations’.

Within teams, there was agreement that financial transparency can build resilience but can also cause unnecessary stress without the potential of significant upside return for non-founding team members. Consequently, there was a large disparity in opinion on how far down financial transparency goes within companies. Some founders only provided financial knowledge on a need to know basis, others were 100% transparent right down to every salary and share option. An interesting conversation was had about the merits and downfalls of the Gravity Payments’ CEO, who recently introduced a $70k minimum salary for all his employees.

Handling burn rate panic

Raising money is a commitment to spend money, but knowing when and what to spend on is a common challenge for founders. With raising funds being a time-consuming process, taking founders away from the day-to-day running of the businesses, it’s important for founders to plan ahead to avoid burn rate panic.

Founders agreed that budgeting at least six months in advance is essential, but also echoed the sentiment that agility is just as crucial when it comes to adjusting spend. In sharing their spending regrets, there was almost unanimous agreement that it is common for founders to overspend on conferences, office space and consultants.

The most significant overspend was bad hires, wasting not just money but also significant time. Unsurprisingly, founders agreed that the best spend is on good hires and on product development. There was a realisation that little is done to support founders, either by investors or by each other with regards to advice on where and where not to spend.

“Diversity is being invited to the party; Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

It has been widely proven that better decisions come from more diverse teams – both within investment and startup teams. However, research from Deloitte also highlights that unless diverse teams also feel included within a firm, they will not perform to their best abilities. An increase in individuals’ feelings of inclusion translates into an increase in perceived team performance (+17%) and decision-making quality (+20%).

There was a consensus that venture capital firms have a responsibility to have clear initiatives to promote diversity in their firms. They also have a unique opportunity to positively impact the companies in which they invest and society at large with regards to diversity and inclusion. It was suggested that VCs should:

  • Work harder to look beyond traditional channels for deal sourcing
  • Review D&I policies every time they raise a new fund
  • Restructure incentives to not discriminate against team members who have been out of work due to paternity leave
  • Include a clause in their Term Sheets that says that companies need a diversity and inclusion policy in place within six months of investment
  • Guide portfolio companies on building an inclusive culture.

It was suggested that founders of startup/scaleup companies should:

  • Appoint a Diversity & Inclusion champion
  • Review HR policies including parental leave
  • Foster a culture of inclusion for diverse talent
  • Provide accessible offices to wheelchair users, lactation rooms for new mothers, and prayer room facilities
  • Offer unconscious bias training
  • Introduce more flexible working hours

The Soldo team is extremely grateful to all the founders and investors who came together to share their experiences of raising and spending money to grow their game changing businesses. There’s was lots of food, lots of laughs and lots of learnings.

Watch founders get into the nitty gritty, the ups and downs of raising and spending dough in Soldo’s new video series Dough Stories live now.

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