Managing business travel costs and expenses administration are the biggest headaches for small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, according to insight by fuel card provider Allstar Business Solutions into the concerns of 1,000 SMEs.
Allstar says its survey has demonstrated that employees are feeling under more and more pressure over how to handle business expenses. It found that a disproportionate number of hours are being spent on managing expenses per week, which could be better spent on important business activities or even an improved work/life balance.
The strain caused by this is beginning to have a negative impact on business owners’ emotional wellbeing, says the firm; a quarter (24 per cent) of small businesses say that managing expenses and payments left them “pulling their hair out with stress”, while more than a fifth (21 per cent) say that balancing cash flow “keeps them up at night”.
For many small business owners, it is the bad business expenses habits of their employees that are causing the biggest headache. Small businesses spend on average over £4,000 per month on travel and subsistence expenses and are averaging over £5,500 per month on other types of expenses which could be better managed.
Team members “spending too much on fuels and hotels”, and “losing receipts” were both cited as major issues experienced by respondents, as was “employees puzzled by the finance policy”.
For employees, having to use their own money upfront when they are travelling for work is one of the biggest pain points. Half (50 per cent) of business administration and support services team members say that they are left out of pocket every month, while more than a quarter (27 per cent) of workers in water supply claim to have experienced personal difficulties on more than one occasion as a result of being left out of pocket.
This strain of handling expenses, and waiting for reimbursement, is beginning to have an impact on individuals’ mental health, says Allstar, and failure to address the issue can have a significant negative impact on business productivity.
To resolve these issues, many respondents to the survey highlighted the need for a more effective business credit card solution for themselves and their employees. A quarter (26 per cent) said that cost savings, spending control features and ease of management were the key benefits they would look for in a more advanced business credit card programme.
When selecting the right card offering for their needs, two fifths (39 per cent) of SME owners said that helping cashflow was a key requirement when seeking a business credit card, while more than a third (36 per cent) pointed to the ability to set payment limits for individual users as a top priority.
Thore Vestergaard, managing director of Commercial Cards, Allstar Business Solutions, commented: “Business expense management isn’t just a headache for businesses but also a burden for employees too, taking a serious toll on their emotional wellbeing. This poor mental health has repercussions for efficiency, impacting on workers’ productivity and affecting business output.
“It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Harnessing the latest technologies can transform businesses’ expense policies, making owners’ lives easier by streamlining administration and controlling employees’ spending habits, all while releasing much needed cash flow into the business.”
“Business and Fuel expense cards like the Allstar Plus card, for instance, can help prevent common problems such as delays in reimbursement, by allowing team members to pay for any expense whenever they need to, without having to use their own cash.
“In addition, they benefit employers by giving them complete control of all business spending. Offering access to discounted fuel and interest-free purchase for 44 days, they can significantly lower costs for small businesses. With such solutions, both business owners and employees can enjoy a streamlined expenses process, giving them peace of mind.”
More information about the benefits offered by the Allstar Business and Fuel Expense card can be found at: www.allstarcard.co.uk