Getting your business ventures on the road takes a lot of planning, but it can also mean brushing up on your workplace etiquette. This is especially true if you are responsible for tracking and submitting an expense report at the end of your trip. You want to get this right so that in the future your company can send you onto the streets without hesitation.
However, the expense report is more than just storing your receipts. The following four tips will help you be a responsible, respectful employee on your next business trip and beyond.
1. Keep your receipts
Receipts are critical to expense reporting. Put simply, your boss won’t repay you for what you spend on a business trip, even if it’s a legitimate and honest request without them.
To ensure you get your money back, keep an envelope or folder in your pocket so you can put all of your receipts in it as soon as you receive them. Having a rubber band or other charm in your wallet will remind you to ask for receipts when you reach for your card to pay. Use a smartphone app to keep track of your expenses if you want to go more digital. Some organize and archive for you while others scan your receipts so they don’t get lost or damaged.
2. Take cues from experienced street fighters
You will probably not tackle your first road trip alone – you will have experienced colleagues by your side who will show you the ropes. As such, you have an inbuilt resource that shows you how to spend money.
The first time you have dinner with customers, wait until your coworkers do so to order. They can get a sense of what they are ordering – and how much their plates cost – so you can order something that isn’t too expensive. Even then, try to choose something sensible. Your boss earned the right to an expensive lobster meal, but you may have a few more years to prepare for this privilege.
When you are alone, you can still rely on the wisdom of your co-workers. Ask where they like to eat when they are in the city you are going to. Even if you’re not in the mood for this type of cuisine, you can get an idea of what they are spending on a meal.
3. Don’t be too frugal
The dinner you bought for ten customers? The gasoline you bought to drive from one office to another? The daily breakfast in the hotel so you can go to work as soon as possible? These high-cost expenses are well worth repaying, and you shouldn’t worry about turning them into your boss when it comes time to collect your refund.
However, if you have a $ 2 cup of coffee on the way to the office or spend $ 5 on a paid parking lot, think twice before submitting these as a cost. You don’t want to look like you’re shaking the company off for all it’s worth. In general, only request costs that you would not have incurred without your trip. You should cross the morning coffee habit off your list.
You should also make sure that you are not so budget conscious that you are mistreating the service staff who make your trip enjoyable. You should tip the waiters at least 15 percent for their service during your business lunches. In addition, you should ask the hotel staff for help with carrying your luggage, getting you to the airport on time and having your car serviced.
4. Don’t overdo it either
Your company paid to make sure you can travel and sleep comfortably on the go. With this in mind as a backdrop for your business trip, it might be tempting to do whatever you can for the meals that are going to cost you – this is a big mistake.
And it could be a mistake that’s hard to avoid when you’re surrounded by coworkers who aren’t good role models on the road. It is true that some employees will live it on the street, but it costs the company money. It could cast you in an immature, greedy light in the eyes of your boss, who is ultimately the one blamed for your decisions on the road.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have a great time, but that you should be sensible. Ordering a drink with dinner is the norm, but more than that is too indulgent and could break into unprofessional territory. The same goes for starters and desserts – only order these if they are all doing the same thing.
Get on your way
In the end, the best thing you can do is use your best judgment on the go – and save the evidence to back it up. That way, your boss will see you as a responsible, reliable employee who more than deserves the privileges of a business trip. That is exactly what you want your reputation to be.