Sep 18 2017
Yolander Prinzel
3 Minutes to read

Feeding your clients and employees isn’t cheap. As Inc. reports, travel and entertainment can take up as much as 10 percent of your company’s budget — and those costs are constantly rising. Letting your food spending run amok could sabotage your profitability very quickly.

If you’re able to put together some policies that establish what your employees can and can’t do, it will help. But first, you should teach your food-ordering employees some best practices to instill good habits.


Areas to Establish Best Practices

There is a delicate balance between measures that guide your team and those that stifle them. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to give your employees the freedom to make their own decisions. They are more likely to make the right ones when they know you trust that they have the company’s best interests in mind.

If your corporate culture needs some help with budget control, establishing best practices can reduce food spending. Here are some places to start:

  • Entree Ordering: To really control your organization’s food costs, employees should be encouraged to focus on overall savings — not just sticking to a budget. One way control food spending is to limit the number of entree choices at events. If you allow more entrees, there is a greater range of possible expenses. And, it can be harder to predict the overall spend for an event. Establishing best practices that limit your team to two entrees that don’t exceed your price-per-head maximum means keeping tighter reins on your costs.
  • Tipping: It’s important to reimburse employees for tipping a food delivery service, but to control these costs it’s also essential that you establish best practices around amounts. Consider focusing on a standard tip of 15 to 20 percent, rather than a flat amount. That way the tips can scale down when an order is less expensive. Be sure to also outline an added flat fee for delivery people who have to make multiple trips or bring in hard-to-carry items.
  • Payment Methods: Ideally, using a corporate card offers the best opportunity for accounting to view all details of each transaction and maintain quick, continuous oversight on food spend. A corporate card can also increase employee accountability and compliance while eliminating the need for an added expense reporting form.
  • Expense Reporting: 78 percent of travel managers note that missing information and incorrectly reported information poses the greatest challenge to efficient expense reporting. A lot of time is wasted trying to reconstruct past spending. Even worse is that this delays identifying employees who are overspending on food. Your food budget could be continually stretched. The ideal option is to require your team to submit expenses within 60 days and utilize an integration with an expense management platform like Concur. It’s an easy way to keep things clean and avoid missing receipts.
  • Delivery Minimums: When using caterers with delivery minimums, it’s easy to get pushed into spending more than you actually need to. You can’t avoid delivery minimums altogether without limiting your options. But what you can do is set an appropriate delivery minimum so that you’re not wasting food or money.
  • Price Per Head: Research published by STAT shows that $250 is the average amount paid for food orders placed by pharma sales reps. If your sales reps spend $250 for an office of 10 people, that doesn’t sound so bad. But if, instead, they spent $250 on a small office of 3 people, you’d probably see that as a problem. To avoid this, consider combining an ideal price per event with an ideal price per head in your best practices. As an example, a rep might be given a maximum cost of $250 per event with an added per-head limit of $10.


Your company may very well need to set policies for food spending, but it’s also important to establish the best practices that allow your employees the independence and freedom to do what’s in the company’s best interests. Before you create any food spending policies, first apply best practices and guidelines so your team knows where to start. This may be as simple as integrating ezCater into your expense reporting system. To find out more, click here.

Find out how to implement your food spending best practices with ezCater.

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Written by:

Yolander Prinzel

Yolander Prinzel is a financial writer and editor with almost two decades in the industry as a writer, underwriter, marketing director and securities trader. She was a featured speaker at the 2006 Hartford National Sales Conference and the 2006 Brookstreet Securities Annual Conference. Yolander has written for a number of publications and websites such as, Advisor Today, Money Smart Radio and the International Travel Insurance Journal (ITIJ). She has edited many books for leading financial experts, including the Forbes-published book, SMART™ Retirement.

Posted in: Managing Food Spend

Tagged with: Food Spending