Think about who’s spending money on food in your organization. There are sales people buying meals on the fly. Admins are ordering catered lunches for board meetings. Your marketing team is catering an event celebrating a new product launch. With so many different food spends being made by so many different people, there are probably a number of credit cards involved. Whether you are issuing company cards, or asking employees to use their own, compliance is of the utmost importance. How can you make sure that everyone is following company policies and not compromising sensitive information?
Despite the challenges, you can boost compliance with a few corporate policies governing food spending.
1) Educate. To minimize employees’ temptation to view expense accounts as “found money,” it helps to let them know the impact lavish spending can have on the organization’s bottom line. After all, this ultimately impacts their paychecks. Your team should truly understand the consequences of food spending — for example, you need to bring in X dollars of revenue for every dollar of T&E spending. Maybe this means fewer team members attend client dinners. Or you can look for other ways to cut costs.
2) Communicate. Let employees know management reviews expenditures. If they consistently exceed their budgets or spend in ways that aren’t approved, they may face discipline.
3) Police Per Diem Rates. Consider per diem rates that cover all three meals each day. These can help by providing greater flexibility in food expenses. Consider the GSA (U.S. General Services Administration) per diem schedule as a place to start in setting these policies.
4) Structure Your Reimbursement Program. Whether you implement a corporate card program or employees use their own cards, a structured expense reimbursement program is key to obtaining the documentation you need to oversee expenses. Think about finding an expense program with a smartphone app. If your team can capture images of their receipts immediately with their phones, they will be less likely to lose them and more likely to record expenses immediately. Other programs pull data directly from credit card statements. Figure out what works best for your organization and your compliance policies.
Even with these policies, be ready to establish a process for handling employees who consistently disregard policies governing food spending. According to Wayne Spivak, president, SBA Consulting, there are several questions to consider:
- Is there an approved list of authorized food spend vendors?
- Are there limits on spending over a period of time?
- Who can override the policy?
- What steps will occur if an expense is declined?
- How many times can you exceed the limits without disciplinary action?
Make sure everyone is aware of these policies before they are authorized for food spending.
Ensuring Credit Card Security
There are also policies you can put in place to make sure everyone is keeping their credit card data safe.
1) Use Common Sense. Everyone on your team should avoid public, unsecured computers when making online purchases. They also should avoid providing credit card and other sensitive information to a phishing scam, say for an unsolicited email. Instead, they should make sure they’re only using credit cards on secure and legitimate sites.
2) Update: Keep your organization’s anti-virus and other security tools updated to make sure that no questionable emails make their way into anyone’s inbox.
2) Authenticate. The FDIC recommends requiring employees and others who connect to your network to use strong user IDs and passwords for computers, mobile devices, and other online accounts.
4) Contact: If there’s a questionable charge, or if a card is lost or stolen, get in touch with the card issuer immediately.
5) Try ezCater’s Credit Card Sharing Capabilities. When you add a card to the system, you can share it with others within your organization without sharing the card number or other sensitive information. Everyone on your team can use the card to pay for caterers. And still, no one will have the ability to make any other outside purchases. Learn more here.