There are several ethically issues that challenge us as sales professionals every day, one issue in particular we will focus on is the misuse of company credit cards and expense accounts. It is very common when working for a company working in a sales environment employee’s will receive a company credit card to fill up the company vehicle and take a client out to lunch for example.
While other salespeople may be tempted to use for personal transgressions, that is not acceptable but very common. In this paper we will further discuss why the misuse of company credit cards is a challenge in the B2B selling environment, the suggested way to go about addressing this issue as a sales manager and lastly the cultural implications related to the misuse of credit cards that belong to the company and what a successful course of action for future companies should be.
Company credit cards are typically given to a select few employee’s to be used to achieve company and career goals. These credit cards are given to trusted employees for the use of approved business-related expenses such as traveling. There are two types of company credit cards one is individual payment credit cards which is the employee is responsible for submitting their expense reports and paying directly based on the company policy while the other card is a company payment card in which the company pays the bill for all company related charges.
Both credit cards provide great perks for business, but it is very important and ultimately up to the employee to know the policy on the use of the credit card. When researching this ethically issue I found it to be huge challenge for companies who have ran into issues with their employee’s over credit card charges. One thing Frank Dombroski, vice president of commercial card solutions for Chase stated is, ‘Understand your company’s credit card and travel policies, procedures, spending limits and restrictions’ (Simon, J. M., 2017).
Some companies are making it mandatory for employee card holders to attend initial training sessions on how to appropriately use the company credit card because these companies see the value in making sure their employees are aware of their expectations and responsibility, so misuse of the card becomes less of problem in the future.
Although managers hope that training and precautions of a limit on the card will eliminate temptations for the misuse of a company credit card, but it still happens and when it does it is up to the manager to handle it appropriately. This can be very hard to do because often times you have to have records of the misuse of the card and then call on an employee from the HR department to come and have a meeting with the employee who is suspected of misusing the card.
There is no right way to handle a situation of this matter because they could all be very different circumstances, but it’s great to start with asking the employee if they have received the company’s card policy and refer to the charges that aren’t business related. Its recommended to ask if the charges were unintentional or deliberate.
Credit cards can easily get mixed up if they look similar. My father is a salesman with a company credit card that looks very similar to his personal credit card and he has made an unintentional purchase with his company card, when he noticed he emailed his boss of 15 years and let him know the situation and that he will reimburse the company of the charge made, of course his boss was understanding and it was resolved, but I think your creditability has a lot to do with situations like these.
My father has worked for the company for 20 years and has won several trips because he has been a top performer, there’s value in that. as opposed to if it were a new hire who did this the situation may have been different because the boss may not know the kind of worker he or she is.
The severity of the discipline should depend on he or she’s overall record as well as the amount charged, his or her willingness to admit the indiscretion and the level of remorse they show will have a lot to do with how to take action (Belcher, L. M., 2017). When researching this topic, it was noticed that most companies did not fire the salesperson for the misuse of the card if it was their first time, they received a warning.
Company culture plays a huge role in today’s jobs especially for younger generations. People want to work for a company with good company culture. While receiving a credit card may seem awesome it comes with a lot of responsibility. When discovering misuse of a credit card it is important that the sales manager act’s quickly so other employees don’t follow suit, or the misuse continues (Belcher, L. M., 2017). If potential employees hear that your company is easily misused as a whole, this company ultimately looks like a joke and can’t be taken seriously by other companies. Their reputation could be ruined if they don’t handle matters like this seriously or it becomes a common occurrence amongst employee’s. Issues like the misuse of company credit cards will limit success for the company.
Although handling a situation of the misuse of a company credit card it can be argued that it could be avoided. Some suggested ways to avoid the misuse of a company card would be to put a policy and guidelines in place that specifically go over everything to do with a credit card and how to manage it. Secondly, would be to provide training to both the salespeople and the sales managers, in this training it can be taught how to get purchases approved through managers and as manager training it can be taught how to closely monitor your salespeople’s spending and not letting it get out of hand.
Also, in the training it could be to hold both the salespeople and sales managers accountable through receipts. For the salespeople it would be for them to turn into their managers and for the managers to check to make sure their statements align and that there’s no misuse. Lastly, every company credit card having a limit and making sure that employees are aware of their limit.
In conclusion, the misuse of company credit cards is a huge issue in the B2B selling environment but could easily be maintained with the correct precautions such a policy in place, training for both the salesperson as well as the manager, and having a limit of the card. It is unethical to use a company card for personal expenses managers also have a hard time handling this type of situation because it can be unintended and just a mistake on the employee, but as a company you wouldn’t want something like these situations to become a common occurrence amongst several employee’s and affect company culture.