Hidden Dangers of Vehicle Reimbursement: Brand Image
Your corporate image is important. It makes a lasting first impression, helps demonstrate credibility, and creates brand recognition.
The vehicles used by your business are part of that corporate image, and as such, should be held to the same high standards of professionalism that you would expect when it comes to attire or personal conduct. Unfortunately, under a vehicle reimbursement program, there is no practical way to implement and enforce those standards.
When a company elects to reimburse their drivers, they are ceding control of their image and placing it solely in the hands of their employees. However, employees may not value the importance of image as much as the company would. An employee arriving at a customer’s location in a pickup truck covered in political bumper-stickers conveys one image; in a BMW 5-Series, a very different image. Neither may be the image you want to portray, but under a vehicle reimbursement program, that decision is no longer yours to make. This is especially true in the event of a new hire. In that scenario, the organization is put in a position to more than likely accept the vehicle that the new employee is already driving.
Alternatively, a company-provided vehicle program allows an organization to regulate the appearance and appropriateness of business vehicles, thus promoting a strong, consistent brand image. With company-provided vehicles, businesses no longer have to worry about the wrong message being sent to clients upon arrival. They can be absolutely certain that the vehicle pulling up to the client location will be appropriate and well maintained, which is particularly important if the employee ever has to entertain a prospect or client.
A vehicle reimbursement program may also lead to companies missing out on valuable advertising opportunities. Employees will generally be reluctant to place company signage or decals on their personal vehicles. With a company-provided vehicle, it’s easier to capitalize on those advertising opportunities.
A company’s brand image is something that requires consistency. You want to ensure that the message you’re conveying to the public, and to clients, is one which is carefully crafted. Unfortunately, a vehicle reimbursement program results in the exact opposite. If you’re looking to present a professional and consistent image to the outside world, company-provided vehicles may be one way to achieve that goal.