Consultants can increase productivity with automated vehicle programs

16 January 2019

More and more people – including consultants – are driving their own cars for work. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the personal vehicle comprises 81% of all business travel. Whether it’s to meet with clients, attend industry conferences or participate in other field-related duties, no work-related travel method comes close. Tim LeBrun, Senior Regional Sales Executive at Motus, explains how consultants could increase their productivity with automated vehicle programs. 

Advisors and independents consultants often spend large portions of their time on the road. They commonly meet with clients onsite or review progress with them until a project is complete. If a client is local, this can mean several trips between the consultant’s home and the client’s office each week. Large amounts of paperwork – including mileage logs and recaps detailing how the consultant spent his or her day – accompany these trips. These logs ensure consultants are compensated fairly for any business-related expense incurred as a result of their work.

Unfortunately, many consulting firms still use manual, tedious and time consuming processes that eat up productivity. Consider this: if each employee spends just 12 minutes a day manually tracking their mileage, that equates to a full hour of work in one week or 52 hours a year. That’s more than a full week’s worth of work spent on basic data entry alone. 

While trite, the time-old adage “time is money” rings true for many consultants. The less time they spend tracking mileage by hand, the more they can spend completing billable work on behalf of their clients. As such, consulting firms need to think strategically about the processes they use to reimburse employees for any driving expenses incurred while on the job.

Consultants can increase productivity with automated vehicle programs 

From Excel Spreadsheets to Vehicle Programs

In today’s increasingly mobile world, many consultants choose to use their personal cars for business. When reimbursing for the business use of personally-owned vehicles, firms can implement vehicle programs that track, process and compensate their employees without all the tedious work that manual reporting entails. There are three major vehicle program options that provide vehicle reimbursement for companies whose employees choose to drive their own car for work. These include:

Cents-per-Mile (CPM) Programs

These programs reimburse workers at a cents-per-mile rate for business travel in their personal vehicles. This program works best for firms whose consultants drive 5,000 miles or less each year. Workers tend to be over reimbursed if their mileage is significantly higher. 

Flat Car Allowances

These programs reimburse all consultants and staff the same dollar amount. How many miles they actually drive has no impact. Everyone receives the same – for example, $500 per month. While these programs are simple to implement and require no mileage tracking whatsoever, they are not the most accurate – or fair – option available. Employees can drive a varying number of miles based on how far their clients are, how often they need to visit clients and the length of their project. For example, one advisor may drive 500 miles per month while another drives 900 per month. Paying both employees the same amount means that the low-mileage worker may be overpaid and the high-mileage worker is underpaid. Neither is good for employee morale or a firm’s bottom line. 

Additionally, flat car allowances are subject to both Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes and income taxes. This means that providing a flat car allowance of $500 costs an organization $538 after taxes, while employees end up taking home roughly $330, depending on their tax bracket.

Fixed and Variable Rate (FAVR) Programs

These programs provide a customized reimbursement to each worker based on their monthly business mileage and individualized fixed and variable costs. While mileage is perhaps the biggest expense, workers incur a whole host of additional expenses as they drive. These include fuel, maintenance costs, insurance premiums and depreciation. All must be accounted and reimbursed for. By reimbursing each employee based on the true cost of operating their vehicle, FAVR is the most accurate and fair of the vehicle program options. 

In addition, FAVR reimbursements can be paid tax-free – meaning firms spend less in taxes, while employees can take home the full amount of their reimbursement. 

Location-based technologies

To maximize vehicle program efficiency, firms should also consider implementing location-based technologies in conjunction with their program. These technologies automate mileage tracking in the field so that trip-by-trip mileage can be calculated more accurately. They also digitize travel data, including route optimization, trip and stop durations, and territory efficiency. This allows their employees to optimize driving patterns, improve procedures and ultimately maximize their productivity. When paired with a FAVR program, automated technologies are able to calculate reimbursement rates for each employee based on data that tracks exactly where that employee drives and how much they drive. 

The math is simple: the less time consultants waste, the more they can get done and the higher the margin of a consulting firm. For consultants looking to reduce the number of hours they spend on administrative work to increase their billable hours, leveraging automated technologies with the proper vehicle program can set them on the right path.

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European consultant matchmaker Comatch lands in US

27 March 2019

European consultant matchmaker Comatch has landed in the United States. From its New York City office, the firm aims to build a presence in the world's largest management consulting market.

Similar to how the internet has reforged dating and modern romance, connected platforms are altering the way businesses find the consultant of their dreams. Whereas previously the widget factory owner would flip through his Rolodex for the phone number of a consulting firm he had previously used, advances in technology now allow for consultants with the exact skillset needed for a project to get recruited for a job, cutting out the expensive consulting firm middleman. Businesses get the skillset they need at lower cost, the contract consultant usually is paid more than they would at a firm, and the tech platform gets a cut for making everything come together.

Comatch is currently one of the leading consultant matchmaking companies on the scene. Founded in Berlin  in 2015 by former McKinsey consultants Dr. Christoph Hardt and Dr. Jan Schächtele, Comatch combines innovative technology with a self-described “revolutionary approach to vetting, categorizing, and assembling top-tier talent.” The firm has rapidly spread from its headquarters in Berlin, with additional offices in Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna, Dubai, Copenhagen, Zurich, and London. This heady growth saw Comatch named one of Germany’s top 10 fastest-growing digital startups in its third year in business.

The compnay has now set its sights on the voluminous opportunities of the US. The country has a large freelance workforce, of which a large portion traffics in advisory work, providing companies like Comatch with plenty of human capital for its expanding matchmaking empires.

European consultant matchmaker COMATCH lands in the US

Though the company has already been accepting client work in the US,  the new physical officespace gives Comatch an ideal access point to service clients while helping increase its US-based pool of consulting talent. The firm currently has a global pool of 7,500 multidisciplinary consultants, serving a wide range of corporations, consultancies, startups, and SMEs.

“The team and I are really excited about the start of the US office,” Sven Merten, Comatch’s US director and head of the company’s US. efforts, said. “The move has been well calculated and follows our pattern of systematic expansion across Europe. We have been focused on developing our US business for most of 2018 to make sure that the opportunity is real, before we went ahead and opened a physical presence.”

The matching firm is entering a US market with some strong incumbents, among them Catalant, Upwork, and Talmix. “There are a number of direct, as well as indirect competitors, and they have done a great job to open clients' minds to the idea of new ways to access expertise, beyond the traditional channels,” Merten said. “That said, there is still enormous potential for improvement across the entire market and there are still entire client groups that have not even started to rethink their approach to expertise access - yet, they will have to do exactly that, if they want to stay competitive.”

Comatch expects to find success stateside because of its excellent talent pool, and swift and accurate matching technology, setting the company apart from the pack. “By using proprietary algorithms alongside our highly trained consultant-relation teams, we match the ideal expert to a client’s unique needs within an unprecedented 48 hours. In turn, this eases the burden on our clients as they can quickly review a mere handful of the most qualified consultants to choose from,” Merten said.