Providing employees with a new company car, new truck, or van is not just a practical move; it can go a long way towards helping employees feel nurtured and respected. It’s also often essential for business operations, especially when a company is sales-based. However, when you put keys into an employee’s hands, you’re not just entrusting them with an expensive investment but with the company’s reputation as well. Nothing is worse than seeing your company’s logo weaving through traffic to the tune of angry horns.

Here are our top etiquette tips to guide your employees towards proper use.

Drive Defensively: Now is not the time for your employees to show off their racing skills. Encourage them to be defensive drivers, braking early and watching for dangerous drivers. They should also stay within the speed limit, never drink and drive and never cut any other drivers off. Why? The driver and vehicle are both representing the company. Being rude on the road can damage your business, while being nice can win you a new customer. Don’t believe me? I personally know someone who had cut someone off on the way to a sales call only to pull into the same parking lot as the person he cut off. As you can imagine that sale fell through.

Keep It Clean: Whether your employees will be driving clients around town or will be headed to a sales meeting alone, keeping the car spic and span is a must. A clean car will send a message to clients that your company has its act together while a dirty car can indicate a lack of organization and discipline. Encourage frequent visits to the car wash and ban smoking. The smell of cigarettes can be a big turn off to any clients along for the ride, and some may even be allergic. Springing a little extra for a new truck or car will also be one way to put your best foot forward.

Ensure Proper Documentation: Make sure you have a copy of your employee’s driver’s licenses. You’ll also want to stay up to date with the car’s insurance and registration and note renewal dates in your calendar. The last thing you want is for your employee to be pulled over thanks to out of date stickers. Employees should also do the right paperwork, signing the car out or logging miles in accordance with your company’s policies.

Stay On Top of Car Maintenance: The only thing less impressive to clients than a dirty car is one that sputters into the parking lot. Guy Moffat, Director of Service at GoAuto, says that checking the tire pressure and changing oil can mean big savings in the long run. Going in for regular maintenance is a must. Easy tip: Having proper air in your tires can save you money on fuel and tires.

Be Clear on Personal Use Policy: Each situation is different. Some companies are partially paying for vehicles, some are only letting employee borrow a shared vehicle. At times there can be gray area on personal use. This is one area that the Human Resource department must be clear and define the policy and responsibility of both parties.

Promote Phone Safety: In this day and age everyone is connected to their cell phone. Studies show that talking and texting on one’s cell phone while driving is dangerous. In the United States phone laws vary by state, in the UK using a hand held phone prohibited and using a hands free device is mandatory. This is another area where HR should clearly state their stance on this subject and be certain that the employee understands as well.

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