Manufacturing News

Contractor Relocation: Dos & Don’ts Of Working Away From Your Shop

Manufacturing News


By Renee Wainwright

Working away from your shop can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth: the expenses pile up, travel can be a hassle, and navigating reimbursement and tax deduction policies is stressful.

If you don’t approach travel work strategically, you’ll end up with headaches and a hole in your wallet.

However, if you follow the tips that we’ve listed in this article, you’ll have happier clients, better projects, and an overall better experience – so read on to learn the dos and don’ts of working away from your shop.

DO: Plan Your Travel Beforehand

Planning travel arrangements is one of the most important aspects of working away from your shop.

There are two travel considerations you’ll need to organise:

  1. Travel Plans & Methods

Beyond simply planning how you’ll get to the job and how you’ll get home once it’s complete, you’ll need to consider whether you’ll stay at the job site the entire time or return home part-time? Planning this out ahead of time helps you organise your travel and save money.

If the site is close enough, some contractors choose to return home for a part of the week. However, that increases petrol expenses and puts extra mileage on your car.

Others prefer to fly to and from the job. While it can be easier and can be less expensive, flying also introduces the costs and difficulties of transporting your tools.

If you choose to fly, plan your trips and buy tickets early (and in bulk) so you can get the best deal possible.

Either way, both forms of travel are deductible. So track expenses and save receipts.

  1. Clarify Travel Policies

If you have employees working with you, you’ll want to avoid arguments and reimbursement issues by clarifying your expense reimbursement policy. Doing so will save you many headaches and create happier employees that stick with you.

Make sure each employee knows which expenses they’ll get reimbursed for, and how to submit claims.

To make things easier, consider using travel and expense report management software – like Emburse Certify – which lets you share company reimbursement policies with employees, track expenses, control compliance in real-time, and approve reimbursements easily.

DON’T: Go Over Your Budget

Reimbursements and deductions are not always a sure thing. The policies around them can be confusing, and you might not get back everything you’ve spent.

To avoid a big dent in your bank account, create a travel budget and stick to it. Budget items should include:

  • Petrol 
  • Food
  • Lodging
  • Recreation
  • A 20% buffer for unexpected and incidental costs

Make sure you’re not spending more on expenses than you make on the job.

DO: Secure On-Site Tool Management

Nothing is worse than when your tools go walkabout. Disorganisation can cost time and money and lead to unhappy clients.

You’ll also want a system for organising tools on site, so you don’t have to lug them back and forth every day.

Avoid these issues by investing in a mobile storage unit. They’re secure, easy to transport, and keep everything organised on-site.

DON’T: Let Disorganisation Affect Performance & Finances

Missing tools can slow jobs down. You’ll be forced to work longer (which you may not be compensated for) and clients will become frustrated with the delays.

Not to mention you’ll be stuck with the cost of replacing lost tools. And deductions are limited to tools that cost $300 or less.

Disorganisation can also affect your business’s bottom line. If you don’t employ a reliable system for tracking expenses for reimbursements and deductions, you’ll suffer the consequences, some of them being:

  • No reimbursements or deductions.
  • Additional costly expenses.
  • Disputes with clients that destroy relationships.

DO: Track Expenses For Deductions & Reimbursement

It can be difficult – especially on long jobs – to keep track of all your expenses and deductions.

To ensure you don’t miss out on due compensation, make sure you:

Negotiate Expenses & Reimbursement Policies

Clients often hire out of town because it’s cheaper than hiring local contractors. That means they have the means – and responsibility – for sharing some of the financial burdens.

Negotiate as much cost-sharing with your clients as you can, including meal stipends, travel stipends, reimbursement policies, etc.

Get Familiar With Available Tax Deductions:

Study the ATO guidelines on contractor tax deductions so you know, and can keep track of, your deductibles. 

Also, be sure to look into extra deductions provided by the recent stimulus package and cash flow assistance provided to SMEs.

Pay close attention to recording requirements. While some deductions require you to keep receipts, others (like tool depreciation) require you to keep a diary tracking tool usage. 

Use Expense Tracking Systems:

Thanks to technology, tracking expenses is easier than ever.

The ATO app offers the myDeductions tool, which enables you to upload expense records and prefill your myTax return.

You can also use travel and expense report management software to track expenses and manage employee reimbursement compliance.

DON’T: Seek Unnegotiated Reimbursements From Clients

While we strongly recommend that you negotiate as many cost-sharing policies as you can, never seek reimbursements that are outside the scope of your contract.

Clients will feel like they’re being treated unfairly and may presume that you’re trying to cheat them out of more money. Both of these make them less likely to work with you again, or recommend you to others.

Plan More, Regret Less

When working away from your shop, more planning means fewer regrets. That’s the essence of each tip we just shared.

Your success hinges on your ability to predict and prepare for the needs and issues that will arise on your away-job.

The advice in this article should give you a better idea of what to expect. Use it to plan ahead, avoid mistakes, reduce stress, and enjoy your work experience more.

Renee Wainwright is the gobox Mobile Storage Manager whose years of experience in the industry allow her to provide customised and tailored mobile storage solutions to suit residential, business and corporate customer’s storage and moving needs.

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