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Fair system for travel and accommodation expenses

As I drove home through Marlborough yesterday evening, petrol was priced at 1.03 per litre, and diesel at 1.08; the one garage in the town is always expensive (read "Monopoly") but this perhaps just the cutting edge of a trend.

The hotel I stayed at in Central London was carefully selected to be reachable by car and with adequate parking - when taking equipment, I have to drive, alas. Their prices went up by 3 pounds per room on Monday night.

I'm back home in Melksham this morning, but setting off just after lunch for Glasgow. The room I'll be staying at tonight - just past Gretna is going to cost me a pound more than it did just a few weeks ago.

And on to Glasgow where I was ... shocked ... that the recommended hotel charges 140 pounds per night. It's another somewhat awkward City Centre venue, so I'm "going with it" ... but all these high and rising expense prices bring me to look carefully at what we charge our customers and consider whether a similar upwards revision would be in order.

Since we started running courses and invoicing "on our own account" some five years ago, we've quoted for (and charged) travel and overnight expenses based on the distance travelled to the part of the country concerned - by postcode area - and a fixed overnight rate for each night that we stay away. That fixed overnight rate of 95 pounds is to include incidentals such as parking, evening meal, breakfast, and any extra communication costs (i.e. Internet access) while away. And it's way below what the actual costs will be in Glasgow; we'll be subsidising the expenses from the course charges.

So - time for a change? No, I don't think so. The mechanism is a good one; it means that we can quote our clients a fixed price ahead of time; sometimes we "win" and sometimes we "loose" and provided that it's broadly in balance, and the system is fair so that we don't have one group of customers providing a heavy subsidy to another group, I think the mechanism should remain in place.

It's our intent that the expenses we charge should cover our actual expenses. We don't pay ourselves for the time we spend travelling (we do that out of "love" in our own time) and we don't look to making a profit nor taking a loss on them. As we come up towards the end of the year, if prices continue to rise we'll probably need to apply a gentle, perhaps slightly upwards, hand on the tiller for orders received in 2006 with a careful look at motoring, hotel, and ferry costs which are the three elements on which each expenses quote is based.

We remain committed to only charging for our time for the days that we're actually with you, and to providing you with a fabulous course where you just have to provide a room and the students ... no matter where you are in the British Isles or beyond. One week (this week!) it's Vauxhall Bridge Road in London and Argyle Street in Glasgow ... next week, it could be a quiet suburban street in Cambridge, or an office unit tucked away on a Channel Island.


(written 2005-09-07, updated 2006-06-05)

 
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How far away is that server?
Upgrade!
Fair system for travel and accommodation expenses
Outside of the box
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FTP - how to make the right transfers
New print centre for our manuals
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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