I was recently talking to a friend—an up-and-coming entrepreneur who asks for my advice from time to time—and she was struggling with her staff. Though it's a relatively small business, she needs every one of her employees functioning at a high level and collaborating in order to grow her business. She was puzzled by the lack of focus and motivation she found in her staff, and I asked her to take out her wallet. She did (with a puzzled look on her face). I told her to take out her business card. She did, and I pointed at it.
“There's your solution," I said. “You need to invest in a company retreat."
Of course, her first reservation was financial. She was worried that because she had only been in business for a few years and was still considered a small business, that there was no way she could afford any kind of team-building company retreat. I set out to prove her wrong.
Leverage Business Card Rewards
The very first thing I explained to her is that the right business charge or credit card isn't just the tool you use to move your money when you make a purchase. A business card can actually help you cover the cost of carving out some time to help your employees relax, refocus and discover new motivation for growing your business.
Building company retreat activities into existing travel plans lets you make the most of the travel you're obligated to pay for.
The only catch is that there are tons of business card options, and you have to select the one that suits your needs.
My advice is to look for business charge or credit cards that let you accrue miles that can be used for free travel, travel upgrades and a whole host of other travel-related business. This is especially great for companies with significant travel expenses, since rewards points accrue faster for those expense categories.
You can also look for cards that don't have an annual fee and offer cash back to use on anything you like. That cash back can help you fund all your amazing employee appreciation ideas, pay for lodging, or invest in training materials.
With the right business card, your everyday purchases—as well as your company retreat expenses—can earn rewards that you'll enjoy cashing in.
Double-Dip for Training
My friend owns an accounting firm, and I asked her if she has regular training/certification/ongoing education expenses for her staff. Her answer? “Of course!"
My second piece of advice was to find opportunities to make travel expenses for training and education work for a company retreat as well. Let's say you have to send your three employees out of state for an ongoing education event. You're already out travel and lodging money. Why not tack on a few extra days after the event, join your staff and spend a day or two together?
Building company retreat activities into existing travel plans lets you make the most of the travel you're obligated to pay for. And don't forget that you're paying for these expenses with the right business card, so you're accumulating rewards bucks at the same time.
Double-dipping in this fashion has its bonuses: Your employees get a little out-of-town time, they work hard in their training/certification sessions and they get a chance to forge stronger bonds with their coworkers…all on the same trip.
Since my friend is an accountant, her books are clean as a whistle, and she manages her expenses down to the penny. This last suggestion wasn't for her, but it's for pretty much everyone else—anyone who's not an accounting expert.
I know it sounds tough, but there's one little secret weapon that I've found to be surprisingly useful. A year's worth of statements for your business card. Comb through your statements, and see where your money's going. A number of business charge or credit cards can help you sort expenses by category, and when you discover how much you're paying for some categories, you may be shocked.
Those categories that seem out of line—cut 'em! Bank those trimmed expenses and put them toward your company retreat. Save up a little extra and you'll be able to realize those employee recognition ideas you've been dying to implement.
So go ahead—plan a company retreat. Your staff will have some fun. They'll appreciate your investment in them. They'll learn new ways of collaborating and supporting one another, and they'll return to work full of enthusiasm and new ideas. And using the right business credit card to pay for it all makes it even more beneficial for you.
Read more articles on credit-card financing.
Photo: Getty Images