Associate Member Viewpoint: How Effective Vehicle Ops Can Transform Your Business

By Sheret Ross
CEO, Cardata

Beer sales representatives (reps) are hyper-reliant on mobility. With 1,850 hours per year spent on sales visits, they’re on the road more than any other industry’s reps. To optimize time, beer sales reps need efficient vehicle operations. This report explores how innovative vehicle reimbursement programs and technology can help streamline day-to-day sales operations and increase efficiencies for teams on the road, as well as evaluate the intersection between paying competitive vehicle reimbursements and streamlining costs.


Average business mileage logged by beer sales reps 

Beer sales representatives log about 48 miles daily as they traverse territories to visit retailers, bars and restaurants for sales and deliveries. That’s 12,129 miles annually. The extensive driving involved in beer sales can give rise to several issues from a mileage perspective.


Firstly, rising fuel costs can significantly affect the operational expenses for breweries or distributors. Increased driving leads to more wear and tear on vehicles, and therefore higher maintenance costs, particularly for fleet management. Excessive driving also raises the risk of accidents, impacting employee safety and potentially increasing insurance expenses. To address these challenges and improve overall operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness for beer sales teams, launching efficient car management solutions can be advantageous. These solutions can mitigate risk and lower shipment and delivery costs for both breweries and wholesalers alike.

Financial monitoring: avoiding the fleet management black hole

To avoid falling into a fleet management money pit, it pays to understand that using fleet vehicles on the job is often the most expensive program a company manages. Fleet ownership ranks as the single most expensive vehicle program due to expenses like maintenance, insurance and ownership costs. Leasing, however, isn’t a much cheaper alternative either, with fleet management costs closely following ownership and notoriously complex, as well. Additionally, the escalating costs of cars over time exacerbate financial burdens. Moreover, navigating personal use chargebacks, or charging the employee for using a company car for personal purposes, adds another layer of complexity to fleet management finances, underscoring the importance of meticulous financial bookkeeping.

Vehicle reimbursement programs, an alternative to fleet, can streamline administrative processes of manual expense tracking and reimbursement, reducing the administrative burden on employees and the company.¹ Substituting manual expense tracking with automated vehicle reimbursement programs alleviates the administrative hurdles that have traditionally hampered the efficiency and productivity of traveling employees.

Driver benefits: beyond 401(K)S and health benefits

Retaining skilled labor is more important than ever. Today, employees are resigning due to stagnant wages, rising living costs and a lack of employee benefits. To remain competitive, beer companies are exploring creative ways to provide additional incentives to their employees beyond traditional benefits like 401(k) plans and health insurance.

Vehicle reimbursement benefits can be a valuable perk, and beer companies are leveraging these benefits enhance employees’ financial well-being and increase job satisfaction and loyalty. With reimbursements, fairness is vital. This leads to better pay and profit, increases employee retention and attracts new talent. Talented workers have more options than ever, so offering an attractive compensation package is essential.

FAVR reimbursement

A FAVR program reimburses drivers for business use of their vehicles. It allows for fair regional reimbursements based on driver zip codes. Rates are designed using the standard car required to do their job.

A FAVR program pays a fixed reimbursement for ownership costs and a variable reimbursement for operating expenses.

The benefits of implementing a FAVR program are manifold, offering employers a range of advantages that contribute to their operational efficiency and financial stability.

  • Cost and risk management: These programs provide cost control by establishing predetermined reimbursement rates, ensuring consistency and predictability in expense management. This approach minimizes the risk of overspending and empowers employers to allocate resources elsewhere to make informed budgetary decisions. FAVR simplifies the complexities associated with expense management.
  • Reduced administrative burden: Delineating clear guidelines for reimbursement enables employers to streamline administrative processes and reduce the administrative burden of reviewing and approving individual expenses. This streamlined approach fosters efficiency, allowing employers to focus their time and energy on core business objectives.
  • Tax compliance ease: Adhering to tax guidelines means employers create an environment in which compliance with tax regulations is simplified. This mitigates the risk of penalties and audits for their workers. Additionally, FAVR programs provide employers with transparency and documentation, enabling them to substantiate reimbursements accurately and confidently navigate tax requirements laid out by the IRS.²

Technological advancement: staying ahead of the curve

The beer and beverage sector must harness the power of innovation. Business leaders are turning to software to solve data gaps, enhance efficiencies, and improve profitability by increasing visibility over driver mileage and route tracking. Taking measures to replace idle cars and unsubstantiated payments with accountable, tax-compliant options has also proven helpful.

Industry case study

The Problem

  • 150 sales representatives received a $600 monthly car allowance through payroll
  • This was taxable, leaving employees short-changed by 30%
  • This was paired with fuel cards at approx. $230k/year

The Solution

They implemented a FAVR program with regionally-computed variable and fixed reimbursements, new efficiencies and substantial savings. The beverage distributor saw the benefits of switching from traditional, tax-heavy allowance systems to a more modern, tax-exempt, efficient FAVR vehicle reimbursement program. To read more, please see the full case study:

Beverage Distributor Saves $420K by Transitioning to FAVR

Technological advancement: staying ahead of the curve

Beer sales reps are among the most mobile workers. Efficient, streamlined vehicle reimbursement solutions like a FAVR program help boost overall productivity by optimizing route planning and ensuring timely deliveries while lowering company costs by reducing tax waste.

IRS-compliant vehicle reimbursement programs like FAVR use data to reimburse sales reps for their business mileage fairly, keep your business tax-efficient, and reduce administrative burdens to keep workers happy. This saves time and resources and ensures sales reps consistently meet their schedules and commitments.

In the competitive and time-sensitive field of beer sales, a well-managed vehicle operation system becomes indispensable for improving overall efficiency, customer satisfaction and business success.

¹ Use Mileage Tracking Apps to Save More at Tax Time | Construction Executive
² Rev. Proc. 2009-54 | Internal Revenue Service


About Cardata

Founded by fleet management leaders in 1999, Cardata is the fully-managed vehicle reimbursement partner for field teams. Cardata collaborates with businesses by pairing easy-to-use technology and industry leading expertise to design the simplest and most cost-effective solutions for work-related driving. As a leading SaaS partner for employee-owned fleets, Cardata’s suite includes reimbursement software, IRS compliant tax-free programs, and business intelligence tools. This comprehensive approach reduces liability, lightens administrative burden, and generates average cost savings of over 30% when compared to traditional company cars or taxable allowances.

Cardata is driving what matters to their partners by adopting a data-driven approach to reimbursement, co-creating solutions that align with customer goals while ensuring operational efficiencies. Programs include Fixed & Variable Rate Reimbursement, Tax-Free Car Allowance, and Cents per Mile. Could your field team be using their personal cars for work? Reach out to see how you can optimize your program.