Road to nowhere: how good expense management could save a fortune

Potholes are the bane of modern motorists’ lives in many parts of the UK, and there’s more than a suggestion that saving money by failing to fix them is a false economy. Better to stem the outpouring of compensation cash by addressing the cause of the problem, rather than its symptom, surely? Which is why this month’s app of the month being so useful…

To paraphrase the old saying, a stitch in time saves a hole in the trousers. But the scrap skip in Pete’s* one-man garage tells the sad story that the necessary mending isn’t happening.

That’s because his skip contains piles of broken car and van springs which have all come to grief on potholed roads his customers are forced to drive over – and every week he adds another four or five to the sorry tally.

Each and every driver involved can claim compensation for the damage; the Government explains how here.  But to compensate one driver for his broken spring is to leave the pothole that caused the problem out there, to do its dirty deed again to another motorist, and another, and another.

Not all of the authorities are bad at road maintenance, has to be said, but those that are could take a lesson in the joined-up thinking that small business expense management software provides. Carefully logging spending with expense management software that allows users to categorise expenses means all spending can be analysed, highlighting peaks and troughs – and therefore crucially showing areas in which opportunities for cost reduction are to be found; the perfect match between swings and roundabouts.

Featured app
Clearly this kind of expense correlation is beyond some authorities, who manage roads with potholes so deep and extensive that Lucifer himself could be lurking at the bottom. Perhaps they should take information from this month’s featured app Fix My Street, a free download. This is a canny piece of software that can be downloaded to a Smartphone, and allows users to pinpoint not only potholes but also other neighbourhood issues like damaged street furniture, broken paving slabs, poor street lighting, and fly tipping.

Tell the app the kind of problem you want to report, drop a pin into the map at the appropriate point, and the app will send a message to the relevant authority. There’s a facility for adding a picture too – but be sensible about this. Don’t try to take a shot of damage to a motorway, for instance, if it involves you putting yourself in danger. That would be folly.

Another handy feature is a kind of cooling off period; click to send your comment and you’ll get an email asking if you’re really sure you want to use the kind of colourful language you chose when the blood was up and you were writing it. You may want to moderate the suggestion that the council you’re about to email is run by a troop of delinquent baboons, because that’s undoubtedly untrue; they’re just people under a lot of pressure trying to do their best, and you’re trying to be helpful. Best to remember that.

Like expense management software
But here’s how FixMyStreet is like expense management software for small businesses such as the ExpenseOnDemand product; you may not be the first to highlight a particular problem, which you’ll discover when you drop your pin in the map. There may be others there already. Check it out, councils! Half a dozen pins in a pothole hotspot could be removed by the careful application of some Tarmac. Think of the compensation cash that could be saved. You could mend some other potholes with it…

Picture: Rainer Klotz | Dreamstime

*Not his real name.