data enablers

Data Enablers: Runzheimer, Track Business Mileage From A To B

Getting from A to B is all about data and analytics. The transportation element of any business boils down to efficiency and productivity. In terms of mileage, there is a true slew of accounting and management issues: how many miles, how quickly an employee can get to the next meeting, how to reimburse — take your pick.

As it heads into its 84th year, Runzheimer has fueled its business with that transportation data concept. Runzheimer uses data and analytics to help retail organizations, as well as a wide range of other industries, reduce costs, specifically through mileage reimbursement management. Ultimately, the company says it is a business vehicle and employee relocation solution.

“It is our mission to offer mobile workforce solutions that connect people, companies and their vehicles to drive superior productivity and valuable business intelligence,” said Heidi Skatrud, SVP of operations and product management, at Runzheimer.

Of course, organizations across the board use data and analytics to improve productivity and manage expenses. Skatrud said that doing so requires a partner that can make industry comparisons and offer actionable information.

Through tailored, data-driven solutions, the business addresses two particular areas: business vehicle management and relocation. The business vehicle expense reimbursement programs tend to save administrative costs and reduce monetary and physical risks.

With its working with the IRS, the mileage data is specifically tailored to the geographic location of the company and the employees.

“Our patent-pending TrueCPM algorithm uses geographically sensitive data, such as gas prices, insurance rates and topographical conditions, to calculate customized reimbursement rates for business drivers,” said Skatrud. “Our new interactive analytics platform offers data visualization so program administrators can analyze vehicle program spend and see mileage patterns for field employees.”

Runzheimer also launched Equo, which is a mobile app creating an IRS-compliant mileage log for drivers to track and submit business mileage for accurate reimbursement.

The firm was founded in 1933 by Rufus E. Runzheimer, after he recognized that many employees were driving their personal vehicles for work and they needed a way to be fairly and accurately reimbursed for their mileage. In 1979, the IRS began using Runzheimer’s data to create the national standard mileage reimbursement rate, and later, Runzheimer was the first to market a mileage capture mobile app, first integrated with Salesforce.com.

Another significant partnership Runzheimer made was with Crescent Crown, one of the largest beer distributors in the U.S.

“With more than 300 salespeople and more than 200 merchandisers on the road, we’ve helped reduce Crescent Crown drivers’ mileage by 20 percent annually,“ said Skatrud.

But within those 80-plus years, there have been potholes and bumps in the road, and with the advent of the self-driving car, there are concerns.

“The autonomous car is another technology that will impact the business travel space,” said Skatrud. “It won’t replace the need to reimburse field workers for their transportation expenses but will change some of the dynamics, where employees are passengers instead of drivers and where the vehicle becomes a fully equipped mobile office.”

In the interim, Runzheimer does play a role in the ridesharing economy. In fact, recently, it released a report — the “Vehicle Management in the Sharing Economy” study — which found that 72 percent of sharing economy drivers track their miles manually. Ultimately, that means, according to Skatrud, that ridesharing apps are not as robust and efficient for drivers as they should be: “Ridesharing presents a new opportunity for the development of mileage reimbursement programs for this new fleet of drivers.”

But past the horizon of those self-driving cars, Runzheimer has plans to stay current with data trends and technology regardless.

“We want to continue creating new and enhanced solutions for our customers to gain valuable and actionable insights from the data we offer,” said Skatrud.

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