Today we're going to take a look at trip cost reports. We'll discuss what they look like, how to fill them out, and why you need them. The transportation industry requires many documents and reports. The trip cost report is one of the few that's nearly entirely the responsibility of drivers. However, it's important that you understand the report and the information on it, no matter what your role in the company is.
Moreover, you'll want to know what options are available to you. I'll help you with this today as well. I'll address where you can trip costs reports. Then I'll discuss what can be done to help streamline their usage for you and your business.
What's a Trip Cost Report?
Let's start with what exactly a trip cost report is. This report is often a document, or sometimes an envelope, for a driver to fill in all the relevant information of a given trip. You'll find that the envelope format is often more convenient for the driver. The reason for this is that the driver can then place any additional required documentation inside.
The trip cost report may cover the period from when a driver leaves their home base to when they return from all other loads. Or the driver may complete it monthly. The goal for the driver is to document all aspects of their trip. This ensures all relevant and necessary information for the office is in one easy-to-find location.
What Fields Are on the Trip Cost Report?
You'll see many fields on the trip cost report. First there'll be a section for the driver to record each leg of the trip. For example, the driver can fill in the dates, load numbers, pickup and delivery destinations, weights of the loads, and more.
You can also track fuel on this report. The driver enters any fuel purchases as well as mileage tracking for IFTA.
Last, you may find any of your driver's necessary reimbursements that are owed from the trip.
Often, the driver gets an envelope with the trip cost report fields on the outside. The driver may then place any accompanying receipts or documentation inside the envelope to match the information in the report.
This image shows an example of what a trip cost report looks like. Here you can see the various fields offered on the report. This image also shows how a driver will want to fill this fields out, and what it looks like when completed properly.
This is just one example. Many varieties of this report are available. Some are more detailed than others. They may include spaces to document tolls, scale tickets, phone numbers, lumper receipts, and trip revenue.
How Do I Fill It Out?
Filling out the trip cost report, sometimes called a trip expense report, is easy. For instance, each box is marked clearly with the information being requested. You'll likely fill this out by hand, so make sure to write cleanly, legibly, and small enough to fit the space.
Being thorough is important. Make sure you're filling out every space. Furthermore, you'll want to fill out the basics before beginning your trip. These include your name, your truck number, your beginning odometer, and the date.
Why Do I Need a Trip Cost Report?
You now know what the trip cost report is and how to use it. Why do you need it?
If you're the driver, you'll want to fill out this report for organization. It helps you keep all your information in one place. Also, you can document exactly where you've been and when.
Last, this report helps you make sure you get the right compensation. You'll probably find that filling out all of your reimbursements is easy and convenient. This way, payroll knows what to look for in your trip envelope. As a driver, you want to be paid for your tolls, lumper receipts, scale tickets, and more.
If you work in the office, you'll want this report so you can track your driver's activities. You may follow along with the dates of each leg of your driver's trip. You'll find mileage tracking that's extremely important for following and calculating IFTA. Also, you can find documentation should your driver have any violations on their trip. For instance, if a driver has to go out of service for violating driving hours, then the driver will have to include the documentation in their report.
Regardless of which side of the business you work on, the trip cost report is essential. Transportation requires organization. This holds true whether you're a driver or an office employee. The driver will fill out the trip cost report. The people in the office will use it to handle payment and driver issues accordingly.
Last, it's important to file away these reports so you can recall any of the information at any given time should it be necessary, such as for an audit.
Where Can I Get Trip Cost Reports?
So where can you find trip cost reports? Easy! Many companies will draw them up for you. You can order them directly with all the information you want already on them. Here are just a few options:
Prices for the reports will vary but hover around $2 per envelope. You won't have any issue finding options to suit your needs. You may also be able to buy in bulk for a discount.
Is There a Digital Alternative?
You may not be excited about paper reports in 2020. Envelopes may excite you even less. In that case, you'll be happy to know that some digital options are out there for you. However, there aren't many.
While the industry is slowly catching up to the rest of the world in technology, digital expense reports remain a scarce option. One con to the digital option is the inability for drivers to provide their receipts in one place as well.
However, some technological options allow more mobile photo capture of documents. Better yet, custom digital solutions exist. You can find custom digital programs allowing you to select the features you need the most. By combining these two programs, you can invest in the future and continue to work toward eliminating paper from your operation. Some systems can accurately digitize even crumpled and torn receipts.
Information and Options
I've discussed with you today the essentials of the trip cost report. You now know what it is, what it looks like, how to use it, and why it's important. Armed with this information, you're prepared for the next step in your business. You may be a driver learning how to document your trips. Or you may be an office employee trying to track a driver's action and activities. No matter what role your serve in your organization, you can put the trip cost report to work for you.
More important, you also have options. You may order reports or envelopes online or pursue a digital option. Keep in mind that moving toward digital may require training and investment of both finances and time, but in the long run it'll help streamline your business. The future dictates growth, so anything you can do to facilitate moving your business into the future is something worth exploring. Trip cost reports are no exception.
This post was written by Matthew Zandstra. Matt has been working in transportation and logistics dispatch for the past six years, both as a broker and direct to drivers. He’s familiar with various facets of relationships, technical systems, pricing mechanics, and commodities.