My Top Chauffeur Was Caught Stealing

Jim Luff
Posted on September 17, 2014
The biggest expenses by far in our industry are labor, fuel and insurance. You know the insurance company is stealing from you and you can’t control that. All of us pay way more than we should no matter how squeaky clean your record. The other two are both avenues for rogue employees to steal.

Stealing time is hard to do with technological advances. The cameras all over the property, GPS tracking systems and computerized dispatch systems make it harder to steal time. I used to battle that in the 90s all the time when chauffeurs would finish a late night run, fuel the car with a company credit card, and head back out to the bar scene to hustle a cash ride. I installed a time clock to stop that. They learned to swing by the shop and “punch out” before heading back out to hustle cash rides. Soon they learned how to completely unlock the time clock, roll the clock back to the time they needed, stamp their time card, and pocket the cash.

Over time, fuel card technology also has improved by assigning a unique PIN for each chauffeur. However, as I recently discovered, that technology is only of value if someone is checking. And I admit, I was lax because I felt I had a crew I could totally trust. Call it premonition, intuition and plain instinct, I decided to choose the month of July and had a staff member sit down and match up every fuel purchase of every chauffeur. I make chauffeurs fuel after every single run to track the profitability of each job. That made it simple.

Much to my horror, she came to me and told me that everything was in order except for one chauffeur, a chauffeur who was my go-to guy. He was the type of chauffeur you could call anytime, day or night, and he was “good-to-go.” He would be at the shop in 10 minutes from the time we called. I could not believe it. Even with the numbers and facts in my face, I just knew there must be some mistake. It had to be a mistake. I’ve been good to him. I have given him payroll advances when needed. I have counseled him when he had relationship problems. I worked around a part-time job he had. I refused to believe it.

I called him on the phone and explained what we had found. I asked if he had any explanation for this. He slowly replied, “I am really sorry. I was short on cash and needed gas to get to work but I planned to pay it back with my next check.” I explained to him that it would have been proper to ask for permission first and I probably would have helped him had he just asked. Now, the only way to look at it is as a theft, a theft of nearly $500! Better check those fuel purchases and learn from my mistake.  
Oh, by the way, we went back three more months and discovered that is when it started. So how do you think I handled this one? I'd like to hear your comments, and if you've handled a similar situation.

Related Topics: business ethics, chauffeur behavior, employee issues, employee management, human resources, Jim Luff, operations, security

Jim Luff General Manager
Comments ( 5 )
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  • Jim Luff

     | about 6 years ago

    Jeff, being very familiar with your operations, I know you take care of your people and I know that had the chauffeur come to you and said, "Hey, I need a little rent money assistance", you probably would have advanced it without a problem for a long term employee. I find it ridiculous that someone would try to justify that it is okay because the owner is getting rich. If most of them had any idea what the size of the check is for the down payment on insurance is they would choke to death. When they opened a fuel bill that was $17,000 for a month, they would puke! If you want to get rich, you have to take extraordinary risks and if you fail, the fall is hard and the landing can splatter you!

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