Although they may not realise it, management and representatives in the pharmaceutical industry have a definite personal and company spending power with regards to where they buy their petrol, which airlines they use, the hotels they stay in or even which food and drinks they purchase. We look at how, with just a little thought and planning, that spending power can be harnessed and utilised to maximum advantage.
Prizes for petrol
As pharmaceutical managers and representatives will gladly tell you, they are far from the top of the tree as far as perks in the job are concerned but during the course of their daily business there are opportunities for some legitimate ‘little earners’ that could and should be maximised. Daily fuel consumption is one such area of potential benefit. In this industry, as we know, travelling anything between 100-1000 miles per week is not unusual - it’s simply the nature of the beast.
However, the consequent petrol consumption this sort of mileage demands can be a source of benefit in kind from the petrol companies. Times have moved on since the ’free glass’ initiatives which were used to encourage motorists to use the same garage to fill up. These ‘gifts’ were often treated as a bit of an embarrassing joke and some motorists would sneak out from the petrol station shop with their freebie hidden under a copy of Caravan Weekly! But with the recent explosion in car journeys, oil companies are desperate to encourage loyalty from customers and all the big petrol outlets now offer their own peculiar ‘reward’ schemes.
Shell introduced their ‘Shell pluspoints’ scheme which also ties in with other major companies like Woolworth, JJB, Next, WH Smith and B&Q. For every one litre of petrol a cardholder buys, they are rewarded with one ‘pluspoint’ and when saved up, points can be exchanged for e.g. shopping vouchers and charities can also benefit.
Jet’s successful ‘Smile’ scheme is installed at most of the company’s 550 service stations and currently has a membership of over one million. The rewards format is similar. The account holder is given 1p back for every litre of fuel bought and 2p back for every pound spent in Jet shops. In addition, 15p is redeemed against any top car wash purchased. Once £15 is saved, the consumer can make a withdrawal, either in the form of a cheque or through vouchers redeemable at many high street stores.
BP are involved in the Nectar scheme, probably the best known of all these types of initiatives, although it would perhaps be more accurate to describe the petrol company as a partner rather than the driving force in this particular idea. Membership entitles you to benefits from four big companies - Sainsburys, Barclaycard, Debenhams and of course, BP themselves.
The Nectar system is similarly straightforward. For every litre of fuel you buy from a BP garage you get one point. For very £1 you spend in Sainsbury’s you get two points. For very £1 you spend in Debenhams you get two points. For every £2 you spend on your Barclaycard you get one point. And in a special ‘Brucie Bonus’, if you use your Barclaycard at BP, Debenhams and Sainsburys, you get double points. And what do points make?…
But is there real merit in registering for these schemes? The average motorist might not think it’s worth it because they don’t use their car that much, but the average representative or manager, with their heavy fuel consumption, is perfectly placed to cash in. Registering to become a member/account holder takes only minutes and the easiest way is to simply pick up the relevant form at your garage (and scheme) of choice. It will take five minutes of your time and even the hardest working manager or representative can spare that!
As noted above, there is also the ability to add to your points/benefits through the other companies involved with the petrol firms. For instance, BP’s partners in the Nectar scheme are Sainsburys, Debenhams and Barclaycard and whilst these outlets obviously don’t offer the same potential for rewards as the petrol stations do, there are possibilities that shouldn‘t be ignored. For instance, many surgeries require to provide food and drink for important practice meetings so if it’s possible, and convenient, why not use Sainsbury’s - and pay by Barclaycard - and make sure the points continue to get racked up. And don’t worry, you’re unlikely to bump into Jamie Oliver!
Making the most of hotel visits
Of course travelling often results in overnight stays for managers and representatives and most hotel groups also operate ‘reward’ schemes. An example of this is the ‘Priority Club’ scheme operated by the Six Continents Hotel group which includes in its portfolio hotels such as Holiday Inn, Inter Continental and Crown Plaza. Membership offers several benefits including single rates for double occupancy, extended check out times and points accrued can be used for free night stays, airline miles, select wines and even Hot air balloon trips.
Again, joining these particular schemes takes only minutes. The next time you’re sitting alone in a hotel dining room guessing which of the middle-aged couples around you are married (the ones sitting in silence reading their menu like it’s a best selling novel) or who are having an affair (the ones holding hands and talking to each other) why don’t you ask for one of the forms and leisurely fill it in. Then return to your fun!
The ability for most managers and representatives to maximise their spending power is probably at its peak in the areas of petrol consumption and hotel visits but there is also a smaller section of the industry, those who regularly travel by plane, who can gain further benefits.
The concept of gaining air miles is simple to understand and easy to use. The basic idea is that for every mile you fly with an airlines they will give you ‘free air miles’ which you save up and use for free travel.
British Airways is one high profile airline who have their own ’Frequent flyer programme’ available to those who sign up for their thriving Executive Club scheme. Earning BA miles is easily calculable. You’ll earn one mile for every mile flown in Economy. You’ll earn one and a half times the miles flown in Premium Economy and you’ll earn double the miles flown in Upper Class. In addition - and by now you‘ll recognise an underlying theme of these reward schemes - there are other benefits available. You can ‘spend’ your BA miles on various things from Red Letter Day experiences to discounts on British Airways holidays. Worth a few minutes of your time to sign up, I’m sure you’ll agree.
The above is not an exhaustive list of schemes and benefits but it does give an idea of what can be found if you take just a little time to look around and register for the schemes which are suitable for you. But of course, these blue-chip companies don’t just give things away. No matter what reward scheme or initiative you register for, you will have to save up a considerable amount of points in order to reap the benefits. For example, it will take 500 Nectar points to get a £5 discount on the total cost of two Brewster Fayre main meals. And it will take 1500 Shell pluspoints to allow you to donate £10 to charity. So it isn’t exactly money for nothing. But the point remains that of all the people in Britain at whom these various schemes are targeted, it is those within the pharmaceutical industry who are the ideally placed to take advantage. At most, there would be minimal disruption to your routine and at the end of every year, or every summer, you can cash those points in and give your spouse or partner a nice little treat.