One of the more robust debates we’ve witnessed among dealers lately is whether to buy and provide smartphones for key employees or subsidize the use of smartphones that are owned by staff. There’s no right or wrong answer; rather, the reasons each side gives provide insight into how dealer executives run their companies. Here's a look at the benefits--and consequences--of each approach.



Benefits Benefits
Consistency: Having one brand of phone makes it easier for your IT department to set up interfaces with your systems. Cost: This route is likely to be cheaper for the company.
You Own the Number: If the staffer leaves (particularly if it’s a sales rep who went to a competitor), you don’t lose potential sales because the prospect’s call went to that phone. Variety: Employees can choose what’s best for their needs, e.g., fumble-finger types might prefer the BlackBerry because it has a keyboard, while folks with weak eyes might want a bigger screen.
You Get Extra Control: Since it’s your phone, you can put software on it, such as location-related programs that might, for instance, link up when your employee is at a work site. No "Big Brother" Issues: Subsidizing implies that you trust workers to use their time efficiently. If they send 200 texts a day but hit their numbers, why should you care? And what they’re downloading or installing on a personal phone is not your problem.
You Own the Data: This gives you rights to see how the staff member uses the phone. One dealer noticed an outside rep was sending 200 texts a day, many of them presumably unrelated to work. How much more productive could that OSR have been if he had focused more on the job? No Double-Phone Issues: Employees might appreciate the convenience of carrying only one phone as opposed to having a second, which likely would occur if you provided a company phone.
On the Other Hand … On the Other Hand …
Embarrassment: One dealer had to fire a staffer after discovering the person downloaded pornography on the company phone. No Access to Data Stored in the Phone: For all you know, staff members could be creating their own electronic Rolodex of customers.
Legalities: If you require a person to use your phone, will authorities automatically assume the employee can’t be treated as an hourly worker? What's the Store's Number? You'll need to work extra hard to get customers to know your store’s number, not the number used by the sales rep.
Cost: Odds are, you’ll spend more to buy phones than to subsidize them. Productivity: Lack of access to smartphone data could hurt your ability to improve company/employee performance.

Which approach do you favor? What are we missing here? Tell us in the comments section below.