When I started Eagle I spent a fair bit of time traveling, primarily between Ottawa, Toronto and Calgary (these days I still travel but now we have 10 offices). My initial thought was that it would be very easy to travel “well”, stay at the best hotels, fly in the front of the planes, eat at the best restaurants … after all I was a President & CEO now! About 30 seconds after having that thought I decided that was not a good idea, I operate in a low margin business and excess in expenses does not make sense.
So … in those days I used to fly to Calgary on Greyhound, because they had the best price and their service was just fine. I stayed at Holiday Inns, and other reasonably priced hotels. It was rare that I would eat in a high end restaurant except when entertaining a client.
I felt that by setting this example, I could with all good conscience expect everyone in the company to adopt a similar approach. Treat expenses as if you were spending your own money … don’t “live large” at the company expense.
This week I am in Toronto overnight, and when looking at hotels I had a few choices The Sheraton was about $260 plus taxes and so I’m staying at the Days Inn for $102. The room will have a bed, they have high speed internet and I’m only there to sleep. I don’t travel business class and I try to get the best fares when traveling … foregoing “reward points” that I could earn if I stayed with one airline.
I read a lot about CEO excess these days but I think that there must be a few more CEOs like me who think the shareholder’s money should not be wasted. Maybe if we spoke up we could perhaps get a little positive press for people with our title!