Buying company cars for sales and service people is a trap, warns Stephen Albano, founder and president of Offtech, adistributor of office equipment, in Wilmington, Mass. "Once you start buying cars, you can't get out of it," he says. His advice:pay your staff a premium to use their own cars instead.

Offtech personnel, including 60-plus salespeople and 140 technicians, get paid a flat fee plus 10¢ per mile for on-the-job use oftheir own cars. Most people, Albano professes, actually prefer to use their own cars rather than drive a model chosen by thecompany. The system saves the company the cost of having to buy or lease scores of vehicles, not to mention the costs ofmaintenance and insurance.

The system has also eliminated a potential source of bad morale: the used company car. "How would you feel," asks Albano,"if, on your first day on the job, you got stuck with a 45,000-mile company car that needs new tires and has a rip in the seat?"