Mistakes happen. But when they happen on the books, there’s more than hell to pay. There’s the IRS. In fact, the IRS penalizes one out of every three businesses due to payroll error. To the tune of billions of dollars in fines and fees, all totaled up.
So don’t end up a payroll statistic. Here are 7 quick tips to help you sort through the payroll solutions that are just paying lip service, versus the ones that actually work wonders—relieving you of stress, time and pressure. Basically helping you strike pay dirt.
Tip #1: Plus One? Take the Pressure Off
With all its attendant regulations and requirements, payroll is a beast, and a job unto itself. Many business consultants recommend that if you have even one employee, not to mention more, you need a payroll service. After all, processing payroll yourself ends up not being all that cost-effective, especially when you add in all the time spent understanding and managing the process, plus the steep price of inadvertent errors or late penalties.
So first, outline exactly what you need. Some payroll companies charge based on the precise services provided, so by deciding what would help you most, you can make the most of it without breaking the bank. Do you need a company to handle the paperwork for full-time, part-time and contract employees? Do you want to track deductions and HR functions? Would you want your payroll service to take care of state and federal tax filing too? Do you have contractors who are required to run certified payroll reports that require the help of a certified payroll provider? Make a list, then check it twice against the pricing of your potential payroll solution.
Basically, at bare minimum, you’ll want a service that pays your employees, pays your payroll taxes and files the necessary forms. All on time, in compliance and in your budget.
Tip #2: On Track? Get More in Real Time
The American Payroll Association estimates that when you automate time and attendance tracking, you can save up to 2 percent on overall payroll administration costs. How? The savings add up in a number of areas. First, when they can easily track time on any device—like a smartphone or desktop app—you save employees time in the overall clock in/clock out process. Next, you cut out the wages paid to employees taking long breaks or lunches—and showing up late or leaving early. Then, you eliminate the time consuming, error-prone manual entry of time cards on the backend. It also helps with expense tracking and invoicing.
“Using TSheets, we save approximately $2000 per month, have better data quality, higher morale, and lower frustration,” said Todd Dawalt of Leak Eliminators.
Tip #3: In Sync? It’s In the Cloud
To eliminate the chances for human error, nothing beats a secure cloud-based solution that allows you to sync up your accounting and time tracking functions with your payroll service. The less you need to enter in numbers manually, and instead have them sync up automatically, the faster and more accurate the pay off. So see how the new payroll services you’re looking at match with your existing cloud-based solutions.
Online security is a huge concern with such sensitive data, so the best payroll providers use the same encryption standards of online banking—some of the most stringent available.
Tip #4: Need Help? Customer Service Counts
Technology matters, but when you’re in a pinch regarding payroll, you want to be able to talk to a real human. When shopping around for payroll providers, make sure you look to see how good the customer service crew will be too. Are they responsive? Do they know the product? Can you reach someone who can make the right stuff happen when everything’s on the line?
Tip #5: Growth Factor? Add In Set Up
Look for a payroll service that makes it easy to start off right, and to add on new employees as needed. Ideally, right from the get go, you’ll be able to sign up, log into your dashboard and easily configure your account by adding in employees and functions.
You’ll also want a payroll solution that can grow with your business without costing you an arm, leg or excessive amount of setup time. Many payroll services offer a free trial of a month or more, so you can really see how it will all work out. To do due diligence, run your existing payroll simultaneously during this free trial to make sure all the numbers match up.
Tip #6: File Away? Forms Meet Function
Payroll tax compliance is paramount, so a great online payroll service should handle all the paperwork that can add up in fines and fees if not done properly. That includes quarterly and annual filings, federal and state unemployment and income tax, plus processing year-end 1099 and W-2 forms. Just get it taken care of, and take a load of pressure (and potential penalties) off.
Tip #7: Add It Up? Cost Control
Hidden fees are common in the industry, so look for a payroll service with pricing transparency. The majority of online payroll services charge a base monthly subscription free that can range widely depending on what you need, plus an add-on price tag per employee. Ask potential payroll solution providers what your overall cost will be when it’s all said and done.
To grow a business in any real way, you need employees. To get them (and the government) paid, you’ll need to factor in a host of payroll considerations to keep from paying through the nose. Luckily, once you see the options out there, and narrow them down to the right service for you, you’ll be on a roll with payroll.
Click here to read more about why choosing your payroll service provider is the most important business decision you’ll make this year.