Tips for Choosing a Payroll Service

By Melanie Schaefer

Choosing a Payroll Service Provider When payday rolls around employees automatically assume they will not only be paid but be paid the correct amount. An easy way to ensure everyone is receiving payment and the IRS is not on your back is a payroll service. Use these tips to evaluate and choose a payroll service provider.

When payday rolls around employees automatically assume they will not only be paid but be paid the correct amount. An easy way to ensure everyone is receiving payment and the IRS is not on your back is a payroll service. Some may consider this service a waste of money since it can be completed in house; however, having a professional to deal with confusing tax laws and to absorb the cost of any errors is a big plus.

Recommendations:
Before you Google payroll services, ask around. Does anyone you know deal with a payroll service? If so, ask if they would recommend them to you. A recommendation from someone you know means that chances are they will be honest about their level of satisfaction with the company. Once you have a few services you are interested in ask if they can provide you with two or three references from clients who have businesses similar to your own. Recommendations are the best way to discover the reputation and quality of the firm. (You may also want to check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if the company has any outstanding complaints.)

Prices and Hidden Fees:
The first question on everyone’s mind and the first question that need to be asked is: How much? They may charge a flat-fee with an additional charge per check or a charge based on the frequency of payroll. You may want to pay your employees every week but find that every other week will save you money. This is something that should be taken into consideration. Also, be sure to see a detailed breakdown of the bill to discover those hidden fees that some companies may “forget” to mention. For example simply changing an employee to direct deposit or adding a new employee might accrue additional charges. You may also want to ask if the charges and fees you were quoted are subject to change and if so, do they increase frequently?

Special Services:
In addition to paychecks, payroll services often offer other special services for businesses. These special services include direct deposit, customized reports, as well as the administering of employee benefits, retirement plans, and pre-tax deductions for medical insurance or childcare. Some companies are capable of developing customized software tailored to your specific needs. If you have employees in different states you must make sure the company has national coverage capabilities.



Ease of Use and Accessibility:
Most payroll services today allow access to a secure site for employees to view their individual payroll history. Having a password protected website to view and print pay stubs, review payroll history and keep track of sick, personal and vacation days provides a better service for your employees. Having this information at their fingertips will also decrease the amount of payroll questions you have to answer.

A web based payroll system, though commonplace, is not the only way you can provide the information for payroll. Some payroll services require phone-ins at a specific date and time which can be very inconvenient for the ever changing schedule. There is also the option to fax or e-mail. But being able enter in information anytime, anywhere from a web browser gives you an opportunity to double check that all the information is correct and easily make adjustments. Once you determine which medium of communication works best for you, find out whether the provider can accommodate those needs. Providing information for the payroll service should not be complex and a hassle but easy and convenient. Remember a payroll service is supposed to alleviate stress.

Responsibility and Customer Service:
A payroll service that is frequently making mistakes can be the source of great frustration. And although you should only sign with a provider that guarantees they will absorb the costs of their mistakes, you do not want to worry about whose check will be incorrect next payday. As mentioned previously you should ask each payroll service for references from similar accounts. Check with these companies the accuracy, integrity, response time, professionalism and customer service of the provider.

Everyone makes mistakes; even the best payroll services can make a mistake at some point in time. What defines the company is how they react to their error and whether or not responsibility is taken. Ask them how quickly new checks will be provided if a mistake is made. And make sure the payroll service is liable for tax mistakes since the penalties for such a mistake can be very steep.

Customer service is also key. You do not want to hold for 20 minutes on the phone only to reach someone unfamiliar with your account and therefore unable to answer your question. Find out if there are other options besides calling to receive help or answers. Perhaps they can respond sooner to e-mails?

Who Will Handle Your Account?
Last but certainly not least is to find out who will be handling your account. You may have met with the experienced head honcho as you signed the dotted line but once you leave he assigns your account to an inexperienced intern. Once you find out who will be in charge of your account make sure it is someone you feel comfortable with, and someone who encourages you to ask questions. You will be dealing with this individual on a regular basis and you do not want to work with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable every time you do not understand something.

The more you know about the payroll service the better off you’ll be because in the end it’s about finding a company that will meet your needs and the needs of your business.

Copyright © 2009 Attard Communications, Inc.
May not be copied, reprinted, or reproduced without express permission from Attard Communications, Inc.

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