Case Stud­ies: Pay­roll in 2018

Two firms share their sto­ries with the pop­u­lar ser­vice of­fer­ing

Accounting Today - - Contents - BY RANICA ARROWSMITH

Of­fer­ing pay­roll as part of a firm’s ser­vices is often the per­fect value-add that small-busi­ness clients are look­ing for. A nec­es­sary part of run­ning a busi­ness, the com­plex­i­ties of pay­ing em­ploy­ees are not what small-busi­ness own­ers can or want to spend their time nav­i­gat­ing. So, ease of use and good cus­tomer sup­port are the pil­lars that hold up a suc­cess­ful pay­roll prod­uct. Here are two firms’ ex­pe­ri­ences pro­vid­ing pay­roll ser­vices to their clients.

Look­ing good

Prod­uct: Gusto Firm: Ig­nite Spot Ac­count­ing Staff users: Three (out of 30 em­ploy­ees) Start date: Re­fer­ring clients since 2014; in use in­ter­nally since 2016 Cost: Tiers range from $36-$149 per month, plus a fee per per­son on pay­roll On record: CEO Eddy Hood and COO Dan Luthi

Se­lec­tion: Ig­nite Spot Ac­count­ing uses Quickbooks On­line, and when the firm per­formed a re­view of app ecosys­tems, Gusto seemed to be the best op­tion for easy in­te­gra­tion into the ac­count­ing soft­ware, as well as with Tsheets, the firm’s time-track­ing soft­ware of choice (Tsheets was pur­chased late last year by In­tuit, which makes QBO). Ig­nite both refers clients to Gusto and uses it for its in­ter­nal pay­roll.

“Gusto was easy to rec­om­mend be­cause of the seam­less na­ture of in­te­gra­tion with Tsheets and QBO,” CEO Eddy Hood said. “The big­gest thing for us that we were look­ing for was to re­move some of the ad­min­is­tra­tive func­tions we were do­ing. We used to have a part­ner­ship with an­other firm to do pay­roll, and it was free so it was nice, but we spent a lot of time in­te­grat­ing data, adding em­ploy­ees by hand, etc.”

Im­ple­men­ta­tion: Im­ple­men­ta­tion of the soft­ware was quick and seam­less, Ig­nite’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Dan Luthi said. The firm did the setup at the end of the year so there were no W-2s to deal with. All Ig­nite had to do was give Gusto the lo­gin in­for­ma­tion to their cur­rent pay­roll provider, and the tech com­pany put all the em­ploy­ees in and trans­ferred all the tax data over. “In­stead of us spend­ing hours track­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion and do­ing re­ports, they did the foot­work for us and we just had to re­view it,” Luthi said.

High­lights: Luthi, be­ing the op­er­a­tions guy at Ig­nite, feels that Gusto was “built with the end user in mind.”

“It’s built so em­ploy­ees have an easy ex­pe­ri­ence and get what they need with­out hav­ing to ask for sup­port,” he went on to say. “It re­moves a lot of ex­tra work that small busi­nesses or en­trepreneurs are deal­ing with — they can fo­cus on things that mat­ter most.”

Gusto is also mak­ing im­prove­ments to its ben­e­fits pieces that Ig­nite likes. “In this day and age, ben­e­fits are huge,” Luthi said. “Be­ing able to in­te­grate both health in­sur­ance and sup­ple­men­tary ben­e­fits like 401(k)s, com­muters ben­e­fits and char­i­ta­ble con­tri­bu­tions are a big deal.”

Fi­nally, the cus­tomer sup­port at Gusto is “top-notch,” ac­cord­ing to Hood. “They’re fan­tas­tic with get­ting on the phone, an­swer­ing ques­tions, and get re­sults as quickly as pos­si­ble. SMB own­ers want re­sults quickly.”

Ig­nite has a ded­i­cated Gusto rep­re­sen­ta­tive who has re­mained with them through their four-year re­la­tion­ship. “It’s fan­tas­tic be­cause there’s a re­la­tion­ship we’ve cre­ated that al­lows us to be able to sup­port each other very ef­fi­ciently. With prior ven­dors it seemed ev­ery week or month we’d have to change reps be­cause they’d left the com­pany,” Hood said.

Chal­lenges: In or­der to of­fer ben­e­fits within pay­roll soft­ware, the soft­ware com­pany has to be regis­tered in the state in ques­tion. This takes time, and one of the chal­lenges Ig­nite faced was wait­ing over a year for Gusto to be­come regis­tered in Utah, where the firm is based, so their ben­e­fits could be in­te­grated. But once Gusto is regis­tered, there is no re-regis­tra­tion needed and there won’t be a wait­ing pe­riod for any other client in that state.

Firm growth: As CEO, Hood is in­volved in all sales the firm per­forms. As such, he has in­sight into the de­tails of all the pay­roll prod­ucts Ig­nite sold prior to Gusto. “They were clunky, heavy, not nim­ble,” he said. “The on­board­ing process for clients took two to three months to get right. Our re­la­tion­ship with pay­roll providers was strained. Gusto is quick. Im­ple­men­ta­tion is done quickly and we can keep sell­ing.”

The take­away? “Sell what makes you look good.”

We got op­tions

Prod­uct: In­tuit Pay­roll Firm: Di­ver­si­fied Busi­ness So­lu­tions Staff users: Three Start date: 2005 for Quickbooks Desk­top, 2012 for Quickbooks On­line Cost: $85 per month, varies de­pend­ing on num­ber of em­ploy­ees On record: CEO Bev­erly Lang

Se­lec­tion: Be­fore Bev­erly Lang started her own prac­tice in Huntsville, Alabama, she had spent years work­ing for a ma­jor pay­roll soft­ware provider. This gave her spe­cial in­sight into ex­actly what she wanted from a pay­roll soft­ware, and af­ter eval­u­at­ing sev­eral, she se­lected In­tuit.

“I like that whether clients use QuickBooks Desk­top or On­line, In­tuit of­fers a plethora of plat­forms that al­lows them to be ef­fi­cient,” Lang said. “They have op­tions be­tween ei­ther a do-it-your­self op­er­at­ing op­tion, or a full-ser­vice of­fer­ing where In­tuit steps in and is the ‘ac­coun­tant,’ han­dling tax pay­ments, fil­ings, W-2s. They take own­er­ship of pay­roll from the cus­tomer and give them peace of mind that ev­ery­thing’s done cor­rectly and on time. This is ideal for small busi­nesses.”

Lang her­self pro­vides that “full-ser­vice” op­tion to clients for whom she is al­ready pro­vid­ing out­sourced book­keep­ing ser­vices. She is an Ad­vanced Cer­ti­fied Quickbooks Ex­pert, an In­tuit Pre­mier Re­seller, and has been named a top pay­roll sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the past.

Im­ple­men­ta­tion: Lang said that im­ple­men­ta­tion on ei­ther the DIY op­tion or the full ser­vice is “pretty smooth and seam­less.” Once her firm de­cides what’s best for the client, In­tuit of­fers the sup­port re­quired. If the client is im­ple­ment­ing the DIY op­tion, Lang takes over to make sure all the data is en­tered, bal­anced and ac­cu­rate be­fore pay­roll be­gins.

High­lights: For Lang, the ben­e­fits of In­tuit Pay­roll break down into four ar­eas:

1. The abil­ity to run pay­roll in­side of Quickbooks is a big plus — the data syncs, it’s al­ways ac­cu­rate and up to date, and it up­dates with­out the need for hu­man in­ter­ac­tion. “This is a great fea­ture to of­fer clients,” Lang said.

2. Fast and free direct de­posit: In­tuit of­fers free 24-hour direct de­posit, which elim­i­nates de­lays in pay­ment. This means com­pa­nies don’t have to give up funds 48 hours in ad­vance.

3. For the on­line ver­sion, the abil­ity to process from any­where on any de­vice means Lang has never missed a dead­line.

4. In­tuit’s full-ser­vice op­tion as­sures Lang that her clients’ pay­roll taxes are be­ing done right, even when she doesn’t have her hands in them.

Chal­lenges: As a safe­guard, In­tuit has cer­tain lim­its in place. One of the most com­mon road­blocks Lang runs into are when a client needs to in­crease the up­per limit on the amount of money for pay­roll, which hap­pens as a com­pany grows. In­tuit has a stan­dard limit of $80,000 per pay­roll, but if a client needs more, that limit can be set higher up­front. “But In­tuit has such a great sup­port sys­tem in place, a sim­ple phone call or email to our ded­i­cated pay­roll rep­re­sen­ta­tive re­solves the is­sue.”

Firm growth: “Of­fer­ing pay­roll to all my clients has al­lowed me to grow tremen­dously,” Lang said. “Over the last three years, my firm has ex­pe­ri­enced ap­prox­i­mately 500 per­cent growth. My spe­cialty is pay­roll, and clients are happy to have all ac­count­ing and pay­roll in one sim­pleto-use prod­uct.” AT

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