Case Studies: Payroll in 2018
Two firms share their stories with the popular service offering
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.
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