The payroll services vendor you choose will have a big impact on your business. Choosing a trusted vendor is important- a payroll company will have access to your financial information, your employee bank data, and employee social security numbers. Make sure you choose wisely.
Beyond security concerns, vendors should provide good customer service, offer a system that’s easy to operate, and make payroll processing easy and uncomplicated. When choosing a vendor, make sure to get references, “test” the service by performing a preliminary “call in” or input of payroll, and get a free trial if you can.
Hiring a payroll outsourcing company based on recommendations from other businesses is always a safe bet. Ask others in your industry how easy the “call in” process is, and if the company they work with provides good customer service. Ask if the payroll processing company guarantees its work by paying fees or penalties based on late or erroneous filings. If so, ask how many times a vendor has paid these fines in the past year. Make sure to read a contract or service agreement thoroughly, and make sure you are aware of your rights if employees are paid late or if taxes are calculated incorrectly. As a business owner, you are responsible for employee and government agency payments irrespective of the actions of a third party payroll company.
A vendor should offer the services you need for a reasonable cost. If you need industry-specific services like increased insurance or workman’s compensation amounts, long-term care or specific medical savings accounts, or catastrophic loss insurance, look for a vendor that can provide these services. Don’t assume that all companies can offer all features. Choose a vendor with experience in your industry.
Businesses choose one payroll company over another because of user interface. How you “call in” or input payroll information can have a big impact on your business. Some key considerations are timing, access, and reminders. Timing refers to how far in advance you need to provide information. The shorter the better- if you need to call in a week before checks are processed, this leaves a large window open where employee information can change, resulting in errors. Access refers to your account. Can you input information online, or have a bookkeeper submit information? How many people can be “authorized” to provide pay information? These are important considerations. If you are away from the office, traveling, or unavailable, another employee will need to provide information.
Reminders are also important. What happens if you don’t provide information on time, or if you are unable to calculate hours worked for some reason? Make sure the company can address all of these issues.