Handing the payroll for your small business is a big responsibility – and one that can get you into trouble with both your employees and the Internal Revenue Service if you make a mistake. That’s one reason we recommend our business clients use a professional payroll service like the one we offer at CFE.
Of course, hiring payroll services for small businesses requires making a careful evaluation of the service’s experience, fees, and methods before you sign on. It doesn’t make sense to trust someone with your payroll (and payroll taxes) unless you’re sure they’re worthy of that trust.
Here are the things you should keep in mind as you evaluate payroll services for small business.
The first thing you should do is Google all of the payroll services you’re considering and see what people are saying about them online. In addition to perusing the first few pages of Google’s search results, you should also:
- Check review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List
- Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are complaints against them
- Check with the Florida Secretary of State for complaints and judgments
These things will help you get a picture of how each company is viewed by its clients, authorities, and the general public.
The next thing you should do is evaluate each company’s services. Any payroll company will offer basic payroll services, but you may be interested in additional services. Some to consider include:
- Multiple pay options, including checks, direct deposits, or pre-paid cash cards
- Multiple wage rates
- Garnishment payments
- Tracking of paid time off
- Workers’ comp administration
- Detailed payroll reports
- Employee access to payroll
- Unemployment insurance
For many small employers, it makes sense to find a payroll provider who can also track their employees’ vacation and sick leave and provide detailed reports to help them track expenses. Any reputable company should have a website listing the services they provide.
Ease of Use
Next, ask the company for a demonstration of their payroll system. Ideally, you want a system with an easy-to-use interface where you can manage your payroll; make changes based on employee raises, pay cuts, or termination; and have access to reports and other information as you need it.
While most companies will assure that their system is easy to use, the best way to find out is with a live demonstration. Pay attention to how the site is organized. If there’s anything that seems overly complicated or tricky, that may be a sign you should look for a different provider.
Everything about your payroll will be easier if your payroll provider’s software can interface and integrate with your existing systems. If you’ve been tracking your employee hours internally, then you’ll want to make sure you can integrate your time and attendance system.
The same is true of your accounting system. You’ll be able to do a better job of keeping track of your payroll and related expenses if the payroll provider you choose has software that can integrate with your existing accounting system.
Most online payroll systems use cloud-based software and storage to provide services to their clients. One potentially significant issue with any cloud-based system is what happens in the event of an outage. There may not be anything the provider can do to prevent an outage, but it’s important to know they’re using reliable cloud services with a high percentage (99%+) of up-time on average.
Support is often overlooked when evaluating online payroll services for small businesses, but it’s hugely important in the event that something goes wrong with your payroll. You should look for a service that offers:
- Telephone support during business hours
- Live online chat 24/7
- Email support
- Text support
You may not need every one of these methods, but it’s good to have options. Most importantly, you want to be confident that if you have a problem, competent and professional support will be easy to reach.
The final consideration is, of course, cost. You don’t want to overpay for a small business payroll service, but at the same time, it’s important to remember that you get what you pay for. The lowest-priced option may not be the best choice for your business if the company has a less than stellar reputation or doesn’t offer the services and integrations you need.
When comparing prices, make sure that you’re comparing apples to apples. It may be helpful to make a list of each company’s services as you compare prices.
Evaluating small business payroll services requires a bit of time and energy on your part. That’s the best way to be sure you’re getting a reliable, trustworthy service that will provide you with the options and support you need.
To learn more about CFE’s payroll service and how it can help your small business thrive, please click here now.