Unless you are the only employee of your small business, then you are presumably having to contend with issues of payroll, taxes, compliance, insurance, unemployment, paid time off (PTO) and the like. As a small business, chances are you do not yet have a human resources department to guide and assist you in these areas.
While you may want to believe you can handle things like payroll, completely on your own, looking into payroll services would definitely be to your advantage, as one in three small businesses ends up being fined by the IRS and forced to pay stiff penalties, due to the correct fees not being paid and forms not being filed properly. In the long run, it is far better to pay for the services of a professional payroll company than being stuck with IRS penalties!
All Magic Comes with a Price
There is a lot to consider, when choosing a payroll service, as needs are going to vary from one small business to the next, the first concern usually being the price. Will the cost of the service increase dramatically as your business grows? Does the service offer free quotes or free trial periods?
Some plans may offer various plans or tiers based on the number of employees you have. This is something to keep in mind when shopping around for payroll services, especially if you are looking to dramatically grow your business in a short period of time, or if you are already right on the line of being in between pricing plans.
Paying the Taxman
One of the benefits of utilizing a payroll service as a small business, is not having to pay the payroll tax fees. Some payroll services even come with a guarantee, the promise that you won’t have to pay any fines, and if you do end up getting hit with any, the service will handle them. This is, obviously, a big selling point for a lot of small businesses. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a deal-breaker. Though, if a payroll service doesn’t provide that guarantee, depending upon what other services they offer. Besides, your taxes won’t be guaranteed if all of the payroll work is falling on your shoulders, anyway!
Just as you are devoted to providing high quality customer service to your customers, does your payroll service provide the same for you? Are their customer support teams easily reachable via phone, email or live chat box? Are their hours of availability convenient to the hours your business keeps? Do they respond quickly to email? When you speak with a support specialist, are they knowledgeable and helpful, getting your issue resolved quickly?
While shopping around for payroll services, calling a few times to get a feel for their operations can give you a good idea as to whether or not you’ll be satisfied. Additionally, asking your fellow small business owners as to which payroll services they use and their experiences can also help guide you in the right direction.
Some industries have specific needs regarding payroll. For example, do you own a restaurant, in which employees earn a lower base salary and tips? Do you have a sales team that earns their salaries on a commission-based structure? If so, then you will have different needs than those businesses who are paying their employees set hourly rates or yearly salaries, and you will want to ensure that your payroll service is able to work with you, accordingly.
All the Bells and Whistles
While some payroll services may offer all kinds of added or bonus features, you will want to ask yourself if you actually need them. For example, if you only have a few paid employees, then you may not need anything more complex than the basics of paying your employees in full and on time, paying your payroll taxes appropriately and filing your tax forms on time and correctly.
However, if your small business, while perhaps still small, it a bit bigger, then you may have additional needs or wants. There are various Human Resources-focused add-ons that may be worth the extra money, such as tracking vacation time, health insurance deductions, and the like.
Let’s face it, with everything else that goes into being a small business owner, the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time on the phone with your payroll service’s customer service line or getting flummoxed by software glitches. Take the time to ask around to other small business owners, read reviews and take advantage of any free trial periods that may be offered so you can see if a particular service’s functionality works for you and if you (or, your staff) find it easy and user-friendly.
Now that we have gone through a quick synopsis of what to look for in a payroll service for your small business, let’s dive into which companies are out there and how they each add (no pun intended!) up.
Regardless of whether you are looking for a barebones payroll service, or you are need of something more comprehensive, Intuit will have a package for you.
Intuit Basic, which starts at $20 per month, plus $2 per employee/month, is a great price point for any small business. This package will calculate your payroll and taxes (although, it will not file your taxes). Additionally, there is Intuit Enhanced, which is priced at a still reasonable $31.20 per month. The Enhanced program offers additional features beyond that of the Basic package, including tax form completion, filing and payment. Lastly, Intuit offers a Full Service package, which will run you $79 per month, but that is still quite reasonable, considering it will run the entire payroll, transfer data from other services and guarantee it’s accuracy.
Namely has become one of the biggest human resources services around. While their prices are not cited on their website, and you will need to call and speak with a representative to find out more about their pricing structures, Namely offers a full suite of payroll services and human resources tools. Regarding payroll services, Namely will carry-out benefits deductions, pay and file all of your taxes, handle year-end reporting, provide access to payroll histories for your employees and ensure your compliance with regulations, among other services.
Additional helpful services include: assisting with employee benefits, such as health insurance, life insurance and disability insurance, while providing services for onboarding new employees and tracking performance reviews.
Paylocity is what you are looking for, if you are looking for straightforward and efficient. In addition to offering apps to your employees that allow for clocking in and out, and checking their paychecks, their website allows employees to track vacation time, request time off, and print out year-end tax forms. For the employer, Paylocity offers the same payroll services as many other payroll services, along with tracking retirement plans, wellness plans and compliance checking with the Affordable Care Act. Much like Namely, Paylocity also offers templates for onboarding new employees.
At only $39 per month plus another $6 per employee, Gusto is still quite affordable for the small business owner, while providing many of the much-needed services, including check services, direct deposit and benefits planning, among others. Much like Paylocity, Gusto provides employees with access to their information such as paystubs and tax information, even after they have moved on. In addition to filing all of your federal, state and local taxes, Gusto will easily integrate with your in-house accounting software. In fact, PC Magazine previously named Gusto the top small business payroll service.
Regardless of which payroll service you decide to go with for your small business, it’s always a good idea to keep your own records in the event of something unforeseen occurring. Additionally, don’t be afraid to change payroll services if you find that the one you initially chose doesn’t turn out to be the one that best meets your needs.