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An Easier Way to Pay

How online payroll companies can benefit pool companies

Every employer knows the importance of making sure your payroll is running smoothly and efficiently. Many business owners maintain payroll in-house with payroll software, but a growing number of businesses are turning to online payroll companies.

When using in-house payroll software, a company must have a bookkeeper enter, compute and process payroll and all associated taxes. Many small-business owners take on these responsibilities themselves, dividing their attention.

“By outsourcing the administrative tasks, business owners are able to focus on what they do best, which is running and growing their business,” says Taylor Cusack, a small-business consultant in Austin, Texas, who works for Paychex, a nationwide online payroll service company based in Rochester, New York.

According to Melissa Wallace, Austin, Texas, district manager for Benefit Mall, some reasons employers choose to outsource payroll include:

  • Online payroll services take on the liability for accuracy with payroll tax calculations, payments and filings
  • Time savings
  • Features such as direct deposit, pay cards and detailed reporting
  • Payroll data security
  • Greater focus on running the business

“Hiring in-house [payroll] can be tricky,” says Luke Norris, president of Luke Pool Service in Cumming, Georgia. “Does the person have the right experience? If a mistake is made, it can be costly with the fees and penalties the government charges.” That’s why Norris chooses to use an online payroll service, which he’s done for several years. “If my payroll provider makes a mistake it’s on them to make it right and pay the fees.”

While business owners retain more control over payroll by keeping it in-house, they also retain more liability when it comes to correctly filing all related tax payments and documents. “[The small-business owners] I work with see value in shifting liability to a third party for things like payroll, HR and even time keeping,” Cusack says. “Businesses in all industries could benefit from outsourcing things like payroll and HR. A payroll company’s job is to make sure companies stay compliant and help streamline their business processes.”

Norris switched from his previous online provider to Gusto in the last year. While Gusto costs more, Norris says it’s more tech-savvy and provides a paid customer service option he utilizes. “We like it because they do the taxes and they are there to help us with onboarding employees,” he says. “If there is an issue they handle it all for us.”

Wallace focuses on making sure things work smoothly. “I connect business owners to solutions that streamline their back office — the nonrevenue producing business processes — while shielding them from the risk of noncompliance challenges related to state and federal agencies,” she says.

When switching to a new method of handling payroll, cost is a concern for business owners. Ron Melbourne, owner and general manager of Membrane Concepts in New Bedford, Massachusetts, switched to Quickbooks online service when his previous provider kept raising prices. “I’ve been using the basic self-service payroll from QuickBooks for about 10 years now and have found it to be the easiest and least expensive service to use, especially if you’re already using QuickBooks to manage the rest of your business,” he says.

Most companies offer a starting package with minimum costs and features, then increase their offerings from there based on the needs of the business owner. “There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to payroll,” Cusack says.

Time is something to consider as well. “The self-service plan from QuickBooks is more time consuming to run than the full-service plan they offer and also requires you to fill out your own quarterly payroll tax forms, which not everyone will be comfortable doing,” Melbourne says. “It gives you all the data you need; it just requires you to run the reports yourself. But I think it is a good plan for a small company like us.”

Making a switch from an in-house to online payroll system might seem daunting if you are just starting to investigate this option. “My suggestion for anyone wanting to use a self-service program is to discuss it over with your accountant before plunging in,” Melbourne says. “You really need to understand what you’re going to be responsible for to the IRS and be comfortable doing it yourself. It’s also helpful to have an accountant’s help [at the beginning of the year] to complete the required W2s, 1099s, etc., so they are all sent out correctly.”

Additionally, pool companies should be prepared for some paperwork to get the process started, Cusack says. “Making sure all legal documents are up to date helps the process go quicker.” There are several highly rated online payroll services that might be a fit for pool companies: Paychex, Benefit Mall, OnPay, Patriot Software, Gusto and Intuit Quickbooks top several “best of” lists online.


PAYCHEX
paychex.com
Size of businesses served: 1–50 employees, more upon request
Packages offered: All services are individualized per company
Pricing: Structured per account
Setup done for you: Available upon request
Support available: Phone, online and direct representative contact
Automated payroll taxes included: Yes
Add-on services available: Yes

BENEFIT MALL
benefitmall.com
Size of businesses served: 1–5,000 employees
Packages offered: All services are individualized per company
Pricing: Structured per account
Setup done for you: Yes
Support available: Phone, online chat, email, direct representative contact
Automated payroll taxes included: Yes
Add-on services available: Yes

PATRIOT
patriotsoftware.com
Size of businesses served: 1–100 employees
Packages offered: Basic or Full Service
Pricing: Basic service $10/month + $4/month/employee
Full service $30/month + $4/month/employee
Setup done for you: Yes
Support available: By phone and online chat
Automated payroll taxes included: With Full Service Package
Add-on services available: Yes

GUSTO
gusto.com
Size of businesses served: 1–100 employees
Packages offered: Core, Complete or Concierge
Pricing: Core $39/month +$6/month/employee
Complete $39/month +$12/month/employee
Concierge $149/month +$12/month/employee
Setup done for you: No, help is available for businesses with 10+ employees
Support available: By phone and online chat
Automated payroll taxes included: Yes, with all plans
Add-on services available: Yes

INTUIT QUICKBOOKS
payroll.intuit.com
Size of businesses served: 1–150 employees
Packages offered: Basic, Enhanced or Full Service
Pricing: Basic $30/month +$4/month/employee
Enhanced $45/month +$4/month/employee
Full Service $109/month +$4/month/employee
Setup done for you: With Full Service package
Support available: By phone and online chat
Automated payroll taxes included: With Full Service package
Add-on services available: Yes

ONPAY
payrollcenter.com
Size of businesses served: 1–100 employee
Packages offered: One comprehensive service package only
Pricing: Base fee $36/month + $4/month/employee
Setup done for you: Yes
Support available: By phone and online chat
Automated payroll taxes included: Yes
Add-on services available: Yes

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