Service Through Online Payroll
2007 - Online technologies have enabled payroll services to
become a popular way for accounting firms to improve client
service, enhance loyalty, and gain incremental business. The
5.1 million small (fewer than 20 employees) businesses across
the country can use the help dealing with their payroll. Small
companies have the same tax burden as large employers, but
they don’t have nearly the same resources to comply
with regulations and deadlines.
Many small business owners
turn to their accountant for back-office services while
they focus on growing their businesses. According to the
National Payment Corporation, 90% of small businesses prefer
that their accounting professional handle their payroll.
Despite this strong demand, accountants have traditionally
shunned payroll work.
majority of small employers are currently doing payroll
by hand, which opens the door for errors and penalties.
In fact, according to the IRS, one out of three businesses
is penalized each year, for an average of $1,300.
Technology Presents Opportunities
advent of “software as a service” payroll technology
has made it feasible for accountants to get involved with
offering live payroll services, accountants can solidify
their role as a trusted advisor and strengthen client loyalty.
Most importantly, they can ensure that small business clients
are compliant with regulations and deadlines at all times,
not just at quarter-end.
online solutions, there’s no up-front investment in
software or ongoing tax tables to download. Sensitive data
is securely stored on servers that are protected and automatically
upgraded. Professionals can retrieve client data from any
location, using an online dashboard. There’s no need
to be tied to the office on payroll deadlines.
online solutions also allow professionals to decide how
to be involved on a client-by-client basis. A company could
be set up to log in and manage payroll on their own, while
their accountant maintains real-time access to their information
online. Or an accountant could use the payroll solution
as a “back-office” tool to offer all of its
payroll services. Some online solutions provide toll-free
support, thus reducing the need for prior payroll experience
or investment in training. Many online services offer a
flat monthly fee with no extra charges for direct deposit,
electronic tax payments and filings, W-2s, or customer support.
can make offering payroll services profitable for accountants.
Paycheck calculations are instantaneous, and most software
offers several payment options, including direct deposit
or local paycheck printing on blank and preprinted check
stock. Some providers also send e-mail notifications when
pay stubs are ready.
accountants recognize the benefits of providing online payroll
services, they can explore how to grow that practice. But
many worry that their lack of marketing experience will
is worth remembering that the simple and fundamental acts
of delivering quality services and caring about clients
are also the most basic tenets of successful marketing.
By simply nurturing and sustaining client relationships
with integrity, quality work, and trust, small accounting
firms can attain what larger companies spend huge sums on
advertising trying to achieve.
many online payroll services recognize that accounting professionals
appreciate some coaching in the marketing area. As part
of their subscription package, they might offer marketing
tools such as firm-branded websites, demos, editable sales
letters, and ready-to-print brochures. These tools help
professionals promote their payroll services without a large
investment in marketing.
is not surprising that many accountants remain cautious
about online security. It’s what clients expect from
a trusted advisor. To ensure that their systems are secure,
the leading online providers employ the same technologies
used by the largest U.S. financial institutions.
accountants who do adopt online payroll solutions often
find that they can help solidify client relationships and
attract new small-business clients to whom they can cross-sell
other services in the future.
Sanghvi is the director of the accounting professionals
program at PayCycle (www.OnlineClientPayroll.com),
a provider of on-demand payroll for professionals who serve
small business clients.