As a small or startup business professional, payroll might seem
like the last logistic you’d like to figure out. Your first crucial human resources investment should be in tools to get compensation right, but after that it makes sense to take a look at automating other HR processes, such as payroll. Learning how to file business
taxes and payroll paperwork might not be your idea of time well spent, so
hiring a payroll provider could be a strategic option.
Most providers offer relatively inexpensive services for
small businesses, and make your business operations that much easier. Here are
some important questions to ask your payroll service
provider to gain a clear understanding of their services and costs.
1. What services are
included, and what are not?
Many payroll service providers offer a variety of services
besides simple payroll and tax accounting. You can outsource your
entire HR department if you find that administrative work is too
time-consuming for your company to do on its own. Be sure you know what
specific services you are signing up for, and what they are not expected to
cover for you.
2. Can I see a sample
Examining a sample check stub provided by your payroll
company will help you to understand how their services stack up when it comes down to
the important details. If you receive the sample stub and can’t sort out
payments from deductions, for example, then you they might not be the best
option for you.
3. Are reports
available, and what can be included in them?
Payroll service providers often can provide you with reports
about your overall payroll stats. Many reports are available electronically and
can be sent in the form of an Excel spreadsheet showing you total payouts, tax
deductions or company co-pay for benefits.
4. Can you process
different types of taxes?
Providers are able to process traditional state and federal
income tax deductions, but if you are based out of an area that has different
tax regulations, be sure to ask if the payroll provider is capable of
processing taxes according to those specifics. Also consider asking about tax
processing for employees who may work remotely out of state.
5. What options do I
have for reporting payroll data, and is my information confidential?
Submitting employee work hours and other payroll information
can vary depending on the company you have doing your processing. Options like
online hour submission can make your information more direct and therefore more
accurate. If dealing with confidential information, be sure their processing
methods are secure.
6. Can changes be
made after payroll is reported? What is the timeframe for changes?
Make sure to ask what their policy is concerning mistakes or
needed changes to submitted payroll data. You want to be sure there is a
processing delay or timeframe that allows for changes.
7. Who can I contact
in case of questions or concerns?
A good customer service center is essential for any payroll
service provider. If something comes up where you need to contact the company
with you questions or concerns, be sure that they can attend to your needs
efficiently. When it comes to finance, you want to be sure you’re questions are
going to the right people.
8. Do I have a
payroll specialist assigned or will I work with a new person each time?
This goes hand in hand with the question above. If and when
you have questions concerning your payroll service, knowing whether you have an
account specialist assigned could be very useful for getting problems resolved
9. How is payroll
delivered to me? What is the cost of delivery?
Are the checks printed and sent in the mail? If so, how is
postage covered? If the payment is directly deposited electronically, are there
charges attached to this service?
10. How will I be
billed for the service?
Finally, you should always be aware of how you are going to be
billed for using their payroll services. Usually, service providers charge in a
monthly bill that can vary depending on the extent of their coverage and the
quality of their service. Be sure you assess all billing reports for specific
charges to be sure you aren’t paying for any services you not using.
Outsourcing your payroll duties can be a great way to cut
back on paperwork and keep your payroll in line with updated tax regulations. Hiring an
outside payroll service provider can be relatively inexpensive, and is a
valuable option for many small and startup business owners.