Real Small Business
By contracting with a payroll service provider, your company is agreeing to outsource the administrative aspects of payroll management. Each pay period, someone within your office provides the payroll service provider with employee salary details and updates information about new hires, salary adjustments, and terminated employees.
Successfully selecting and working with a provider is often a matter of knowing which questions to ask. Here are some areas to explore with potential vendors:
How much do the services cost?
Most providers charge a set fee for processing payroll each period.
The amount will be dependent on the complexity of the products and services your business needs. For instance, if you employ two people, you may find a very basic plan meets your needs. If you employ over twenty people, you may be interested in additional services such as direct deposit and 401(k) plan management.
What does a payroll service provider handle?
In most cases, providers' fees include payroll processing, check generation and distribution, payroll tax filing, and W-2 generation. Additional services may include 401(k) management, employee handbook development, and direct deposit registration and management.
Which services are included in the providers' fees?
The answer to this question will vary by payroll processor.
Ask potential providers to spell out the services that are included in their rate. In addition, ask them to specify which items may carry additional charges. For instance, who pays postage fees for delivering paychecks to your company? Will the addition of new employees affect your rate?
How many days does the service require to process payroll?
Many service providers will require that you submit payroll details one to four days ahead of the date paychecks will be distributed. Check providers reporting schedules to make sure they meet your needs.
How are unexpected payroll changes managed?
Policies on last-minute payroll adjustments will vary by provider.
Some may be flexible up until close to payday, others may refuse to make any changes after you submit data, or charge you a fee for adjustments.
What happens if a filing error is made?
Read potential providers' contracts carefully to make sure they accept financial responsibility for any filings errors they make. The last thing you want is to be hit by IRS fines because of your payroll provider's mistakes.
Can the service meet your company's future needs?
As your company grows, you may be interested in additional services, such as 401(k) administration and direct deposit, from your provider. Review each company's full suite of offerings to ensure it can meet your future needs.
How do I get the best deal?
Payroll provider services often differentiate themselves through price, customer service, and add-on service options. Shop around until you find a blend that's right for your company, and don't hesitate to negotiate for additional services. Look for a company that can provide references from other small and growing businesses it has serviced.
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Small Business Guide
- Starting Up Your Business
- Structuring The Business
- Creating a Business Plan
- Your Company's Public Relations
- Effective Competitive Analysis
- Managing Purchasing to Maximize Cash Flow
- Bidding Basics
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- Small Business Insurance
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- Vacations and Taking Time Off
- Preparing for Tax Season
- Cash Flow
- Your Company's Credit
- Getting Funding
- Employee Compensation