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Top 10 Most Important Questions to ask before choosing a payroll service!
1. Can I speak to the same payroll specialist every time I call?
Yes! Although many payroll companies are unable to give you a direct line to a specific person who will always be there to answer your payroll questions, here at California Payroll Concepts we have three more than qualified employees that are personally knowledgeable with your account. Our system allows for the utmost flexibity and attention to your specific details. You will always be promptly and cheerfully attended to by a live and caring specialist.
2. What do CPAs and Worker’s Comp Auditors say about your reports?
Be sure to ask for specific testimonials from CPAs and Auditors and find out what they think of the reports the payroll service company generates. Some companies give you reams of reports that are difficult to read through and use for audits and financial entries. Be sure the reports are easy to read and understand, and can be used for fast audits. The less time you spend wading through reports the more time you have for money-generating business activities.
3. Do you offer reports that are easy to understand?
You shouldn't have to struggle through confusing payroll reports. Part of working with California Payroll Concepts includes the personal how to read and understand our reports. Auditors (CPA and Worker’s Compensation) find our reports to be some of the best in the industry. They’re straightforward, easy-to-understand and concise. Here’s what some of them are saying about our reports:
These are just a few of our reports:
- Check Register
- Income Register
- Deduction register
- Employee Check Stub report
- General Ledger Report
- Worker’s comp audit report
- 401(k) and Retirement Plan reports
- Sick & vacation reporting and management
- EDD Multiple Worksite Report
- Federal and State Tax reconciliation
If you have used a payroll service you know that the some of the reports in the list above can be frustrating to use. When you engage with us we work with you to make sure the reports are calculating the correct percentages for your company and make them easy for your accounting and HR departments to use.
Finally, if you need a special report and find that one of our standard reports won’t work we can create a custom report for your specific need.
4. How soon is my payroll processed?
We have a standard deliver turn-around of one day as long as it's here before 3 p.m. Whether you pick-up your payroll at one of our regional pick-up-sites or want your payroll delivered to your door we will always have it ready for you when you need it.
We know that there are times you need same-day delivery for pick-up at our office at no charge. We have also contracted with courier services that will deliver your payroll the same day for a reasonable price (within geographical zones).
5. How can you help me reduce data input errors?
Be sure to find out HOW the service reduces input errors. They can happen for MANY reasons. Ask them what procedures are in place to minimize errors, and what reports they use to monitor and double or triple-check the input to be sure it’s accurate.
Nothing in your relationship with a payroll service provider is more critical than when, how and why you communicate with them regarding regular payroll input, changes, last minute fixes and more. Spend time when reviewing your potential providers, talking specifically about these issues.
6. Will information for each pay period be sent via a telephone call, fax, email, remote entry or other means? Are they flexible to meet your needs? The “traditional” method of the service representative calling the employer at a pre-set time offers the least flexibility. You must find a mutually agreeable time for both and must do so each payroll period.
7. How can different methods of sending information save time? Fax machines provide a more flexible method and provide a paper trail for both parties. This can help reduce confusion and human error by eliminating the need for the payroll specialist to write down the time being provided over the phone. Faxing also frees up your time, since you don’t have to wait around for the payroll specialist to call you.
Remote entry may sometimes cost more but can be an effective means of entering data because you have control of it yourself.
Internet entry is still another way of entering data and communicating. There may be security questions about web entry so be sure to ask about the specific methods that are used to ensure that your payroll data is secure.
8. Are You Afraid Of Losing Control Of Your Payroll Information?
Don't be! With California Payroll Concepts you can keep as much ownership in the process as you want. In fact, we prefer to keep you involved in the process as much as you are willing so that there are fewer questions to answer when issues arise.
We provide intensive payroll training workshops for you and your payroll employees to learn the common language for payroll terms used throughout the industry. These workshops help you understand the laws surrounding payroll and payroll taxes, and also help you understand useful information about payroll practices. When you engage with California Payroll Concepts we will work closely with you to understand your specific payroll needs and make sure our internal systems (and end-user tools) are set-up to make your job easier while allowing you to participate in the process in as much detail as you desire.
We provide services to maintain multiple years of payroll history on our systems for your company so that you are able to request reports for audits and other purposes. There are many ways for you to submit your payroll data to us. We have software available for you to input the data directly into our systems. You may also submit the data by fax, phone or through a secure site on the Internet.
We also have services to do amended returns and W-2’s as well as previous year audits of returns and deposits not made by California Payroll Concepts to help with communications from the IRS or State agencies.
9. Do you have the ability to help me with my Worker’s Compensation Audits?
Yes! California Payroll Concepts has the facility to give you the meeting room space and staff resources you need when you are audited so that you are able to get the audit out of the way quickly. With our Audit service we can even provide the reports for your auditor when they come to our offices so you don’t have to locate them before your audit.
In addition to the space available for you to use for your audits, California Payroll Concepts also has the expertise and assistance to help you make your audit go smoothly and quickly. We can generate the reports you need for the audit, and can also help you by speaking to the Auditor on your behalf when your payroll is audited. No other payroll service offers this level of support for your audits. (Note: This question may not apply to you unless you have limited space at your company or facility to hold an audit. If you are one of those who have limited space find out if the payroll service can make space available to you at a nominal fee.)
10. What is your pricing model?
Be aware that payroll services are competitive and reflect local conditions. The typical basic service includes a per-check (or pay transaction), PLUS a base account or processing fee per pay period. Less frequent pay periods typically have higher costs per pay period, however annually the overall costs are less.
- Their individual costs for any and all additional services.
- Tax filing fees.
- Direct Deposit fees (typically a per payroll period, plus a transaction cost).
- Set-up fees for initial set-up, adding and/or dropping employees.
- Fees for updating or adjusting employee information.
- Any additional fees charged for anything during the year. There should be NO SURPRISES!
- Others may have a higher base cost, but their add-on features are less costly. You must be certain that you know what you want first and then provide each potential payroll source with the same exact list of what you need in the way of features.
- Pricing for services is frequently confusing. However, it’s important that you do your homework. Some providers have low cost basic services but are expensive with add-ons such as direct deposit, or stuffed envelopes or delivery. Make sure that when you are comparing cost you are really looking at Apples to Apples.
FREE Pricing Model & Conversion Estimate: Even if you’re just thinking about outsourcing your payroll service, be sure to ask us about our FREE Pricing Model & Conversion Estimate so that you are prepared with enough information to make sure you don’t have any surprises.
OTHER QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT!
Please contact us if you have any other questions.
Here are some samples of other questions you may have.
- What does your basic service include?
- How quickly can you re-run a payroll if there is a mistake?
- How long does the average client stay with you?
- If I use your tax filing service, do you cover the penalties and/or interest charges?
- Do you provide filing assistance for local taxes?
- What is the cost to file taxes for multiple states?
- What is the cost for your service for one year, including year-end W-2 forms?
- How long are these rates in effect? What rate increase should I expect after that?
- If there are payroll data mistakes, how long will it take to reconcile the errors and what will it cost?
- Look for a stable provider.
If a firm's only business is payroll, make sure to check the number of clients it supports and look for payroll service providers who have been in business for some time. This does not translate into “the more clients the better.” The large national payroll providers have hundreds of thousands of customers, yet historically they rank much lower in customer satisfaction surveys, due primarily to the fact they just do not historically provide that extra “personal touch” that most business owners want and often need. The big, national firms also have shareholders to please, so they must be focused on quarterly earnings reports. In other words, they must focus on sales at any cost and customer service is often secondary. Some national firms have double-digit attrition rates even though they show great quarterly sales numbers. Ask your representative how their company reports customer turnover and what the turnover rate means.
- Double-check the math when switching.
Transitioning to a new payroll firm can be challenging. Work diligently with your new service provider and be available for questions. Be especially thorough in reviewing the first payroll reports and checks issued through the service as well as the money paid to cover tax obligations. Reconciliation and audits are key.
- Watch prices over time.
Do not be swayed by services that waive charges upon sign-up. Often rates go up or charges start accruing after six months to a year of service.