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Time and time again, businesses that are taking on the burden of performing tasks and processes in-house will find it more beneficial to outsource, and sometimes even less expensive. The same goes for payroll and this is a trend that only continues to gain momentum in its growth. With constant changes in rules and regulations governing processes and taxes, compliance is becoming a harder task to maintain than it once was. When you do make the decision to outsource your payroll, there are a few critical pieces that you will want to look for.

Specialization
Before you initially start a relationship with anyone, hopefully you do some research; not only on the company’s reputation (more on this on topic number 6), but on what the company offers. Maybe they’re great at one thing, a specialist in something else, and offer the bare minimum for another item. It’s good to invest some time, even if minimal, and do your due diligence. List out what’s most important to your company and find a provider who’s services are in line with what you need.

Product/Service Portfolio
After analyzing the needs of your business, you may possibly decide to outsource other tasks as well. Some payroll processing companies offer solutions such as automated time-keeping, pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation, and HR services (just to name a few) that could be beneficial and less expensive than approaching another company that offers these services directly.

Communication
One of the biggest frustrations one can encounter is the breakdown in, or ineffective communication. We’ve all been there and most of us have been on both sides. Yes, it’s not always something you can easily identify at first glance. However, generally the larger the company, the more likely automated menus and call centers are used.

Advising/Consulting
Chances are, you’re a business owner not a payroll expert. You may not know what you want or may not know what options are available. Having a company that will ask the key questions to find out just what you need while simultaneously educating you is an important benefit that some offer but most don’t.

Demeanor
Meeting with someone who is dressed or is acting unprofessional? Did the phone call you had with someone from the company go rather unpleasantly? These could be signs that you are dealing with a company who’s culture reflects those situations. When a company’s culture is one that is disagreeable with you, chances are the relationship will not be one of longevity.

Reputation
The internet has given the consumer a big leg up on educating themselves. When you want the dirt, or to see how well a company is rated and performing with its current customers, consumers can easily access this information. It’s a good starting point before jumping into bed with a company to do your due diligence and see what exactly people are saying.

What’s being offered
What exactly are you going to be paying for? Do you have to report, manage, print your own checks, and create your own reports? Or is it a seamless, easy process of keying a few numbers in and everything is done and off your plate?

Timeliness
If you make the effort to report your payroll on time, every time, you will want to make sure your payroll service provider reciprocates the gesture. If you’re already in a relationship with a company and your employees are not always paid on time, this could lead to bigger problems. It may be time to exit the relationship if possible.

Location
This can mean a few things. Let’s say you want to pick up your own checks- having a payroll company that’s local can be great for this. The second, is where is your payroll being processed? Where is the call center you’re calling? Is it overseas? If a company is outsourcing it’s primary service, you may run into issues down the road and these issues typically are not solved in a timely matter either.

Who Their Clients Are
Plenty of firms, especially larger firms, are proud to sound off a list of their well-known clients. It establishes a sense of rapport, right? You can establish that they are trustworthy (at least if its not a fraudulent site) which is good. However, as a small business, you’re not generating mass amounts of revenue (well, maybe you are) for this firm and quite possibly looked at as less important, thus creating an atmosphere for payroll errors and lack in the quality of service.

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