Dead-end Relationship with Your Payroll Provider? Ask These 20 Questions Before Moving On

Feeling stuck in a dead-end relationship with your payroll company? Has that rep who was initially falling over himself to court your business passed you off to a customer service hotline where you never speak to the same person twice? Has a missed tax deadline landed your provider in the dog house…again?

Some relationships are more stressful than they’re worth. Especially ones that should make your life easier. If you outsourced your payroll to minimize your headaches and increase your time, you might be thinking that the current relationship with your provider has run its course but fear that making a change will come with all sorts of hassles, especially mid-year. As Neil Sedaka warned us back in 1962, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.”

But it doesn’t have to be. Yes, change can be scary. (In fact there’s a fancy name for it: metathesiophobia. Say that three times fast!) But transitioning to a new payroll provider—even mid-year—can be a smoother transition than you might expect.

Still, it pays off to do your homework before running off into the arms of a new payroll company.

Before you switch payroll providers make sure you have good answers to these 20 important questions:

  1. Look at your current contract. Are you free to leave your provider at any time and what are the penalties?
  2. Why are you looking to make a switch? Saving money? Outgrown your current system? Make a detailed list of what you’re trying to accomplish and ask the new provider if they can deliver.
  3. What kind of data will you, the business owner or HR manager, need to collect vs. what is the responsibility of the new provider? Make sure you understand what share of the work is on you. A switch is only worth it if it saves you time, not doubles your work.
  4. Does the new provider have experience with your current platform?
  5. What does the vendor’s basic service include?
  6. What does the ongoing support process look like? Once you’re signed up, who will be your contact going forward and how will they be available to you—phone, online chat, email? (Make sure you’re not going to get lost in the customer service black hole.)
  7. What other services are available from the payroll provider? Payroll is just the tip of the iceberg for most providers these days and many offer a host of HR functions including onboarding, time and attendance, flexible spending accounts, benefits administration, and performance management. Find out which services are included and which are add-ons.
  8. Can your platform grow with your business? Make sure the new vendor can continue to serve your changing needs.
  9. Is there a time of year that is better to make the switch? If you switch in the middle of a fiscal year how does that affect year-to-date payroll taxes?
  10. Who will take care of the outstanding payroll tax liability, the new or old provider? (Get this in writing so no balls are dropped!)
  11. How is will your confidential employee information be kept secure?
  12. Can changes be made after payroll is reported? If so, what’s the timeframe to make a correction if you see there’s a mistake?
  13. Can they process taxes for employees living in nearby states? Are there extra fees for filing in multiple states?
  14. If you use the vendor’s tax filing service, do you cover the penalties and/or interest charges?
  15. What’s the fine print? Ask about contracts and hidden fees. Is the sign-up price an introductory rate that will increase in a year?
  16. Are payroll reports available, how are they available and can the be customized?
  17. Can you demo the new system? Be sure you can test drive the new system for ease-of-use and features.
  18. How is their mobile access? Make sure the mobile platform is easy to view and navigate remotely.
  19. Who are their current clients? Can you speak with some of them? Do they have experience with clients in your industry?
  20. Can you switch back? If it’s not a fit, will the new provider help you switch back and are there any penalties if you’re not satisfied?

If you’re finding your relationship with your current provider rather unfulfilling, there are many potential benefits to switching to new a company including cost-savings, improved customer service, more HR capabilities (which may mean more time for you!) and greater efficiency.

With our unique combination of large-firm credentials and personalized service, we’d love the opportunity to talk to you about how Patrick Payroll might be able to better serve your needs. Schedule a free (risk-free), thirty-minute appointment with us to see if we might be a match.