In 2010, Manning’s wife, Marilyn, took the lead on marketing efforts. She attended seminars and events to generate leads. She also reached out to banks, attorneys and HR professionals to build a solid referral base. Within months, leads were flowing in. However, the problem was that there was no one dedicated to follow up with prospects.
“That’s when I knew it was time to enter a new stage,” Manning said. “I needed to hire a salesperson to manage leads, work the referral program and serve as the key point of contact for new business.”
A full-time sales person represented another round of expense, which quickly paid for itself with 40 new payroll clients in less than six months.
“Marketing and sales are critical components of our business model,” said Manning. “And firms that don’t think so will find themselves stuck at 25 to 50 payrolls for the long term.”
Testing the Waters Before Tapping into the Stream
Sean Manning didn’t just jump into the payroll business blindly. He did his research. He spoke with colleagues and examined successful payroll operations within other firms.
“I learned from those around me who had already figured it out. I observed firms that were successfully running separate payroll departments … studied their operations.” Manning explained.
Manning described this period as his time in the classroom. “I was patient … did the research required before taking a single step into the payroll arena.”
Today, Sean Manning is at the helm of a successful accounting firm and a highly lucrative payroll business. In relation to Payroll Vault, growth has been steady. His phased approach to business growth has enabled him to more than surpass the profession’s average 25 to 50 payroll accounts. In fact, his firm is approaching 200.
The days of viewing payroll as a headache and a hassle are long gone for Manning. “Payroll represents my bread and butter. I have a streamlined system in place, and I have the right people in the right positions to handle processing, broad operations, and marketing and sales.”
The key message here: Adding payroll takes more than simply shoehorning it into existing firm operations. It requires doing some upfront research, creating a separate workflow, investing in the initial infrastructure, and building a dedicated staff to oversee operations and ongoing sales.
For those looking to tap into the lucrative payroll stream, they would be wise to study what Manning has done. His revenue stream is not simply flowing; it’s raging.
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Stats at a Glance
- Firm website: www.manningco.com; www.payrollvault.com
- Year founded: 1977; purchased from father in 1998; launched Payroll Vault 2008
- Total employees: 11 F/T
- Home base: Littleton, Colorado
- Firm description: Full-service public accounting firm with segregated payroll practice — Payroll Vault
- Payroll application of choice: Thomson’s Service Bureau Payroll