This sponsored First Hand article appeared with the 2015 reviews of payroll systems.
Like many young CPAs, Sean Deaver found himself working in the tax department of one of the Big 4 firms. While that may be an ideal job for some, it wasn’t his future calling. Instead, he wanted to start his own firm, where he would have more control not only over the processes, but also where he could manage the client relationships more personally.
Before Payroll Relief
Sean eventually left the big consultancy and worked for a private company for a few years, providing freelance tax consulting on the side. After building up a client roster, he created his own firm (www.devercpa.com) in central Massachusetts in 2006.
As a former gymnast, Sean quickly built up a niche client base in child sporting and education centers, such as gyms, swimming and dance schools and day care centers. Initially, the firm focused on individual and business taxes, but he was determined to broaden the services he could provide to his clients. This would soon grow to include virtual CFO, audits, planning, QuickBooks consulting, financial planning and estate planning. He wasn’t sure about offering payroll services, though, since these businesses often have many varying types of employees.
Exploring Payroll Services
“I was mostly compliance driven at first,” Sean notes. “I just didn’t’ think a small accounting firm could compete with the big national chains, and I thought payroll would be too much work.” At the same time, however, he didn’t want to just tell his clients to use other payroll providers. So, after hearing how other firms like his had turned payroll into a profitable niche, he decided to take a closer look.
After trying a demo of Payroll Relief from AccountantsWorld (www.accountantsworld.com/solutions/payroll-relief), he was impressed with the completely web-based system and decided to try it out on a few of his clients. In the first year, he limited payroll services to just eight clients who were located in six different states. He said this allowed him to test not only the user-friendliness of the system, but also its functionality with different state reporting requirements.
Growing with Payroll Relief
After that year, he knew the system could help him provide a valuable service to his clients, while also generating a reliable revenue stream. Since then, his practice has grown to serve 173 payroll clients, in addition to his tax and business consulting services, and he says he has a retention rate of 97 percent.
“Every once in awhile a client tries to use one of the national payroll chains, but with Payroll Relief I have a business model that allows me to be competitive, while providing a much better level of service. Most clients stay with me because they trust the expertise we provide.” The firm also continues to grow, adding 10-15 payroll clients per quarter.
Now serving clients in 30 states, he says the feature of Payroll Relief he values the most is the ability to securely send payroll runs to his clients where they can print payroll checks at their location. The system also has direct deposit. Year-end reporting is included, and AccountantsWorld offers full-service reporting options.
Since using Payroll Relief, Sean says he’s only needed to use their support staff a couple of times for initial start-up functions and “It was great. Overall, the system was easy to learn and use,” and is adept at handling his growing payroll practice.
“I was a payroll moron before I started using Payroll Relief. They don’t teach you this stuff in college and I didn’t know anything about it,” Sean said. “But now I can confidently handle payrolls for hundreds of clients and their employees, including unemployment, state reporting and even ACA compliance.”
See inside October 2015
2015 Review of Professional Payroll Systems
For accounting firms considering adding payroll to their suite of products that are offered to clients, the payroll reviews this month will certainly come in handy. And for those already offering these services, it never hurts to see what’s available.