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How to Deliver Payroll and HR Services to Clients

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Darren Root, CPA wraps his latest column on building the modern payroll practice with this focus on firms that wish to deliver payroll and HR services to clients, but need to know the right questions to ask (and answer) prior to that build.

Jan 24th 2022
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If you’re an accountant that plans to offer payroll and HR services to your clients, you need ask yourself what you want your model to be.

Like most significant questions, it’s not the easiest to answer. In this particular case, it’s because the details depend on factors unique to you and your accounting firm.

  • Are you adding payroll and HR services simply to offer more options to your current clients?
  • Do you want to grow your firm and clientele by freeing up time and staff to provide advisory services?
  • Are you adding payroll and HR to increase the value of your firm with an eye to your eventual exit plan?

These are variables that only you can answer. In my experience, I’ve found that you can pretty much divide this last part of the payroll/HR puzzle into three sections. Let’s take a look at them now...

1. Pricing

Take your cues from the payroll and HR solutions providers you’ll be researching. These businesses standardize the way they price, and so should you. Study their pricing to get an idea of what they’re charging for the services they provide—and then use your findings to create a standard pricing structure your local market will bear.

Be sure that your pricing not only covers your costs but will provide you with the monthly recurring revenue stream you need. (Tip: Considering the staffing challenges that have plagued our industry for the past few years; you may want to look into automating parts of the process. The initial outlay should be offset by reduced labor costs and a larger return for the firm.) 

Start with a fixed fee for your base payroll product, which will offer you a basic monthly recurring revenue stream. From there, you’ll also want to create pricing for bundles, or levels, that combine different payroll and HR services that offer clients and prospects the options they need (more on bundling in a moment). You may even want to call on your spreadsheet expertise to create a standardized pricing calculator that can be used for client meetings.

2. Bundling Services

All businesses are not created equal. That’s why you’ll want to define product levels—to offer clients and prospects more than one option. Some clients may only require payroll processing. Others will need a service level covering all aspects of human resources management, including HR support like creating or updating an employee handbook, workers’ compensation and/or retirement plans.

Still, others may wish to take advantage of other advisory services you offer (e.g., using a client’s data to provide them with further insight). So, it’s a good idea to define multiple bundle levels to account for any combination of products you think will be in demand.

The goal here is to create an “off-the-shelf” set of payroll and HR products that can be repeated across clients and are scalable to allow for growth.

3. Marketing and Selling

Now, it’s time to build out your sales enablement materials. Start with a short but thorough PowerPoint-style presentation that walks your client through the payroll process and answers core questions such as:

  • What does the product look like for the client?
  • How does the client onboard employees?
  • How does the direct deposit process work?
  • What does the product look like for the client’s employees, and is there a mobile version of the product available for their use?
  • How does the employee get his or her pay stub each week?

Other helpful sales enablement materials include a one-page information sheet summarizing your payroll pricing levels and a proposal. Also important to selling is something too many firms consider optional (but is in fact one of your best marketing vehicles), and that's your online presence. You can spread the word via the following channels:

  • Firm website—Consider creating a dedicated page to spotlight your payroll and HR services.
  • Social media—Use non-salesy and informative posts to pique your followers’ interest about how payroll and HR services can solve their pain points.
  • Google My Business (GMB)—The small business’s secret marketing weapon, GMB is a free, dedicated business listing space on Google that can boost your local online presence. It’s also a secret weapon that few businesses are aware of, so there’s a good chance your competitors aren’t there yet. Go check it out.

Selling ourselves isn’t something that comes easily to accountants. But don’t worry; you don’t have to email-bomb every business prospect in the state. The best place to start is by selling to those who already know and trust you—your existing clients.

Then, as referrals and new clients come in the door, you’ll have the materials ready to discuss your services. You can either move on to prospecting when you’ve had more time to fine-tune your marketing skills, or you can choose to outsource your marketing. Some payroll and HR providers even offer free marketing support to help accountants promote their services.

The Wrap…

Working your way through each of these steps will lead you to a clear understanding of what you want your practice to look like, who your ideal clients are, the list of services to offer, and the marketing materials required to support your sales efforts. At this point, you’ll be well on your way to building a highly profitable revenue stream within the payroll and HR segment—a move that will pay off both now and well into the future.

ADP® partners with forward-thinking accounting professionals who value being essential to their clients' success. We offer the most flexible partner models, powered by quick & easy insights from the most complete set of payroll, HR & benefits solutions – all backed by dedicated expert support. Our Accountant ConnectSM Certification Course provides an in-depth working knowledge of the tools & resources inside Accountant Connect to help modernize your payroll process, improve firm efficiency and strengthen your advisory services.

 

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