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How to Choose a Payroll Service Provider for Your Restaurant

How to Choose a Payroll Service Provider for Your Restaurant

Employee payroll is a sensitive issue in any field. As a manager or owner, you want your employees to trust that you will pay them what they earn, in a timely manner, with minimal to no mistakes. Independent restaurant owners doing their own payroll have to understand tax regulations and know how to calculate taxes, which can add a difficult and time-consuming task to an already full schedule. For improved accuracy and increased professionalism, not to mention greater peace of mind, consider hiring a payroll service provider for your restaurant.

What are W2 forms?
W2 forms are tax documents that tax-payers and tax-exempt organizations use to report income and other tax information to the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
glasses on an open book

Payroll Company Services
A payroll service provider can take charge of many financial and legal matters regarding your restaurant's payroll. In fact, a payroll company can do any of the following tasks:

  1. Calculate paychecks
  2. Calculate taxes for each employee
  3. Print and deliver checks
  4. Handle direct deposit
  5. Print W2 forms

Fees Associated with Payroll Services
Some service providers charge a base fee for all services, as well as fees for each check issued, usually anywhere from $.80 to $2.00 per check. For additional services, such as direct deposit and tax filing, there are usually additional fees. You may also face charges based on pay frequency. For instance, you could be charged more in the long run for issuing payroll checks each week rather than twice a month. In order to avoid paying excessive fees, consider the services you are most interested in for your business, and always inquire about any add-on fees.

How to Choose a Payroll Services Provider
It is extremely important to pay your people accurately, efficiently and in a timely matter. Hence, it pays to avoid taking any risks with your payroll services provider. Be sure you are choosing a reliable, reputable company who will not charge you hidden fees or take a long time to repair mistakes. Follow these guidelines when choosing a payroll company for your restaurant operation:

Research your options.
Search the web. Ask other restaurant owners. See what options are out there and thoroughly research each company you are considering. Other restaurant owners with a comparable number of employees can give you sound comparisons and good advice.

Interview the payroll companies.
Ask questions of the companies you are considering. Figure out what services they offer and how those compare to your business needs. Ask about how they transmit their data information (i.e. over the phone or Internet) and how quickly they will attend to any problems. Do not be afraid to ask for references. Consulting with other companies who use their services can result in useful information about the payroll service provider's reputation, efficiency and accuracy.

Payroll Certification Credentials
The American Payroll Association offers two levels of certification. The FPC is a credential for beginners in payroll, as well as for service and support professionals. The CPP is a certification credential for those with experience in payroll.

Ask about customer service.
Forging good working relationships with your payroll service providers is critical. Be sure you will have a committed account representative who will consistently handle your business needs should any issues arise. You may also want to ask about the employees' experience levels and whether they are certified with FPC (Fundamental Payroll Certification) or CPP (Certified Payroll Professional) certifications.1


1 "Certification," American Payroll Association http://www.americanpayroll.org/certification/ (accessed November 21, 2008).