[IMGCAP(1)]Payroll services are an intrinsic part of any business as they provide clients with fast, efficient service and regular communication. 

In our experience, we’ve discovered five important ways to optimize payroll services, both to better the service we offer to clients and simplify the payroll process for the members of our team.

Flexibility
While most accountants are logical, by-the-book thinkers, payroll does require a minimal amount of flexibility in order to make the process more efficient.  Although many payroll processes are automated and automatic, plan for several changes each time payroll is processed.  The more flexible you are about making changes, the happier your clients will be.

Utilize Mobile Services
As mobile devices become increasingly popular and easy to use, your job gets easier.  Encourage your clients to use mobile services to update payroll and make any changes.  Forego the lengthy phone call or confusing email by empowering your clients to handle changes on their own, wherever they are.  Provide training to your clients to ensure that they are able to understand each unique benefit you can offer.

Although they’ve hired you to handle their payroll services, many managers and employees are simply unaware of their own ability to make changes and updates to their particular file. 

Update Regularly
Laws that pertain to payroll are constantly changing.  From overtime laws to changes in tax law, the one constant in payroll is change.  Stay up to date on important changes before you are asked to implement them.  Browse industry websites and news agencies for important updates on all things accounting related.  Not only do you lower your time investment when payroll rolls around, you’ve also ensured that you are saving your clients money and keeping them in compliance with the law.

Personalize
Accountants aren’t typically known for their sparkling sense of humor or personality.  Your clients have hired you for the express purpose of handling their money and an important part of their business.  This doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate friendly, personable service whenever they are in contact with you.

As payroll services are automated and technology-based, many clients feel they are losing the important interaction that comes from face-to-face and regular interaction.  In order to keep your clients happy and comfortable with your services, you should strive to personalize your relationship with each of your clients.  It may take you out of your comfort zone, but the relationship you build is vital for the future of your business.

With the help of the World Wide Web, it’s also easier to give your clients the chance to be hands-on in the payroll department.  Utilize a payroll Web site that allows your clients and their employees to update information and track any changes that are made.  When you allow your clients to take control of some of their updates, you lessen the time you are forced to spend on tedious tasks.

Calendar Checklist
The end of the year brings thoughts of tax forms and filings that are right around the corner.  As an accounting firm, your to-do list grows exponentially. 

In order to stay organized and ensure that you are meeting the needs of all your clients, create a checklist for each client for the end of the year.  An example of such a checklist might include the following:

• Update changes to W-2s
• Confirm tax ID numbers
• Adjust changes to payroll
• Change employee information

Once your checklist is created, you can also create a calendar of important deadlines that are right around the corner.  Review your checklist and add any important dates to your calendar.

For accounting firms, the most important ingredients to success are personalized service, the empowering of your clients and in-depth organization.  Simple concepts that come together to make a complicated process easier for everyone involved.

Maya Konviser has been providing accounting, payroll and business management to Los Angeles business owners for over 12 years to clients across a broad spectrum of industries from entertainment to retail to contracting. As president of ATPP, her experience, leadership and guidance has propelled ATPP to be a premier Los Angeles-based accounting and payroll service.