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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year….to sign up for a PEO: The best time to make the switch

By Shraga Jacobowitz

The air is getting crisper, holiday music is playing nonstop and your children have 50 items written on their gift lists already….which for many can only mean one thing… it’s time to go shopping.  Shopping for a PEO that is!

I bet you didn’t see that coming….but yep, with everything else happening at the end of the year, it seems that the PEO industry is also geared towards this “magical time of the year.”

For one, many things handled by the PEO, i.e., payroll, open enrollment, health insurance renewal, and W2s fall out around this time as well, which is why 80% of PEO business is done in December. No, that’s not saying that PEOs are sitting around the rest of the year; there is still plenty for them to do all year round, but last quarter is when push really comes to shove.

For another, with the hectic end-of-the-year business, with many employees taking vacations and companies trying to meet end-of-the-year goals, business owners are even more overwhelmed with their HR tasks and are looking for a way to simplify their lives. Plus with everything going on, errors are bound to happen, and therefore having a professional take over sounds like a great idea. So obviously, it just seems natural that this time would be the best time to switch to a PEO.

But before you pick up that phone, there’s something you should know. If you’re only looking into PEOs now, most likely you won’t be taking advantage of them for this fiscal year.  Unfortunately, while Rome may have been built in a day, the process of partnering with a PEO can take anywhere from 30-90 days. And even if a PEO tells you that they can get the job done in a shorter period of time,

  1. take it with a very large heaping spoonful of salt, because in order for the process to be done correctly, it really does need to take that long, and
  2. we wouldn’t recommend rushing the process, as it can result in partnering with the wrong PEO and ending up with a contract and services that are all wrong for you. Plus with the over 700 PEOs in America, you really want to take the time to research which PEO best fits you.
  3. Similarly, a rushed onboarding equals problem, which in turn equals unhappy employees. And you know what they say, Happy Employees = Happy Work Life (hey, you try rhyming employees). But all kidding aside, rushing the onboarding process will prevent a seamless transition and most likely will result in mistakes costing you time, money and frustrations in the long run.

But you ask, isn’t it preferable to switch at the beginning of a fiscal year?

And while the answer to that is yes, to ensure that you are not being taxed twice or have other financial implications, a January 1st transition is most recommended, it doesn’t mean if you’ve missed the boat for this year (and unfortunately, as mentioned above, you have), then you have to sit around until next year waiting to make the switch.

This is where a PEO consultant or PEO Broker (such as ARC Consultants, of course) comes in handy!  When making a mid-year switch to a PEO, your consultant/broker will work with the PEOs to ensure that there is no financial impact to a company joining the PEO at any time of the year. Furthermore, if you decide that a CPEO  is the right fit for you, the IRS allows for mid-year switches without financial or tax repercussions.

So if you’re looking to switch to a PEO, really any time of the year is the ideal time to make the move.  PEOs are here to make business owners’ life less complicated, why would you wait for a specific time of the year to do so?  If you’re ready to make the switch, just do it! And do it now….because like I said, unfortunately, it’s ain’t happening overnight.

Okay, you can pick up that phone again now! Give ARC Consultants a call and let’s get started on partnering you with the right PEO for you.

6 Reasons Why you Need a PEO Consultant or PEO Broker NOW!

 

By Shraga Jacobowitz

There are many reasons why you should use a PEO (not sure what they are? You can check out any one of the many blogs I’ve written about it such as this one). Every business owner, including hopefully you, has their own unique reason for partnering with a PEO. Perhaps you are just fed up with your administrative tasks eating up huge amounts of your time, overpaying for your company’s health coverage, or losing out on hiring top talent to companies that can offer better benefit packages.  Regardless of the reason is (although I do hope my newsletters had at least a little bit of bearing on the decision), you are now ready to make that leap and join the thousands of companies who partner with PEOs.

You ready? Let’s go, pull out the yellow pages–who am I kidding– turn to the all trusty Google and type in PEO providers. In 0.49 seconds 1.56 Million results come up (trust me, I tried it). Now what?

How do you know which PEO provider is the right fit for your business? Will get you the best service? Best prices? Understand you? With over 700 PEO companies servicing businesses throughout the country, finding the one that meets your business’s needs can be a huge headache.

Enter the PEO Consultant (AKA PEO Broker). And while the word consultant conjures to mind the famous adage “Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, consult,” this is one case where a consultant can really DO a lot.  A PEO consultant/ broker will do all the research and negotiating for you so that you sign a contract with the PEO that is perfect for your industry and your particular organization. I mean, after all, your time is so precious; why bother researching and reviewing dozens of companies or even worse having to sit through countless sales pitches and lengthy (read: boring) presentations (although the swag and refreshments are always a nice perk, you have better things to do with your time) when you can have someone do it for you?

But hiring a PEO Consultant / PEO Broker is so much more than just the research. Here’s the top 6 reasons why you should use a PEO Consultant/ PEO Broker when partnering with a PEO:

  1. Comparison shopping made easy 

We all love the option of comparison shopping online, just click a couple buttons and have all the data to make an informed decision right in front of you. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy when it comes to PEOs. Pricing is going to be a huge factor in your decision about which PEO provider to use. But getting quotes from several companies can take loads of time, energy and endless paperwork on your part.  PEO proposals tend to be lengthy and as discussed in my last newsletter can be complicated, i.e., containing many easy-to-miss small details and varying pricing structures making comparison-shopping extremely difficult. A PEO Consultant/ PEO Broker can provide you multiple quotes to review at once, making your decision that much easier, and they can advise you to which PEO is the best fit for your needs and the best value for your company.

  1. Saving you time

When choosing a PEO, you’ll have to choose between a National, Regional or Niche PEO. You’ll need to do research into each kind of PEO, and once you’ve made that choice, you’ll need to do further research into PEO providers within each category. That’s a lot of research for one decision!

Think of the Consultant / Broker as that one guy who just knows everyone at the party….because honestly a good Consultant/ Broker will have already established dozens of relationships with PEO providers within each class. This way, they can guide you with this part of the process so you can make your final decision sooner.  In addition, as mentioned above, knowing which type of PEO is the best fit for your business, eliminates the need to even sit down, never mind listen to sales presentation from PEOs that don’t fit your company’s needs (you’ll just have to do without the keychain, hand sanitizer or Danish).  That’s why working with a PEO Consultant / PEO Broker will save you time and energy (and frustration), ensuring that you only sit down with those PEOs that services, technology and financial structure suit your business’ specific needs. 

  1. Better pricing 

Like every decision you make about your company, it’s all about the money, money, money! And to paraphrase the saying, “If you think hiring an expert is expensive, try doing it yourself.” Not hiring a consultant/broker can sometimes end up costing you more than any savings you might have thought you were gaining by doing it yourself. If you want to get the most value for your money with a PEO provider, hire a PEO Consultant / PEO Broker. An experience consultant / broker can negotiate on your behalf to get you the best service for the best price. And a good consultant / broker will use their exclusive relationships with PEO providers to draw up a deal that is favorable to everyone involved.

Hiring a PEO is a huge decision that will affect your bottom line for years to come. Why not get the most for your money? 

  1. Simplified paperwork 

Ever try to apply for something and simply give up just because of the sheer amount of paperwork?  We know that feeling! In order to provide you with an accurate quote, a PEO will need to gather a large amount of data from you, including your employees’ salaries, insurance policies, health care requirements, workers’ compensation history, and a whole lot more. Since each PEO uses a unique proposal system, you’ll need to fill out all that paperwork each time you research another PEO. That’s paperwork times infinity, or at least it will feel like that.

When using an experienced Consultant / Broker though, you only need to submit this information once. The Consultant/ Broker will evaluate your company’s data and give you quotes based on your specific needs so that you can make an informed decision with minimal paperwork involved.

You’ve got enough on your head already; why not save yourself some paperwork—and lots of time?

  1. They have your best interests in mind 

If you were in the market for a new computer and are not sure which one to get, do you go to a Dell store or an electronic store like Best Buy?  Unless you know you want a Dell, I’d suggest going to Best Buy, because the Dell representative is only going to sell you a Dell which may not be the best computer for you.

Similarly, when you work with a PEO directly, the company will try to convince you that they’re the best fit for your business. In contrast, when you work with a Consultant / Broker, they only have your own interests in mind and will help you make a decision that is best for you. They don’t make more money when you choose a particular PEO over another; they only want to make you happy.

It’s always best to work with someone who has your best interests in mind.

  1. They’re in the know 

When most people think about partnering with a PEO, it is to get competitive insurance rates or better employee benefit packages, but the pros of a PEO far exceed just saving your time and money. Many PEOs offer employee training, safety compliance assistance, creating company culture and employee engagement, workers comp insurance, assistance with onboarding, hiring and firing techniques, government compliance and regulation guidance and so much more. For more benefits of the PEO, check out some of my past blogs. But it’s hard to take advantage of all these amazing benefits if you don’t even know about them. A PEO Consultant/ PEO Broker can give you the complete rundown of all the myriad of ways a PEO can help your business.  And really, why would you want to miss out on something, simply because you didn’t know to ask for it?

Want to see exactly how a PEO Consultant / PEO Broker can help your business get the most out of your PEO? Call ARC Consultants today and let them not only consult you, but DO all the work for you.

The Economics of PEOs: The 411 on what PEOs cost and how they invoice

By Shraga Jacobowitz

Okay, it’s time to address the elephant (or should we say the piggybank) in the room.  I know as you read all my (I hope, helpful) articles, you’ve been wondering about one thing…..What’s the bottom line?  While PEOs seem too good to be true, offering an array of benefits for so little cost, they really are THAT good!

So how do PEOs do this? And how much is it going to cost you?

PEOs are able to offer so much for so little because of their very structure.  Companies using PEOs are entering into a co-employment arrangement, which actually means that your employees are not only employed by your company, but also by the PEO (much LARGER) company.  This co-employment allows your company to offset some of your liabilities and receive benefits usually only offered to much larger companies.

You may already know the benefits of PEOs. If not, you can always check out our inaugural newsletter article or any of the other newsletters that covered this topic.  And once you understand how a PEO can save you money, you can get down to the crux of things. As the saying goes, “there are no free lunches.”  And we’re back to that all important question, “What’s it going to cost me?”

So, of course, a PEO will charge you for their service, but their cost outweighs the savings you receive from partnering with a PEO tenfold.  Keep in mind when partnering with a PEO that in many cases even after factoring the fees of a PEO for their service, they are delivering a much bigger net savings to their clients.  As part of a PEO, you are being offered savings on your health benefits, workers comp and creating a lower-risk environment. In addition, partnering with the majority of PEOs can eliminate the need to have a HR department and will definitely eliminate the need to use a Payroll processing company, saving you even more money across the board.  As for the PEO cost, like everything else in the PEO world, every PEO is different. But there are three basic price models offered by a PEO:

The Flat Rate

The Percentage

The Bundle

I’m sure you’ve all already picked out your favorite pricing structure, but just in case you’re not sure which is best for you, here’s a quick rundown of the three options:

  1. The Flat Rate: Here the PEO will charge you a flat rate per employee. People like this because they know what they’re paying. The downside of this is you’re paying the same amount no matter how much time each of those employees put in and how much they benefit from your PEO partnership. Rates usually vary depending on company size and/or a number of other variables and fall between $60 and $200 per employee.
  2. The Percentage: These PEOs charge a percentage of your gross payroll each month. The downside is as this will fluctuate payroll to payroll, there’s no consistency in fees and you never know what to expect. In addition, this pay structure may throw you some surprises along the way, in the form of higher service fees when you give an employee a raise or provide bounces further increasing your cost/fee for the PEO. Its simple math, the percentage on a $1000 weekly pay is going to jump up when you raise that employee’s pay rate to $1500/week. The upside is in many cases, it can actually end up cheaper than the flat rate. Again, this is simple math, i.e., dividing your percentage fee by your number of employees may show you that your percentage rate WILL often fall out cheaper than the flat rate amount. Rates are usually based within a range of 2 and 4 percent.
  3. The Bundle: While we generally like bundle deals (I mean, who doesn’t like the TV, Internet, Phone packages), you generally don’t want a bundled PEO rate. This means the PEO invoices you one percentage which includes your payroll taxes, workers comp costs, (and in some cases your employee benefits cost) and their administrative fee in one lump percentage against your gross wages per pay cycle.  Honestly, I don’t see any upside to this price structure, unless you just don’t want to be bothered with the actual cost of things and prefer to pay bills blindly (and if that’s the case, I have a bridge to sell you).   The downside to this is that you have no idea what your costs are and therefore have no way of tracking, reconciling or reporting your individual expenses. Besides that, not knowing what you pay, makes it quite difficult to shop around or negotiate lower rates for those items that are experience rates.

But be aware, not all bundles are created the same, some PEOs will bundle everything while others will bundle Workers Comp and Administrative fees.  If you’re looking for something bundle, the latter may be a better bet.

Regardless of which price structure you decide is best for you, it’s good to know that most PEO quotes will include six standard costs (whether they are bundled or not):

  1. FICA
  2. FUTA
  3. SUTA
  4. Workers Compensation
  5. Employee Benefits Premiums
  6. Administrative Fees

Not sure what these are, you can check out Unscrambling the ABC’s of the PEOs and Wrapping up the ABC’s of PEOs, but for our purposes, all you have to know is the first two, both federally mandated employee withholdings will not (or I should say SHOULD NOT) differ from PEO to PEO. When it comes to the next three, that is when you will see a difference in your quotes. Because SUTA (State Unemployment Tax), Workers Compensation and Employee Benefits Premium rates depend on a variety of factors (such as operating state, number of claims –whether unemployment or workers comp claim, and the workers comp code they are using), each PEO will offer these at different rates. This is where you can start comparing prices.  And finally, as discussed above, the administrative fees will depend on how the PEO decides to charge you.

Like I said above MOST PEOs will have these six standard costs (and if they don’t, that’s an immediate red flag), but it is also important that these six costs are broken down on the invoices you receive from the PEO.  While this seems obvious, many PEOs proposal will show you this breakdown but not include it on their invoices. Before signing on with a PEO, make sure you ask about their invoicing practices or ask your handy PEO consultant (like ARC) how to navigate the billing and invoice process.

My final word of advice, ALWAYS LOOK FOR HIDDEN FEES.  These fees can be anything from additional charges for HR Services, EPLI, additional support or added technology modules, employee training. Many times, these fees will not be included in the original quote. Before signing on, ask the PEO for documentation of all fees and read everything word for word, including footnotes, endnotes, addendums (and any other way a PEO can sneak in additional charges).

Sounds like a lot of work? It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

My ultimate word of advice that will always stand true: Contact a PEO Broker or consultant such as ARC Consultants (of course) to do the heavy lifting for you. Because these consultants have relationships with many PEOs, they know the ins-and-outs of each PEO’s price structure, whether there are hidden fees, who offers supplementary services for free, who charges for them, and just about everything you need to know about choosing the right PEO at the best rate for you.

Want to know more information about price comparing PEOs and selecting a PEO that fits all your needs? Contact ARC Consultants today.