Andy Roe is the General Manager of SurePayroll, Inc., a Paychex Company. SurePayroll is the trusted provider of easy online payroll services to small businesses nationwide. SurePayroll compiles data from small businesses nationwide through its Small Business Scorecard optimism survey, and exclusively reflects the trends affecting the nation's "micro businesses" — those with1-10 employees. You can follow Andy on Twitter @AndrewSRoe.
How did you get into the industry?
I’ve been in the payroll industry for more than 15 years, starting out in sales. Working with small businesses with 1 to 50 employees from all over the country is really what has inspired me to make a career in this industry. Entrepreneurs are a major driver of our economy and I’m proud to lead a company in SurePayroll that helps them take care of the complications of payroll, so they can focus on what they love to do.
Any emerging industry trends?
Trends in the payroll industry are somewhat dependent on government regulations. Right now you’re seeing things get more complex with overtime laws, paid sick leave and health care.
At the same time, for the small businesses using payroll services, they’re looking for more simplicity. They’re comfortable with payroll up to a point – entering hours and salaries. But when it comes to the payment and filing of taxes – that’s where they want an automated solution. So the trend is really towards continuing to make that aspect of payroll as simple as possible.
Along these lines, our internal data shows that more and more small businesses are using a payroll service, as opposed to doing it themselves in Excel or with software that might not have the same capabilities and service to back up the user.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
There’s tremendous opportunity for this industry. Roughly a third of the small businesses and startups out there have never run a payroll – they may not have employees yet. Another 20% are handling payroll manually. So that’s about half the market that could be open to using a payroll service or growing into the need for having one for the first time.
The great thing about entrepreneurs and being in a market that serves them is they’re generally very optimistic. So in good times and bad, they’re thinking about new ideas, starting businesses or growing the businesses they already have.
Inspiration for SurePayroll, and your vision for it?
SurePayroll started in 2000 when payroll was being done over the phone or with a fax machine. We were the first to offer a completely online payroll product, as well as the first to offer a mobile app for the iPhone.
Now our goal is to lead the industry by giving customers the best overall experience – that means a commitment to having the easiest technology to use, making it easy to sign up and get started, and a deep commitment to service. We’ve always been an online company, but people still matter a great deal. And service has been and will continue to be a huge focus for us – that means answering calls in 20 seconds or less; as well as offering different ways to communicate with us, be it live chat, Twitter or Facebook.
What's next for SurePayroll in the near future?
We’ve just updated the interface of our product, as well as our mobile apps for Apple and Android, and redesigned our website. Again, we want to create the best overall experience for the customer from start to finish.
Internally, we’re continually working to make it easier and faster for our clients to get started running payroll and taking care of their employees.
Your key initiatives for the success of SurePayroll?
Our primary customer is the small business owner. However, we’re also experiencing tremendous growth in more niche areas of payroll. For instance, household payroll for people that employ a nanny on a regular basis or a health care worker. We also serve restaurants and churches, which have specific payroll requirements they have to adhere to.
We have tremendous partnerships in the CPA/accountant community. They use our service to add value for their clients.
Your most difficult moment at SurePayroll? (and what did you learn?)
There’s so much complexity and compliance that goes into running a business. Many people aren’t aware of this until they get started. A key part of that, of course, is how you pay your employees and making sure the right deductions are taken out and the correct taxes are paid and filed
Often when they come to a payroll service, they need a solution right away. One of the big challenges across the industry is all of the paperwork necessary to begin this process. One of my challenges was to figure out how we could make this process as smooth as possible for someone signing up. How do you make a traditionally slow, tedious process quick and easy?
As we made improvements and sped up this process to make it two or three times faster, I learned a lot about what business owners go through and the hard work our employees do to make sure everything is set up correctly.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
The ideal experience is a very simple one – enter your hours and salaries, preview the payroll and click approve. That’s really all there is to it. And if it gets more complicated, we’re here to help you through.
How do you motivate others?
The first obvious way is you have to have very open lines of communication so you understand how engaged people are to begin with. If you don’t know what needs improvement, it’s hard to properly motivate.
Then it’s about recognizing people for the work they’re doing and giving them ways to move up or develop their skills.
Finally, I like to give people a theme they can rally around. Last year it was about taking service to a new level. This year the theme is innovation, both for our customers and what we can do internally to run the business more efficiently.
Career advice to those in your industry?
In a world dominated by email, texts and tweets, my advice would be not to forget about getting out from behind your desk and learning from people face to face. I come from a sales background, so I’m not shy about those more personal interactions, whether it’s with employees or customers. As a leader, I know I won’t find great ideas sitting at my computer or having meetings with executives.