Three reasons to think payroll in the fourth quarter for efficiency, cost savings and reliability

Running a business can be stressful enough. So you rely on the companies you work with to hit the mark on operational essentials, like processing payroll. But sometimes these are precisely the things that bring you the most stress.

Smart Business spoke to Mark Strippy, Executive Director at Heartland Payment Systems®, about why now is a great time to put the best possible payroll processes in place to relieve some stress heading into the new year.

Catalysts to change

There are several circumstances motivating business owners today to seek a new payroll service provider. Not surprisingly, service and expense are among the top reasons a business owner chooses to make a change. Some owners are left feeling like a number, while others feel the spotty support they receive isn’t worth the price of the service.

Other reasons are more specific to the payroll industry. For example, compliance is a fundamental component of payroll processing. Although, as a business owner, you stay on top of compliance regulations, you trust your payroll processor is current on compliance standards, and applies the appropriate procedures to processing payroll for your business. If your processor falls short on compliance, it can greatly impact your business.

Technology has a critical role in optimizing business operations — and payroll is no exception. A business owner processing with antiquated technology might be shopping around for a new processor because their business is not getting what it needs. As technology advances, businesses are reaping the benefits of more streamlined, more accurate payroll processing. By transferring your business to a company that offers leading-edge payroll technology, you could be saving yourself — and your staff — a lot of time and money.

Timing matters

By signing on with a new payroll processor in the fourth quarter, you can impact how smoothly that transition goes. That’s because, ideally, you would want to have your payroll ready to switch over on the first day of the new year.

There are several reasons this works to your advantage:

1)   Each year we hit reset on payroll at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day. At this point, there are no year-to-date earnings, taxes or deductions. Also, any termed employees will not need to be carried over or converted to the new system.

2)   Most benefit programs hold open enrollment in the fourth quarter for coverage to begin on the first of the year. It’s a great time to get the new plan in sync with the payroll application.

3)   By converting for the first payroll in the first quarter, there are no previously impounded tax dollars that need to be returned by the previous payroll processor. Your employees are perhaps the most important component of the success of your business, so you want to trust they are being taken care of. One way to know you have the right payroll provider is when the service they provide is seamless for you and your staff. If it is time for your business to make a change, consider making it before January 1. You may find it’s one of the least stressful decisions you make this year.

Heartland Payment Systems, Inc. (NYSE: HPY), the fifth largest payments processor in the United States, delivers credit/debit/prepaid card processing, gift marketing and loyalty programs, payroll, check management and related business solutions to more than 250,000 business locations nationwide. A Fortune 1000 company, Heartland is the founding supporter of The Merchant Bill of Rights, a public advocacy initiative that educates merchants about fair credit and debit card processing practices. The company is also a leader in the development of end-to-end encryption technology designed to protect cardholder data, rendering them useless to cybercriminals. For more information, please visit,, and