Partner story

How hiline built a fast-growing HR and payroll offering with Gusto

With Gusto, hiline has been able to cut time spent on payroll tasks by 50 percent. As a result, they’ve migrated 100 percent of their HR and payroll customers over to Gusto.

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Gusto has helped hiline be more efficient and profitable

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50% less time spent on payroll tasks


20% of hiline’s revenue comes through its Gusto-powered HR and payroll offering

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+80 new customers on this offering

About hiline

Where: Everywhere
Industry: Accounting
Employees: 30+
Customers: 120+

First off, hiline is an accounting company (not a firm, as the founders explain) that has built its business around an insight: Good companies struggling to grow don’t necessarily want traditional accounting services. They want their financial growing pains solved quickly, with less involvement. That’s why in 2019, the founders of the boutique accounting and strategy firm Gardner & Capparelli decided to rebrand as hiline, go virtual, and change their pricing model.

As co-founder Matt Gardner explains it, hiline is “tech obsessed” in an industry where many firms resist change. The hiline team doesn’t want to just provide services once a year during tax season, but rather to remove financial and administrative roadblocks from its customers to clear the path for growth — whatever those blocks are. The hiline team built the HR and payroll portion of their offering on Gusto to do just that.

How hiline scaled quickly and confidently with Gusto

The team at hiline wanted to offer the best service possible to customers who didn’t fit the common mold — tech-forward small and medium businesses with high-growth potential that were held back by financial and compliance details. That included everything from software startups to high-net-worth Twitch streamers.

Because of this niche, their customers tended not to understand why traditional accounting required so many wet signatures on physical paperwork. And frankly, neither did co-founders Matt and Jim, both of whom previously worked at large regional firms.

We realized tens of thousands of others were offering the same exact ‘professional services.‘
CEO & Co-Founder

“As Jim and I explored starting our own business, we looked around and realized tens of thousands of others were offering the same exact ‘professional services,’” says Matt. “And those offerings didn’t seem to add all that much value to companies. We knew we could be more helpful.”

That’s when hiline decided to go all digital. Some tools made that easy, like accounting software, collaborative file storage, and e-signature — but a gap remained. As more and more customers asked hiline to run their payroll and portions of their HR function, hiline’s team found themselves tangled in a snare of commoditized payroll compliance work.

Most payroll providers felt “stuck in the 90s”

The hiline team found themselves running customer payroll on a variety of legacy platforms which they found severely limiting.

“Soon we were working with 18 different payroll companies and most were brutally reliant on paper and unwilling to innovate. And when I say brutal, I mean brutal,” says Matt. “The paperwork and legacy systems forced us to copy things by hand, which introduced the compounding potential for human error. It got to where we could no longer envision this offering scaling with us. It violated what we stood for.”

Most were brutally reliant on paper and unwilling to innovate.
CEO & Co-Founder

What particularly struck Matt and Jim was how much effort these payroll companies seemed to be putting into what felt like the wrong innovations. Rather than allow their customers to e-sign documents, some of the companies built optical character recognition tools to catch and block digitally signed documents. “It was so counterproductive,” says Matt.

Only Gusto offered the on-brand experience hiline’s customers expected

By now, Matt and Jim saw themselves as building a growth company, as much as an accountancy. Their so-called accounting “tech stack” was constructed out of various cloud accounting software, and Gusto helped complete that puzzle.

Today, 100 percent of our payroll and HR customers are on Gusto.
CEO & Co-Founder

“Gusto fit perfectly. Their messaging around being a ‘people platform’ and wanting to create a world where ‘work empowers a better life’ was precisely the experience we wanted our customers and their employees to have,” says Matt. “Gusto submits forms to state agencies for you. It’s completely paperless.1 It’s easy to maintain at scale. It’s user friendly for the business owners and their employees. Gusto means that rather than hiring exponentially more headcount to manage the expanding risk that payroll creates, we could use Gusto’s service to scale our offering.

With Gusto as part of its tech stack, Matt and Jim feel free to grow the payroll and HR portion of their business.

“We started out building a company on our names alone, with local customers, and that was a sort of plateau,” says Matt. “To quadruple in size and help businesses anywhere in the U.S., we had to become more efficient — and Gusto has been an integral part of that. Today, 100 percent of our payroll and HR customers are on Gusto. If a customer has another provider, we convert them.”

And, hiline’s customers love it

“For our customers, it’s just shock, awe, and amazement that they can get better service, better tools, better technology, better flexibility, and better support,” says Matt. “And they get these things for a fraction of the price of doing it the old way. We are trying to take the entire concept of what you think it takes to manage your back office as an SMB, and flip it on its head. Gusto is a help in doing that.”

Read the story behind hiline’s reinvention
As told by co-founder Matt Gardner

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