Does your firm effectively use payroll technology to advise clients?
Being an accounting firm that focuses solely on your clients’ transactional data no longer meets client expectations. Small business owners look to their CPAs for advice beyond the analysis of their cash flow. That is why it is essential to take a holistic approach to advising small business clients through people advisory. When you offer clients people advisory services, you produce an intangible benefit beyond their financial decisions—peace of mind.
That is why we at Gusto have partnered with CPA Academy to bring you the webinar “Reimagine Payroll: Transform Compliance Work into Recurring Advisory Revenue.” In this webinar, we looked at the benefits of implementing Gusto’s People Advisory Package, with a conversation guided by our talented team members Jaclyn Anku and Caleb Newquist.
Jaclyn Anku is the Partner Education Manager at Gusto, who is passionate about educating small business owners to give them the tools they need to thrive financially. Caleb Newquist is the editor-at-large at Gusto and publishes the weekly newsletter, On the Margins, for accountants who like to work outside the lines of “normal” accounting.
In this article, we will dive into Gusto’s solutions for payroll technology and how those tools improve team wellness at your clients’ businesses.
The value of payroll services
Payroll technology holds the key to unlock many financial insights for your clients. When you step away from viewing payroll as a simple financial transaction and look at it as a transfer of value beyond money, you realize how effective payroll services can be. The reality of payroll is that most firms do not understand the value it can add to your advisory influence.
“Here’s the current reality for most firms. We don’t even know what payroll is. It doesn’t stand out in any way, shape, or form. It’s bundled with bookkeeping, and it’s generally undervalued by your firm and by your clients.”– Jaclyn Anku
However, breaking apart from bookkeeping opens up new realms of possibility for your clients and your firm. Using payroll as the foundation for advisory services gives you invaluable data to assist your clients in making decisions for increased team performance and wellness. Shifting toward people advising in your payroll offering opens up opportunities in four significant ways:
“When you break payroll out [of bookkeeping] and use it as the starting point for people advisory, you can deliver services for clients. First and foremost, clients get access to your team’s expertise. Next, they receive payroll technology powered by Gusto. [Clients also gain] the delivery of payroll benefits and people-support from your team. Finally, clients receive our crown-jewel, data-driven, people advisory insights.”– Jaclyn Anku
Combining these four things creates the base of a people-advisory package, which in turn drives recurring revenue for your firm. These strategies improve client insights into how their payroll services drive the way their team values their job and enable them to improve the overall work environment at their companies. In addition to creating a better workplace for clients, you can market this product as a value-adding resource for your customers.
How to market people advisory to clients
People-focused advising services offer intangible value to your customers. The insights your clients receive from the data gathered from advisory do not come with a price tag attached, making it difficult to determine how to market your services initially. A good place to start is dividing your services into three tiers: payroll, payroll deliverables, and data insights.
Starting with the foundation of payroll creates an excellent baseline service to offer your customers. This first tier gives clients strategies that simplify the payroll process and allows you to reach the starting point for customers to subscribe to your services:
“People advisory starts with payroll. Payroll is foundational to the package. First, as an ongoing service, payroll can become a driver of recurring revenue.”– Jaclyn Anku
The next tier of service bundles payroll with payroll deliverables. These deliverables go beyond payroll to include other services and benefits you provide to clients. Often, this service goes hand-in-hand with other advisory processes you offer clients, so it is easy to incorporate this step into the typical workflow of your firm.
“Payroll deliverables tend to fall in line with other accounting deliverables, so you can develop workflows and keep your team on track to offer consistent, value-added services to your clients without much change in management.”– Jaclyn Anku
The final tier to offer clients incorporates the valuable data gathered from the payroll and deliverables tiers. This level of service offers customers the ability to see the impact people advisory has on their companies through the data you provide. It makes it possible for you to improve the advising process and maintain peace of mind for your clients.
“Data generated from processing payroll is the input for analysis that you can perform downstream. So grounding these packages in payroll has a philosophical benefit of you participating in the value exchange from employer to employee. It also serves a very practical purpose, which is getting the rich data that comes from payroll.”– Jaclyn Anku
After determining your three tiers of service, you can offer each package as a subscription-based service. One advantage of offering these services as a subscription is the freedom clients gain from choosing the right package for their business as it fits their needs. This level of flexibility gives your customers the ability to choose the right amount of advice they receive from your firm to optimize their businesses.
Four core elements of building people advisory packages
The first element of building people advisory packages is your team’s expertise. When you think of advising, your team should be the first thing that comes to mind. Your team drives your firm and will be what makes your people advising experience happen for your clients.
“Your team’s expertise is first because you and your team matter. Your team is answering all of your clients’ support questions and making sure they’re set up for success, so your team’s expertise is first and foremost in the package.”– Jaclyn Anku
After you look at the way your team adds value to the services you provide, the second aspect of people advisory to consider is Gusto’s technology. Our people platform paired with your advisory services gives you confidence that you are offering quality to every client:
“Recommending Gusto as the payroll provider is a powerful value add that you should communicate when talking about your advisory package. By partnering with Gusto, you can feel very confident that our people platform backs up your payroll, benefits, and people operations advice.”– Jaclyn Anku
The third core aspect of your people advisory package is payroll benefits. From employee onboarding to health benefits, Gusto partners with your firm to determine the best way to offer benefits packages to your clients. The packages your customers gain from advisory services are simple to build when aligning your services with a corresponding Gusto plan.
“To keep your packages and engagement letter streamlined and easy to build, we recommend pairing your tiers of package services with a corresponding Gusto plan. Then those features can form the foundation of the package and power the service that you deliver. In addition to foundational team support and technology provided to clients, packages and your tiers of service define the breadth and depth of deliverables provided to clients across the payroll process.”– Jaclyn Anku
Data driven insights round out the four core elements of the people advisory process. Team performance and team wellness metrics comprise the two main data categories. These metrics give your clients insight into the health of their businesses and how to adapt to create the best work environment possible.
“Team performance metrics marry payroll and financial data. [They allow] you to identify how a team’s wellbeing and morale are impacting business performance and vice versa. A few examples are revenue per employee, average expenses per employee, and percent spent by department. … Team wellness metrics are taken straight from a source about the employees via monthly surveys. [These surveys] make sense of the underlying trends going on in the financials. With Gusto, you have access to an employee happiness survey to gauge team sentiment across a wide variety of topics.”– Jaclyn Anku
Combining these core elements of people advisory allows your firm to partner with clients to build more substantial, happier businesses. When you couple them directly to the services Gusto provides, you also gain data-backed insights that add even more value to your advisory strategy. These partnerships make it possible for your firm to transform payroll into an invaluable tool for your firm.
Learn more about Gusto’s Partner Program
People advisory services allow your firm to use payroll as a vital part of your clients’ services. When you partner with Gusto, you gain the tools to offer your clients peace of mind when making business decisions. As a result, your clients build more robust workplace environments with happier employees.
“People advisory is really a team effort with you on the frontline doing client work delivering insight and backing it up with Gusto’s People Platform to provide a full service solution. Through partnering with Gusto, you can leverage payroll benefits and an HR platform as well as our team of experts who are there to serve you and your clients.”– Jaclyn Anku
If you enjoyed this article and would like more information about utilizing Gusto’s People Advisory Platform in your firm, be sure to watch the entire webinar here. Also, check out for Part One and Part Two of this webinar series as we take an even deeper look at Gusto’s services for our partners and their clients.
Our mission at Gusto is to help accountants and their clients gain peace of mind while on their financial journey. We partner with over 4,500 firms nationwide to promote financial security and develop a culture of empowerment in the office. Be sure to look into our People Advisory Program to learn how to connect with your clients beyond their finances. We also provide a partner blog full of resources for all your advising needs. Visit our Gusto for Accountants page for more information on utilizing people-based accounting within your firm.