December 3, 2021

Signs It’s Time to Find a New Payroll Company

The Wrapbook Team
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When you’re tired of wasting time and money on payroll solutions that create more problems than they solve, it’s probably time to switch and find a new payroll company that makes your life easier. Issues with production payroll are often accepted as typical, but we’re here to tell you that inefficiencies and antiquated “digital” solutions are not the norm. 

Knowing when to let go of a tool or software that is no longer serving your needs is very much a skill, and honing it can be the difference between efficiency and sheer wasted time. So even if you’re worried switching will waste you more time, let’s get a temperature check to see if that's true.

First, what are the general problems of production payroll?

Running payroll is the necessity of all businesses, but let’s be honest – in the world of production, it can be a uniquely painful one. 

With crew members often freelancing from set to set, production companies are frequently hiring, onboarding, and running payroll for an ever-revolving group of employees and productions. And when a payroll system is still using physical paperwork, any (even minor) mistakes in payments, union calculations, or compliance (to name a few) can become big problems fast. But “going digital” doesn’t solve all of your problems. 

Even with the most recent digital programs available for production companies, these general systems have consistently left producers and production coordinators in a logistical nightmare.

Know the signs

If you’re still experiencing any of these issues with your current software, it may be time to find a new payroll company that avoids these problems like the production plague that they are. 

1. Digital interface on an outdated system

The general problem of payroll systems comes from the very foundation of their programs. Most payroll services have taken the antiquated system of paper timecards and tried to translate it to a digital format. As a production company, you’re still filling out and collecting timecards that are only then entered into a digital system. This no longer has to be part of your process. And if you want to increase efficiency, it’s best to find a solution that honors that. 

2. Making one mistake and having to start all over again

Mistakes happen. Crew members or production coordinators can slip up and enter the wrong location, hours, or employee number. Unfortunately, with most production payroll companies, that turns into a wave effect. Once you submit your timecards, your payroll provider may send you back a series of edits. From there, you have to re-enter all of the employee information for resubmitted timecards. You then have to modify the paper trail of timecards and completely modify your numbers for accounting and budgeting. Again, why participate in this?

3. Not having everything in one place

When you’re working in too many places, you’ll forever be tracking down employees instead of focusing on the creative. Say goodbye to paper timecards to avoid doing twice the work. If any mistake is made during payroll, keep it in one digital place. This way it’s spotted and corrected well before payroll is run. This also applies to any startwork document during the onboarding process. Digital becomes less daunting when it starts to work for you, so let it.  

4. Lacks integrations

Another problem of many payroll systems is that they only do payroll; they don’t connect to your accounting or budgeting software, so your system is calculating your paystubs but not applying that data anywhere to your greater financial structure. Even if your payroll company dispenses those paychecks, you’re still transferring all of that data to your separate accounting and budgeting systems, which takes time and opens the door for more errors with plugging and chugging numbers.

5. Inefficient support

When mistakes happen, you’re not going to find the answers in the actual program. You’re going to need someone to talk to who is fast, approachable, and readily available over email or phone. A lot of times, payroll services don’t have the appropriate network to support their users. This often leaves you in a spot where you’re either emailing a dead end email address or spending hours on hold on the phone. Slowness isn’t allowed on set. Good support knows that and should respond accordingly.  

6. Problems of working with a third-party system and not an EOR

If you’re a production company that chose to work with a third-party system and forgo an EOR (Employer of Record) service, you might be struggling to deal with all of the requirements that third party systems don’t handle. As a production company, you are often filming in different states for each project. For payroll and workers’ compensation, you need to register your crew in each state you work in. If you’re not working with an EOR payroll service, this responsibility falls on you, adding more time and paperwork to each project. 

Additionally, EORs file taxes and payroll under their own federal ID number. They take on the nitty-gritty of tax liability, workers’ compensation, and other payroll responsibilities. EORs also provide a certain level of autonomy as they do not participate in the control of hiring or administration duties like other types of providers do. 

7. Wasting time on a confusing system 

A lot of payroll programs are hard to use and take intensive training to navigate the interface. Because of that, the responsibility often falls upon a select few who actually have the training for it. If you’re a busy production company constantly onboarding new workers, getting bombarded with a million and a half questions in the onboarding stage is probably not sustainable. 

All of these problems add up. At the end of the day, you may be spending hours dealing with the issues that your payroll service isn’t dealing with and oftentimes is actually creating. Inevitably, navigating these slow-downs is going to cut into your time, creativity, and ability to move on to your next project faster.  

These issues are too often accepted as a general problem of payroll systems that production companies just need to deal with. But we’re here to tell you that this shouldn’t be normal. These are the signs that your payroll company isn’t working and that it’s time to find a new payroll company.

What to look for in your next payroll service

We know that switching payroll companies may feel like a daunting task. But if you’re still experiencing the annoyances of tracking people down for timecards, paperwork, or any other need, you’re already wasting too much time per project. 

But to be fair, when finding a new payroll service, it is easy to get caught up in all of the services they offer, what you really need vs. what you don’t, plus dealing with the actual transition from one provider to another. So, we wanted to break down what you should be looking for based on what will actually help you. 

Before you switch, keep an eye out for efficiency.

If you are experiencing any of the common problems we’ve discussed above and are ready to switch payroll providers, make sure you know what the new company offers and if it will actually increase your company’s efficiency. For more on this, be sure to download our free ebook on what to look for to save time and yourself a whole bunch of headaches.

With that in mind, look for a provider that offers:

1. Streamlined payments with real digital solutions

What do real digital solutions mean? For starters, those that actually solve your problems. Find a software that eliminates your team having to track people down for every little thing. Onboard them to a centralized payroll solution where cast and crew can fill out timecards themselves, and you can catch mistakes in real time.

Signs It's Time to Find a New Payroll Company - Timecard Workflow - Wrapbook
With Wrapbook, approve, edit, or decline timecards in seconds. Determine any other outstanding needs-right from a centralized project dashboard.  

2. Easy & repeatable onboarding solutions

Ensure that your payroll software streamlines the onboarding process with a simple interface. If the program requires several training sessions, you’re looking down a path of the very problems we’ve been trying to avoid. 

Onboarding has many moving parts but that doesn’t mean it can’t be streamlined. We have to highlight Wrapbook specifically here because it’s designed such that crew members carry their own digital profiles that travel with them from job to job. On the company side, anytime you employ a crew member, their name is saved into a digital film crew list, so you can easily onboard them next time. 

Each time you work with someone, Wrapbook creates a digital film crew list for you to access easily next time.

Whether you have this with your solution or not, making onboarding seamless saves you an incredible amount of time. Because before production even begins, you already know how many mounds of paperwork (per each employee!) you need. For cast and crew, this often means I-9s and 1099s. However, it can also encompass NDAs, deal memos, Covid-19 liability waivers, and a stack of other forms.

To make this process a bit easier, Wrapbook launched Startwork — a fully digital eSignature experience for creating document templates, dispersing and collecting those documents to crew, and collecting legally binding signatures all within the software.

Find a New Payroll Company - Crew Deal Memo Startwork - Wrapbook
Create, store, and send necessary startwork like crew deal memos, NDAs, and others to streamline onboarding.

But the real beauty of digital onboarding and this specific startwork solution is how it helps production companies interact with crew. It significantly reduces the difficulty of monitoring crew paperwork intake and creates a secure database of crew documents that can be reviewed, approved, and utilized to speed up the wrap process.

3. Smart integrations for accounting and budgeting

When finding a payroll provider, make sure you’re using a program that connects your payroll with your accounting and budgeting solutions so that you’re no longer transferring data between several different programs. With Wrapbook, we integrate with QuickBooks, Hot Budget, and Point Zero for your accounting and budgeting needs. 

Changes or mistakes might be made right before you run payroll, make sure all of the parts are moving together. 

4. Reliable & accessible customer support

Even with the best payroll services, you’re going to run into scenarios where you’ll need customer support. Look for payroll companies that provide accessible support for technical issues as well as more specialized support when needed. 

At Wrapbook, we have a team dedicated to your day-to-day needs that can be reached via email or phone. Additionally, we pair each of our clients with a dedicated human being

6. Strong security measures

As a production company, you’re entrusting your payroll provider with your most sensitive data. So when it comes to security, find a company that is comfortable communicating all of their security measures. 

From data encryption to third party audits to 24/7 monitoring to secure financial transactions (and too many to list here), Wrapbook holds itself to the highest standard. Reach out to us at any time to learn more about how we keep your information safe. 

7. One that makes it easy to switch

Find a payroll company that makes it easy to switch, and makes your life easier once you switch. 

The ease of switching to an Employer of Record is substantially simpler than switching to another type of provider. 

Find a New Payroll Company - EOR Migration - Wrapbook
The ease of switching to an EOR compared to other types of providers makes the process less daunting.

Because Wrapbook is an EOR, it handles the burden of tax liability and other payroll responsibilities. Additionally, when laws change or new ones emerge (eg. AB-5), your payroll provider should make this easier, not more challenging. For busy production companies, because of this, an EOR is often the better choice compared to traditional providers. 

8. Payroll providers that prioritize you 

Aside from support, see what the company can really do for you. A solution is only a solution if it solves your problems. If you notice that the company you want to switch to doesn’t have everything you need...ask for it. A good solution innovates. 

“...Anytime we got on a call with Wrapbook, it was ‘so, what can we do for you,’ ‘can you get on a call with a developer and we can see if we can make it work.’ And then next quarter [the new feature] was usually there.” -Carrie Heather, By Association
"We’ve had people from Wrapbook reach out to us asking if there are things that would improve the platform for us. We’ve given suggestions and seen those changes implemented. The fact that new things are being added and there’s innovation to the platform happening consistently is pretty remarkable.” ~Max Rose, Tuff Contender

While switching to a new company may be daunting, especially if that company hasn’t been around for that long, it becomes less risky when you know their intentions. Wrapbook has notoriously implemented requests directly from customers' emails and phone calls. You deserve a company that is willing to grow with your business. 

Regardless if you choose Wrapbook or not, do not settle for software that doesn’t meet your needs. It can be one of the least efficient and expensive things you ever do. 

Wrapping up

If you’re running into any of these issues, it’s probably a sign to look into a new payroll service. While payroll might be complex no matter which payroll service you use, if you’re still experiencing any of these issues, it can be easier.

But before you reach out to a new company, prep yourself with our 12 Questions to Ask Payroll Providers. Equip yourself with the knowledge so you can ensure the switch is worth it for you.

*Remember, the start of the new year is the perfect time to switch. For more info on exactly how to do that, check out our quick guide on the migration process.

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Stop Wasting Time on Payroll

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Last Updated 
December 3, 2021


At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
The Wrapbook Team

The Wrapbook Team consists of individuals who are thrilled about building modern software tools for creators. We’re a team of compassionate and curious people dedicated to solving complex problems with sophisticated solutions. You can find us across the U.S. and Canada.

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