customer success

SMUGGLER streamlined their commercial payroll with Wrapbook.


For over 20 years, SMUGGLER—a full-service commercial production company with offices in Los Angeles, New York, and London—has represented a diverse roster of award-winning film, TV, commercial, and music video directors.

For Andrew Colón, Chief Operating Officer, and Alex Hughes, Head of Production, SMUGGLER is at its best when it’s empowering talented creatives to take risks and push the boundaries of what’s possible.

But while SMUGGLER appreciates risk-taking on the creative side, payroll is a different story. With an ever-expanding number of employees and clients to serve, SMUGGLER needed a payroll service that was simple, reliable, and secure—one that could keep pace with their business and enable them to continue growing.

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The Problem

Every SMUGGLER shoot is different, each one presenting new and exciting challenges for Colón, Hughes, the production team, and the crew. There was one challenge, however, that was always the same: payroll. Tedious onboarding, paper timecards, manual calculations and data entry—payroll was complicated, inefficient, and it ate away at the team’s most valuable resource: time.

“Before Wrapbook, it was paper I-9s and paper timecards, and oftentimes we would have to hire additional people to take those and input them into some digital system. It was a lot of moving parts, and it took a lot of person-power.” — Hughes

Not only that—because SMUGGLER often hires the same crew throughout the year, manual onboarding meant they were re-onboarding the same people over and over. This wasn’t just inefficient, it also made it more difficult for SMUGGLER to stay compliant with their payroll.

“The threat for any company is the more transactions you have onboarding, the more opportunities you have for something to go wrong. So of course, in a general sense, any tool, any process or system that can minimize that liability, is one worth considering.” — Colón

For Colón and Hughes, it felt like managed chaos. In the fast-paced world of commercial production—where hiring workers for only a few hours at a time is common—paper onboarding was inefficient and messy. And SMUGGLER’s existing payroll tools simply didn’t accommodate the on-the-ground reality. They needed something coherent, repeatable, and easy.

Why Wrapbook?

SMUGGLER needed a cohesive solution to compliantly handle onboarding & payroll. They decided to go with Wrapbook—a unified platform that makes production payroll easier, faster, and more secure.

“Wrapbook made managing payroll more efficient in all phases: onboarding, calculating, approving, timeliness of people getting paid, compliance, and reporting.” — Colón

The Solution

Wrapbook’s all-in-one platform created a seamless payroll workflow—starting with onboarding.

Wrapbook streamlines SMUGGLER’s onboarding process.

With Wrapbook’s fully digital onboarding process, SMUGGLER no longer wastes time assembling and distributing packets of paperwork—automated, digital startwork makes it easy to get the right forms to the right workers. And with profiles that follow crew members from job to job and employer to employer, SMUGGLER no longer wastes time re-onboarding the same crew.

“Crew members don't have to do an I-9 for every job. They don't have to do a W-4 on every job. They just have to fill out a timecard.” — Hughes

This simplicity not only expedited the onboarding process, it also made it more secure. By keeping sensitive information in a single, secure location, SMUGGLER was able to better protect itself, and its employees.

“With Wrapbook, private, financial information isn’t all over the place, or in a banker's box on someone's desk. It's where it should be.” — Colón

SMUGGLER manages compliance better by unifying onboarding with payroll.

Digital onboarding isn’t just easier, it also makes staying compliant easier. Information from startwork forms is fully integrated into Wrapbook’s payroll engine—so everything—pay rates, union rules, taxes, and more—is consistent across the platform. This connectivity reduces the potential for errors. And if crew errors do happen, it’s easier for SMUGGLER to make corrections with all the relevant info in one place. Timecard approvals and submissions get handled more efficiently and accurately. Crew gets paid faster, and production wraps quicker.

The Wrapbook mobile app keeps SMUGGLER’s crew connected.

SMUGGLER’s favorite feature is the iOS app for crew. With the app, crew can onboard onto new projects, fill out timecards, and see when their payments will be processed. Crew members don’t have to wonder when they’re getting paid, and they don’t have to wait around on set filling out paperwork. Even better, SMUGGLER no longer receives a deluge of questions about payroll—all the info their crew needs is right there in the app. Crew love the transparency, SMUGGLER loves the increased productivity.

“When we first started using Wrapbook, a lot of teams were a little hesitant. People don’t necessarily love change. But Wrapbook took a very hands-on approach, not only helping train the people who had to use the system on our end, but also coming out to our sets to help crew with first-time onboarding in person.” — Hughes

Once SMUGGLER was set up with Wrapbook, they knew they weren’t going back. Their production teams loved it. Their accounting teams loved it. And—maybe most important of all—their crew loved it. For a production company that relies on talented crew returning job after job, a happy crew is a huge boon.

Wrapbook helps SMUGGLER wrap faster.

Wrapbook’s advantages weren’t just limited to production days. Wrapbook saved SMUGGLER time with wrap, too. SMUGGLER’s wrap process used to involve project managers wasting hours manually punching in data. That’s no longer the case. With all the data stored in the same place, SMUGGLER’s wrap process is now mostly focused on double-checking the data that’s already right where they need it. And because Wrapbook integrates with production accounting software, SMUGGLER’S accounting team is able to get instant access to comprehensive payroll data.

“Wrapbook has saved at least one day on every wrap process that would have otherwise been spent dedicated to wrapping payroll.” — Hughes

Business Impact

Colón and Hughes saw that Wrapbook made an immediate impact. It streamlined onboarding. It made life easier for crew by consolidating mountains of paperwork into a single app. And in the fast-paced world of production, where time is arguably the most precious resource of all, that efficiency can be measured not just in hours, but in dollars.

“Wrapbook saved time, and in that sense, it saved money.” — Hughes

Beyond that, Wrapbook promises to remain responsive to SMUGGLER’S changing needs as the company grows and evolves.

“I have a weekly meeting with Jesse, our Customer Success Manager. We talk about things that are not working, things I'm hearing from my teams, and those conversations get turned into tangible actions at Wrapbook. It's fun to be working with a system you can see that's living and breathing and adapting.” — Hughes

The Future

As storytelling and media keep evolving, SMUGGLER has no plans to stop pushing the envelope, taking risks, and reaching audiences with innovative, award-winning content.

With Wrapbook as their payroll partner, they have more time to focus on projects that drive creativity and business growth. There’s no limit to how far they can go.

“We switched to Wrapbook to future-proof our company’s payroll process.” — Colón
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