Payroll challenges: dealing with difficult clients

23rd Sep 2021
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When you’re providing a professional service, like payroll, you’ll aim to deliver your work on time and at the agreed high level of service, for all clients. But what happens when certain clients don’t uphold their side of the contractual arrangements?

In short, when particular clients begin to get annoying, what are the most effective ways for your payroll bureau or accounting practice to deal with the bad apples in the barrel?

The challenge of disorganised or tardy clients

Keeping your payroll cycle running smoothly when you have a multitude of different clients on the books takes real organisation. There are multiple tasks that need to be dealt with, both on a weekly and monthly basis, and an ongoing series of client communications that need to be dealt with to keep the whole payroll process from grinding to a halt.

So when clients start to get tardy with their timekeeping, or refuse to send you the requested information, this can throw a real spanner in the works. 

For example, here are five annoyances that can begin to create friction:

  1. Payroll information isn’t sent on time – chasing up outstanding payroll information has to be the biggest bugbear with difficult clients. Having the relevant information on time is obviously key to making sure their payroll is run by the agreed deadline, so it’s frustrating when clients don’t respond to requests and ignore your calls and emails. 

  2. Payments to HMRC are not made on time – it’s the client’s responsibility to make sure their PAYE payments are made to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on time. However, you can’t help the client to hit these strict deadlines unless they meet you in the middle and actually action the payments to HMRC in a timely manner.

  3. Communication is slow and unclear – the way in which clients respond to calls, emails and in-app requests can begin to define the quality of the relationship. When clients don’t call you back, or fail to reply to messages, this becomes an irritation that can begin to eat away at your good faith. Poor communication usually leads to a gradual breakdown of the working relationship – and that’s bad news for client retention.

  4. Payroll isn’t approved in a timely way – even once you’ve got all the required information together, that’s not the end of the story. Having sent the payroll file to the client for approval, you can’t make the move to finalise the payroll run until the client gives the green light. When clients take an age to give approval, this really holds back your entire cycle and can cause a log-jam of unapproved payrolls in your system.

  5. Payroll mistakes get blamed on you – in any process there’s the potential for mistakes and errors. But when clients automatically blame any problems on you – without checking their facts and looking back through their own data entry – this can really start to sour the relationship you have with the client. 

Turning the bad apples into grade A clients

Difficult clients have the potential to damage your own efficiency, productivity and reputation as a payroll provider. But the good news is that these bad apples can be quickly turned into top-quality clients when you make use of the right tools and software.

Many of the organisational and communication-based annoyances you face with bad clients can be resolved by switching to a more comprehensive and flexible kind of payroll system.

BrightPay is a powerful and highly flexible payroll solution. By moving to BrightPay and making use of tools like BrightPay Connect and Modulr, you can gradually begin to turn your bad clients around and transform them into your ideal client. 

Key benefits of BrightPay include:

  • Client payroll entry – BrightPay Connect includes an online platform which your clients can access from any internet browser. Once you’ve sent the client a payroll entry request from within the payroll software, the system will then automatically remind the client to complete the payroll entry via automated email message and in-app notifications. Clients can then enter their own payroll information directly via the employer dashboard. This helps to keep payroll information on time and removes the agony of continually chasing bad clients. 

  • Client payroll approval – clients can also review and approve their payroll from BrightPay Connect, keeping the whole process within the employer dashboard and removing the need for information to be emailed back and forth prior to approval being given. The onus is then on the client to complete approval on time, getting bad clients into better habits and freeing up precious time for you to focus on other clients. Once you’ve reviewed the information and approved the payroll, any changes made will automatically flow down to your BrightPay payroll software.

  • Direct payments to HMRC via Modulr – Modulr allows you to make direct payments straight to a payee, whether it’s paying salaries to employees or paying PAYE to HMRC. Once Modulr is set up, the client just needs to approve the payment, and doesn’t have to make a separate bank payment to the payee. This simplifies payments to HMRC and speeds up the whole process, removing one of the key frustrations of disorganised and slow-paying clients.

Promoting good practice in your clients

Having a payroll solution like BrightPay at the heart of your payroll service goes a long way to solving your bad client problem. But software alone can’t fully solve the issue.

If you really want to transform your bad clients into dream clients you need a combination of:

  • Excellent software infrastructure 

  • Good onboarding and training

  • A continual process of promoting good practice with your clients. 

The more you show clients the ease with which payroll can be run effectively, the more they’ll understand the value in using the right tools and meeting their obligations on time.

And, don’t forget, if a client really is TOO annoying and refuses to change their ways, there’s always the option of firing them as a client. Sometimes life is just too short, and putting your time and energy into the A-class, top quality clients is a far better use of your expertise.

Try BrightPay FREE for 60 days and see how we make payroll easier for your clients