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How To Choose a Payroll Service For Your Small Business: Cirrus Payroll vs. Big Payroll

Cirrus Payroll Vs. Big Payroll

Choosing a payroll service can be overwhelming if you’re unsure where to start. There are numerous options from national payroll solutions and online software to local payroll services in your area. What’s best for you depends on the features that are most important to your business. 

As a payroll service, we’ve found a trend among the small businesses we partner with: they tend to value quality customer service that’s easily accessible, accurate payroll and tax processing (no passing on penalties for errors to their clients), payroll compliance expertise, and an easy-to-use payroll system. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down why Cirrus Payroll stands out as the top choice for businesses with 1-49 employees, comparing its features, benefits, and overall value against the competition.

Payroll Services Most Businesses Need

Although payroll needs vary from business to business, there are some general features most need:

  • Payroll processing, including overtime calculations
  • Direct deposit and paper check options
  • Automated payroll tax payments and filing
  • Year-end tax form preparation and distribution (W2 forms)

Other attributes you should consider are customer service quality, ease of use, and software integration options.

Customer Service

Most payroll services offer some level of customer support. You’ll find that many national services and online software provide free chat within their apps, on the site, and via email. Many of them also provide live phone support, although customers are usually routed to a call center where hold times can be lengthy–check third-party reviews to see how much frustration this causes. If your payroll service review is thorough, you’ll even find providers that charge extra fees for customer support. 

This is where local payroll services shine. Instead of 800-numbers, you get direct access to the team that handles your payroll–at no extra cost. With Cirrus Payroll, you’ll receive your one on one customer service with an average response time of 30 minutes.

The customer service that local payroll providers bring is essential to employers who:

  • Don’t like to be transferred to multiple departments
  • Would like to get to know their payroll reps
  • Don’t have much time to wait on hold
  • Prefer not to be upsold on products they don’t need just to help a sales rep meet their quota

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Ease of Use

Ease of use covers both payroll systems and software. You’ll need to assess the level of technical expertise you have to onboard all of your employees. Will you need help, and do you have the time to do it?

  • Many online payroll software require you to handle the setup yourself,  sometimes with help from a customer service rep over the phone. 
  • National services tend to handle it for you, but it’s included with a hefty setup fee and can take a few weeks.
  • Local payroll services usually have the time to walk you through the setup, do it with you, or even handle it on your behalf. They’re smaller and have more capacity to personalize this experience than larger payroll companies.

Other factors affecting ease of use that you should consider are how intuitive the payroll software interface is–is it easy to figure out what you need to do and where? 

Are there compliance experts on staff? Although many online payroll software companies mention that compliance is built into the software, this is limited. Can you speak to live representatives who are always abreast of current payroll legislation? If you don’t have an expert in-house, this is important. You can learn to use payroll software and still make compliance mistakes that will lead to IRS penalties or other litigation.

The payroll provider should have certified experts who can confidently guide you when issues arise. For instance, the pandemic caused some major changes to take effect quickly, and without a team of payroll experts on your side, you may have easily overlooked  tax credits you’re eligible for or sick leave requirements you should’ve complied with.

Software Integration

Software integration is one software connecting with another to transfer data. This is important when it comes to payroll, because it can save time. If you’re already using QuickBooks, partnering with Cirrus Payroll means you won’t have to manually transfer your payroll information to the general ledger. Our system will connect directly to your QuickBooks system and automate the process.

Additional Features Payroll Services Offer

  • Time and attendance: This is a must-have for some businesses, but for others, like those with only salaried employees, it’s not necessary.
  • Workers’ comp management: Most states require workers’ comp, but some businesses purchase it through their own independent broker.
  • Employee Benefits: This can include health, dental, or vision insurance, commuter benefits, pre-tax savings accounts, retirement plan options, etc. 

These features aren’t offered by every payroll provider, especially those primarily focused on payroll. Reminder that benefits fall into HR support. 

The Comparison:

Cirrus Payroll vs National Payroll Service Competitors 

Both Cirrus Payroll and the big national payroll companies like Paychex and ADP provide full-service payroll with automated tax payments and filing. They also process check payments and direct deposits.

What sets Cirrus Payroll, a local payroll company, apart is:

  • Tailored Solutions: Cirrus Payroll offers customizable payroll solutions to meet the unique needs of small businesses.
  • Laser-Focused: Cirrus provides laser-focused payroll expertise.
  • Dedicated 1:1 Support: Cirrus provides personalized customer support, ensuring timely assistance and guidance whenever needed. In fact, Cirrus Payroll has 30-minute average response time.
  • Affordable Pricing: Competitive pricing plans make Cirrus Payroll a cost-effective choice for small businesses.
  • Compliance Expertise: You’re going to get compliance expertise every step of the way, not just in specific plans.

What You Can Expect at Big Payroll

  • Cost: Services can be relatively expensive for small businesses, especially those with fewer than 50 employees. The pricing structure may include base fees, per-employee fees, and additional charges for extra services, which can add up quickly.
  • Complexity: Payroll systems can be complex to set up and use, especially for businesses without dedicated HR or accounting staff. The learning curve may be steep, and mistakes in setup or operation could lead to errors in payroll processing.
  • Customer Service: Some users have reported difficulties with call centers and customer service, including long wait times for support and difficulty reaching knowledgeable representatives. This can be frustrating, especially when dealing with time-sensitive payroll issues.
  • Not Created for Small Businesses: While big payroll companies offers a range of features and services, some businesses may find that they aren’t made to service small businesses. This could include specific reporting requirements, integration with other software systems, or support for unique payroll scenarios.

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Contact Each Payroll Company 

As you try to narrow down your list of payroll providers, don’t hesitate to place a call if you have a question. Emailing and even chatting online with a representative can help, because websites are usually limited in the information they provide, especially around pricing and how the features work.

Some common questions business owners ask when shopping for payroll companies are:

  • How long does setup take?
  • How long is the direct deposit processing time?
  • What software does your payroll system seamlessly integrate with? 
  • Do you handle payroll tax registrations or am I on my own?

It’s a good idea to list the questions you have in mind before reaching out to the provider. This will help ensure you get the answers you need without calling the same company multiple times.

Choose the Payroll Service That Provides the Best Value

When you’re done evaluating all of the payroll services under consideration, you should select the one that offers the best value for what your business needs. Ultimately, you should strive to secure all of the features you need to run payroll for your business; that might be specific to your business size, type, or even the industry it’s in. 

And steer clear of services that offer you much more than you need; for instance, you shouldn’t sign up for a professional employment organization (PEO), like Paychex PEO, if you’re not planning to offer benefits. You’ll pay much more than necessary for access to features you don’t need.


When it comes to choosing the best payroll service provider for small businesses, Cirrus Payroll stands out as the optimal choice for businesses with 1-49 employees. With its tailored solutions, user-friendly interface, and affordable pricing, Cirrus Payroll offers everything small businesses need to manage payroll efficiently.

While competitors like ADP, Gusto, and Paychex may offer comprehensive services, Cirrus Payroll’s focus on personalized support and simplicity makes it the ideal partner for small business owners looking to streamline their payroll processes and focus on growth.

Ready to learn more about how Cirrus Payroll can simplify your payroll? Grab a free quote!

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