Pay day – simplifying payroll for small fleets

by Katy de Vries

OSHAWA, Ont. – Payroll is just one management practice where trucking industry players are forced to be creative to stay competitive.

“Payroll is one area that is progressively changing and constantly complicated,” says Jackie Khun, administrator for Via Personnel Services, an organization connected with Transport Financial Services.

Khun says she works with many trucking fleets as well as owner/operators, and says they come to her either in dire straits looking for their payroll strategy to be revamped or for a little guidance with the procedure that is already in place.

“The most common problem I encounter is the distinction between employed and self-employed,” says Khun. “There is a lot of controversy around this, and many people try to get away with incorporating drivers individually for tax benefits.”

It is a deterrent to the growth of an owner/operator, and one of the things that keeps small businesses from being successful, says Khun.

Maria Fotheringham was once a driver and now, with her own accounting firm, Fotheringham Bookkeeping/Accounting and Income Tax Service, she knows the trials of the truck driver from the inside-out.

“I think there are a lot of people out there trying to do it all on their own, whereas the larger fleets have designated departments and people who concentrate specifically on payroll procedures. So it is all about organization,” says Fotheringham.

Organization plays an important role in working with financial information and trying to manage other people, adds Khun.

“It is much harder to stay on top of new information when one person is trying to run every aspect of the business, which is often the way with smaller fleets or owner/operators – they just don’t have the manpower,” she says.

Some software development companies have devised systems to simplify the intricate payroll procedures of trucking companies, for example, Richer Systems Group Inc., of Calgary, Alta.

“Enrich is a complete end-t- end solution for trucking companies that includes everything from maintenance to financials right through to driver settlement,” says vice-president, sales and marketing, Tim Bowes.

There is a lot of demand placed on companies today and this, combined with constant attempts to gain the competitive advantage means a company should simplify wherever possible, Bowes says.

“I think the deal making and the complexity of arrangements many companies get into mirrors the competition in finding good drivers because that is a challenge facing the industry today,” he says.

“All of this complexity, though, puts pressure on the back office because they have to account for everything.”

Back office organization is a huge issue for fleets, says Bowes, who believes products like Enrich can help streamline operations.

Another way to gain ground in this aspect of the business is to research regulations and keep on top of important pay dates, Fotheringham says.

“Look into the CCRA and what guidelines they are imposing or tend to impose on you,” he says.

“And most importantly – abide by the CCRA guidelines. That is a good way to keep yourself clear and understood.”

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