A payroll service with manners – Thankyou Payroll

Say please and thank you. In a market that revolves around payment, there’s one distinguished company with a focus on giving.

Thankyou Payroll is an outstanding, cost-free payroll provider for businesses with 50 employees or less. Boasting full Xero integration, clean and powerful design, and a crack squad of professionals making the cogs behind it turn, Thankyou Payroll should be considered a serious competitor to other players in its field.

Riding on the back of its defining features comes Thankyou Payroll’s attention to giving. It’s set up as a social business which, from a day-to-day perspective, looks no different from any other profit-seeking organisation.

Hugh Davidson, founder of Thankyou Payroll, says that he hates putting labels on things, but if he had to define what a social business was, he’d say that a social business is a for-profit business that self identifies as operating for the benefit of community first and foremost.

“Businesses that focus on maximising benefits to community have to be smart about attitudes to profit. Profit and growth should be seen as externalities of a successful social business as far as I’m concerned.”

There seems to be a new wave of entrepreneurs in New Zealand who have found that operating a social businesses is an effective method of creating tools that fix problems.

Hugh is one of them. He recognised the inefficiency of paper-based payroll systems as a problem, and designed an intuitive software application that not only fixes the problem, but actively gives back to the community.

Thankyou Payroll has taken advantage of an IRD payroll subsidy called the PAYE intermediary scheme, which rewards listed PAYE intermediaries who work to reduce the time and resources required to manage your payroll, with $2 per payday per employee.

On the first plan, where businesses receive two-day processing, there are no charges at all, but Thankyou Payroll will donate $0.25 per employee per pay day to a charity. On the other two plans, where faster processing is promised, there are no fees if the business decides to donate a specified amount to a charity of their choice every month.

In addition to donating a portion of the subsidy they receive, Thankyou Payroll also encourages employees to contribute with a small portion of their pay.

“Employers who file their EMS (IR348) and EDF (IR345) electronically can offer their employees the opportunity to make payroll giving donations,” said Hugh.

“This excellent scheme gives employees the opportunity to donate to approved donee organisations from their pay and receive an immediate tax credit.”

READ: Rod Drury on how to achieve Drury status.

It takes a sagacious intellect to not only design the concept, but to then oversee it to completion.

The idea was conceived during Hugh’s stint as a design advisor to the IRD. Over the term of his employment, Hugh spent most of his time on projects investigating how the IRD could encourage employers away from filing their monthly returns via paper forms.

“Clearly the best option,” he said, “was to create a web-based service channel encompassing that exchange, that was irresistible. If you couldn’t prevent employers from filing paper forms via legislation, then provide an alternative that relegates the paper filing option to the realms of the laughably out-dated. It has to be good enough for people to bother taking the time to change – and good enough to inspire people to tell everyone else to change too.

“The IRD can’t compete with the private sector so [there was] no chance of them building it, but they had a subsidy set up and I saw an opportunity to use that subsidy to make an amazing free payroll service viable.

“Not just make it viable but, with a moderate number of clients, allow us to channel a decent amount of money back into the community via a philanthropic program. Payroll is boring, but being philanthropic rules.”

The philanthropic side of the business has always been considered to be the ultimate prize for Thankyou Payroll.

“We still build services that people want, make profit, reward shareholders and do all the typical tech start-up business stuff, but the team only turn up to work inspired because they feel like, by making this business work, they could have the hand in creating something that can support all the amazing projects and people in all the amazing communities around New Zealand.

“Our business model could channel millions of dollars back to New Zealand communities and we’re committed to innovating and experimenting in that side of what we do too.”

Lani Evans, CEO of Thankyou Payroll, recently told HappyZine, “If 10% of New Zealand employers used our service, we could be raising up to $500,000 per year.”

Now that Thankyou Payroll has established itself, it’s beginning to consider potential marketing campaigns which will expose business owners and accountants to the service.

“Recently we’ve had our new CEO Lani working on reaching out to everyone she knows, meeting with everyone she can think of and emailing the rest.”

According to Hugh, word of mouth (tips hat to Tom’s amazing design work) is second only to Lani’s tenacity and limitless energy when it comes to what works best in marketing their product.

“It’s a pretty easy sell at the end of the day and we’ve been fortunate that our excellent clients have taken the time to spread the word. After all you can have it for free and it’s really very, very good, or so I’m often told.”

The team at Thankyou Payroll is taking 2014 in stride, while being careful to set their sights on a long-term future.

“Right now we’ve got new features on the cards and we’re aiming to have both a SaaS version and a bureau version of our service to market next year (some employers prefer to handle the paying of their employees themselves). Better options for mobile. We have a very fast turnaround for development so we’ll be looking to lead the way in sector for design and usability.

“Most importantly we’re going to be undertaking our first community grant-making round early next year! Fun! A certain massive payroll contract is up in 2018. Who dares us?!”

Hugh responded to our usual final question of whether he though 2013 was a good year to be an entrepreneur in New Zealand in a rather unusual way.

“I wish I could offer wisdom here,” he said.

“Truth is I don’t identify with any definition of ‘entrepreneur’ that I’ve ever encountered and hence don’t really claim to understand them or what makes life meaningful for them.

“Here’s to hoping it’s a good few years for all we know and love!”

While Hugh refuses to apply “unnecessary” labels to things, we’re eager to label Thankyou Payroll a killer payroll service and a brilliant initiative.

Do you currently use Thankyou Payroll? Will you be using it? Tell us in the comments.

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