Look into turning your back-office duties over to a professional employer organization (PEO). New trends and fresh players have heightened competition among PEOs, which serve as a "co-employer" and handle recruiting, hiring,, benefits and other administrative burdens for a fee, usually 4 percent to 10 percent of payroll.
The biggest change: Banks and insurance companies are setting up PEOs to offer one-stop shopping to small businesses. With insurance-based PEOs, you may reap part of the savings because the insurer can write its own workers' comp and health insurance policies. Traditional PEOs also are turning to brokers who represent several PEOs, even in the same market.
When shopping for a PEO, check:
References. Contact several current and former clients.
Size and focus. The larger the leasing firm, the better it can negotiate rates. Make sure the PEO has worked with your industry before, so it is familiar with the issues.
Accreditation. Contact the National Association of PEOs at www.napeo.org or (703) 836-0466, or the industry's magazine, the ProEmp Journal, at www.proempjournal.com.