An Environmentally Desirable Payroll System with Payroll on a Budget’s Charles Read

September 6, 2013

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JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green is Good, and we’re so excited to have on us right now Charles Read, the President of Payroll on a Budget. Welcome to Green is Good, Charles. CHARLES READ: Thank you, John. It’s a pleasure to be with you. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Hey, Charles, before we get into talking about your great program and website and business that you’ve created, can you share a little bit about the Charles Read journey? How did you even get to this place and sort of what led up to this? CHARLES READ: Sure. Well, I’m a certified public accountant and an M.B.A. I own a number of payroll processing companies now and I started working on payroll when I was in the United States Marine Corps. I was involved in the rewrite of the Joint Unified Military Pay System back in ’67, ’68, got out of service, got my degrees, worked in industry for a number of years, and then about 22 years ago, hung out my own shingle and started my own firm. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s wonderful, and when you were running your own firm, at what point did you come up with Payroll on a Budget and the environmental impacts and everything we’re going to talk about with regards to this great platform you’ve created? CHARLES READ: Well, in the early 2000s, technology had really progressed to the point to make it possible. Full electronic capabilities were now available on PCs. Basically everybody that was in business had a PC. Everybody that was in business had access to the internet. Direct deposit had come into acceptance and debit cards had become a fact of life. Combine this with encrypted reports and the creation of a truly green payroll was just a logical thing. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Interesting, so for our listeners out there, I’m on Charles’ great site right now. It’s real simple. It’s Share the business. What does it really do and before we go into talking about exactly the environmental impacts and things of that such, talk a little bit about this green payroll service. Why should our listeners be using Payroll on a Budget? CHARLES READ: Well, the nice thing about Payroll on a Budget as a green payroll is it’s all electronic. The client inputs the data via the internet from any Internet-connected device. We process it on our server. We draft the money from the client’s bank account electronically. We distribute all the checks as electronic payments to either the employees’ bank accounts as direct deposits or to a debit card that we provide them. The employees’ pay stubs are also online in a protected passworded site where they can pick up their pay stubs any time and repeatedly if necessary. Then, the taxes are paid via Electronic Funds Transfer System, EFTPS, and we also pay state and local taxes electronically wherever possible. Most states have implemented electronic filing for income tax and many are implementing them for unemployment tax so we take advantage of that wherever possible to reduce paper, postage, checks, everything. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Approximately how many years ago did you invent this and roll this out? CHARLES READ: 2005. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Okay, so 2005 so what has been the acceptance of it and your clients’ wanting it after you’ve educated them to the benefits of this? CHARLES READ: Well, that’s of course, the trick is educating them. Once they’re educated and look at it, if they are environmentally, concerned, they jump on it. One of the nice things about it, since it is electronic, it’s less expensive than a conventional payroll so we produce an environmentally desirable payroll system at a better price so you save green and green. JOHN SHEGERIAN: It’s a double green win. CHARLES READ: Absolutely. JOHN SHEGERIAN: If you were to guess, not only are you an accountant and not only have you created something really wonderful here but you’re an entrepreneur also so as an entrepreneur, what’s your universe? How big is the marketplace in your mind, even if it’s not exact, and what percentage of employers are still using paper payroll checks as opposed to starting what should be this smart adoption of online payroll? CHARLES READ: The universe of clients in the U.S. is about 6 million and I would say that probably less than 2% are paperless. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Really? CHARLES READ: Some of the very major companies also got into paperless very early just to save the movement of paper and with the in-house systems, they were able to do that and put their pay stubs for their employees on their own network but other than that, our major competitors are not heavily into it. It’s not promoted well and a lot of people still want checks. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Interesting. CHARLES READ: That’s probably the biggest handicap to getting people on a green payroll is one employee that says, ‘No, I want a check,’ and the states have not gotten on board with electronic wage payments. There are many states that just either force you to get agreement from every employee or even, in fact, prohibit it. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And, it’s just not a scare tactic, but companies that issue payroll checks do have a negative impact on the environment. Isn’t the science pretty quantifiable at this point? CHARLES READ: Absolutely. We looked at that and we had that question asked of us. How much does this really save? So, we sat down and created the green calculator. It’s available on our website, and under the resource tab, and using common environmental measurements, we calculate the impact of a company’s payroll based on the paper, the water usage, the landfill, mileage to take checks to the bank, so on and so forth so you can take your company’s statistics, go into the green calculator, and calculate the environmental impact of your company’s payroll. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s so interesting, so if I’m a listener out there and I’m an entrepreneur and I have a company with a 50 or so people, how does it really work? Do I call you up? Do I sign up online? And, how do I convert my company to a green payroll? CHARLES READ: Just call us or sign up online. It’s difficult to do it in house because of all the electronic things that have to be set up because you have to get it with your bank to do electronic banking, EFTPF with the federal government, electronic filings with the states, while for us, we have all the software systems, procedures, cross checks, controls, and everything in place to do a green payroll effectively and efficiently. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You make it seamless and you already have all the technology available for the entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have enough to worry about, huh Charles? They don’t have to start worrying about trying to do something good that then gets botched. CHARLES READ: Absolutely. We make it as easy and as simple as possible for them to have a green payroll. On top of that, we have professionals. We have CPAs on staff even though we’re not a CPA firm. I’m a CPA and we have other CPAs that when the IRS calls or when the state calls or the IRS screws up, we’re here to handle it for the client. They don’t have to even think about it. JOHN SHEGERIAN: For those listeners who just joined us, we’re on with Charles Read. He’s the President of Payroll on a Budget, and you can go to his website. It’s a great website. I’ve been on it since we’ve been on the show here. It’s Charles, here’s a big issue. This year, we’ve had all these cyber security leaks and with great companies like talking about identity theft now and it’s this whole issue of safety online and leaking of information online has become a big top-of-mind issue with regards to the media and with the American public at large. Can you talk a little bit about Payroll on a Budget and the safety and the risks associated with having a green payroll? CHARLES READ: Not a problem. Before we look at that, check fraud is the largest crime in the country, more so than identity theft, and by eliminating paper checks for your employees, you cut down the chance of being defrauded by the use of an employee check completely. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s a great point. I didn’t even realize that so check theft is even bigger than identity theft? CHARLES READ: Absolutely. Now, a green payroll is safer for both the employer and the employee. The employers eliminate the fraud. There’s no paper check stock laying around the office to be stolen, no pay stubs for people to see, no paper reports laying around, no sensitive data. Everything is sent electronically in an encrypted format. Even if somebody gets the file, they hack in and they intercept the file, it’s meaningless. It’s encrypted. They can’t use it. There’s no information for them. The employee information for the payroll goes through the fed system and if there’s any system that is protected, it’s the federal reserve system so that money and that information for the employee goes through the fed system and isn’t out there. It goes from our bank to the fed to the employee’s bank. For the employee, there’s no check to lose, no check to wash in a pants pocket. The money is safely in the bank or on a debit card with a pin number. Even if they lose the debit card, because it’s pin protected, they call the provider, they get a new one with their money already on it so green payroll is cheaper and safer than conventional payroll. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And, also reduces our environmental footprint and makes companies greener and makes the world a better place. CHARLES READ: It’s green all the way around. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I love it. We’re down to the last three minutes, Charles. Can you share with our listeners out there what types of businesses are the best candidates for this green payroll system? CHARLES READ: Payrolls with employees. I know that sounds facetious but it’s good for anybody. It can be an attorney that pays himself. It can be a manufacturing firm. It can be a retail firm. We handle all kinds of clients from dog groomers to contractors to builders to doctors, dentists, lawyers, candlestick makers, candy makers, you name it. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Got it, so the answer is everyone. CHARLES READ: Everybody. There’s no reason not to. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Got it, and with the last two minutes, what other suggestions do you have for businesses to reduce their paper uses and get greener? CHARLES READ: Well, the average American office worker uses over 10,000 sheets of paper every year. Besides switching to a paperless payroll, there’s a lot all of us can do. Print on both sides of a sheet of paper. Recycle paper, of course, and use recycled paper whenever you can. In-house office copies can be on recycled paper. Give me a break. And store your paper properly. Improperly stored paper gets dirty, gets wet, it jams, it doesn’t work, and it gets thrown away so that and choose environmentally responsible suppliers and vendors. It’s not a political issue. It’s a human issue. Switching to paperless payroll not only saves businesses green cash, but it creates a healthier, safer, green living space for all of us. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Got it, and we have a lot of young listeners in high school and college that want to become part of the sustainability solutions for the future and you’re an entrepreneur also and they want to become entrepreneurs. What suggestions do you have for them looking back? And, we’re in the last 30 or 40 seconds here. CHARLES READ: Well, the key to being a successful entrepreneur is persistence. You gotta be tenacious. There’s going to be bad times. There’s going to be good times. There’s gonna be bad times again and you just have to stick to it. Find something that you like to do and you’ll never work a day in your life. I know that’s an old saw and there’s no reason it can’t be in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way. We don’t have to go out and rape the planet. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I love it, and for our listeners out there again, please go to Charles’ great website, You can actually click on to his green calculator and actually compute, before you ever call or log in or sign up for the service, compute how much you’re going to save in landfill space, water, CO2 gases, and trees. It’s just a great website and we’re so thrilled you came on today, Charles. Charles Read, you’re an inspiring sustainability leader and truly living proof that green is good. CHARLES READ: My pleasure, John.

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