Payroll Compliance Made Easier

By David Hogan Executive Director of Major Accounts, Heartland Payment Systems | July 15, 2012

Co-authored by Mark Strippy, Executive Director of Payroll Services, Heartland Payment Systems

Payroll is one of the most important and tax compliance laden aspects of running a hotel business, but it is also an area which can lead to a variety of consequences if not done correctly. Though many hotel business operators tend to stay updated on compliance regulations, many also choose to work with a trusted payroll processer to remain ahead of changes to ensure that their hotel business is fully compliant. Whichever solution is chosen, itís imperative to stay informed and be nimble to adjust and act accordingly.

Payroll Compliance: Your Business is Liable

In 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled that two owners of a trucking company and its subsidiary were personally liable for more than $2 million in payroll taxes that were not paid, allegedly due to misconduct by their bookkeeper. The bookkeeper embezzled funds from the company and failed to pay payroll taxes for 30 consecutive quarters. While the owners sold the assets of the trucking company a few months later to pay its employees and creditors, they failed to remit the outstanding payroll taxes to the government. That failure led to $2.3 million in penalties levied against the owners by the Internal Revenue Service.

Last year, a former Joplin, MO, owner of a temporary employment agency and a residential management company was sentenced to prison for three years and was ordered to pay back $6 million to the IRS for failure to pay payroll taxes.

Scenarios like these are not isolated to one or two industries, or to specific size companies or organizations. Throughout the United States, there are various other stories and examples of business owners losing it all or being heavily fined due to failure, either by them or their bookkeepers, to rightfully pay payroll taxes.

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.