Nuts and Bolts of Payroll and Benefits For Small Businesses in Plumbing and HVAC

Wolseley PRO Pipeline Blog

As contractors, you are experts in your trade. But when you take the leap to owning a plumbing or HVAC business, there are some crucial business practices that may not be in your wheelhouse. For companies with employees, this includes payroll and benefits. We’ve examined some payroll tips and company benefit plans for small businesses to help you maintain and grow what you have created.

Small Business Payroll Tips for Plumbing and HVAC Companies

Payroll is one of those things that you don’t worry about when it’s just you and your tools, but becomes increasingly tricky as you add more employees to your business. Here are four small business payroll tips to keep in mind:

Hire Someone For Payroll

One of the most notable differences between small business payroll versus larger company payroll is the number of resources and time dedicated to it. In a larger company, payroll is handled by a department or a dedicated team of people. This isn’t the case for smaller businesses. But just because your business operates on a much smaller scale, doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be someone dedicated to payroll...but they may not necessarily be part of the business itself.

Most small businesses hire external, part-time help for payroll, like a freelance bookkeeper, accountant or someone who specifically handles small business payroll.

This ensures employees get paid on time and provides employees a person to ask payroll questions to as they come up. Hiring help for payroll is also a great option because you can avoid unnecessary fines and fees when it comes to taxes, payroll mistakes, and payment penalties. Plus, you’ll have guidance on what items you can write off as part of your business expenses.

Use an Online Payroll Program

If you aren’t comfortable hiring someone to do your payroll, our next suggestion is to turn to the use of an online payroll program. There are many online payroll programs targeted for small businesses to handle their own payroll, with a minor cost to access and use the program on a monthly basis.

If you do have some experience with payroll and are able to set aside time to review your payroll, taxes and other files, this can be a great way to organize your payroll process.

Understand Your Costs

A key part of payroll that small business owners overlook is the need to have a solid understanding of their business costs and what employees they can afford to have. For example, if you have a small business, you may only be able to hire employees on a per-job basis rather than as a full-time employee. By knowing how much you have to spend and your upcoming jobs, you can be sure you are using money effectively for the types of skills your business needs.

Organize Employee Records

Keeping good employee records is critical to ensure accurate records for payroll. This includes knowing the dates employees started, their salary, their vacation days, and more. Stay organized whenever you hire someone and don’t rely on memory or verbal agreements.

Beyond legal reasons and payroll reasons, there are other perks to having employee records. By keeping updated employee records, you can keep track of what skills your employees have and find ways to bridge the gaps. It’s also important to keep up-to-date employee records so you can review how your business is growing at the end of each year.


Small Business Employee Benefits and Standards

While payroll is important for the internal structure of your business and ensuring people are paid on time, you also need to think about your employee benefits and your business operations. Benefits are extremely important to ensure your employees feel valued. In fact, 71% of employees who like their benefits are less likely to leave their job. So how can you be sure you’re giving your employees good benefits? Start by understanding the basic legal requirements and then branch into additional employee benefits.

Understand Standard Legal Requirements

There are some standard legal requirements in Canada when it comes to employee rights. For example, by federal law, an employee cannot work in excess of 8 hours a day or 40 hours per week unless there has been written documentation that they agree to work extra hours.

It’s also important to know the general holidays that apply to everyone in Canada. General holidays, or “stat” holidays that every employee is entitled to have off with pay includes New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. There are, however, laws that speak to companies with continuous operations—meaning that people need to work 7 days per week until the operations are completed. Depending on the type of small business you have, these rules may apply.

While abiding to the federal government employment standards, you should also reference your province’s or territory’s labour laws.

Beyond legal standards, here are four tips to help you determine employee benefits for your small business.


Here are three tips to help you determine employee benefits for your small business.

Plan For Sustainability

As a small business, you need to think of ways to sustain your business during busy times and slower times. A great way to do this is by offering benefits that help people sustain their futures as well. Think about offering retirement savings programs that will help your employees many years into the future. Other types of programs that are important to potential employees include health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, and paid time off.

Work With Your Employee Culture

Knowing what employees value in a workplace will help you determine what employee benefits your small business should have. While contractor work can’t always be flexible in the sense of working remote hours or flex hours, there are ways you can show you value your employees.

For example, if you know your employees have families, maybe you can offer Saturday afternoons off during the summers. Or, maybe you can reimburse them for mileage when they travel to and from their job sites.

The smaller benefits should not go overlooked as they can be a unique attraction to working for your company as opposed to another.

Paid Training Opportunities

As a small business owner, it’s important to think of paid training opportunities as an employee benefit. In recent reports from Gallup, up to 87% of Millennials place importance on professional development and career growth in their job. While this only accounts for some of the population, there has been a general spike in employees looking for paid training opportunities from their employer.

As much as your employees are willing to learn, this also benefits your business in the long-term as your employees will expand their skill set and provide more value to your business. No matter your specialty, there are typically online training programs offered by manufacturers that can help you learn on your own time. If you’re looking for a hands-on learning experience, many vendors offer training and information sessions at Wolseley branches and events.

Contact your local branch to find out about training and information sessions.

For more information on what training opportunities can do for your business, view the benefits of training.

Creating Employee Benefit Plans and Payroll

Lastly, if you’re stuck deciding on an employee benefit plan, you may want to speak directly to the people who will use this plan (your employees) and find out what their opinions are. There may be great ideas you have missed that can make your team happier to work for you.

Creating employee benefit plans and payroll plans is an important start to your business, no matter the size of your plumbing or HVAC company. Remember, these plans can scale with your business and determine healthy practices for the long-term.

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