5 Project Management Software Apps With Time Tracking

The project management world is growing increasingly crowded as new methods, frameworks, and philosophies are introduced, all designed to help your business be as efficient as possible. As you might expect, these management styles have their strengths and weaknesses, designed to serve primarily in specific industries. However, across all of these industries, one feature remains consistently useful: time tracking. Some developers opt not to include their own timesheet functions, relying instead on integrations with the likes of TSheets (read our review) or Time Doctor (read our review). Others, though, go for a more all-in-one approach and integrate time tracking features natively within their own software.

But which of these project management apps does the job best? What other tools do they bring to the table? And are they all worth the cost of admission? Let’s dive in and find the answers we seek!

1) Wrike

Wrike (read our review) is one of the industry standards for project management. It is a classic all-rounder and remains a popular choice across the internet. Prices for Wrike range from free (though you can only have 5 users maximum with this version, and only a very limited feature set) through $34.60/user/month. To access the time tracking features, though, you will need to subscribe to the Busines level or higher, which starts at $24.80/user/month. That is on the pricier side of the project management spectrum, but may well be worth it to your team if they mesh well with the sensibilities of this app.

Wrike handles time tracking in what is my favorite manner possible. You can start a live timer by clicking a button, which tracks time associated with whatever task or project you choose. Or, you can enter time manually after the fact. This sort of flexibility makes Wrike useful in all situations, which is great!

2) Mavenlink

Mavenlink (read our review) takes an expansive approach to project management, including resource management, business intelligence, and more. The widespread nature of Mavenlink does mean that you pay a considerably higher premium to access its capabilities. Plans with time tracking start at $39/user/month and only go uphill from there.

However, the product you get for that price is pretty impressive. Time tracking and accounting, in particular, are some of Mavenlink’s many strengths and go far beyond simple timesheets. With this app you are given the functionality to estimate the time expenditure for tasks, then analyze the time actually spent on that task. This might seem like an obvious feature, but Mavenlink executes it flawlessly, providing the data you need to make better, more efficient decisions in the future.

3) Clickup

Clickup (read our review) was one of the standout project management apps I reviewed last year. With a remarkably thorough feature set that still manages to be unintimidating and a UI that communicates everything you need to know without being overwhelming and busy, it has earned a spot as one of the top 5 project management apps I recommend most frequently, especially with a starting cost of zero dollars per month.

Clickup has its own timesheets that allow for automatic time tracking and for employees to add time after the fact — as such, it is one of the best simple project management software options with time tracking built-in. Tasks here can be set to recurring, which is handy if you have repeat customers or need to be doing the same set of tasks or duties day after day. In terms of communication, Clickup is a little weak, but it does feature threaded comment chains. While I would like to see a dedicated chat, the comment threads are likely serviceable, and if you want more, there is an excellent Slack integration.

4) Streamtime

After a massive redesign in 2015, Streamtime (read our review) is leading the way in terms of creative approaches to project management. Their goal? Make project management approachable, easy, and maybe a little fun! With automatic scheduling and impressive quoting and reporting features, this app may well be the fix you need to make your business more efficient.

In terms of the service industry, Streamtime’s task list/scheduling features stand out to me. When you create a task and assign a due date and team member, it is automatically added to their weekly schedule. When they finish that task, they can mark it as done. That part might not seem so revolutionary, but when you realize this also serves as Streamtime’s time tracking feature, it becomes clear just how smart this app is. The downside of Streamtime is the lack of native communication features in the app. Depending on your situation, this may not matter as much to your business, but if communication tools are needed, you may be able to use a third party app such as Slack!

5) Redbooth

Redbooth (read our review), one of our favorite project management apps here at Merchant Maverick, brings a clean aesthetic to project management, married to incredible ease of use and excellent features. For me, the best thing about this app is how intuitive it is to use. Honestly, I think that you could have just about any employee sit down with Redbooth and have them confidently using it in about half an hour. It is that easy to use.

Redbooth’s time tracking is pretty lackluster, but it gets the job done. There is no option to track time live, but you can enter how much time you spent on each task after the fact. It might seem strange to include an app like Redbooth on this list, whose time tracking features compare so poorly. However, Redbooth is excellent in so many other respects you may find it worth the sacrifice in order to gain access to this app’s legendary ease of use, as well as its fantastically flexible approach to project management.

Final Thoughts

In the end, the best choice of these five apps comes down to how you plan to use them. If you can afford a higher price tag and are looking for a thorough project management app that has all the features, Wrike or Mavenlink might be the right answer for you. If affordability and usability are higher in priority for you, Redbooth or Clickup may be better. If you want to think outside the established time tracking box, Streamtime offers a great way to do that.

So what is your next move? Take a closer look at the apps that appeal to you most. Sign up for a free trial, and give one or two of them a try. Then commit and take your team to new heights of project efficiency!

The post 5 Project Management Software Apps With Time Tracking appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

QuickBooks offers incredibly in-depth payroll features. This ensures proper payroll procedures and IRS tax compliance, but it also makes for a long setup process. But don’t worry. We’ll walk you through how to set up your QuickBooks payroll in 20 simple steps.

How To Set Up Payroll

Before you begin setting up QuickBooks payroll, there are three things you must have:

  1. Enough Time
  2. The Proper Documents
  3. Your Payroll Service Key

First things first. Make sure you have adequate time to set up payroll properly. Here is a chart QuickBooks created to give you an estimate of how much time you need to set up your payroll:

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

You’ll also want to download QuickBooks’ Payroll Setup Checklist and gather the proper documentation. Tracking down all of the information and gathering the documents may take some time, but having everything you need in one spot saves you tons of time in the long run. (There is also a helpful Payroll Getting Started Guide if you want additional assistance.)

After you purchase QuickBooks Payroll, you should be given a payroll service key via email. If not, call QuickBooks to receive your service key so you can begin setting up QuickBooks Desktop Payroll.

Now, sit down with a good chunk of time, all of the documents you need, your service key, and a big cup of Joe. We’re ready to go!

Step 1: Enter You EIN

To begin, go make sure you’ve entered your EIN into QuickBooks. You most likely did this already when setting up your QuickBooks Desktop software, but just in case, go to Company>My Company and then click on the Customer Information tab to make sure your EIN is correctly entered into QuickBooks. Click “OK” when done.

(If you don’t have an EIN, you may want to consider getting a business EIN, but you can also enter an SSN if that’s how the IRS identifies your tax filings. If you aren’t sure which is better for your business, consult your accountant or a business advisor.)

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 2: Add Payroll Service Key

Verify that your QB license number and EIN are popping up correctly. Then click “Add” in the bottom left-hand corner.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 3: Enter Service Key

Remember that service key we mentioned earlier? Enter that number now and click “Next.” Call QuickBooks payroll support if you are unsure of your service key.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 4: Confirm Your Payroll Subscription

Next, you’ll need to confirm that you are adding a payroll subscription to your computer. QuickBooks will ask: “Do you want to add your subscription to this machine?” Answer “Yes” to continue.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 5: Download QuickBooks Payroll

On this page, select the “Open Payroll Setup – I want to start right away” option if you want to start setting up payroll after downloading the software. Click “Finish” to download QuickBooks Desktop Payroll.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 6: Install QuickBooks Payroll

You should see a box like the one below pop up. This means that payroll has been successfully added and is now being installed. Wait while QuickBooks finishes installing payroll. This process usually only takes a few minutes.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 7: Restart QuickBooks

Once QuickBooks Payroll has been installed on your computer, this warning box will pop up. Click “OK” and restart QuickBooks so that you can be sure that your software has been updated correctly.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 8: Select Payroll Setup Method

Once you’ve restarted QuickBooks, go to Employee>Payroll Setup to properly configure your payroll. First, you’ll be asked if your employees have previously received paychecks from your business. If the answer is no, you’ll also have to determine whether employees need to be paid today.

For our sample company, we clicked “No.” A section popped up on the left with all the payroll setup sections we need to complete. If you’re an existing business who clicked “Yes,” your “First Paychecks” section will be replaced with a “Year-to-Date Payroll” section where you can add past paychecks and previous business history by following the payroll setup wizard.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 9: Select Company Setup Method

QuickBooks will now ask you if you want to use the “Typical new employer setup” or “Customer setup” method. For the typical new setup, “QuickBooks automatically provides all the pay types and benefits commonly needed by new employers,” while the custom setup adds the ability to customize your benefits. QuickBooks advises:

Choose Custom setup if you need to set up sick time, vacation time, or insurance benefits.

We are going to choose the “Typical new employer setup” method, but you can choose “Custom setup” and follow the setup wizard, or you can go back and add custom benefits at a later time. Select your setup method, and click “Continue.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 10: Update Employee Information

If you haven’t added employees into QuickBooks, now is the time. Click “Add New…” in the bottom left-hand corner to get started.

If you have already added employees into QuickBooks, you’ll want to verify that all of their contact information and tax information is correct. On the screen below, you’ll see that QuickBooks puts a warning symbol next to employees with missing information and a red X next to employees that have an error in their information. To update or edit employee information, select the employee and click “Edit” at the bottom of the screen.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 11: Enter Employee’s Contact Information

Begin by entering their contact information, including their legal name, employee status, and address. Then click “Next.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 12: Enter Employee’s Hiring Information

Add your employee’s hiring information, including their employee type, SSN, hire date, release date (if applicable), birth date, and gender. Then click “Next.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 13: Enter Employee’s Wages

Enter information regarding your employee’s wages. Information will vary depending on whether your employee is salaried or paid hourly.

If you chose the “typical new user setup” process, QuickBooks will already have auto-populated wage types like “double-time,” “bonus,” and “commission.” Click on the items that apply to your employee and enter the wage amount. If you are using the “custom setup” option, here is where you can add benefits like “vacation” and “sick pay.” Click “Next” when everything looks correct.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 14: Sign Employee Up For Direct Deposit

If you want to pay your employee via direct deposit, you can set direct deposit up here or you can come back and do so at a later time. We’ll cover how to set up direct deposit in more detail later on in this post, so for now, we’re going to click “Next.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 15: Enter Employee Tax Information

Select the state in which your employee is subject to taxes. If you are unsure of the proper tax settings at any time, click the blue “Explain” hyperlink for more information. Also, answer whether or not your employee has lived or worked in another state while employed by you. Then click “Next.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 16: Enter Employee’s Federal Tax Information

Use your employee’s W-4 form to find and enter the following information: filing status, allowances, extra withholding, nonresident alien withholding, and HIRE Act Exemption. Also select whether or not your employee is subject to Medicare, social security, federal unemployment, and/or advance earned income credit.

Again, click the blue “Explain” hyperlink at any time for more information, or contact your tax advisor or a QuickBooks support representative for extra support. Click “Next” when done.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 17: Enter Employee’s State Tax Information

Next, enter similar information regarding your employee’s state tax information. If your employee is subject to any special local taxes (other than those listed above), you will be prompted to add additional information. Click “Next” when this page is completed.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

When you click next, you’ll be taken to a page where you can enter any additional state tax information. Click “Next” when ready. Then click “Finish.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 18: Review Employee List

Repeat steps 10-18 until all of your employees are successfully added into QuickBooks. Once you’re done, review your employee list and click “Continue.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 19: Create Paychecks

Next, you have two choices: “create paychecks and finish tax setup later” or “continue to tax setup.”

The tax setup process varies depending on your business’s tax obligations and pay schedule. You can print and follow step by step tax instructions to complete this section. Or, you can come back later and add in your tax information. For now, we are going to move on and create paychecks.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 20: View Payroll Center

You have now officially set up payroll! (Mostly.) You may need to finish adding your tax information in the future, but for now, you can take pride knowing your payroll is up and running.

At this point, I highly recommend taking a look at the Payroll Center to see everything that QuickBooks Payroll is capable of.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

For example, in addition to letting you run payroll, QuickBooks also helps with payroll taxes. If you go to your Payroll Center and click on the “Pay Liabilities” and “File Forms” tabs, you can see all of the tax features QuickBooks helps with.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

As you can see in the pictures, the QuickBooks Payroll Liabilities center shows you how much you owe in payroll liabilities, how to manage liabilities, adjust liabilities, and make payments on payroll liabilities. The File Forms center shows you which forms to file and if they’re due quarterly or annually, how to order tax forms, e-file, and more.

If you have any questions about the payroll setup process or your payroll liabilities, contact QuickBooks payroll support or download the QuickBooks Payroll Getting Started Guide. If you have any other questions, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to address it.

How To Run Payroll

How To Write And Print Payroll Checks

How To Use Direct Deposit

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How To Run Payroll Reports In QuickBooks

How To Run Payroll Reports In QuickBooks

One of the best parts about QuickBooks Desktop is the number of reports the software offers. The payroll and employee reports are particularly helpful for reviewing your business’s payroll and analyzing your financial state. Luckily, running the reports is also a piece of cake. Here’s how it’s done.

Payroll Reports In QuickBooks

There are 13 payroll and employee reports total in QuickBooks Pro. You can use the software to run the following reports:

  • Payroll Summary
  • Payroll Item Detail
  • Payroll Detail Review
  • Payroll Transactions by Payee
  • Payroll Transaction Detail
  • Payroll Liability Balances
  • Payroll Item Listing
  • Employee Earnings Summary
  • Employee State Taxes Detail
  • Employee Pay Adjustments History
  • Employee Contact List
  • Employee Withholding
  • Paid Time Off List

How To Run Payroll Reports In QuickBooks

To run a report, go to Employee>Payroll Center>Reports. Then click the “Report Center” option.

You’ll then be taken to screen like the one below where you will see every report that QuickBooks offers.

Step 1: Click On “Employees & Payroll”

Go to the “Employees & Payroll” tab and search for the desired report.

Step 2: Select The Report

Once you find the report you wish to view, click the green “Run” button to view the report.

How To Run Payroll Reports In QuickBooks

Step 3: View Your Report

Once you run your report, you can view, customize, print, email, or download the report into Excel.

How To Run Payroll Reports In QuickBooks

Repeat the process to view another report. The process is the same for each report in QuickBooks.

Now that you know how to run payroll reports, you can analyze your payroll history and employee’s working patterns to better run your business.

If you have any troubleshooting issues, check out the QuickBooks Payroll Help Centers or call QuickBooks payroll support directly. If you have any further questions, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you.

How To Export Files

How To Run Payroll

How To Write And Print Payroll Checks

How To Use Direct Deposit

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How To Write And Print Payroll Checks In QuickBooks

How To Write And Print Checks In QuickBooks

If you still write payroll checks by hand and dread how long paying your employees takes, you’re going to love how easy it is to print payroll checks with QuickBooks. QuickBooks makes it easy to print checks straight from the software and you can even order checks straight form QuickBooks as well.

Follow these steps to start paying your employees.

How To Print Payroll Checks

You can either write checks within QuickBooks right after running payroll by clicking the “Print Paychecks” button, or you can go Employee>Payroll Center and it will show you how many checks are ready to be printed.

Either way, you’ll be taken to a screen that looks like this:

How To Write And Print Checks In QuickBooks

Step 1: Select Your Printer

Use the drop-down menu to select the printer you wish to send the checks to.

How To Write And Print Payroll Checks In QuickBooks

If you don’t have a wireless printer, now may be a good time to attach your computer to your printer.

Step 2: Select The Printer Type

Select the printer type using the drop-down menu. You can choose between continuous (perforated edge), page-oriented (single sheets), or laser (single label).

How To Write And Print Payroll Checks In QuickBooks

Step 3: Choose Your Check Style

Next, choose your check style. You can select voucher, standard, or wallet.

How To Write And Print Payroll Checks In QuickBooks

Step 4: Enter Number Of Copies

Enter the number of copies you wish to print.

How To Write And Print Payroll Checks In QuickBooks

Step 5: Check Additional Features

Check the box next to any additional criteria you wish to select. You can choose to print collated sheets, print your company name and address, add a company logo, and/or print a signature image on your checks.

How To Write And Print Payroll Checks In QuickBooks

Step 6: Adjust Font (Optional)

If you want, you can change both the check font and address font.

How To Write And Print Payroll Checks In QuickBooks

Step 7: Check Page Orientation

You can change the page orientation from the default “portrait” to “side” or “center.”

How To Write And Print Payroll Checks In QuickBooks

Step 8: Print Checks

Once everything appears correct, select “Continue.”

You’ll receive a notification like the one below asking you to verify if your checks printed correctly. If so, click “OK” and you’re all set!

How To Write And Print Payroll Checks In QuickBooks

Now you’ve officially printed and recorded your checks in QuickBooks.

If you have any troubleshooting issues, check out the QuickBooks Payroll Help Centers or call QuickBooks payroll support directly. If you have any further questions, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you.

How To Use Direct Deposit

How To Add A Bank Account

How To Run Payroll Reports

The post How To Write And Print Payroll Checks In QuickBooks appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


How To Use Direct Deposit In QuickBooks

How To Use Direct Deposit In QuickBooks

Direct deposit is an easy way to save time on payroll, but how does direct deposit work with QuickBooks?

QuickBooks allows you to use direct deposit for both employees and vendors (this service may cost extra depending on which QuickBooks payroll plan you choose). Believe it or not, it’s fairly simple to set up direct deposit. Just follow these nine steps and start paying your employees right away.

How To Use Direct Deposit In QuickBooks

First, we’ll explain how to set up direct deposit in QuickBooks. Then we’ll go over how to pay users using direct deposit.

You can either set up your direct deposit while setting up payroll or by going to Employee>Payroll Info>Direct Deposit.

Step 1: Enter Company Information

To set up your company for direct deposit in QuickBooks, verify your company’s information including the legal name, address, EIN, and industry. Update any owner information if needed.

How To Use Direct Deposit In QuickBooks

Step 2: Enter Bank Information

Next, enter your business’s bank information. Select the bank account you want to pay employees from. Indicate whether it is a checking or savings account and enter the legal name, routing number, and account number associated with that bank account. Finally, agree to the terms and conditions at the bottom of the screen.

How To Use Direct Deposit In QuickBooks

Step 3: Set Security Limits

As an added security measure, QuickBooks will now make you enter three security checks. Use the drop-down menus and select the most accurate options for your business.

How To Use Direct Deposit In QuickBooks

Step 4: Activate Direct Deposit

To verify your bank account, QuickBooks will charge you two small verification amounts. Once you see these charges on your banking records, you can officially activate your direct deposit.

If you need extra help with the following steps, you can download the Direct Deposit Getting Started Guide for some extra support and guidance.How To Use Direct Deposit In QuickBooks

Step 5: Verify Direct Deposit

Once you see the two verification charges in your bank records, go to Employee>My Payroll Service>Activate Direct Deposit. Input the two amounts and click “Next” to finish verifying your bank account.

Step 6: Enter Employees’ Direct Deposit Information

Now that your company is set up for direct deposit, make sure you’ve added the information of the employees that have authorized direct deposit. To do this go to Employee>Employee Center and select the employee whom you wish to set up with direct deposit. Once you can see that employee’s information, go to “Payroll Info” and select “Direct Deposit.”

Click the “Use Direct Deposit for: this employee” box and enter the following information: bank name, account number, account type, and routing number. You can also choose whether to direct deposit the whole amount or split the amount. Click “OK” when done, and then click “OK” on the employee screen to make sure the information has been saved correctly.

How To Use Direct Deposit In QuickBooks

Step 7: Run Payroll

Now you’re ready to run payroll using direct deposit! Follow the instructions from earlier to run payroll. When you get to the final screen, click “Send Payroll To Intuit” to pay your employees via direct deposit.

Step 8: Enter Direct Deposit Pin

You will be provided a direct deposit pin that you will need to input to verify the transactions.

Step 9: Print Pay Stubs

Once you’ve successfully paid your employees using direct deposit, don’t forget to print pay stubs. Go to File>Print Forms>Pay Stubs to print pay stubs in QuickBooks.

Now you’ve officially paid your employees using direct deposit and can hand them their pay stubs as proof. If you have any questions about QuickBooks direct deposit, search for the Direct Deposit Getting Started Guide within QuickBooks or call QuickBooks payroll support directly. If you have any further questions, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you.

How To Write And Print Payroll Checks

How To Add A Bank Account

How To Run Payroll Reports

The post How To Use Direct Deposit In QuickBooks appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


How To Run Payroll In QuickBooks

How To Run Payroll In QuickBooks

Now that you’ve finally set up your QuickBooks Payroll, you’re probably wondering: how do I actually pay my employees? Well, that’s exactly what we’re here to tell you.

After following these four simple steps, you’ll be paying your customers in no time.

How To Run Payroll In QuickBooks

There are two things you’ll need to do before running payroll for the first time:

  1. Enter Employee’s Hours
  2. Create A Bank Account

To run your payroll, first make sure that all of your employees have recorded their time within QuickBooks. If you need help with this, read How To Track Time In QuickBooks.

You’ll also want to make sure that you’ve added the business bank account you pay employees from into QuickBooks. To learn how to do this, read How To Add A Bank Account To QuickBooks.

Once these two steps are complete, you’re ready to get started!

Step 1: Run Payroll

To begin, go to Employee>Payroll Center. Then click the “Pay Employees” button. You should be taken to a screen that looks like this:

The Complete Guide To QuickBooks Desktop Payroll

Click “OK, I’m ready!” to get started.

Step 2: Enter Payroll Information

Enter all of your payroll information, beginning with the pay period end date and a check date. Select the bank account you want to pay employees from (QB will show you the existing account balance). Select whether you will print checks using QuickBooks or if you are going to handwrite your checks.

The most important part is to select which employees you want to pay and review their hours to make sure everything looks right before proceeding. Click “Continue” when ready.

The Complete Guide To QuickBooks Desktop Payroll

Step 3: Review Payroll

Next, review the information to make sure everything looks correct. QuickBooks will tell you how many paychecks will be issued and will total up the gross pay, taxes, deductions, net pay, employer tax contributions, total hours, and direct deposit amounts for the pay period. After you review all of the information, click “Create Paychecks.”

The Complete Guide To QuickBooks Desktop Payroll

Step 4: Confirm Payroll

Congrats! You’ve officially run payroll in QuickBooks. However, there are a few final steps. This screen will tell you how many paychecks have successfully been created, how many are ready for printing, and how many are ready to be directly deposited.

The Complete Guide To QuickBooks Desktop Payroll

From here, you can print your employees’ checks or send your payroll in for direct deposit processing and print the pay stubs for your direct deposit employees. We’ll cover how to do both of these things in the next two posts in our QuickBooks Desktop Pro 101 Series.

If you have any troubleshooting issues, check out the QuickBooks Payroll Help Centers or call QuickBooks payroll support directly. If you have any further questions, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you.

How To Write And Print Payroll Checks

How To Use Direct Deposit

How To Run Payroll Reports

The post How To Run Payroll In QuickBooks appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Pricing And Features

As an employee, the payroll process seems like a piece of cake. You wait until every second Friday, grab your paycheck deposit, and that’s it! But from the employer’s perspective, payroll is much more complicated.

More goes into payroll than meets the eye, like making sure your company is set up for payroll taxes, properly recording all of your employee’s tax information, and staying on top of paydays. Luckily, accounting software programs like QuickBooks offer payroll features and provide plenty of resources to help you learn how payroll works and what your payroll obligations are.

This post will cover the cost and features of each QuickBooks payroll plan and guide you through how to choose which plan is right for your business.

QuickBooks Payroll Plans & Pricing

Looking into purchasing QuickBooks Payroll? QuickBooks Desktop offer three payroll plans: Basic, Enhanced, and Assisted. Each option varies by features, automations, and price.

Every QuickBooks Desktop payroll option is compatible with QuickBooks Desktop Pro, QuickBooks Desktop Premier, and QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise. (If you use the Gold or Platinum version of QuickBooks Enterprise, payroll is already included in your subscription).

Let’s break it down.


QuickBooks Basic Payroll costs $29/mo + $2/per employee (though Intuit usually offers a discount for QuickBooks payroll). This is the smallest payroll plan. With QuickBooks Basic Payroll, you can process your payroll and pay employees by check or direct deposit.

Basic Payroll also includes:

  • Instant paychecks
  • Pay W-2 employees
  • Pay 1099 employees
  • Free direct deposit
  • Payroll support

The one drawback of Basic payroll is that it does not include any of your payroll tax forms. You’d have to buy tax forms separately and file them on your own.


QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll costs $45/mo +$2/mo per employee (though Intuit usually offers a discount for QuickBooks payroll). Enhanced payroll is QuickBooks Desktop’s do-it-yourself payroll option. You can process your payroll and file your taxes directly through QuickBooks.

Enhanced Payroll includes:

  • Instant paychecks
  • Pay W-2 employees
  • Pay 1099 employees
  • Free direct deposit
  • E-filing for W-2’s
  • Free tax forms
  • Payroll support


QuickBooks Assisted Payroll costs $109/mo + $2/per employee (though Intuit usually offers a discount for QuickBooks payroll). This plan is aptly named as QuickBooks processes your payroll for you and automatically files your payroll taxes. QuickBooks Desktop Assisted handles the payroll set up for you as well.

Full-Service Payroll includes:

  • Instant paychecks
  • Pay W-2 employees
  • Pay 1099 employees
  • Free direct deposit
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Free tax forms
  • No tax penalties
  • Free year-end forms
  • Automatic payroll setup
  • Payroll support

With this plan, all you have to do is make sure your employee’s hours are entered into QuickBooks and the rest is taken care of for you.

Which QuickBooks Payroll Plan Is Right For Me?

When it comes to choosing the best QuickBooks Desktop Payroll plan, it ultimately comes down to how much you can afford and how much work you want to do personally.

To help you determine which QuickBooks payroll plan is best, here’s a side-by-side comparison of all three QuickBooks payroll plans:

Basic Enhanced Full-Service
Pricing $29/mo $45/mo $109/mo
Payroll Support ✓ ✓ ✓
Payroll Processing ✓ ✓ ✓
Payroll Checks ✓ ✓ ✓
Direct Deposit ✓ ✓ ✓
W-2 Employees ✓ ✓ ✓
1099 Employees ✓ ✓ ✓
Tax Forms ✘ ✓ ✓
E-filing ✘ ✓ ✓
Automatic Payroll Processing ✘ ✘ ✓
Automatic E-Filing ✘ ✘ ✓
Payroll Setup ✘ ✘ ✓
Year-End Forms ✘ ✘ ✓

If you are comfortable running payroll and handling taxes yourself, the Basic or Enhanced plan might be best. If you don’t feel good about running payroll yourself or don’t have enough time to do so, the Assisted plan might be a better choice.

Make sure to check your budget and see which payroll plan you can afford as well. If you are a small startup with a tight budget, you might have to stick with the Basic plan and spend some time learning how to run payroll. If this is the case, don’t worry. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about processing payroll in the rest of this post.

Where To Buy QuickBooks Payroll

There are a few ways to purchase QuickBooks Desktop Payroll: on Intuit’s site or through one of QuickBooks’ resellers.

Office supply stores, like Staples or Office Max, often sell the software. Retail stores like Walmart and Best Buy — and even online giants like Amazon — also carry QuickBooks Payroll software. Often, the software is bundled with the purchase of QuickBooks Desktop Pro, QuickBooks Desktop Premier, or QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise.

If you are a QuickBooks Enterprise Gold or Platinum user, then your QuickBooks subscription already comes with payroll support.

QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Troubleshooting & Support

Every QuickBooks Desktop payroll plan comes with tech support at no additional cost. When you sign up for payroll, QuickBooks sends you an email containing several of the main support options. However, there are a few additional support options.

Here are all of the ways you can contact QuickBooks Payroll Support:

  • Phone: Call the QuickBooks Payroll phone support number at (800) 450-8459.
  • Payroll Checklist: QuickBooks created a payroll setup checklist to help you gather all of the information you need to set up payroll before you begin the process.
  • Payroll Guide: There is also a QuickBooks Payroll Getting Started Guide that covers everything you need to know about setting up payroll, running payroll, understanding your payroll tax obligations, and provides additional employer resources.
  • Payroll New Customer Center: I highly recommend taking a look at this resource before setting up your QuickBooks Payroll, even if you aren’t new to payroll. First-time payroll software users and users mitigating from other software can both benefit from the guides, videos, and other resources in the Payroll New Customer Center. You’ll also find FAQs and help articles.
  • Contact Form: Within the Payroll New Customer Center there’s a contact option where you can search existing resources for answers to your question or problem. If the answers are inadequate, you’ll can then contact support directly.
  • Help Centers: There is a Basic and Enhanced payroll help center and an Assisted payroll help center. Both features dozens of how-to articles with detailed instructions. The help centers also help troubleshoot issues with QuickBooks Payroll.  Here’s are some common QuickBooks payroll problems and how to resolve them.
  • QuickBooks Community: There is also a QuickBooks Community where users can ask questions and receive answers from other users and QuickBooks’ own team. This is a good spot to look if you’re having issues with QuickBooks Payroll, as someone may have had the same issue before.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know what each payroll plan is capable of and exactly how much each plan costs, you can make an informed decision on which QuickBooks payroll plan is right for you. If you still aren’t sure, take advantage of the free 30-day payroll trial to see if QB payroll is right for your business.

If you do decide to use QuickBooks, be sure to check out our QuickBooks Desktop Pro 101 series to learn how to set up QuickBooks payroll, run payroll, use direct deposit, and more.

The post QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Pricing And Features appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


Stripe Payments Competitors And Alternatives

It’s safe to say, Stripe (read our review) has done a lot to change the way people pay online, and it’s opened up the potential for merchants all over the world to sell online and reach customers almost anywhere. The company has grown massively over the years, to the point that Stripe says there’s an 80% chance any given credit/debit card has been used on the Stripe network previously.

In addition to pre-built and customizable checkout forms that you can drop into a website, Stripe integrates into mobile app payments. Square’s documentation has become the gold standard by which all other documentation is judged. Developers love it for ease of use and the extensive support for programming languages.

Merchants also get access to advanced subscription and billing tools, including invoicing. Not only that, but the Stripe Connect platform allows you to create a marketplace for other merchants to sell and easily manage all their payments. However, it’s worth noting that Stripe will charge you additional fees on top of processing costs for using these services.

Plus, Stripe offers more than 300 ready-to-go integrations from eCommerce to invoicing and much more, which can simplify the process of building your business’ back end. Check out Stripe’s Works With page for the full list.

But Stripe isn’t for everyone, and it does have some serious drawbacks. The first among them is its third-party processing model that leads to account holds and terminations for unqualified merchants. The second is the dubious customer service, which includes a lack of phone support.

If you’ve had a bad experience with Stripe in the past, or you’re not sure if Stripe is actually right for you, have no fear! There are some great alternatives to Stripe out there, that offer comparable pricing, similar tools and features, and quality customer support. Let’s take a look at six of the most promising Stripe competitors and see how they stack up for merchants.

Stripe Key Facts 

  • Merchant Account Or Third-Party: Third-Party
  • Pricing Model: Flat-Rate Pricing
  • Processing Costs: 2.9% + $0.30
  • Suitable For Low Volume: Yes
  • Suitable For High-Risk Businesses: No

Alternative #1: Braintree Payment Solutions

Braintree (read our review) is, hands down, the most direct and obvious alternative to Stripe. Its product offerings are nearly identical, documentation is quite good, and pricing is comparable. That means you get access to a pre-built payment form, a customizable form, subscription and recurring billing tools, marketplace tools, an API for custom reporting, and more. Braintree actually outperforms Stripe in terms of global reach for merchants, with more supported countries. However, like Stripe, there is no easy in-person payments option.

You also get access to a huge assortment of supported payment methods. It’s worth noting Braintree is owned by PayPal, so that does mean you can incorporate PayPal and Venmo acceptance, as well. But whereas Stripe will charge you for access to features such as Billing and Radar, Braintree charges absolutely nothing beyond processing costs to use its services.

Braintree doesn’t quite compare to Stripe as far as integrations, but there are some very good options on the list. Check out Braintree’s list of supported third-party integrations for more information there.

In addition, Braintree offers each merchant their own merchant account, which translates to much greater account stability than you get with Stripe. And despite being a PayPal company, reports indicate that Braintree is a little bit better about working with higher-risk businesses. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and you may be required to implement a reserve fund, but Braintree is certainly an option if you’ve had trouble with other processors. Braintree also promises “white glove” support, and with a few exceptions the merchant experiences support this claim.

Check out our Stripe vs. Braintree article for an in-depth comparison of the two services.

  • Merchant Account or Third-Party: Merchant Account
  • Pricing Model: Flat-rate
  • Processing Costs: 2.9% + $0.30
  • Suitable For Low Volume: Yes
  • Suitable For High-Risk Businesses: Yes (in some circumstances)

Alternative #2: Adyen

Adyen (read our review) isn’t exactly a big name. In fact, it only has about 5,000 merchants. But despite the small customer base, it had a payment volume of $50 billion in 2015, comparable to Braintree, which has quite a few more merchants. And that’s because Adyen’s built its business by chasing after the big fish. For example, Adyen powers payments for the crafting marketplace Etsy, and it recently wooed eBay away from PayPal.  However, now that it’s established itself, the company is started to court smaller businesses.

Despite providing merchant accounts (which historically translates to better stability), Adyen has one stipulation that makes it very unsuitable for high-risk businesses: a chargeback threshold. The industry standard is 1% (and that includes Stripe) but Adyen will terminate an account or implement holds if it exceeds a 0.5% chargeback rate. Adyen is also unsuitable for low-volume businesses because of its monthly minimum of 1,000 transactions or $120 per month in processing fees.

However, when you get past those concerns, you’ll find that Adyen is most similar to Stripe in its global reach and support for localized payment methods across Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, and North and South America. Adyen even accepts PayPal transactions, which is something rarely available from companies not owned by PayPal. There’s also a decent list of supported partners and integrations.

Adyen has very powerful marketplace tools (it would have to, given the big marketplaces it’s landed as clients), but also a secure, customizable checkout form. It also has advanced tools to reduce chargebacks, increase success rates of transactions, and analyze your business data, all at no additional charge. Plus, Adyen has incorporated support for in-person payments into its package, making it an all-in-one solution. All of that makes it a powerful contender for growing businesses that need advanced technology to power their payments system.

  • Merchant Account or Third-Party: Merchant Account
  • Pricing Model: Blended (interchange-plus for Visa, MasterCard, Discover; flat-rate for Amex)
  • Processing Costs: 0.6% + $0.12 markup for Visa, MasterCard and Discover; 3.95% + $0.12 for Amex; $0.25 + $0.12 (totaling $0.37) for ACH Direct Debit
  • Suitable For Low Volume: Yes
  • Suitable For High-Risk Businesses: No

Alternative #3: PayJunction

PayJunction (read our review) is one of the most developer-friendly merchant account options. While its business model and product offerings aren’t exactly innovative, Payjunction does offer interchange-plus pricing with no additional fees if you process more than $10,000 per month. (Below that threshold, a $35 monthly fee applies).  The markup is a little high, but with no per-transaction fee and no other fees, it balances out and can still yield savings. And then consider that you get access to all of PayJunction’s developer tools and extra features at no additional cost.

One of the more interesting features PayJunction offers is the ability to capture signatures on emailed receipts. Customers need only open the email and they can sign the receipt on almost any device. This is a great option especially for businesses that accept orders via phone, social media, and other nontraditional channels. But more than that, you also get a virtual terminal with invoicing and recurring billing capabilities. PayJunction’s gateway, Trinity, integrates with a huge assortment of shopping carts as well as POS systems to give you an all-in-one setup.

PayJunction isn’t clear about its stance on high-risk businesses, but if you’re not qualified you’ll be told up front instead of after you’ve already set up your account and started accepting orders. In addition, the whole system is not quite as full featured as you get with Stripe, but it can handle all the essentials. Really, the account stability and pricing are the biggest perks of processing with PayJunction. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the company has an excellent reputation for customer service, either.

  • Merchant Account or Third-Party: Merchant account
  • Pricing Model: Interchange-plus
  • Processing Costs: Interchange + 0.75%
  • Suitable For Low Volume: No
  • Suitable For High-Risk Businesses: Not Stated

Alternative #4: Square

Probably the least-expected entry on this list is Square (read our review). What’s a mobile card reader and POS doing in an article about online gateways and developer platforms? But Square has expanded its platform to include eCommerce integrations and a developer platform for ecommerce, point of sale, and much more. It offers seamless advanced inventory management at no additional charge, plus online order management, a customer database, and very solid reporting tools.

Square doesn’t support in-app payments the way Stripe does, and its supported payment types are more limited; however, the biggest drawback is that Square is only available to merchants in a handful of countries whereas Stripe (and many of the other options on this list) have a much more global reach. In addition, Square is a third-party processor just like Stripe, meaning merchants can get set up quickly, but face a potential for funding holds and account terminations.

However, Square’s documentation and APIs allow you to build a system that can easily accommodate online and in-person sales, reporting, inventory, and more, using Square’s already robust tools. Square doesn’t match Stripe for number of integrations, but it does have many options and they span a huge assortment of merchant needs. Check out the app marketplace for a complete list.

It’s not exactly common to find service providers who work seamlessly with online and in-person sales. Square is one of the few that does it exceptionally well, especially when you consider the extras that get thrown in at no charge. The lack of iOS/Android support is disappointing, but not necessarily a deal breaker if you don’t have a native app.

  • Merchant Account or Third-Party: Third-Party
  • Pricing Model: Flat-Rate
  • Processing Costs: 2.9% + $0.30 for online transactions, 2.7% for swiped/dipped/tapped transactions
  • Suitable For Low Volume: Yes
  • Suitable For High-Risk Businesses: No

Alternative #5: PayPal

PayPal (read our review) probably comes to mind when most people think of online payments. The commerce giant has made itself a trusted household name among consumers. But the fact that online transactions redirect and are completed on PayPal’s site isn’t a great solution for every merchant in 2018. PayPal does offer hosted payment pages but they come at a cost of $30/month in addition to payment processing. Recurring billing also comes at a cost of $10/month.

PayPal does offer a suite of developer tools for businesses interested in a custom setup. In addition to providing access to Express Checkout and the Braintree SDK, PayPal’s APIs include tools for invoicing, mass payouts, and marketplaces. However, despite being the parent company of Braintree, it seems that PayPal and its infrastructure haven’t quite kept pace. For starters, PayPal’s marketplace tools are fairly new (introduced in 2017) and they are only available after you go through an application and vetting process. And while the developer tools exist, most of the chatter says they don’t match Stripe for quality.

On the plus side, PayPal also supports a wide assortment of integrations for merchants, including POS integrations. It’s easy to create an all-in-one setup that addresses in-person and online payments. However, the default structure is a little bit cumbersome and getting access to features such as a hosted checkout page will cost quite a bit, compared to other providers who offer them at no additional cost.

In addition, like Stripe and Square, PayPal is a third-party processor and some merchants do run a greater risk of encountering a funding hold or account termination. PayPal certainly has most of the tools merchants need and a widely recognized name. It probably isn’t the best solution if you have extremely specialized needs, but if you want an all-in-one payments experience with some great add-ons thrown in, PayPal could be a good choice.

  • Merchant Account or Third-Party: Third-Party
  • Pricing Model: Flat-rate
  • Processing Costs: 2.9% + $0.30 for online transactions; 2.7% for swiped/dipped/tapped transactions
  • Suitable For Low Volume: Yes
  • Suitable For High-Risk Businesses: No


Alternative #6: WePay

We Pay (read our review) isn’t built for merchants who want to accept payments online. It’s actually a payments service for platforms that want to build native payments into their apps or services. That means shopping carts that want to offer a seamless payment processing option, along with crowdfunding, event management, and SaaS products, as well as marketplaces. Even though merchants can’t sign up for processing directly, WePay makes the cut because platform payments is one of Stripe’s core offerings, too.

WePay supports both web-based and in-app payments for iOS and Android, and in addition to cards and ACH transactions, you can implement Android and Apple Pay for the Web, so you have more options for payment methods. You can also use WePay to create a white label mobile POS with the option for a branded card reader.

As with Stripe, WePay is a third-party aggregator, which means that not all merchants who are onboarded via one of these platforms will be approved and they may face sudden account holds or terminations. Also, pricing isn’t disclosed and it’s up to the platform builder to decide what sort of rates it wants to charge and whether it wants to take a cut of the processing costs.

  • Merchant Account or Third-Party: Third-Party
  • Pricing Model: Not Stated
  • Processing Costs: Not Stated
  • Suitable For Low Volume: No
  • Suitable For High-Risk Businesses: No

Final Thoughts

Stripe is a great option for many businesses. The fact that there are no monthly minimums makes it great for startups, and the number of supported countries, supported payment options and supported currencies make it a serious contender for global businesses in particular. The various features make Stripe especially well suited to high-tech businesses that aren’t satisfied with the standard fare in a payments processor.

But the other companies we’ve looked at are all great options, too. And in the end, they all have their benefits and their drawbacks. Stripe, PayPal, Square, and WePay are all third-party processors that put merchants at risk of account freezes and terminations. What’s right for one business may not be right for another.

That’s why you need to have a really good idea of which features are absolute must-haves. You don’t want to start the process of establishing an account and creating an integration only to find out that a processor lacks a key feature and there’s no workaround. You should also consult your developer, as they have hands-on that can help you make a decision.

And finally, you should consider what features you might need in the future as your business grows. Do you plan to expand your sales channels? Do you want to launch additional products or service plans? Think about where you want your business to grow in the future. If you find a processor that can handle everything you want now and in the future, you won’t need to worry about the hassle of switching processors.

As always, thanks for reading! Have questions? Experience using these processors? We’d love to hear from you so leave us a comment and weigh in with your thoughts!

The post Stripe Payments Competitors And Alternatives appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


How To Print, Pack, And Ship With FedEx Office

As an online seller, you’re a busy person. Between managing your website’s design and processing incoming orders, you barely have enough time to restock your packaging materials, much less create and print new marketing inserts!

If this is you, it might be time to look into FedEx Office. You know FedEx as a shipping carrier that helps you get your products to your customers’ doorsteps, but they also offer a range of other services that can help simplify your business operations. And if you’re already using FedEx for your shipping, these services should fit right into your current business model.

Take advantage of FedEx Office’s free shipping supplies and DIY design and printing services for marketing materials. If you need a few extra hands, look into FedEx’s packing and design services for assistance.

Read on to learn how you can order free packaging materials and design and print your marketing inserts at your local FedEx store.

Get Started With FedEx Office

Packing & Shipping Supplies

One of FedEx’s best services is their free-to-order shipping supplies.

If you are using FedEx Express for your shipments, you can order FedEx boxes and filler material for free online. Those packages will be delivered to your doorstep within 2-5 business days. Take a look at a list of available packaging materials below, or view this webpage which includes a bit more detail about each option.

Or, if you already have a FedEx account, you can go one step further and login to your account in order to start ordering packaging materials.

Here’s a selection of those supplies:

  • FedEx Envelope
    • Best for papers. Must not exceed 500 grams.
  • FedEx Pak
    • For larger papers. Must not exceed 2.5kg.
  • FedEx Padded Pak
    • Tear and water resistant, for heavier documents that need protection. Must not exceed 2.5kg.
  • FedEx Small Box
    • Self-assembly box, for small documents and items. Must not exceed 9kg.
  • FedEx Medium Box
    • Self-sealing box, for binders, books, and large documents. Must not exceed 9kg.
  • FedEx Large Box
    • Self-sealing box, for large stacks of paper, heavier items, etc. Must not exceed 13kg.
  • FedEx A4 Box
    • Self-sealing box for shipping internationally. Must not exceed 9kg.
  • FedEx Tube
    • Self-sealing tube for posters, photos, etc. Must not exceed 9kg.
  • FedEx 10kg Box
    • Fixed rate via the FedEx International Priority Service.
  • FedEx 25kg Box
    • Fixed rate via the FedEx International Priority Service.
  • FedEx Clinical Pak
    • For shipping noninfectious clinical material. Must not exceed 9kg.
  • FedEx UN 3373 Pak
    • For shipping potentially infectious clinical material. Must not exceed 9kg.

For step-by-step instructions on ordering your FedEx shipping supplies online, take a look at this video:

If you choose to go the DIY route for packing, FedEx also provides several pages of advice on how to best pack specific items. Take a look at FedEx’s Service Guide, Packaging Help Hub, and Express Packaging and Labelling Tips.

Alternatively, if you’d prefer FedEx did the packaging on your behalf, that’s an option too. Just take your shipments to a FedEx store nearby, and they will bubble wrap and box your products right there. Take a look at FedEx’s information on these packaging services and view their list of available boxes below:

  • Standard boxes
  • Specialty boxes
  • Bulk boxes
  • Packing supplies

In my opinion, if you’re shipping more than twenty items a week, it’s a better idea to go with the self-packaging options. The materials are free, and after a bit of practice, you’ll be a packaging expert just like the employees at FedEx.

Get Supplies From FedEx Office

Marketing Materials

In addition to their shipping services, FedEx also offers design and printing services for your marketing materials. Create custom marketing materials in-store at the FedEx Office or use an available template to design your materials online.

You’ll be able to create the following items:

  • Banners
  • Business Cards
  • Brochures
  • Direct Mail
  • Flyers
  • Mounted Posters
  • Postcards
  • Posters
  • Presentations
  • Resumes
  • Sell Sheets
  • Signs
  • Design Services
  • Use Design Templates
  • Canvas Prints
  • Invitations
  • Manuals
  • Backlit Prints
  • Photo Posters
  • Car Magnets
  • Decals

Follow the links above to view pricing for each item based on size and materials.

You can pick up your order at a FedEx Office location or have it shipped to you. FedEx offers free shipping on orders of $100 or more.

FedEx is also currently offering a coupon for their printing services. Get $5 on orders of $25 or more.

Start Printing With FedEx Office

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for an easy way to print your marketing inserts, posters, and business cards while getting your shipping done, FedEx Office might be the way to go.

Of course, you’ll need to consider that these FedEx printing services come with some cost, and though the prices are generally very reasonable, you may be able to find lower prices elsewhere. Shop around before you make your decision!

No matter what you decide on the printing services, one thing is certain: If you are using FedEx Express to ship your packages, you absolutely must take advantage of FedEx’s free shipping supplies. Just order the items you need online, and have those supplies delivered directly to your workspace in just a few days.

For more information on what FedEx can offer your business, take a look at their website. Or, for a comparison of FedEx’s shipping services with other major shipping carriers, head over to our article USPS vs UPS vs FedEx: Which Shipping Carrier Is Best?

Get Started With FedEx Office

The post How To Print, Pack, And Ship With FedEx Office appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


Should I Use Yelp for Business Owners?

We’ve all heard of Yelp. You might think of it simply as a helpful website that advises you to steer clear of that new Asian-Fusion place on Main Street (the service is terrible and you will get food poisoning). Based on how fellow customers rate restaurants and other businesses on a five-star scale, you can make decisions about whether various establishments are worth your time. You can even see pictures of locations, plates of food, menus, hotel rooms, and more.

But there is more to Yelp than just customer reviews of local services. On the other side of the curtain is a whole array of business tools designed to bring more customers through your doors. Functioning much like a social media account, Yelp for Business Owners lets you post pictures, interact with customers, and even buy targeted advertising to help grow your business. Ranging from free options that allow you to “claim” your business to paid subscriptions providing advertisements and high-quality video support, Yelp for Business Owners might be just the thing you have been looking for to give your business a boost.

But is it worth the expenditure? What can Yelp for Business really do for you? Read on to find out.

Do I Have To Pay To Create A Yelp Account For My Business?

Yelp for Business is free on the most basic level, but there are paid options if you want more features. Let’s take a closer look at the costs involved.

Free Tools:

The basic concept behind the free tools is that you can claim your business and establish a greater presence through Yelp. In many cases, your business will already be on Yelp, with positive and negative reviews, photos, and traffic already present. By claiming your own business, you will be able to gain some control over that content, including the ability to respond to reviews and add your own photos. In most cases, and especially if your business is already rated and reviewed on Yelp, there is no reason not to at least check this version of Yelp for Business out.

Self Service:

If you want to take advantage of Yelp’s proven popularity with consumers, you may find it advantageous to try their advertising service. The self-service option allows you to set your own budget for ads and will target people searching similar services to yours within your area. Yelp does not post their prices publically, but I found a general consensus among small business owners that pricing starts at $350 per month. Opting for this plan also allows for an “upgraded slideshow,” and removal of competitor ads when potential customers are looking at your Yelp page.

Full Service:

Signing up for the Full Service option gives you the opportunity to add a video to your Yelp profile, as well as a “call to action button” on your page. Both of these make your Yelp page stand out from competition, which could be valuable if there are lots of similar businesses to yours in your area. The Full Service package also includes support from Yelp’s own team of marketing experts, who will be on hand to help you craft your ads and deal with bad reviews and difficult customers.

How Easy Is It To Use Yelp For Business?

By all accounts, Yelp for Business Owners is very straightforward to use. It is easy to add photos and respond to customers on Yelp’s web platform. Designing an ad campaign is a little more difficult, but that mostly comes down to your own marketing decisions. So far, so good. However, if you do decide to sign up for Yelp’s advertising (hoping to take advantage of Yelp’s high trust rating with internet users), be aware that some things just aren’t possible. Hoping to set geographic boundaries for your advertisements? No can do. Want to specify particular keywords to direct traffic your way? Big nope there. So while the actual operating of Yelp for Business is pretty easy, the lack of things to do does not bode well for the app.

Are There Downsides To Using Yelp?

Well, we have partially answered that question already. The limitations on your advertising potential are a huge drawback for a platform that is supposed to be all about advertising for local businesses. Unfortunately, the bad news does not end there. In addition to being a little opaque in terms of usability, Yelp for Business is expensive. With prices starting at $350 per month and only increased from there, you will be paying exponentially more for Yelp than you would for Google, Facebook, or other ads. On top of that, I read reports from several users (read: most that I saw) claiming that it can be hard to determine just how effective those ads really are. Proponents of Yelp talk about the excellent reputation the site has with consumers and how often users visit an establishment once they look it up on the site. But actually finding how those statistics apply to small business owners can apparently be rather difficult.

On top of that, Yelp’s customer service reps can be charitably described as… persistent. I ran across more complaints about this aspect of Yelp for Business Owners than any other. Once you make it known to Yelp that you might be interested in an advertising contract, they push for it hard, even to the point of insisting that a higher price will be so beneficial to your business that you can’t afford not to give in and sign up. As a small business owner myself, I can’t imagine the frustration of continually having to defend my own decision to limit my budget below what a sales rep thinks is wise. After all, the business is mine.

Final Thoughts

Yelp is a proven platform that users–your future customers–trust almost implicitly. That said, Yelp for Business can be expensive, on the opaque side, and possibly less effective than advertised. My own take on it is this: signing up with Yelp for Business Owners is worthwhile if you already have a significant following on the platform. If your business already has positive reviews and has a decent history, you may as well at least claim your business on Yelp and upload some official photos. It might even be worth it to give in and pay for some ads. Just make sure you have a strategy in place for using Yelp for your business marketing.

If your business is brand new and has little to no Yelp presence, you may not want to go beyond confirming your business. At the very least, you should wait for a more established footprint on this review site before paying at all for their advertising; your money will just be better used elsewhere.

Get Started With Yelp For Business Owners

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