Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE, sits down with Erron Stark, Division Vice President of Channel Strategy for ADP, to discuss the current challenges many businesses are facing, specifically with hiring staff and employee retention. They speak about how ADP can provide data and solutions for businesses in these challenging times, and allow accounting professionals to provide their clients with a wide pool of information they can use to solve their current business pain points.
Erron Stark, Division Vice President of Channel Strategy for ADP, is in charge of putting together the program, products, and processes, and does so in a way that can provide value to the accounting community. He acknowledges his passion for helping the accounting community, and knows how valuable that relationship with them can be.
How ADP’s Access to Data Can Help Solve Pain Points
Erron speaks about his experience at Engage, and shares how different the conversations were this year following the pandemic. He talks about how people were hesitant to seek help from ADP, and didn’t want to experience change due to the overwhelming changes they had to overcome following COVID-19.
Dawn agrees, and briefly discusses how ADP can help with benchmarking, and uses restaurant owners as an example of this. She explains that many restaurant owners are having trouble staffing their business, and she explains that ADP can provide the necessary tools and information for business to see what the current hourly wage trends are; ADP has data from everywhere.
Erron adds he’s seen the same trends, and that hiring employees is one of the biggest struggles that many businesses are facing. He says that ADP’s benchmarking data goes off of real time data, and can give businesses accurate information in terms of how to retain employees and also see what local businesses around them are doing.
Dawn also adds that partnering with ADP allows accounting professionals to give value to all of their clients, rather than just providing payroll. Only looking at payroll data is not enough to keep a business thriving in current times, and it’s up to the accounting professionals to make sure their clients have access to enough information to properly execute plans and procedures to keep their business afloat.
ADP’s Vision for the Future
Nate discusses how ADP strives to always improve the way they present data to their firms. He talks about how it will be a continuous evolution of development, and makes sure they are receiving feedback from the accounting community for how they can best improve. He also talks about how ADP is also striving to help clients with proper regulatory compliance, as this can be difficult for many clients to implement properly.
Dawn also adds that she appreciates how ADP has her back, and can notify her of issues that may arise within her client’s business, such as not properly providing worker compensation and liability insurance.
Erron shares how he finds his motivation in his family, and also strives to put them in a better position. He also talks about his competitive nature, and credits his experience in sales during college for providing him with his consistent drive. He also shares his passion for always striving to always improve his work, and gets a lot of motivation when he sees success in ADP and in his clients.
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Dawn Brolin 0:01
Hello everyone and welcome to the DM Disruption. I’m the host Dawn Brolin. I’m a certified public accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and the author of the designated motivator. We’re here to help motivate you to take your practice to the next level.
Have you considered outsourcing your clients payroll? Well, I did and I went with ADP. The resources they provide, along with their partner program become the premier outsourcing Payroll solution. We as practitioners already deal with a ton of compliance. Keeping up with payroll isn’t a value added solution that I should be focused on. If you’ve considered outsourcing before, reconsider it today. Choose ADP to be part of your starting lineup.
Alright, so everyone, thank you so much. And welcome to the DM disruption. Super excited today to have Erron Stark from ADP on the show today. He’s just a great guy. We had a really good time at one dinner one time isn’t our best friends. And that’s just how it works, right. But, Erron, welcome to the podcast today. Introduce yourself. Tell us what you do and what you love. Go for it.
Erron Stark 1:12
Yeah. So first of all, thank you for having me Dawn. It’s it’s a pleasure. By the way last week is been a year and a half of being not in person with you is like the culmination of some good things to come. Right. So great seeing you last week. As you mentioned, my name is Erron Stark, division vice president of channel strategy for ADP is a lot of words. And ultimately, what that means is myself, my team, we are responsible for putting together the programs, the products, different processes, and how we can provide value to specifically the accounting community. There are other channels, we’re responsible for some of our executive bank relationships, we work with brokers alike, but over 60% of our business comes in through the accountant, community like people like yourself on so I think my number one responsibility is that came into this role about four years ago was Do not Mess That Up. This is such an important community to ADP, you know the value that we provide the service that we provide the products that we you know, offer to you and your clients, you know, our team’s responsibility is to keep that at a very high level, if not always exceeding expectations. So happy to be here to talk about what we’re hearing and seeing and feeling, you know, within this profession today. Um, and from there, you never know, with our conversations which direction I’m looking forward to.
Dawn Brolin 2:32
I know you know, we’ll we’re always entertaining Aaron, I haven’t have a blast all the time. That’s how we roll. And so ADP is part of Team Roland team role and having our full All Star tech stack of, you know, these are all the positions we have in our firm to run our firm. These are all the applications that we recommend to our clients. And of course, so ADP is number one. I’m disappointed a little bit the fact that when I asked ADP what they want, I’m not surprised by any stretch of the imagination, but which is your favorite baseball team. And of course, Erron and Amy, they’re all I don’t I don’t know what kind of drugs they take on a regular basis. But they’re all about the Yankees, right? Yankee Spanky. So we’ll just get that out of them.
Erron Stark 3:13
You can just grab yourselves and team Brolin, I think that, you know, it gives us a good start. So let’s not get into that, because you…
Dawn Brolin 3:23
It’s so fun. No, you know, and that’s one of the things like we just are trying to make this whole program, the podcast, all of the all star lineup. And that because we will we want to do is help my fellow accounting colleagues, my professionals realize that we have the ability to teach our clients how to run their businesses in a way that we run our businesses. And with that, we want to make sure that we’re implementing best practices, the most value add that we can provide to the client. And that’s one of the reasons why ADP is just a homerun, they’re, you know, they’re the homerun team, a homerun player on my team. I mean, they give me the ability to service my clients, monitor activity within my clients to analyze and things like that. And so I just for me, it’s not, there’s just no comparison to what ADP provides my firm and my clients for service. But, Erron, okay, we were at Engage, right? And we were, it was wonderful to see people that was like, so important to get around each other, to learn from each other to be a look in each other’s eyes again, you know, and so tell me a little bit about your experience at Engage and what did you see from the practitioners and what’s the what’s the hype?
Erron Stark 4:33
Yeah, so finally getting to interat in person, which was amazing. I think it’s, it’s interesting to see since the last thing that we’re in person, and obviously many, many conversations, virtual conversations over the last, you know, 16-18 months, however long its been, losing track, but the reality is everybody’s been talking about and like two different paths, right, you have this thing on top of it. legislative changes path, which you just have to as the frontline, the frontline for every SMB client that’s out there, and where they’re looking for advice and guidance on how to navigate through that. So you have that piece which you don’t necessarily control, which is very taxing and time consuming. And all the regulations regulatory compliance on this report, and then you have, you know, this continuous evolution of advisory services. And I put air quotes in here, because I feel like everybody’s got it like a different definition of it. But no matter how you define it, right, it’s a combination of leveraging technology, leveraging data, being able to present it in an articulate form to your clients that will help and enable them to grow. And hopefully, this is a, you know, a cocktail of all the different definitions that exist out there. But I think one of the things that I learned, and I’ve heard this in a couple of different conversations, not just an engagement leading up to engages, yes, I understand it’s right. And yes, I’ve started to see and learn more about what’s available to me. But I still don’t know how to actually capitalize on it, like, there still seems to be a certain level of hesitation on because people are in the sensitive state, like, how do I profit from the cutaway product? Guys? How do I monetize it. Um, and I think that’s something that, you know, the firm’s that we’re working with, some have figured it out that, you know, definitely on the more progressive side, because they understand the value to it, and how it differentiates them from, you know, the accountant, the advisor, the practitioner down the block, and then there are a lot that just don’t understand how their clients are going to react to it. And it’s giving them a little bit of pause. So, you know, from an ADP standpoint, I think that, you know, we help definitely with some of the technology elements and the tech stack that we can provide to give that data that intelligence, but we’re we’re looking to continuously evolve based on the feedback that we’re hearing is, how can we either develop or partner with, you know, those entities, and that can actually help a firm understand how I can monetize this, how I can introduce it to my clients, where they don’t feel threatened by it, where I’m trying to gouge them during a very sensitive time, versus this is a valued service that is going to enhance your business. And as you are trying to grow your practice. So am I and we’re in this together. Right? Like, I think that that’s something that we’re still trying to figure out. I don’t know if I have it fully laid out just yet. But hopefully, that’s a good summary of what we’re seeing what we’re hearing.
Dawn Brolin 7:28
And you know, Heather and I talk a lot when I spoke with her the other day, we were talking about, you know, the whole concept of the benchmarks of what are other and we use restaurants as an example. We know right now that employers are really struggling finding employees, finding people who want to work, we won’t get political about it, but it just is what it is. Right? So with saying that, what the solution or a resource that ADP is able to provide you as a practitioner through the accountant Connect portal, is that benchmarking? What are people getting paid in Boston, Massachusetts as a server? What are they getting paid? And, you know, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, wherever, wherever your clients are with loves, ADP has data from everywhere. And I think that that’s one of the things right now, when you listen to your clients say, Hey, listen, I’m struggling with hiring employees, I can’t get people. What do I do? Well, one of the first things you can do is go into your account, connect resource and go check and see what the comparatives across the country or wherever your clients located for the similar for a similar type of business, and figure out maybe your way underpaying people, it’s totally possible, but you don’t know if you don’t have the resources. And that’s, I think the most important thing to me are the resources that I can tap into the PPP loan, you guys crushed, that, you know, the reporting and the things that we needed to report in for forgiveness, and things like that. And guess what people that’s still going on today’s PPP loan close with it was end of May the second round, there’s still reporting requirements that you’re going to be required to provide. And if you’re just not able to pop those reports out, you know, I’m sorry, but you got to you’ve got to look at something to do something different. And so, you know, talk about if you can era just talk a little bit about what you’re seeing from a hiring perspective, because you guys obviously see all of the industry statistics and the reporting that comes out about that. What are what are you seeing out there with regards to employee retention or even hiring.
Erron Stark 9:27
I want to be really, cause I feel like media, medium without hearing and seeing some of the statistics and the sensitivity around you know, having to retain employees and the taxing exercise that that that includes and listen to the bits that are most important asset are people but people are calling this current time the Great Resignation, 40% of employees are considering leaving their current employer because there’s a there’s a premium out there. cause the amount of jobs that continue to stay open 9 million jobs, right that they’re open right now in the economy. And as good as the jobs reports have been as far as filling them, like there’s an attrition that’s taking place, it’s opening up more, and then there’s just been this big void. And they can see that has built over the past year and a half, that is going to take some time for us to get back to. So employers are taking extreme measures to offer hiring bonuses, premium benefits, different experiences, whether that’s, you know, hiring bonuses or equity within their firms like there is a variety of different tactics that they need to differentiate themselves from the competition or attract them away from their current employer. So everybody’s playing this offense defense game. And to your point that comp benchmarking is what really does differentiated versus some of the other datasets that are out there is that it’s it’s built off of real time intelligence, where you can go look at some of the job boards, and you can go and look at some of the other datasets, but they are an aggregation of information that took place last month, last quarter or last year, based on those different jobs, or potentially what people are being offered in a job board. Right, like what’s on the actual adopters. But that doesn’t necessarily correlate to what people are getting paid and offered at the end state. So what our information does is we’re aggregating and anonymizing 30 million plus employees across the domestic US. And then we’re pulling that in by industry, by geography by job tied by tenure. And that’s what people are getting paid right now. Right? The second and if you take that, and you start to expand it with this, you know, another piece of attracting and hiring talent right now, is the flexibility optionality, when it comes to where you’re going to work, and how often you’re going to work, right? Like you’ve seen many companies instituting four day workweeks, or your instance being you only have to come to the office three days a week, or not ever come to the office at all. So people have relocated from New York, Florida, from Florida to California, from Texas to wherever. And just heard about somebody moving to Montana sounds glorious, like the reality is, what what you’re paying for talent that used to live in New York City, the cost of living is not the same in Montana, right, and being able to have the tools to pivot quickly are, I mean, you could say that that’s important, right? And a differentiator for not just us for the firm, but the firm to that client, right to be able to, you know, identify that. And then all these pieces to get off this model up here, I guess, is also taking a look at the clients that are reaching out to you or one cohort, right? Like that’s one group of people that are proactively reaching out to their advisors, and asking them for a level of consultation and how to navigate this. Is it every client? I promise you, it’s probably not right. It’s not like you have 100 clients, maybe 50 are doing that. Me too, right. But the other 50, the other 98, you have to assume that some of this is taking place within their organizations as well. And if they’re not reaching out to you, it’s either a, they don’t know the questions to ask, ie, they don’t know that you have services or solutions to help me or see the worst answer. They’re going somewhere else for, right. And it’s that some or else that should be just something top of mind for the accounting profession, because everybody’s trying to create these robust suites, where I offer this, and this This, in essence, right. And some of those other this is, we hope and fingers crossed that they’re not going to be accounting services. So Right. So and what we’ve done to take offense to that with our accounting partners in accounting Connect is the new insights application, which actually shows you which clients are adding employees, which clients might have attrition, which clients are opening up or have multiple jurisdictions that they’re adding to their payroll, who should be leading indicators that you could take a proactive measure with your clients pick up the phone and say, I just saw that you added 35 employees over the last 90 days, that’s awesome. But are you putting in the infrastructure to help support them to help retain them, right? So you can stabilize this growth if not accelerated, moving forward? Or the adverse which is, hey, I’ve seen that you lost him people over the last month or two, what’s causing that? Maybe it’s the compensation piece to your point where I’m overpaying, which, you know, maybe that’s not the worst thing, but what if you’re underpaid? And now they’re talking them off the right because you were going off of a different model that 18 months ago made sense, but today is not the same.
Dawn Brolin 14:50
Yeah, and I think that that again, we always talk about adding value, which everybody always talks about adding value and I think, in our accounting profession now, we’ve got to do that more than we ever need. And did before more of thinking outside of the box, not doing the same thing where, like you said, somebody is adding employees? Are they, you know, should they be adding different benefits? Are they let’s say the add employees they have 401k? is did you offer the 401k? To your new people? Did they sign up? Do you have the, you know, they don’t want to sign up? So did you have that letter that says no, I’m opting out? Those kind of like labor force issues that the client may not be thinking of as they’re growing? That Okay, listen, we got to take a look at this, or we got to take a look at that. We got to say, Hey, listen, wait a minute, what if we have employee retention, tax credit, things that we need to address, things that they’re not necessarily thinking of? And, you know, maybe sometimes we’re not thinking of them. But when you relieve yourself from performing services, that are not a value add, and you stop doing those things, and you start moving over to, hey, we got to take a look at this, you know, maybe they’re a new client, maybe they’re, you know, we I got a lot of new clients last year, did I sit down with every single one of them and go, Okay, do you? Do you qualify for the employee retention credit? Do you have tip credits, you have this, like, those have to be in the forefront of our minds. But if I’m focused so much on the performance of payroll, or the integration, or the journal entries on making, which that’s a whole nother ballgame, I lose sight of the value added things I could be doing for that. And I think that that’s my point about about partnering with a solution provider that gives more than just that payroll, blah, blah, blah, it gives you that bigger picture to have conversations with your client that they need to hear. They don’t even know they need to hear them, but they do. And so I think that that’s, you know, been a really great thing. So Aaron, so tell me, for the next, let’s say a year, what is the plan to help to help put these other types of tools in place? And what’s the vision of ADP from a solution providing perspective or support perspective for accounting professionals? That you can tell us about?
Erron Stark 17:01
Yeah, yeah, year, for sure. We keep a couple in the vault. I think it will just continue to be released. We serve up our information to our firms, right. And the feedback that we go we that we’ve already heard. And by the way, it goes without saying, but all of the tools and resources that we develop that we partner with us is is all from solicitation and feedback we get from the kind of community like so our Advisory Board, which you are obviously in the member of, but just the general accounting profession, you know, we continuously reach out to ask, what are the things we can continue to do in order for not just the graded need to be to be the preferred provider, but also to add value, right like to help us professionally and you saw that in what was done during the height of the pandemic and the PPP that you mentioned before. So, you know, we have those tools and resources, feedback through accountant connected, if you see something, say something, right, like we’re always keeping our eyes and ears open. But I think where we’re focused on right now is, again, making sure that we have some of those tools and resources readily available to help navigate the regulatory compliance, because we don’t see that going down. Unfortunately, or fortunately, anytime soon, like some people do benefit from this ever changing landscape, right? You know, it sometimes leads to profitability. But then on the flip side is what am what we really excited about? How do we take this data? How do we take this intelligence and make it actionable, right, where we can actually take that information as opposed to looking at it and looking for it, which is step number one, and we’re there, which is super exciting. But imagine a world where we can take that and proactively provided to you to then proactively provide it to your client. And I’ll use just a quick example. employer hires an employee in a state that has a required mandate for a retirement vehicle. And they do not have one in place today, imagine that a notification goes off, which again, you can look and find this data today, but you’re gonna have to search a little bit. But imagine if just with a snap of a finger ADP is notifying you to say you have a client out of compliance up the hero. And by the way, here’s a solution set that you can easily tap into whether or not you want to use it or not, doesn’t matter. Like, here’s what’s happening, what they should be doing, and solutions if you’re not looking to scour the internet.
Dawn Brolin 19:34
Yeah, and you know, honestly, that’s, that’s the type of thing that, you know, I complained one time I had a client who didn’t have workers comp, they were in New York City, and if you are from New York, and you don’t have workers comp, you know, I got a bill comes through the New York State kind of like goes right at you right for your jugular. But it was like she added one employee and I wasn’t really thinking like, I’m not their insurance agent, right? And so later down line, they get the notice they’re like, you know, you set up payroll, why didn’t you set up workers comp? And I’m like, oh, like it was like a light bulb came on in my head that Oh, I do have to be the insurance agent. Not really. But I have to be the one who says, hey, you know, do you have workers comp in New York City for New York for this employee? Because New York’s pretty, pretty rough about workers comp. And so really, it was at the end of the day, it was my failure in a way that I wasn’t paying enough attention. But, but having ADP say to me, Oh, hey, so and so just add an employee in New York? And hey, do they have workers comp? Do they have you know, do they have a withholding number set up? Are they registered in New York to be able to pay in New York employee? Things like that, that we need to be that person who is thinking forward for the client? And not just be the person? Oh, yeah, they’re on, okay, they got somebody on payroll looks like their payroll went up. And oh, that, you know, it’s in the accounting, who cares? Because really, the clients need us for more than that. And so the more that we can, again, not set them up on insurance, necessarily, unless you’re doing a worker’s comp pay as you go. But even just liability insurance or things like that, that the client has no clue they need this stuff. They don’t have any idea. They go to an attorney, typically, the attorney sets up the entity. And then that attorney is all done. Well, the attorney didn’t think about that they have liability insurance, do they have this all their job was to register their you know, entity, and get them an EIN, they think that’s where it ends? Well, that’s where it begins. And so the more tools and things like that when it comes to the payroll regulations that ADP can provide to the practitioner, and that’s what ADP has been doing. And I think, from a motivation perspective to take action, which is really what this whole podcast is about motivation, turning into action. And that’s what we want, I don’t want to motivate you, and then I’ll be your goal. And you’re like, Oh, that was great. No, it’s like, okay, what am I going to do with the information I learned? I’m going to go do something about it. And so I think that you know, what ADP has in the pipeline is exactly what we need. But I want to I want to go a little bit to your personal side, Aaron, a little bit over here, which will be unexpected, that’s fair. But I want to hear about what motivates Aaron Stark, what, what motivates you to get up every day and do what you do? And I know, you’re gonna tell me, it’s because of people like me, and you love us. And I get all that what I’ve thought about Erron Stark, like, tell me a little bit about that.
Erron Stark 22:17
Yeah. So there’s, there’s two sides of me, the get me up every day and push me probably more than anything. So it’s, what is obvious is my family, right? So father of three, my wife of going out almost 12 years come September, you know, there’s really nothing that I wouldn’t do to put them in a better positioned than I ever had growing up. Um, and, you know, so that’s, that’s first and foremost. But I’m also a very competitive individual, like growing up in a sales organization, put myself through college doing sales. Like, I am always looking at ways in which, you know, myself, my team is exceeding expectations, like when I put on my GPS in the morning, and it says, I’m gonna get to the office at 7:30, I kind of look at it and I drop an expletive. And I say, I’m going to be there at 7:15 right? Like that. That’s either my competitive nature or my psychosis, I’ll let you choose. But you know, it’s just that drive of, you know, never been content with, you know, what it is that we’re doing. And part of what attracted me to ADP is that I think it’s built into our DNA and the fabric of organization, but it’s only five years in the business of, you know, always looking to exceed our expectations and outperform, you know, what our partners, our clients, you know, are looking for an ADP, are we always perfect? No, right? Not, nor am I as a as a human being. But I think when you balance those two sides of the equation, right, having something that grounds you in my family, but then this this, this desire to always be getting better, right? Like, no matter what that is, those are my motivational factors.
Dawn Brolin 23:58
And I love that that’s, you know, that’s, for me, it’s my big motivation right now, at least in my in my professional world is to help other practitioners, but also my clients, I got an error. And this is actually kind of like a timing thing. But I had a client email me this morning, and I finished their tax return and they’re like, can you please split the cost of the taxpayer and two payments, and I’m like, not a problem they’ve been a client for many, many years. I know, you know, I know, they’re good for it type of thing. And I, you know, I make very, very few exceptions to that to the rule of getting paid. But she emailed me and she said, I’ve not told anybody this, but I can’t tell you how much I’m struggling with my family doesn’t know. Nobody knows. My family has been depending on me for 20 years to provide for the family. And I’m just burnt out. I don’t even I can’t sleep at night. And so from a motivation perspective, immediately going into the DM mode, mindset mode. That’s where I go immediately when I hear something like that. It’s like whoa, stop everything. Right, we’re here for a bigger purpose than to process payroll. What we are here to do is to serve clients and give them value, but also understand their where they are as a human. And the work. I mean, I can’t say enough, it’s the worst time from a mental perspective for people. And so the more that I can streamline production in my company, whether it’s through tax returns, things like that, but having the streamlined technologies that I utilize, allow me to stop and say, hey, when can I call you like, this is too important. I don’t care about your money. None of that matters, but the people do. And that’s, at the end of the day, what we’re really about. And so yeah, your family is your motivator, were you and I, Aaron, we are both competitive, we will, we will fight til death bleed to death. We don’t neither of us care, we’re competitive. But at the end of the day, it’s that human that I’m sure you’ve had so many interactions with practitioners who are in a position that they’re just struggling mentally, or from whatever perspective and I think, you know, hopefully, this DM mindset will help people step back a little bit and treat each other more like humans and not robots, and, you know, the efficiency and the resources. And all those things are great, we need them in our practice, so that we can address the more important things which are each other. And so, you know, that’s kind of, you know, I’ll give you I want you to give me last thoughts on that, just kind of on that concept.
Erron Stark 26:27
So, I, I love your, your mission right now kind of find the right word to encapsulate what it is that you’re doing. But it’s a mission, right like this, you know, this motivational elements of what you’re trying to bring is probably a little bit different than what you’ve heard or seen within your profession, right here for many years. Tom, from a historical lens, you naturally get into this proactive lens, but you’re adding in this different dynamic of that motivational factor, which brings in that human component to it. Because I do think that everybody needs a reminder of like, when you ask him this question, what does motivate you had? Because there are some challenging times right now, like we’re still working from home in certain instances. And, you know, not every conversation has this positive outlook on it, there’s probably more of those than we care to admit in certain instances. But like, honing in on what does motivate us, right? And what got us to that point where we were happy and potentially not, you know, reminding ourselves every day, I think is a testament to you know, what you’re bringing to market right now. And you know, the conversations that you’re having, I’m happy, I’m privileged to be a part of it. So thank you for letting me here today. Looking forward to the next one. I remember the first time we did this was in that dingy conference room with a microphone in front of your face, and I wasn’t sure what was happening. But here we are a couple years later, and the conversation just keep getting better and better. Dawn, so goes out with Thank you, and, go Yankees. And just kidding. I look forward to speaking to you soon. This is awesome.
Dawn Brolin 28:01
Absolutely Erron, thank you again, so much. And thank you everybody for listening to VM disruption. We’ll be back again next week for another episode. We’re here to just try to support all of you in whatever way we can. And ADP is definitely a partner that I call my family as part of my team. And critical toast to the growth of powerful accounting. So thank you again, Aaron, and we’ll be talking to you soon so stay out of trouble. Go Red Sox.
I hope you enjoy this podcast. Feel free to visit DawnBrolin.com in order to motivate you to improve your practice. Wishing you all the best. Have a great day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai