After George and Kathy Heidelmaier left their full-time jobs to open their own payroll company in 2008, they didn’t miss a beat. They began their operation, It’s PayDay, in their Bel Air condominium with just two desks, a computer and a telephone. Each morning, both showered and dressed for the workday and headed upstairs to their loft office.
“I never, ever worked in jeans,” says Kathy, who handles the operations and training aspects of the business. “The saying goes, ‘Dress for Success,’ and that’s what I’ve done every day.” George, who focuses on sales, has begun each day in a shirt and tie, even without appointments outside of the office.
The Heidelmaiers worked hard to establish their brand, starting completely from scratch. There was no franchise template for running the business and no existing brand to piggyback. Kathy developed the company identity, including colors and logo for business cards and letterhead, brochures and website. Other marketing efforts included a wrap for their car, which they strategically parked around town at busy intersections for visibility. George worked with banks to secure small lines of credit for startup expenses like computers and printers, software, furniture and office supplies like binders and paper.
Early on, George met with a business owner with a 30-member workforce. After confirmation, he returned with the contract for her signature. She signed, and then her husband became involved and asked questions about their business history. After a few minutes, he canceled the contract, noting he was not willing to be It’s PayDay’s first client. George grabbed the signed contract and carried it in his briefcase for nearly five years as motivation.
They carried on, and after six months had contracts with 40 clients. After the first year, they grew to servicing 100 clients. After year two and 200 clients, they outgrew their condo space and moved to their current location in Bel Air.
The Heidelmaiers set out to provide a community service they felt was lacking – a small business that handles the payroll burden for other small businesses. Their philosophy centers on quality, personal service not generally available from large, corporate companies that handle thousands of accounts, Kathy says.
“(Our clients) don’t get a recording when they call,” Kathy says. “We address needs immediately and they don’t need to go to another department for assistance. We have the niche of working with clients like our size. We share the same frustrations and struggles as they do.”
It’s PayDay established its fees based on a company’s size and payroll frequency. Prices are less than large franchised and national companies.
Today, the Heidelmaiers serve more than 500 clients with a staff of 11 full time employees, and they successfully compete with large national and international payroll companies for business. One of their original employees, who carried her own key to their condo office during the first years, still works for the company.
The Heidelmaiers have been married for eight years. Kathy’s 20-year-old daughter, Racheal, is a full-time student and also works for the company. Working with your spouse and family members can be challenging, but it’s also an important aspect of their success, George says.
“I could never ask for a better partner. Kathy is the true strength of this company … making sure things are perfectly run. She has an incredible attention to detail that is so needed in this type of work and works harder than anyone I have ever known.”
It’s PayDay’s success is reflected not only in its growth but in the accolades it receives. In September, the Harford County Chamber of Commerce recognized It’s PayDay with its Harford Award for Service, touting the company’s commitment to the Harford business community. In November, Thomson Reuters, a national payroll software company, honored It’s PayDay with its Innovation Award, which acknowledges the firm’s innovativeness, invigoration and growth in the last year. It’s PayDay transitioned 30 percent of its clients to its updated software program, making them virtually paperless. In addition, business grew 33 percent over last year’s figures. Kathy and George are called upon to meet payroll providers across the county to share marketing and operating advice.
“We are very humbled and so very proud of our fabulous team who were instrumental in the growth of It’s PayDay and our winning these awards,” George says. “It’s an incredible honor to work with a group of people who are so dedicated to the accuracy of what they do. Our name is all over the work we do and we hold our heads very high every day. The awards are given because of our great staff and their dedication to a perfect product.” I95