ADP vs. Gusto & How to Choose the Best Payroll Partners for Your Bookkeeping Biz

for bookkeepers podcast tech Apr 04, 2022
payroll partners



Today’s topic is about payroll partners and the two that I work with and recommend. Gusto and ADP are the two that I work with, and I think they’re both excellent platforms. I recommend that you become a partner of each of these and then you can pair your clients based on different preferences.

Be sure to check out a full rundown of these options on my site as a tool for deciding which may be better suited for you or a specific client. This resource has full demos with each payroll rep and will allow you to collect all relevant information on both platforms. 



My Experience with ADP and Gusto

So, I work with both of these platforms. My personal preference is ADP, but Gusto is also an amazing platform that has wonderful features. I was actually a Gusto fanatic, but then was converted over to ADP. ADP offers a highly personalized experience and I would describe ADP as more of a service while Gusto is more of a software.

I’ll tell you a bit about my journey to where I stand now with these platforms. When I started my bookkeeping business, Gusto was recommended. The platform has amazing pricing, is easy to use, and looks nice. I loved using it! I could auto-set payroll, automate tax management and returning filing, and easily run payroll monthly with the right taxes withheld. You can use Gusto to pay yourself, employees, or 1099 contractors.

Then, in 2019 I hosted a workshop. Jessica, an ADP rep, came and knew that I was her ideal client. She explained to me the benefits of ADP, but I was a hard sell since I was really happy with Gusto. From there, I went into my inquisition stage and asked tons of questions. But, she really sold me on the platform.

I liked that I was able to be compensated for referral commissions on ADP and that feature really couldn’t be topped. So I started trying it out. Another great thing about ADP is that you receive free payroll for life for your firm whether you sign a client there or not. While Gusto does something similar and was willing to honor that to match ADP, it’s worth noting that they don’t usually run that deal.

So, I started testing ADP and found that I preferred some signs about it over Gusto. I have now been working with ADP for 3 years and had two different reps, both of whom have been so helpful. They really value their partners and clients, which is an amazing quality.


The Importance of Payroll Providers

Before I get into my comparison between Gusto and ADP, I want to touch on the importance of payroll providers. Most clients are at the ground level of biz when hiring a bookkeeper and this typically is one of the first people they come to. 

Payroll is very nuanced and there’s SO much to know about it. It can be beastly and time-consuming. That means that you will have to spend more time on it and lose money or pass on a higher bill to your client. But, the fee to use these platforms is well worth it because it’s a huge time saver. It’s also a huge benefit that it reduces room for error to file payroll returns.

The platforms allow your client to easily grow and build a team, add on retirement accounts, and do other things that would be cumbersome otherwise. All in all, having a payroll provider makes things more efficient.



ADP vs. Gusto

Now I’ll get into some comparison points between the two providers that I think are notable. 

  • For a personal touch from a payroll partner, ADP wins out on this for me. I haven’t had a chance to work with Gusto reps, so I can only speak to my level of experience. But with ADP, you will have a huge level of access to real humans that’ll help with any issues that arise.
  • Seamless integration with retirement contributions - ADP makes this very easy whereas there’s no natural integration for it in Gusto. In ADP, you can add on retirement accounts for your client. This pays out easily and gets on W2s seamlessly with ADP.
  • Free payroll for firms - both do this, but it has to be specifically requested from Gusto.
  • Timeliness of processing payroll - ADP is quicker on this one. This means there’s a faster turnaround of taking money from the business bank account and depositing it to workers.
  • Resources and education - both earn marks for this -I’ve heard great things on it for Gusto and know that ADP is very on the ball with their resources and education.
  • Hands-off client onboarding - ADP wins in this department. They get a client set up on payroll completely and will run the first payroll with a client. Gusto does this with businesses that have 10+ employees.
  • Earning potential for you - ADP is the winner on this one! I’ve made thousands of dollars referring people to ADP whether they’re a client or not. Gusto gives discounts on packages based on how many people you sign, but no commissions. 
  • Price for your client - Gusto wins out for this category as it’s very affordable - $39 per month $6 or $12 per user. There’s no cost per payroll run, whereas ADP charges each time it’s run on their platform. However, if ADP gets a quote from someone else, they do tend to price match if you inquire.
  • Contractor-only payments - Gusto is great for this and it’s easier to use this platform for this purpose than it is to use ADP.


Additional  Gusto Features 

Gusto has a couple more features worth noting:

  • Foreign contractor payments for client employees that work in different countries  - ADP does not offer this service.
  • Time tracking - ADP has a basic one, Gusto has a robust time tracking system by client or project that calculates costs.



Two Robust Systems: The Bottom Line

Both of these platforms are excellent choices for different clients. As I said, I recommend partnering with each of them for your bookkeeping business. They both have their strong suits and offer wonderful experiences, and hopefully, my two cents helped you understand where they each shine.

Don’t forget to head to to get the full rundown on both platforms and see their features side-by-side so you can make an informed decision and sign up as a partner for both.

Ready to take action? Apply for the program that's right for you:

If you're looking for more insight on how to become a bookkeeper, and how to say hello to a more confident business model, enroll in Become A Bookkeeper (BABs)

Or, if you’re confident in your skills as a bookkeeper and want to learn how to grow and scale your bookkeeping business, you can apply for Life By The Books™ (Libby).

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