The HABU Accelerator Podcast

Ep019: Payroll and HR Solutions via Guhroo

May 15th, 2024

On this edition of the HABU Accelerator Podcast, I welcomed back CEO Matt Vaadi of Guhroo to discuss the ins and outs of HR, payroll, and benefits management and its relevance to CPA advisory roles.

Matt shared how Guhroo differentiates itself from conventional call centers through personalized service and a mission-driven approach. He detailed Guhroo's commitment to empowering local communities through efficient yet boutique-style support solutions tailored for small businesses.

For advisors seeking to elevate client value, this discussion illuminated strategic partnerships that strengthen services, like Guhroo's ability to add capabilities as needed consistently. Looking ahead to an upcoming meeting, I look forward to our ongoing collaboration and innovation in support of mutual success.



  • Matt Vaadi, CEO of Guhroo, joins the Advisory Accelerator podcast to discuss HR, payroll, and benefits management in CPA advisory roles.
  • We explore Guhroo's personalized service model and its divergence from the traditional call center approach, focusing on a mission-driven strategy that includes contributions to nonprofits.
  • Guhroo targets small businesses, aiming to provide a boutique-style service experience while maintaining the scalability learned from larger corporations.
  • The conversation includes the evolution of white label payroll platforms, highlighting the flexibility these platforms offer CPAs in managing client relations.
  • We discuss the transition from basic online payroll options to comprehensive Professional Employer Organization (PEO) solutions and their scalability for growing businesses.
  • The importance of strategic partnerships for CPAs is emphasized, particularly in the realm of payroll services, to consistently add value to client services.
  • Matt recounts his transition from working at ADP to founding Guhroo and the motivations behind creating a more integrated community-focused company.
  • Options for CPA firms are detailed, including referral partnerships, reseller programs, and full-service white labeling using Guhroo's platform.
  • We highlight Guhroo's strategy of providing valuable resources, like free HR templates, to establish trust and initiate potential client relationships.
  • Anticipation for an upcoming meeting in Dallas is mentioned, signifying the continued collaboration and innovation between the podcast host's company and Guhroo.


Show Notes

About Guhroo


Matt Vaadi


(AI transcript provided as supporting material and may contain errors)

Jeff: Well, hello again everybody. This is Jeff Pawlow, and I am the president of the Engineered Advisory Family of Companies and your host for the Advisory Accelerator podcast, a show that works to help CPAs become more advisory-minded in their practices. On today's show, I'm happy to welcome back our friend, Matt Vaadi. He is the founder and CEO of Guhroo and he's gonna help us navigate the incredibly complex world of HR, and he's going to help us navigate the incredibly complex world of HR, payroll and benefits as CPAs. I know that you've had clients who have turned to you for advice in this area, and so I'm really looking forward to today's conversation.

Matt, welcome to the Advisory Accelerator Podcast. Thanks for having me, Jeff. I'm excited to be here, you bet, and thanks for all the work you're doing for us directly, full disclosure.Guhroo is our payroll provider and has done a wonderful job for us, so we're able to provide that testimonial without reservation. And I think the thing that I'm most impressed with is, matt, you've got a little bit different model. You're not the block and tackle mainline payroll service provider. Maybe talk a little bit about your vision for guhroo and what makes it so special.

Matt: Yeah, we really try to focus on, you know, if you go back to the beginning of where this thing started. So I'm a former ADP guy. I was there for many years and one day made a call up to corporate and was asking for some money to donate to a local nonprofit so we could get involved in a cause they were having. They were having a 5K. We actually wanted to just sponsor it. It wasn't even a donation, so it was hey, we're going to get our logo on the back of the T-shirt. The team's all going to go out and be a part of the 5K. It's going to be a team building opportunity. It's going to be a team building opportunity. It's only a few hundred bucks but, you know, be a great way to get more integrated into the community and show them we're not just a big brand, that's not part of the community. And they said you know what, matt, we just can't get involved at the local level. And you know those words ring through. I still hear them clear as day today.

I'll never forget that phone call because it's really what set us down this path of hey.

Not only are we looking for a way to provide a better mousetrap, easier to use software for small businesses, better support, better technology, all those things.

We also want to have something that was mission first and mission focused, and that's what guhroo is. So we're a mission first company. We give 5% of everything to nonprofits, so 3% of all of our revenue, 1% of our time and 1% of our product and you know that mission kind of gets into the products. As you said, really our core focus is on serving the small businesses in a way that's more of a delightful experience than what they're used to in that call center cattle herd mentality that's become the norm for our industry. You know, we want to provide that white glove concierge model and we do everything from a simple online payroll solution where they've got access to a dedicated team of payroll specialists, all the way through to a PEO with a fully outsourced HR department and benefits offering, and so being able to serve and meet small businesses at their point of need and partner with CPAs to get there has been a delightful experience for the last 10 years.

Jeff: So it's interesting you mentioned you came out of the ADP background, so you've seen the call center Dilbert world of payroll. My guess is that informed a lot of what you were trying to do when you founded Guhroo, because you learned what not to do.

Matt: Yeah, there's two sides of that coin, right. So we've adopted a lot of the big company things that our smaller competitors don't do Monitoring response times, first response times, average response times, net promoter scores, making sure that we're hitting on the key metrics that matter to our clients. If you look at our testimonials, online responsiveness is mentioned in almost every single one of them. We respond to all inbound inquiries in less than two hours. But then also, yeah, that one-to-one feel we're in South Carolina. We'll have a client in California and they'll mention hey, you feel like our local provider that's right down the street from us. You give us that boutique feel with national scale, and that's really what we've been going for from the start and it's been awesome to watch it come together.

You know, fun fact about that, Jeff, is when, when we first started from day one, we've been a Zoom cameras on organization for the last 10 years, and so when COVID hit and everybody else, all of our clients finally started flipping their cameras on and we got to see, you know, instead of staring at the black screen while they look at our face, and it became the norm for everybody to be on Zooms with the camera on. It was a great revelation for us and expanded. I mean, I think we were serving 20 states before COVID and now we're serving nearly all 50 states and we have the ability to serve all 50 states and so that's been a tremendous boon for us and just helped us to galvanize those relationships and, you know, give that balance of not only great technology but the feeling like we're an extension of your team when you work with us.

Jeff: You know, talk a little bit, Matt, because you're very deliberate about what you do and how you do it and the audience that it is built to serve. So, for all the CPAs that are listening right now, they've got clients that are big. They've got clients that are small and ADP. As much as we use them as a punching bag, they exist for a reason, right, they're serving a need in the marketplace, but you're very niched. Talk a little bit about the prototypical profile of a client that would be a perfect fit for Guhroo. What do they look like? What verticals are they in? Where are they located? You mentioned you've got a client in California, but you're in South Carolina. How does that work? Just take us through the I guess, the sweet spot client, if you would.

Matt: Yeah, the sweet spot when we're out actively pursuing new clients is 10 to 49 employees, white collar companies to gray collar companies that really value their people and want more than just a payroll provider. So, like I mentioned, the PEO if you're not familiar with the PEO model, the professional employment organization model we're actually able to pool a bunch of small businesses together onto one set of healthcare plans so that they can have economies of scale to offer better benefits, you know, comparative to the fortune 500 peers where they're trying, or fortune 500 companies where they're trying to, you know, take talent away from which was actually one of the primary drivers behind us getting into the PEO space was a lot of our clients were just complaining constantly about hey, if we've only got 15 employees and we're trying to compete with these large companies and we're showing a new employee age banded plans and our broker doesn't give us any love, how on earth are we going to recruit this top talent away from big companies? And so we put this model together for them, gave them the ability to offer multiple plans, gave them the ability to have better rates by pooling so many groups together, and so that's been a big boon for us. But, yeah, when you think about the target audience, they tend to value the people. They tend to think like that what more can I offer my people? How can I attract, engage, retain top talent?

So we work with a lot of nonprofits. We work with a lot of tech companies, a lot of engineering firms, a lot of accountants, a lot of lawyers, people that really value their team and want to make sure that you're taking great care of them. And, yeah, when we have a national footprint at this point and we're licensed to do insurance, so we have a national plan for those that come on to the PEO model, but we can do payroll anywhere. And so, yeah, we've been fortunate enough. Some of our best partners are in again being in South Carolina. Some of our best partners are in New York and California and Oklahoma and just all over the country places you wouldn't expect, but we've done a really great job. I think and some of our partners would say the same of just again feeling like that extension of the team right up the road, even though we're all the way across the country.

Jeff: So if I'm a CPA and that sounds good to me and I'm frustrated with, maybe, the payroll relationships that we currently refer to and I want to work with guhroo, I'm guessing there's different ways that I can do that. One might be a straight referral and my client understands they're using guhroo as their payroll provider. My sense is you can also offer some white label solutions where my client might think they're just dealing with me for payroll but I'm actually just a skin on top of the guhroo platform. Is that correct?

Matt: Yeah, that's correct Absolutely. So you know we kind of scratched our own itch here when you talk about this. So one of the challenges I had when I decided it was time to, you know you skip all the nitty gritty stuff when you talk about that startup story of hey. You know I was frustrated with our lack of involvement in the country and we skipped the hard parts right. One of the hardest parts we had early on was finding software that would work to serve the small business clients that we serve.

So when you go out and you try to use these different white label payroll platforms, they were like the Goldilocks of payroll systems. We had ones that were like QuickBooks version which they have now sunset which was really scaled down, could only serve very small companies, was very basic. And then you've got platforms like an iSolved or UKG, which are more enterprise level platforms that are meant to serve companies with thousands of employees and meant for people that a CPA firm is not going to try to grow to 20,000 payrolls under their management typically. So eventually, once we got our legs under us, we started building on our own platform and so we now white label that platform and we give CPAs the ability to come in, as you mentioned, in three different ways. So there's first, there's just a referral partnership, like you'd expect, with a revenue share, the kind of normal, or without a revenue share. If people have revenue fidelity and they don't want to get involved in that, we understand that We'll do everything we can to make their life as simple as possible and make that relationship bidirectionally valuable.

And then we have what we call a reseller program. So we think about these three tiers in terms of who sells and who serves In the referral relationship we sell and we serve. You just make an introduction In the reseller relationship you sell and we serve, and so we partner together on that and we make sure that the client is taken care of. Then the white label environment you sell and you serve, and you use our platform to do so, to serve your clients, and so we really again want to focus on meeting CPAs at their point of need. I know that a lot of these platforms aren't the right fit. They can't white label If you go with somebody like Augusto very easy, nice to use system or you don't ever own any of your clients. If you partner and do an ADP, wholesale or something, they own your entire book of business. So for people that want to offer payroll, the white label platform is fantastic, because they own their whole book of business. They just use our software to serve it.

Jeff: You know and that's interesting. So and you mentioned, I know some of our CPAs want to be revenue and referral relationship neutral, where, hey, I'm happy to refer to you but don't spiff me or what have you, and so we can deal with that. Others may look at this and say, hey, we like your platform, but we want them to see us as providing the services so I can white label. So you've got the two bookends there and it sounds like it's very easy for a CPA to kind of plug in where it makes the most sense for them. Along that continuum it's similar, I think, to your product line, because, just like you've got the continuum with how you would work with the cpa, I also see a continuum where, hey, I can just do online payroll or I can really be almost an outlet outsourced concierge hr through a peo relationship.

Matt: So maybe take us along that continuum if you would yeah, and it's kind of funny, it almost works in reverse with on each level. You're 100% right in your evaluation of that. But if I'm a small business and I come to guhroo and I have 15 employees, I may start on that PEO model what we call concierge HR with that fully outsourced HR department. Because, let's face it, if I have 15 to 25 employees I don't have the budget for an HR person, but I have all the HR problems of my counterparts who have 50 to 100 employees or more, and so it's a really sticky situation. And that does become the bread and butter for that particular service model. And we are seeing a ton more traction in the 50 to 99 space, though, just because of the demand for better benefits plans. But then, if I do scale up, I'm an organization with 25 people in the year 2024. And then over the next two years I grow to 100 people. Well, I can peel back some of the HR support and stay on the platform and again, that term I stole it from an old boss of mine but meet our clients at their point of need. We really want to make sure we can grow and scale with them, but also stay in our lane Once companies get too big, we might not be the right solution for them, and we will have very open and candid conversations. The last thing on earth we want to do is we'll never hold a client hostage. We don't want to provide them with. You know, we're not a hammer looking for a nail. We're looking for right fit clients, the same way most of our CPA counterparts are. They know that certain businesses are fantastic for what they do and others aren't. We're very self-aware of that. Which is something I'm very proud of with our sales team is that they're not these traditional big national people that are fresh out of college that are just hammering on doors and dropping off the cookies at your office every week. They're having real business conversations. They're people with experience, several of which have owned their own businesses and been in the shoes of our clients, and so it's very easy and natural for them to have that conversation.

But one thing I like to tell CPAs, jeff, I think is really important when it comes to payroll, I see too much of this middling with payroll. So what I mean by that is we started offering payroll because a few clients asked for it, and now we've got 15, 20, 50, now it's a hundred payrolls, but it's almost this unwanted revenue stream that we just was forced upon us by the clients. We don't put a lot of love into it. Joanne is handling it, even though she's not really a payroll person by trade. She's a staff accountant but she's handling our payrolls and that can just really. What it means is the client isn't getting what they want. Your team gets frustrated because they're not a payroll company by trade, and so I just tell CPAs all the time get all in or get all out.

It's a wonderful industry to be in. It's a wonderful line of business to add to your firm. If you want to go down this path but you got to make a decision you can't just have a handful of payrolls and expect your clients to be delighted by what you're offering or expect. Just work directly with our customer service team and their accountants to help to make sure that the clients are delighted. Every time that we work together and others they've said hey, we want to go all in, we want to go white label and we want to use your platform to do it. But I do encourage people to think about that. Whether it's with us or otherwise. I think it's just important to know is this a real part of our business model and where we're going, or is this just a distraction from what we're trying to do?

Jeff: Because you really can't be kind of in it Like you either have to commit to it as a business line and commit to appropriate resources to pull it off well, or you just need to have a trusted partner that you can refer it to and then forget about it and not be involved in the day to day.

I think your instincts are correct on that. So let me ask you this One thing that has really shocked me is how generous you guys are with your intellectual property and your tools Like so, for example, I can come out to your website and you know you offer this HR diagnosis and that's pretty standard. I mean, I get that, but you've got these 42 free HR templates and I got to be honest with you, matt. When I initially clicked through that I kind of thought, well, this will be fluff. You've got some real substance here and you know talk about your strategy, about you must feel confident giving away as much as you're giving away that it's going to lead to a conversation that you can convert into a client. So talk a little bit about that strategy.

Matt: There is a restaurant here in Charleston, south Carolina, called the Peninsula Grill, and if you've never been to Charleston, jeff, I hope you have, but we should meet up over there one day. And if you're listening to this podcast right now and you find yourself in Charleston, please give me a couple of weeks. Heads up and I'll come out there and meet you. And while I might not go here to this particular place for the coconut cake, I will meet you up at another restaurant around the corner. So they're famous for their coconut cake and Charleston is a huge tourist town. It's one of the top vacation destinations in the world every single year, so there's tourists coming and going every single day by the thousands. And what they did in I think it was 2012, 2013, was they actually put their recipe to this famous coconut cake online. So they published the recipe to their number one asset online. And you know what happened when I tried to make that recipe for my wife, who loves coconut cake, Jeff, it took forever, and it took it was not great and you know, at first I thought that coconut cake was expensive and then, after I tried to make it myself, I was like what a deal to just be able to walk in the door and pay you money to take this coconut cake. So there's two points there, right? So, first and foremost, we believe in just giving away the recipe If you want to DIY the stuff that we do, particularly on the HR side. I'll never forget when I sat down and put those four. I put those 42 free HR templates together myself because I wanted it to your point to be really actually valuable.

So what are the things that our clients ask us for most frequently when they are paying us money? You know, performance review templates, new hire onboarding packets, offer letters. What are all the things that they ask us for as soon as they start onboarding and say, hey, we don't have this or it's dated or whatever. So I put it all in there and then beyond that. So we just offer value.

Great, I hope you can make the cake on your own, but if you ever need help baking the cake, then we're here to help you with it, and so it's definitely a twofold operation. I'm not going to act like I'm some Mother Teresa over here just giving away everything for free for no reason. We've definitely had a lot of great leads come in the door because they see the amount of value we're willing to give away. But that's my thing is we have a mantra internally. A lot of people there used to be that old school ABC always be closing for salespeople. Ours is ABV always be valuable, and so we try to keep that mindset with everything we do is how do we create value for our clients, for the community, for our potential clients? And that's always served us well.

Jeff: So talk a little bit about first of all, thank you, I'm hungry now. That coconut cake sounds fantastic. I appreciate that. But talk a little bit. If I'm a CPA and I like what I'm hearing here and again, if I want to go check this out, it's at So G-U-H-R-O dot C-O I encourage you to get out there. Take a look at the 42 free HR templates and they've got links to their blogs and their podcasts. There's just a tremendous amount of intellectual property that's easily accessed through their website. So I encourage you to do that. But, matt, if I'm interested and I'm saying either I want to get into the game and I'm looking for a partner, or my partner just isn't meeting my needs, I'm looking to switch. What's the best path? Like am I reaching o-ut to you? Am I scheduling a demo which I can do on the website? Like, how do I activate and engage with you? Yeah, that's a great question, jeff.

Matt: And that is again what is best for you. So if it's best for you to go right to the website and book a time that hits right on your calendar, awesome. If you want to email me and have a conversation, it's M-A-T-Tat, I'm happy to. I love speaking to CPAs. I love speaking to accountants. I love learning more about their firms and seeing where we can plug in, if we can plug in or just how we can serve one another and networking. I mean that's one of the things I've loved about your accelerator program and the event you guys throw is just making more connections all around the country, hearing how people serve their clients, hearing what they struggle with and just seeing how we can help each other. And I'm always open to have those conversations directly. But I also know sometimes people like the convenience of just hitting the website and adding it right to their calendar and you can do that as well.

Jeff: Well, that's the thing For our CPAs that are in the accelerator and really for any CPA. Every one of their clients is dealing with payroll every one of them and if you're in the game, you need to be at your best, which means you've got to be aligned with the right partners. If you're not in the game but you're making introductions and referrals, you want to have a quality partner that allows you to put your head on the pillow at night and get a good night's sleep because you're not worried that the train wreck is going to happen.

Matt: And.

Jeff: Matt, I really liked the ABV always be valuable. That is what we've experienced in our relationship with you. It's amazing how your culture just kind of exudes that ethos, so I want to congratulate you on that, and to any of the CPAs that are listening. They walk the talk, and so I would encourage you to check them out Again. The CEO is Matt Vaadi, and Matt, thank you so much for agreeing to be on the podcast and spending a little bit of time with us today.

Matt: Jeff, it was delightful.

Jeff: I appreciate the time. We will see you in Dallas, my friend.

Matt: Thank you, sir.