Seven years ago, the insurance agent for Scott Strawbridge's Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., remodeling company called to tell him it was time to pay his workers' comp insurance. At the time, the premium was $15,000, in advance. Strawbridge decided there had to be a better way.

There was. He signed on with Presidion Solutions, a private employer organization (PEO) that administers his payroll and all related taxes and expenses. He started saving money immediately. Because the PEO represents more than 30,000 employees, their workers' comp rate was 12% better than Strawbridge could get on his own.

Although his employees are leased, Strawbridge says the process is seamless: "They do their eight and hit the gate." Every Tuesday, his office manager makes a toll-free call to the PEO with names and hours, plus any changes in rate of pay or bonus money.

Every Thursday, the paychecks arrive via FedEx, along with a bill. On top of wages, Strawbridge pays about 33% for insurance and taxes, plus a 3% administration fee.

The PEO also administers a full menu of benefits, including health and dental insurance, 401(k) plans, and an Employee Assistance Program. "They're an off-premise HR department," Strawbridge says. "And they do it a lot better than we ever could."

The PEO will even investigate unemployment claims and give advice on how to handle personnel problems. "The incalculable isn't so much the cost, but the time," Strawbridge says. "I can't imagine what it would be like to have to handle all of that. We'd probably have to dedicate a half-time person to it."

To find out if a PEO is licensed to operate in your state, visit, the Web site of the National Association of Private Employer Organizations.