Little Cinema Digital needed to pay full-time employees and freelancers, but they wanted a solution that offered more than just payroll.
Justworks offered more — including compliance support for their growing team across multiple states.
The hands-on onboarding support made getting started a breeze, and the ongoing 24/7 service brings confidence to everyday tasks.
Since 2016, Little Cinema has produced bespoke experiential activations — which, prior to the pandemic, were tied to in-person events like theatrical productions or performance art pieces. But when COVID-19 struck, the team decided to pivot their core business model to the virtual space, and built a platform and product to execute on digital events and virtual premieres for film and television. This became Little Cinema Digital, a new entity launched in April of 2020. In just a few short months, the company hired 14 full-time employees across five states, plus a number of freelancers, with plans to grow even more.
When Chris Schuett came on board as Managing Director & COO of Little Cinema Digital in the spring, there was a lot to juggle for the rapidly scaling business. He needed to hire and onboard quickly in a remote environment, handle payments for full-time employees and freelancers alike, and stay on top of multi-state compliance issues. In other words, he needed Justworks.
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"We're more confident in being able to manage people appropriately from a compliance and legal standpoint."
Chris Schuett, Managing Director & COO
In Little Cinema Digital's early days, things were moving so quickly that implementing systems and processes for payroll and payments were happening on an ad hoc basis just to keep things moving. Chris knew there were tools that could help him pay people in a better way, but he wanted something that would go a step further.
"If you're managing employees and managing the infrastructure of an organization, you need something more dedicated," Chris said. "At that point, I needed a more robust system."
He had previously worked for two other companies that used Justworks for payroll and benefits, so he was familiar with using the system as an employee. When it was time to choose a solution for Little Cinema Digital, he wanted a platform he was comfortable with and had all the tools he needed in one place. Justworks was the obvious choice. Not only did the payroll solution meet his needs, the platform and services could also help him keep track of various compliance differences across the states where his employees are based, and streamline internal workflows.
"My experience on the other end was what drew me to implementing [Justworks] on the operations side, and making it available to employees," Chris said. "We went from having limited infrastructure and process to now having a very robust piece of infrastructure and process."
Using Justworks has also helped Chris to hire quickly and scale the Little Cinema Digital team. Having a solution that allows him to easily onboard new employees and navigate the compliance challenges of hiring in new states is crucial — especially in today's remote environment.
"We're more confident in being able to manage people appropriately from a compliance and legal standpoint by having this tool," Chris said of Justworks. "We're very much in the mindset of hiring the best of the best, no matter where they sit."
Now, Chris can hire someone in another state and feel confident that the process will be seamless, and Justworks will have his back as the company expands. On top of that, he's able to offer a benefits package with national coverage to his full-time employees, giving team members the peace of mind that comes with having access to in-network care no matter where they are.
"For our industry and what we do, it has allowed us to retain a lot of our previous people and then hire significantly," said Chris — all within a matter of months of being a new entity.
A payroll and HR solution that goes a step above should offer more than just great software. For Chris, leaning on Justworks' expert support team gives him added confidence in knowing he's not in it alone, even from the start.
"The onboarding process was amazing," Chris said. "Having somebody dedicated to the process was really helpful, especially because I have six different states to report to." Being able to reach out to his Onboarding Manager with any questions during that crucial period was a game-changer.
Since onboarding, Chris says he calls the 24/7 support line once or twice a month. Even if it's just with little questions or to find a quick answer, he loves knowing that a real, knowledgeable person will be on the line and the process will be easy. And when he's not calling in, the proactive emails and communications he receives are super helpful.
"That's what I was looking for," Chris said. "I wanted something that I didn't have to manage — I wanted a solution that would help manage me, and identify if there's something lacking or missing." For someone who is a small team — and for whom payroll and HR are not his primary job function — that level of service is invaluable. Chris's time is better spent on managing a production team and helping to grow the business. With Justworks, he can do just that.