Scott Maichel

Sometimes too much analysis can be paralysis. To bring an idea to life, you need to see it in action to really know if it works.”


Scott Maichel has over 25 years of experience in the Payroll/HR Industry. After graduating college from Northern Illinois University, he began his career at Automatic Data Processing (ADP), where he spent 10 years in a sales and sales management capacity learning the industry. Scott had a very successful sales career at ADP, winning many performance awards including a year, where out of 1600 salespeople nationally, he was ADP’s #1 salesperson.

Currently, Scott is the Co-Founder of AmCheck Payroll’s San Diego office. AmCheck has been in business for over 20 years, has 12 locations across the U.S. and is one of the largest privately held payroll companies in the U.S. In 2006, Scott started the San Diego AmCheck office out of a 1-bedroom apartment. Currently, the San Diego office is the second highest revenue office in the AmCheck organization.

Where did the idea for AmCheck come from?

AmCheck is short for “America’s Check”.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I’m typically in the office by 6:30AM. I like to get an early head-start to the day. I seem to get a lot accomplished before the rest of my team arrives to the office.

I’m a “lists” person, so the way I’m most productive is to track my “to-do” tasks in a physical notebook. Obviously, I have electronic means of keeping my calendar, but for my “to-do’s”, I prefer a hard copy. I think I like a hard copy because I enjoy the feeling of crossing things off my list once they are accomplished.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I’m a firm believer that sometimes too much analysis can be paralysis. To bring an idea to life, you need to see it in action to really know if it works. I’d rather get an idea that’s not quite perfected in operation in a test environment, then let a client and our operation staff perfect a working model prior to rolling it out to the market.

What’s one trend that excites you?

A trend that excites me is based from Simon Sinek’s book, “Start with Why”. The premise is clients buy why you do what you do and not what you do. I see more and more companies following this philosophy to communicate the passion of their business to engage their workforce, customers, prospects and their community.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Getting up early and planning out the day ahead. I typically wake up at 4:30AM. At that time, it’s quiet and allows me to strategize for my day uninterrupted. I can create, modify and prioritize my “to-do list”.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be afraid to say “no” to people. I don’t work on projects, agree to meetings/phone calls or attend events unless they are directly related to achieving my current initiatives. I think it’s too easy to get distracted in today’s world and you must make choices to maintain your productivity levels. If you spread yourself too thin, nothing gets accomplished well.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

In meetings with clients and prospects, I like to wear a suit and tie. Living in Southern California, that wardrobe choice is unpopular. But I feel wearing a suit and tie shows respect for the people you are meeting with. I guess it’s just my Midwestern values coming out.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Every morning I try to walk around our office of 30+ people and say hello to everyone. I try to stop and chat with at least 5 different people each day and ask them how things are going and if they have any suggestions on how together we can improve our business.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

One successful strategy has been being a “broker advocate”. Meaning, we work very hard at training and educating our local benefit broker community on how to level the playing field when they are competing with Professional Employer Organizations (PEO’s) and other payroll companies that compete with brokers.

This strategy has helped us gain credibility and trust within the broker community. We are perceived as a partner who adds value by protecting brokers’ books of business and not someone who is just asking for a referral. We are adding real value that is quantifiable.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

We had begun migrating clients to a new payroll/HR platform that had more functionality and capabilities. Within the first year we could tell we had made a wrong decision in the platform we selected for our clients. We had to make the tough decision of “cutting our losses” by abandoning that platform and starting from scratch with a new platform. We had to walk away from all the time and effort our team had invested over the course of a year, but in the end, it was the best decision we ever made for our business.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

This is more of an idea for a product than a business. Because I work a lot, we often use a Crockpot to cook meals. However, I simply hate scrubbing and cleaning the inside the Crockpot after every use. I would like to create an environmentally safe, disposable crockpot liner that goes inside the crockpot before the food, so there is minimal to no effort in washing and scrubbing the Crockpot. There might be something like that already, but if not, I think it’s a viable product.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently bought a round of drinks for some random people I met at a bar who I discovered were from my hometown. Great people. It was wonderful to share stories and connect with people who grew up in my same neighborhood that I had never met before.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

We use the free version of Asana which is a cloud-based project management software. Our entire implementation and sales team use the application to keep on top of our new client implementations and keep everyone in the loop on the progress of each aspect of the implementation.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Creating Competitive Advantage by Jaynie L. Smith. It is a great book about how to successfully uncover, quantify and articulate your organizations differentiators.

What is your favorite quote?

From Dr. Stephen Cove’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:  Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. The premise of that quote is based upon the idea that people form opinions based on their own experiences

Key learnings:

• I realized how much I enjoy creating “to-do” lists
• I realized how much the books “Start with Why” and Creating Competitive Advantage have played a role in running my business
• I realized how much I enjoy learning from others and how the practice has improved my personal and business life.