Navigating 2021 Business License Requirements and Filings

Navigating 2021 Business License Requirements and Filings


Do you wish you felt more organized and confident about the management of your business license portfolio? When it comes to researching, filing, and renewing business licenses and permits, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed.

Join us for this comprehensive, recorded webinar and let CSC help take the stress out of your business license process in 2021.

Instead of spending hours scouring the web for information, corresponding with local authorities, and digging through company records to navigate your licensing needs, turn to CSC’s Business License Team to learn how to simplify the entire licensing process.

Our experts will walk through the various types of business licenses and also discuss the importance of establishing a centralized process to manage your research and renewals in the new year.

Webinar Transcript:

Disclaimer: Please be advised that this recorded webinar has been edited from its original format, which may have included a product demo. To set up a live demo or to request more information, please complete the form to the right. Or if you are currently not on CSC Global, there is a link to the website in the description of this video. Thank you.

Annie: Hello, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar, "Navigating 2021 Business License Requirements and Filing." My name is Annie Triboletti, and I will be your moderator.

Joining us today are Brian Bartnicki and Calla Heathman. Brian is the Senior Business License Sales Engineer at the forefront assisting customers with their industry-specific requirements, which range from research, portfolio management, and renewal services. Brian has worked with CSC for more than a decade offering his expertise in the field of license compliance. Calla is a sales engineer that supports the Corporate Legal Services group at CSC and is based in Wilmington, Delaware. Since joining CSC in 2015, Calla has focused on B2B relationship management and consulting to find solutions that best fit the needs of new clients.

And with that, let's welcome Brian and Calla.

Calla: Thank you, Annie, and good morning to everyone and thank you for joining us today. Before we get started, we wanted to review a quick agenda of today's webinar.

So first we'll start off by providing some background on CSC. We'll discuss some common types of business licenses, such as general business licenses or industry-specific licenses that may apply to many of you today. We will also focus on some of the leading license management questions and concerns that we hear about, because licensing always brings questions. We'll then stress the importance of a strong licensing process, especially in today's world, and really cover some of those consequences of non-compliance. And most importantly, we'll review how CSC is able to mitigate the confusion behind licenses and provide a streamlined approach to the management of your portfolio. And lastly, we're going to open up the session for a Q&A at the end.

So first, a brief background on CSC or rather a refresher. We've been in the business of compliance for over 120 years, and our headquarters is in Wilmington, Delaware. Today we do serve more than 180,000 corporate customers, which includes 90% of the Fortune 500. We support more than 10,000 law firms and provide solutions to over 3,000 financial market customers. We even protect 65% of the 100 Best Global Brands around. We're able to do this because of the 2,500 and counting employees that support our clients in all U.S. jurisdictions and also many countries across the globe.

So now that you've learned a little bit more about CSC, we wanted to dive into some different types of licenses that we may come across. But before we dive into that, we just wanted to cover the term "business licenses," because it can be very inclusive and mean many different things to many different companies. And while our definition of business licenses may be different than yours, we definitely wanted to provide some examples of licenses that could be in your portfolio today, really just to make it a little bit more clear as to what we mean when we speak to the term "business licenses."

So first, we have some common examples. Really if you have multiple brick-and-mortar locations or are even operating across multiple cities, you're probably familiar with some of the common types of licenses, such as the occupational taxes, privilege taxes, business tax receipts, or more importantly just business licenses. And while they have "tax" in their name, they are just the local level licenses that are typically issued by the city to collect money year-over-year, and they're based on different factors of your business, such as the number of employees that you have at your locations, square footage of your buildings, or even just the gross revenue numbers year-over-year.

So that's really what we are talking about when we talk about common licenses or general business licenses. And you might also be familiar with some professional licenses that could be needed as well. They might be realized in different industries that we can go over now.

So again, what's considered general in nature, there are also licenses everywhere else. They don't stop there. They could apply to your business depending on the industry you work in. And some of the most common industries that have license types could be a trade industry, or maybe you're an engineering firm with engineers, so you could have certificates of authorization and even multiple PE licenses, or contracting and HVAC businesses, where you have to hold general contractors licenses or commercial contractors, residential contractors. Another industry could just be retail. The retail space, you could need a retail sellers license, vendors licenses to offer your goods and services on a regular basis. You might even hold resell certificates or something of that nature. These are really just some common examples in those spaces.

We also have the insurance industry, where you might have producer licenses, agency licenses, TPAs, different things, or the hospitality industry, where you might be dealing with some food service licenses, health permits, or different types of licenses specific to having an outside parking lot or outside seating. Any of these things could be considered industry-specific licenses.

And with that, I'm going to pass it to Brian to go through some of our key questions or again those leading questions that we typically come up against when we're dealing with license management.

Brian: Thanks, Calla. So I think it's important to first dive into how challenges come up in the research field. Based on your business, you're going to have a totally different scope of what this means to you.

So where do we begin our search? So an example could be, for those of you that are going to decide to open a new brick-and-mortar location, maybe you're in the retail business, are there local city and county licenses that I need from a licensor perspective. Are there city licenses or the county, or places like New Jersey and Pennsylvania for that matter, there could be townships, villages, boroughs. For those of you, you know, we talked about trade, so professional industries. Maybe you're not dealing with cities and counties. You could for some jobs, but you might not know do I need to go to certain boards, professional boards. Some of you in the financial world, you might deal with departments of banking, departments of finance.

There's a wide range of who is going to regulate the type of business activity that you're involved with. And that really falls into do I need any in the industry-specific licenses. Some of you in the insurance world, you might be dealing with claims, and you're not sure if you have the need for a TPA license or an adjuster license. Some of you might have industries where you have someone in a company vehicle and they're providing repair services for certain properties and maintenance. Do you need certain contractor licenses to perform work to fix those properties? Or is that more the responsibility of the property owner? Just from a management perspective.

So the reason I bring this up as to where do we begin in some of these industry-specific requirements is holistically, believe it or not, there are over 150,000 governing authorities in the United States that may or may not issue business licenses, and that's really going to be dictated on not just what you're doing, where you're doing it, but how you're doing it. For example, the state of Alabama might just see your business drive through its borders, and they might say that's doing business and they want you to have a particular license. Whereas some places around the country might not even care unless you're physically located.

So the challenge of trying to understand what relates to you and what's required based on your activities is a massive undertaking across the country. Once you kind of identify that, you all have just other responsibilities. How do you kind of allocate the time to manage those on an ongoing basis, and do you even have the tools or the training or the experience to really manage those on an ongoing basis?

So after kind of the research and kind of going through the identification process, the next step would be, "Okay, now where do I send this for filing?" It might be that I have to pull an original application. I have to send it overnight to the department of insurance. But maybe I don't have to do that. Maybe I can file it online through the National Insurance Producer Registry. For those of you that are in collection or lending, you might have to send it directly to the department of finance or banking, or you can file an online through NMLS.

Where do we actually go to make these happen? Do I have to walk a license in, in a certain city or county? So really the logistics of the experience of how to get these filed is a challenge on its own.

And how do I check the status? Today, with the secretary of state, which is more of a nexus registration. Some of you are probably very familiar with paying a fee and just having it filed within a day, two days, three days.

In the licensing world, again outside of the secretary of state, that really is not the situation. They work on their own time, [Iowan 00:10:36] time. You might run into filing authorities that are only working Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10:00 in the morning until 2:00 in the afternoon. And that's because they have inspectors going around site to site.

But trying to check the status, getting a hold of people. They might even have the ability to check it online. There's [inaudible 00:11:01] the black hole as to where you are in the process, and what makes it sort of even more magnified is the fact if your jobs or your work is dependent on it. For those of you in the trade world — engineering, architects, contractors — I'm sure you've had many situations, hopefully not, but it may have occurred, where you're about to do work, strike ground, or do a job, but you don't have a license in hand because you can't check the status and you need it based on the contract that you have with the company you're providing services for.

That really goes down to the sense that you can't push these governing authorities, especially with the environment today with COVID. It's just very difficult to get these licenses done in an expeditious fashion. It really does not exist. So the challenge is really trying to be proactive and understanding what's needed and then going about getting it so you can conduct business appropriately.

And then once you've applied for the licenses, the third challenge would be that of the renewals. So when does each governing authority require those renewals or licenses to be filed? Some of you in the insurance world might have your licenses based off of birthdays for individuals. It could be also based on the anniversary months potentially of you filed in April, it's going to be due every April. Some of you if you have a physical retail location, maybe in Beverly Hills, they could say it's based off of every six months, and it's going to be based off, as Calla said, maybe gross revenue, or maybe the calculation is based off of employee counts. The range is just wild, and it's based on a variety of factors. So just tracking and knowing when they come due is very, very difficult.

Then really, do you have a process of managing the data? You can have multiple hats. Are you constantly updating an Excel spreadsheet? Do you have your own proprietary system of tracking it? What does it look like when it comes to having the data accuracy and ensuring that everything is current so you have that transparent view of what's out there across all of your licenses?

So those are some of the challenges that we hear about kind of on a day-to-day basis when we talk to clients.

Calla: As Brian alluded previously, there are so many different challenges, which is why we wanted to highlight how important it is to have an effective license management process in place, and it's really just to avoid any consequences that could come from noncompliance. So we really wanted to review some of those today.

The first thing that really comes to mind, when thinking about consequences or not having a license or having a license lapse, is really just a penalty or a fine or those monetary things that come along with not staying in compliance. The financial penalties oftentimes are much more expensive than the cost of getting the license for the first time and then maintaining it thereafter.

So one particular thing that always comes to mind is when I was working with a client who had a license in a jurisdiction in Alabama, as Brian mentioned, they have so many different regulations and you could be penalized for just driving a vehicle through there. They hadn't been keeping up with records. Again, it was kind of a decentralization model that they had, and a filing that would have taken them again some time, but cost-wise would have only been maybe about $100, ended up being delivered as a around $70,000 fine to them for just missing the license filing altogether and continuing to operate in those areas.

So really, again, having a good handle on the licenses themselves, the renewal dates will absolutely mitigate the cost for the company in the long run if you are dealing with some of these jurisdictions who are sticklers about the regulations.

Now another thing that can come along is a lawsuit. Really you could be faced with lawsuits if you're not complying with the regulations where you're operating. They will also really just heighten any of those fines and penalties of the non-renewal. They take time away from your business, your resources, and all the tasks that you have to do. As Brian mentioned, you know, you may be wearing multiple hats. So having to deal with these other issues that can arise, just from not having a license or for not complying with a license regulation, definitely is going to pull you away from the rest of your business.

And then really if the monetary values and lawsuits really don't sound bad enough, you might also have to face the reality of having to close your doors. This is definitely something that can be temporary. Typically, you'll see a temporary situation if you are in a contracting world or a trade world, when you have a stop work order placed, maybe for a license being out of compliance or not being renewed. Those are great because you can rectify those. However, again, it costs you time and energy trying to get that done.

But it can also turn into a permanent closure. You know, if there are other factors coming into play, when it comes to these licenses, again maybe fines or lawsuits or really just that you can't meet the measures for the license because you have been out of compliance many times or there's another underlying factor. It really can shut the doors altogether, and that's something that can be avoided by instituting a strong management process, things where the due dates are in one place and you are keeping up with regulations across the board.

Brian: So I think another extreme example that some of you are not aware of, you know, Calla talk about business closure, but arrests are a true consequence of non-compliance. You know, Calla mentioned there can become permanent closure. Sometimes before that, if you're a location, maybe you're in the retail space but you're just ignoring license renewals, and it can be for maybe a couple months, depending on the jurisdiction that you're in, they can physically come and physically arrest maybe an assistant manager or a manager on site really as kind of collateral to get the appropriate licensure fulfilled. That does occur. And believe it or not, some of these licenses, I mean, that's kind of why you may notice that they require, especially locally potentially, that you list an individual responsibility, you know, who's again really attesting that this is going to be fulfilled year-to-year.

I tell the story a lot, but there is a scenario that I had a customer call us kind of in an urgent situation, because a former employee of theirs, who was no longer obviously a manager at a location, believe it or not actually got pulled over for speeding, and there was a warrant out for that individual's arrest because of the fact they were actually formerly . . . their name was listed on that particular license. So that individual did get arrested, and then they, of course, sued their former employer, and the location was, in fact, closed and had to pay penalties. So that's kind of the gamut of all of the consequences in one. But those, believe it or not, do occur.

Some other consequences that I think are just very beneficial to understand, especially if you're going into new markets, whether it's sort of contracting or providing services, consulting, you're going door-to-door, again depending upon the work that you're doing, you may not be able to conduct or engage in contracts for any existing RFPs that you may have if you don't have the licenses in order. It could be that the companies you're doing business with are going to require that you have all of the appropriate licenses to present in order to win that opportunity. So it's really imperative that you have everything in order to prevent any of that, which really results, again, in lost revenue for your organization to conduct business. We find that probably most common in the trade world.

So some people, if you're dealing with manufacturing or distribution, you may run into situations where you can't introduce your product in certain markets without the appropriate licensing. Maybe you are in a situation where you're selling online and you're trying to get resellers permits in certain states, but you don't have those resellers permits in order to sell and/or potentially ship to consumers in those markets. So it's just important, again, that you understand it could delay, especially based on your expectation and what your consumers or customers are expecting, if you don't have everything in order.

And really the last one, which really goes to ultimately kind of the image of your brand is that of negative press. The last thing we want to do is be in the news for these types of consequences. It's not really like the secretary of state, where you miss a filing or you file your annual report late so you're back in compliance and pay just a late fee. Licensing is truly more of an exposure mistake many times. It affects the operations business. It affects the image of your brand in the eyes of the consumer, depending upon how negligent it could be. So really the negative press is kind of what I would say is probably the ultimate situation where you don't want that to happen and affect your brand.

Now I'll pass it over to Calla, and then I'll dive into how, as an organization, CSC can help.

Calla: Great. Thanks, Brian. So again, we're going over challenges, questions, consequences, and it all really relates back to having that strong license process in place, understanding how you can get from the start and get to the end of the licensing process. And definitely CSC is here to help.

So the first thing to discuss a little bit about what CSC license business is like. We do have an entire division of individuals that solely work in the licensing world. And so partnering with CSC will give you that access directly to our tenured license customer service specialists and the people who are dedicated directly to research and analyzing the requirements based on your specific activities in those areas. And then we also have an entire support team that stands behind our portfolio management system and our technology that Brian will dive into with you in just a little while.

So we certainly take a customized approach for each client that we work with in terms of making sure that our solutions fit the needs that they have today. We don't ever approach it as though there is one shoe fits all, because there isn't just one shoe that fits all, especially in the world of licensing and how complex it is. So we definitely make sure that our solutions fit for all of your needs.

We have been in the business since 1899, as mentioned previously, so we certainly have an unmatched knowledge base and unmatched experience in the corporate and law firm space. We've been working with these folks and companies and places for quite some time and developing those relationships and the knowledge base that we work off of today. And again, we cultivated those relationships. We've built those networks and contacts across the resources and across the nation really, so that way we can support companies like yours across the nation with all of the licensing support that you may need.

And then most importantly, that's very, very important in today's world is that we aren't outsourcing any step of the licensing process. We really are becoming the extension of your team today, and you can trust that working with CSC we'll always keep your information with CSC. Again, you can trust that the company information, your licensing information, and everything that goes along with that is staying safe and secure within CSC's team, the folks here at CSC working on your behalf, and also within our technology as security is a major thing today that we need to be mindful of.

So aside from our outstanding team here, we do have a suite of services to help answer those key questions surrounding licensing and definitely provide you with a full-service solution or a licensing solution again that's tailored to fit you.

So our first area is research, as Brian mentioned. When you're operating in new locations or new states or anything that provides a new area where you're not used to and you're trying to understand what you're missing or what you have or even just what applies to you for a first time, what CSC can do is conduct research to identify those license requirements, again going back to anything general in nature or very specific to the business activities.

There's a few different types of research that we offer. Again, the first one would be directly related to brand-new places, places where you've never operated before and you don't understand the requirements. CSC can help in understanding what license requirements apply to you on many different levels of governing authorities and then provide you with those overviews so you can make some informed decisions moving into those places.

We can also provide assistance in looking at places where you currently operate. You know, if you've applied for licenses, but the records aren't there, we can assist with uncovering any of the licenses that apply to the business in those places and then also verify if you have them. Have you met the requirements? Are they active? Are they things that we can just take off of your plate for you there? And then also filling in those gaps. Are you missing things? Or oddly enough, sometimes you can be over-licensed, so if you have something that you don't need. And those are just some of the ways, from a research perspective, that CSC can assist your business with along the way.

Brian mentioned preparing and filing applications. So along with taking over the task of research, a lot of times you'll understand that there's other steps to be taken to obtain those licenses and permits that arise from research or that apply to you. So you can engage with CSC to be able to fully prepare all of those licenses on your behalf and the permits and the registrations, and we'll actually take that administrative task off of your plate and conclude the applications with your information. And then again, we can go ahead and file them for you. So taking it from the step one to the end. We will file all of the applications with the filing authorities on your behalf from a renew perspective, right?

So then that moves into the tracking and management, which is what we've been talking about, you know, having that visibility and the maintenance aspect behind expiration dates. So what's all of the research and initial filings are completed, that task, again tracking and managing the expirations and the data, we're able to do all of that for you in terms of monitoring the expectations, the expirations of the licenses and permits, and physically renewing them for you, which leads into our full-service outsourcing solution.

We are able to become, again, that true extension of your in-house team to fulfill the role of the licensing department. We will track them in our portfolio, and we'll monitor all of the expiration dates proactively. Again, we will take all of your information and prepare the applications for you, so you don't have to do that. We file the licenses within the portfolio with the appropriate licensing authorities. And then, again, we're going to conduct all of the administrative tasks and then maintain that data for you. So we're talking about having records and all of that.

So CSC is actually going to do all of the manual labor to track and store the data all by providing you with a full, visible overview of any of the orders you have with CSC and licenses we're working on, all of the copies of your licenses or applications we submit, and so much more to provide that dependability on a licensing team and understand that you're staying in compliance.

Brian: So I think what we'll do now is we'll move into the technology that comes with the service that we offered. Calla kind of talked to our research capabilities, our filing and then renewal and the management. You know, with that service, we give you the ability to view all of this data 24/7. It's all web-based, and it is SOC 2 compliant from a security perspective. Calla mentioned something incredibly important that we don't outsource it to other providers by any means. It's all managed by our in-house team here in Wilmington, Delaware. Other providers in the market do use kind of other parties behind the scenes. You just want to have a sense of comfort that your information is not being directly exposed.

Again, remember the ultimate goal of the technology is to centralize all of the compliance in one place, which ultimately prevents any fines or penalties. By doing that, you know, we're doing that by monitoring all of the expiration dates, and we know that really through our knowledge and our expertise. When I go over the technology briefly here, I'll just kind of dive into how that would work.

But ultimately, we are, as Calla mentioned, we're mentioning this, but it's really the message and really [inaudible 00:30:01] to depend on us. We are the true extension of your team. You can streamline your workflows. It really allows you to mitigate the risk. All of your operational efficiencies are going to be increased because you don't have to worry about managing on your side. You can kind of focus your day-to-day responsibilities in other areas. You do have that true centralized view of your licenses. You know that we have the industry best practices. It's the world-class technology and security that you're getting.