Become a Business License Master

Tips to streamline your process


Are you spending an overwhelming amount of time researching business license requirements and managing your filings and renewals? For most people, trying to manage a license portfolio can lead to hours of frustration searching the web, contacting local authorities, and manually tracking renewals. The good news is, you don’t have to tackle business license management on your own.

Join us for this free, recorded webinar to learn how you can become a business license master and remove the stress from managing your licenses. You’ll hear from one of CSC’s very own masters, Brian Bartnicki, as he discusses the complications of trying to manage a business license portfolio and reviews tips to streamline your process.

What you’ll learn:

  • Options to identify business licenses applicable to your business
  • How to ensure your locations are in compliance
  • Ramifications of non-compliance
  • Best practices for maintaining licenses

Webinar Transcrip:

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, "Become a Business License Master." 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 in CSC for more than a decade offering his expertise in the field of license compliance.

Calla is a Sales Engineer that supports Corporate Legal Services Group at CSC and is based in Wilmington, Delaware. Since joining CSC in 2016, Calla has focused on B2B relationship management and consulting to find solutions that best fits the needs of new clients. And with that, let's welcome Brian and Calla.

Brian: Thank you, Annie. We'd like to begin by discussing the agenda for today's webinar. We're briefly going to touch about CSC as a whole. We're then going to dive into types of business licenses, you know, what are they? There's a very vague meaning to that term. We're going to discuss daily challenges that you may come across with licensing. Then we're going to dive into the consequences of non-compliance, followed by how CSC can assist within this endeavor. And then at the end of the webinar, we are going to have a session for all of you that have any questions. We're more than happy to answer them at the end.

But I do want, you know, first talk about CSC. We've been in business since 1899. We're very proud of that. Two millenniums and three centuries seems incredible. We do business all over the world. We do all types of compliance work, whether that be licensing, whether that be financial services, real estate, UCCs, corporate governance, global subsidiary management, and many others, domain management, things in the intellectual property space. We do it all. We truly say that we are the business behind business. We have customers of all shapes and sizes, whether they be small sole proprietors, middle sized companies, some of the largest brands in the world, Fortune 500s, Fortune 100s, just know we can assist all organizations in any capacity.

Calla: And to start as Brian mentioned, we'd like to discuss some of the types of business licenses that we might see. The term business license is very inclusive, vague and sometimes often means many different things to many individuals or companies. So because of this, we really want to discuss types of business licenses that could be in your portfolio today and make it more clear as to what we mean. So some of the most common examples that we see today would be things such as occupational taxes, privilege taxes or business tax receipt. And while they have tax names in their names, they're actually some local level business licenses. And might be issued by cities to collect money based off of different factors such as number of employees at locations, or gross revenue numbers. There's also some professional licenses that could be needed for you as well and most commonly don't . . . they will be realized in the accounting profession.

Besides the things that would be considered more general in nature, I'm sure that you understand licenses don't stop there. So there's other licenses that could apply to your industry specifically. There's many different types of licenses across industries such as the trade industry. And maybe you're an engineering firm, have many engineers that work for you. So you could have a certificate of authorization, you could have multiple PE licenses or maybe contracting licenses for builders or someone in the HVAC business. Another industry that we would look into would be our retail spaces. You could need a reseller's license or a vendor's license to offer goods and service on a regular basis. And you may also hold some additional resale certificates for different tax purposes.

We would then look into the insurance world. We have maybe an agency with lots of agents that sell multiple types of insurance. You could be looking into producer licenses across many different lines of authority, maybe even you're authorized for surplus lines or TPA business. You could also have your agency play a role in claims and need to maintain adjuster licenses.

And lastly, the hospitality industry comes with restaurants, hotels or different types of the entertainment business. So if you have a restaurant that has a patio, you may need a sidewalk cafe license on top of your milk and cheese permit. Other licenses that could apply for concerts or public events, or live entertainment, a live entertainment license or even different types of public event licenses, carnival licenses or arcade licenses. These are really just a few examples of licenses that could apply to your industry or could apply across different locations that you could be working in definitely could be difficult to navigate some of those requirements.

Brian: So now that we've gone over, you know, some of the types of licenses that are out there. And as Calla went over, you know, we have just a wide range of different definitions, different types. And that really goes through the big challenge, right? You know, what types of licenses, do we need? What licenses truly apply to your business? And I hear this all the time when I talk to customers in all industries. Maybe you're a new company, or maybe you have many offices and you want to go into a new jurisdiction. Or maybe you're going to hire somebody working out of their home, and you don't know if you have certain licensing requirements based on where they live. Maybe you're going to have a company vehicle that's going to go to certain places, drive in, drive out for a job, but some places like Alabama might say, "Well, that's doing business you need a license."

The sheer unknown of what you need based on what you're doing, and where doing it is just a humongous hurdle especially with everything that you have going on. So how do you start that search? Are you going to, you know . . . who do I call? Is it a city? Is it a county? Is it a township, like in Pennsylvania or New Jersey? Are there boroughs? Where do you have to go to uncover what truly applies to you? And how do you find the time?

I mentioned everybody has so many hats, especially with the situation pretty much in the world right now. You're probably taking on even more responsibility than you used to have to really consolidate things. You have different priorities perhaps, and trying to do research, go through that analysis, pull forms, understand what truly is needed based on your industry. It's just a huge, huge hurdle.

And I mentioned, you know, Calla did a great job of talking about some industry specific licenses. And there could be situations that change. Sometimes there could be a new rule and now you do need that unique hospitality license or maybe there's a home occupational license for somebody just to sell. It can be just to sell insurances. There could be unique items in the financial space. Maybe you need lending licenses, maybe you need collection licenses. Or if you're a passive debt buyer, does that truly mean that you need a collection license? Again, these are just a variety of different types of that we were talking about. But the challenge of understanding what you need is just monumental.

Calla: That's why I mentioned there's so many unique things related to licenses that could apply to you and that doesn't stop when we're looking at filing authorities. So a lot of the time when we're speaking with customers, we get the question where do we send these types of applications for filing? Because there's not one uniform way to get your license filings to a jurisdiction, every single authority is going to be different in how they file. So there isn't one way that's going to be the best way for all of your license filings.

More again, with that, there is the issue of having to check in on the status of your application. Can you even do that? Not all filing authorities or jurisdictions have online tools to track progress within your filing or really even to give you any updates on it. So this leads back to the question that Brian raised, do you have time to check in on these applications? Where will you find the time to maybe call those jurisdictions and sit on hold to find out where your license is or where you are in the application process?

And then lastly, we really understand the challenge behind managing timelines. So more often than not the license that we need, we needed it yesterday. So how can we possibly manage all of the slow moving governing bodies or understanding if there are ways to push your license any further? A lot of license filings rarely have an expedite option like we might be used to. So it's really important that everything is being filed correctly the first time to ensure that there isn't a lag. And we can really keep up on timelines to make sure that you're not missing licenses that you need to operate.

Aside from some filing challenges, then we're left with, what do we do now? So we have all of our licenses that we think that we need, and now we need to understand how to renew or how to track them. So is the filing authority going to require the renewal? Is it going to be yearly? Is it going to be biannually? Or are they going to even let you know? A lot of jurisdictions today have stopped sending out reminders to license holders so it's a little bit more convoluted to understand when your licenses need to be renewed. It then becomes a manual process for you to have to understand when all of those due dates are compiled then to track and then make sure that you're taking on the real filings as are necessary.

Using an Excel spreadsheet or sifting through a filing cabinet to reference daily or even weekly to find the types of renewals that you need can be very cumbersome. And sometimes we run into the problem of records not being kept up to date. The manual process there makes license management a very difficult task to get through. Especially if you are wearing multiple hats or multiple people are working with those license filings.

Now, we've understood some common challenges that we're faced with moving through the license process. We really wanted to highlight how important it is to have an effective license management process in place to avoid any consequences of non-compliance. One of the first things that can happen if you're operating without a license or your license expires, is you can get served fines or different types of penalties. These financial penalties oftentimes will far surpass the cost of getting or maintaining that license. So it's really important that we stay on top of those renewals to make sure that, you know, we're not facing a financial burden that we don't necessarily need.

A few years back, I had been working with a client to pull together all of their license data. They really didn't have great records and one of the cities where they were working, the license got lost and they know no longer had it, had record of it, and they failed to renew it. But since they didn't have record, they didn't know that it was meant to continue to do business as usual. And, lo and behold, the jurisdiction realized that they hadn't renewed in quite some time. And they were delivered a hefty $70,000 penalty for the length of time that they had being operating but their license was expired. So all in all after this, the penalty itself had been about 350 times the original amount of what it would have cost them to just renew the license. While they continue to do business and everything was great, they then had to face an unknown penalty that kind of set them back. So having a handle on all of your licenses and renewal dates can absolutely mitigate some costs for the company.

Aside from those fines and penalties, you can also face being served lawsuits in complying with regulations where you operate. These lawsuits can really just add the financial penalty for non-renewal. And definitely take away from your time and resources from actual business tasks that you need to get done.

And lastly, these two together can really sound bad enough, but some companies will then also face the reality of having to close their business. This could be something that's just temporary until appropriate regulations are met, but sometimes they can also turn into a permanent closure if those other factors such as the fines and lawsuits had played a role in the closing itself. And then other factors that could lead to closure that Brian will touch base on in just a minute.

Brian: This next example may . . . [silence 00:14:47 - 00:15:11] . . . may not seem real, but it truly is. Arrests are the consequences of non-compliance sometimes an arrests and business closure are linked immediately together. And a lot of that has to do with how strict these governing bodies are. You know, for example, I have had an experience with a customer who asked the CSC for assistance about four or five years ago, mainly because they had a former employee at a retail location who actually left the company. That individual, though according to this jurisdiction in North Carolina, required that managers within location be listed as people who have responsibility almost as collateral for the license.

This individual was no longer with that employer. She ended up taking another job with another organization. But about a year later, she got pulled over for speeding. And it turned out that there was a warrant out for her arrest because she was the person that responsibility listed under her former employer's location. So she was arrested. She actually ended up suing her former employer, the location ended up being closed until that was resolved. And fines were really an end result of that along with expunging her record. So the arrest kind of truly triggered all the previous consequences together. For those of you may be there in the trade world, you may have people that are taken off the job or hopefully not. They're arrested for doing work without a particular license. But arrests, you know, truly are things that do occur.

Beyond that you may have the inability to bid on opportunities. Sometimes if you're going through an RFP, and you need licensing, the appropriate licensing to do a job or to go into a new jurisdiction, if you don't have . . . If you haven't spent the time knowing what you need and going through that process and having them whether they be a temporary license or a permanent license, you may not be able to win that bid, or would get that business. So you know, and, of course, the result of that is this could be a sort of slippery slope of revenue and other factors as well. You could have a delay introducing a new product, or a new service. Maybe you want to go into a new market or a new region in America, and you haven't gotten that license. You can't now sell or maybe you can't actually distribute goods in that particular jurisdiction. Maybe you've invented something and you have a brand new product and you want to distribute it, but you don't have the ability to. So just know that it's really taking that time making sure everything is in order you know, before that actually commences.

And negative press is something that is so vital. Your reputation is everything. The last thing that you want to occur is negative press for something as simple as not renewing a health permit. You could be closed down because you failed to renew a health permit. But the reputation or sort of the insinuation that occurs with people in the general public could be "Oh, they are not compliant. They missed a license. They were closed down for this. Maybe they just had a ton of violations. I don't want to go there eat there anymore." You know, the negative press is a big thing. Your reputation and your business really holds on to the reputation. You need that good reputation in the public.

Calla: So now that we've gone through some challenges and consequences of non-compliance, we then want to take that question and lead into how CSC can help you and help out with the needs in terms of business licenses. So we do have an entire division here at CSC, and they work solely in the business licensing world. So partnering with CSC for this type of work will give you access to all of our tenured licensed customer service specialists, our research analysts that are dedicated specifically to license research. And an entire support team behind our portfolio management system today.

As previously mentioned by Brian, we've been in business since 1899. So we have unmatched knowledge and experience in the corporate law firm space here. We've built an entire network of contacts and resources across filing jurisdictions that are nationwide. And most importantly, we don't outsource any step of our license process, you can trust that working within CSC will allow for all of your information to always stay safe and secure within CSC and our technology.

Brian: So now that we've gone through the division, I'm going to dive into the services that we offer. For those of you that had a need for research and that was one of the biggest challenges that you had. We do offer services helping you identify what those are. And those services are what we call either new location research, or existing location research.

New location research would be you're going into a new jurisdiction, building a new brick-and-mortar office. Or maybe you're going to bid on work in the future in a new place, and you don't know what you need. We have many different industry specific questionnaires that we would want you to complete. They're about two pages apiece, you know, just to understand the activities of what you're doing and where you're doing it. And then our team's going to do that analysis, as Calla mentioned, and come back with the appropriate license applications. The cost for those applications, really giving you that nice blueprint as to what you would need to go into that jurisdiction. That's going to be the new location.

The existing location research is really a way to press the reset button. Maybe you're not confident that you're compliant across all of your locations. Or maybe you're acquiring an organization and you don't know what you're taking on from a licensing perspective. So the existing research is going to identify what's out there. You know, what you have, what you're taking on is it current? Is anything missing? Or maybe has something been filed unnecessarily? Can we help you mitigate the need for that license? Maybe an example of that, an example that I should say would be many companies file for both city and county licenses. And the reality is they don't need both, they may just need one or the other.

So but beyond the other research services, we can definitely help you file the licenses. We can prepare the licenses. We'll cut the checks. We'll use credit card if it's online. We'll send it out the door and make sure that everything needs to be prepared. Everything's prepared appropriately to get you that particular new license.

Or on the renewal front, we can actually have them tracked in a portfolio, which I'll actually demonstrate later in the webinar. But we can give you the ability to know what's coming due. You'll actually receive notifications as to what we're doing on your behalf or you can even go sort of the capstone where you turn it over to CSC. We'll give you a dedicated contact, somebody who's going to be responsible for managing these licenses. They'll let you know what they're filing. And they're going to be your true partner in crime, an extension of your team.

And if Calla mentioned, we don't outsource any of this work, what really makes us proud of that is not only are we taking ownership, but we're not reaching any type of security. We're making sure that your information is not leaving or going to some indirect party. Your information is being managed and worked on only by CSC people.

Calla: As Brian mentioned, so we offer our license portfolio management system to make your life easier when it comes to storing and managing and tracking those types of licenses here. So with that we have our full service outsourcing solution that Brian will go over today.

Brian: Thank you. I think now I have some slide issues let me go through as Calla mentioned, you know, it is complimentary with our outsourcing service. It's easy to implement. It's adaptable for any type of customers, you have online access. And you can have as many users as you would like. There are no cost for users in any capacity. And it's turnkey, you know, once we have it built. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to give you the ability to see the platform, and with this platform, all training and support are included.