Business Licenses Made Easy

Get and Stay Compliant in Your Industry

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Across the U.S., there are more than 160,000 local, county, municipal, township, and special district governments, each with its own business license, permit, and tax registration demands. Meeting the challenges of business compliance can mean tracking down scores of deadlines and spending your valuable hours corresponding with any number of federal, state, and regional offices.

The good news is CSC® can help. Our services can simplify your compliance efforts and streamline the entire license, permit, and tax registration process—from start to finish, and everything in between!

Watch this recorded webinar to learn how organizations across all industries are getting and staying compliant with their business licenses through CSC.


Webinar Transcript

Anu: Hello everyone and welcome to today's webinar, "Get and Stay Compliant in Your Industry: Business License Compliance Made Easy." My name is Anu Shah and I will be your moderator. Joining us today is Brian Bartnicki. Since the inception of CSC Licensing Services, Brian has been at the forefront assisting customers with their industry-specific requirements, which range from research, portfolio management, and renewal services. And with that, let's welcome Brian.

Brian: Thanks Anu. Good morning to everybody on the line today. We're going to go over the agenda of what we're going to cover. First thing we're going to talk about very briefly is just about CSC. We're going to talk then about the types of business licenses that are out there, some daily challenges that folks have with licensure, consequences of non-compliance, and then a couple of ways CSC could potentially help, and then we're going to end this session with a Q&A.

So just to briefly chat about CSC, just a couple of fun facts. We're a privately held company and we've been in business for over 115 years. We have offices all across the world and employ over 2,000 people worldwide. We're a SOC 2 audited company which is an incredibly proud security standard which we're really happy about and then we serve in some capacity 95% of the Fortune 500. And the average tenure of our service organization is about 10 and a half years.

So let's talk about the types of business licenses. So when I talk about licenses, the first thing I want to bring to everyone's attention is we're not necessarily talking about secretary of state compliance or a NEXIS registration. Some people think that just registering with the state of Delaware or the state of Nevada or the state of Florida for example with the secretary of state is a license to do business. It will give you the authority to transact business but what we're really talking about from a licensure perspective is truly more of the operational types of licenses that companies may have. And the challenge is some of these may be called different things because you're going to talk about different levels of governments.

So some common types of examples that people run into, number one, you might see occupational licenses. You might see a privilege tax license. Another one that might come up is a tax receipt. Those are sometimes going to be city or county related items. And then of course, you have from the common license perspective, professional licenses. So those might be range from accountants that are on the phone or maybe if you're in social work. You're going to have your professional license. So we're going to get some other industry-specific items as well but from an educational perspective, just to begin, these are some of the common types of interchangeable licenses that you see outside of the secretary of state.

So when it comes to some examples of industries, some of the things you might run into, managed licenses in trade. So what does that mean? For those of you on the line that are architects or engineers, plumbers, electricians. For those of you who maybe in the retail space, you may have unique retail licenses or sellers' permits, or you may even have a precious metal license for example if you're selling jewelry. Some people on the line may be in the insurance industry and you may have produced your renewals or agency licenses. Maybe some third party administrator or amendments or adjustments that you're doing, continual education requirements. These are just a couple of examples of some industry-specific licenses that are out there.

And also for those people that are on the phone that are in the hospitality industry whether you'd be in the restaurant, maybe a hotel, or any type of hospitality, you might find examples of outside café licenses or unique permits, for a spa for example. So I want to let everyone know that if anyone here is in these industries or any industry, for that matter, know that this webinar is really going to be beneficial for you.

So moving forward, so some of the challenges when it comes to managing licenses, are going to be varied. The first that I think I liked, I really think is imperative and I want to explain or talk about is I'm sure there's been times where some of you had said, "Well how do I start? Where do I go?" Okay. Sometimes it's difficult to understand who governs your license requirements. You might have a physical location and the challenge is does my location fall within in an unincorporated or incorporated area within a specific city. There may be an instance where you do business in Chicago, Illinois but you fall outside of the city limits of Chicago, so then you might fall under Cobb County.

You might have a state licensing requirement. Sometimes, in states like Pennsylvania, you might have township requirements. It's really going to be variable based on not only how you're doing your work, what you're doing, but where you are doing business. So a lot of times the challenges that people have are where do they start this research, how do they know where to go, and how do you find time. We all have a ton of things to do, most of you are probably wearing many hats and to find the time to figure out what you need, who do you call to go through that process is incredibly challenging. And when it comes to those of you that have industry-specific requirements, a lot of the challenges are going to be well how do I know that I need a precious metal license to sell jewelry in the city of New York?

How do I know that if I want to demolish as a contractor and erect a building, there are a lot of places where you need Class A contracting licenses? For those of you in the collection industry, how do you know you need a collection license or if you don't need one? It maybe your distinct passive debt buying. There's all these different examples for this, maybe people are in the telecom industry. Do you have a dealer license if people are . . . you might have someone selling your product but they own the business. So these are just examples but a lot of people have challenges in understanding where industry-specific licenses apply and who governs it.

Well, those are the huge challenges that I find that people tell me all the time. Once you identify what these requirements are, how do you file it? What's a filing challenge? Well, the first is where do I send it? Sometimes, you might get a renewal from a location or a new filing so you need to file this, so you do your research and someone tells you you have to file a new application and there's no instruction. It says, "Send it to a P.O. box." Well that really doesn't give me any comfort. I'd rather know exactly where I can send this. There might be urgency. Can they move faster? I have a store opening or I'm bidding on a job maybe that's opening and I absolutely have to get something filed. I need to send it and expedite it. I need to get this done immediately. How do I do that? And can I check the status of my license application?

Some people, as companies are growing, I'm sure there's been moments where people maybe are, I'm going to use retail for example, maybe they're opening 10 locations in the six-month period and they've done research. You're setting the filings in and you build your establishment. The inspectors are in there and you don't have the physical license in hand. So you try to call John Smith in a specific small county across the country or it's a city and he only works two or three days a week or four days a week and his hours are from 10:00 to 4:00 and there's a lunch. And there's only one person in the office. Sometimes during an update or trying to get these filings moving along is incredibly frustrating and the time that you spend going through this could be spent . . . it's incredibly frustrating.

So once you do the new filings and you have them, the next is going to be renewal. So one of the things that I hear all the time from people when I talk to them about licensing is when do all these have to be renewed? And it's completely variable. Sometimes, it's based on your industry. Sometimes, it's based on the city, the county, the state. For those of you in maybe architecture and engineering, you might have renewals that are based on January 1 or might be based on June 30, or maybe the anniversary of when you registered for the license.

For those of you in the insurance world, the producers on the phone, if you have a producer license, your renewal might be based off of your birthday, or could be based on a specific anniversary again of when you filed for the license. When you're managing this data, most people I find are tracking it in a multitude of ways. But the challenge is truly updating and managing when things are coming due and to make sure they're not missed and then trying to manage that and juggle and make sure everything gets out during all the other things that come with your busy day.

I want to get into how people are storing their licenses on the phone. Maybe if you don't have those renewals filed or when it comes to research or filing, you don't identify what's needed or you didn't file something. Or maybe the jurisdiction's changed, maybe there are ordinances and laws changed and now you need something that you didn't need in the past. What are some of the consequences of not being compliant? Well, the first thing that may happen is you may have fines and penalties. I know there are many examples for those of you that have maybe local business tax receipts or city requirements for your brick and mortar or county requirements. Sometimes, jurisdictions might issue you a penalty based off of gross revenue that's generated. So maybe you didn't have a license for six months. They're going to ask how much business or what revenue was generated during that period of time, and then sometimes they have . . . it could be a very large or could be a very . . . depends on the jurisdiction again, penalty or a small penalty for doing business.

That's probably the most common scenario that occurs are going to be the fines and the penalties and it's going to be usually based on the duration noncompliance or the amount of business or revenue generated.

The next is going to be lawsuits. Obviously, we don't want this to happen but if you're sued and you don't have the correct licensure in place, it could sometimes default to a judgment against your company which can be incredibly expensive. So it does happen, hopefully it never does, but that is one of the other consequences.

The next is going to be business closure. A lot of times, some people don't believe me. The next two things actually closures and then the next one as well occur but there are a lot of jurisdictions that truly know exactly what businesses are doing work in their jurisdiction. A lot of times, these renewals and licenses might only be $100, $200, maybe $1,000 to renew. Again, it's going to be dependent upon what these jurisdictions charge and how they calculate fees but there are times where maybe something is dismissed. It's not filed. It's not renewed.

I do have stories. I have one customer recently who had a retail location of theirs and they failed to renew a $75 license renewal. It went to the assistant manager actually. It went to the location directly because the jurisdiction sends it to the location on record, not headquarters or people in their tax department or compliance department. And as a result, it was just ignored and after a second notice went out and it was ignored again, usually what happens is about 60 days after the license was due, the police department came and shut down the store.

Simultaneously to that actually and this may or may not have happened but in this particular scenario, the store manager was actually arrested, just as a person of responsibility for a leverage for the company to fulfill their license requirement. This may sound extreme but it does happen more than you would think. It can happen depending upon the jurisdiction or the authority and their decisions if you're doing business or not compliant within their jurisdiction. Believe it or not, we have had instances where people have come to us in a really disastrous scenario were not only someone was arrested within from the licensing perspective but then fees and legal action had to be taken to expunge the record of the person who was taken for leverage.

So it's just another example that what can happen if we're not compliant. For those of you, in this example, inability to bid on opportunities, I like to talk about people in the trades specifically in the contracting world whether you're bidding on jobs. Sometimes, to win a bid, you have to show proof that you're licensed. And there maybe times where you win the bid, you go through all the process in your plan and then the deal is done. But you don't have the license in order maybe because it wasn't renewed or perhaps the qualifying party or the person of responsibility is not licensed because they didn't take their continual education. And because you're not compliant now, there's an issue when it comes to doing the work and you can lose the bid. So these are just examples again of something that can be affected regarding that.

Delays in introducing new products or services. Anyone on the phone who's on the manufacturing or distribution world or maybe I like using, if anyone's in toy manufacturing specifically, believe it or not, there are licenses in some jurisdictions to sell or distribute stuffed toys, stuffed animals. That's just one in particular. But if you don't have licenses, that specific license or if you're manufacturing and distributing your products and you don't have the licenses for it, it's going to delay that getting out to market. Sometimes, people, they have too much to think about, they forget about it, but these are things that absolutely can happen from a consequence perspective.

And pretty much, I think one of the worst things, what you don't want to have happened, if you have a closure or something is delayed or there's a lawsuit or extreme fines, all of the above. If the press finds out about it or somebody goes to the press because you're not compliant and it gets on the paper, your reputation is everything. Sometimes, it could take years to recover for that particular location or for the company's image relating to this. So it's imperative to make sure that it doesn't happen but that's probably really one of the common consequences that do occur in this space. But beyond all that, for all these examples, and sort of the challenges that everyone ran into and what we talked about, if you'd like, there are things that we can do here to help you in this space.

Number one, we do have a business license division. So whether a certain facet of what your challenges are, we can help. We have a team that's all housed here at CSC. No network of outside vendors. This is all CSC. And our team can help you based on, again, your needs in different ways. We can help you on the research side with identifying those requirements. We have something called a business license research package where you tell us, you fill out a questionnaire, you say this is what we're doing and where we're doing it. And then our team identifies and provides to you all the applications to do business. We can even help you audit all of your locations and your licenses, tell you what's changed, what's no longer needed, or if you've fallen out of good standing.

And then, once we help you with that research or you already know what you need and you want us to help you with filing so we can. We can do the new filings for the licenses, your permits, get your fire permits, your alarm permits, your boiler permit. We can help you with all these items and then from a tracking and management perspective, we do have a complimentary free portfolio that we give our customers that you could take your information, all your license data, put those expirations, put those file numbers put those jurisdictions, put the filing images into your CSC account and it's going to provide an organized platform to manage and I'll show you what that looks like in a couple of seconds.

And the final thing is if you even have like an ownership change, for those of you that are acquiring companies or maybe you want to move the ownership from one company to another, some jurisdictions have different ways and rules about doing that so we can even help you when it comes to the transfer of a license as well.

All right, so the capstone, the other thing we can actually help you with is we can put all your data in your CSC account, that free Portfolio Management but if you even want to take it a step further, we can actually just have our team here in Wilmington, Delaware, monitor your expirations, pay all your fees, renew it in your account, send the licenses to you or to your locations and then that way, you don't have to worry about it. That's sort of the capstone.

Talk about our license portfolio here. I'm going to actually share my screen. Before I do that, I want to give you sort of a high-level fun facts about this free system that we give our customers. The first is that it's web-based. It's not software. It's accessible 24/7 as long as you have internet access. The second point is it's going to centralize everything. You're not going to have different saved files and folders internally. It's all going to be put into your CSC account. It's going to prevent you from missing filing fees. There are reports that are generated that letting you know, "Hey this is either what's coming due or what CSC potentially could be renewing for me in the next 60 days." And it's going to give you pre-determined alerts which you can actually have it schedule certain reports to you.

The other thing, it's easy to implement. We just need your data. You can send us your either zip file with your licenses and the data associated with it. You could send us your Excel spreadsheet. If you even have hard copies, whatever solution you have, just know that you can send us that information. It's very easy to implement. There's zero cost for us to put it in here. There's no cost. We don't charge for it. It's free. You can have any size licenses, small to large and again, it's all online. There's no IT involvement. It's just the turn-key, us putting it in here for you. And you could have unlimited users so there is no cost for any number of users. It's all free because you'd be a CSC customer.

And training is included. It's all free. Support is included. There's never going to be a cost for that. All right. We'll open up to questions for everybody in a couple of seconds. If you do have further questions too, you could always reach out to me, reach out to CSC in general. Again, we do this for a large amount of our customers.

Anu: Thank you for that Brian, that was great. Thank you for joining us and we hope to see you next time.