ROADMAP FOR BUSINESS LICENSE SUCCESS
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Our experts will walk you through common business license challenges and best practices to tackle said challenges – be it with outsourcing services or with a software solution.
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, "Roadmap for Business License Success." My name is Annie Triboletti, and I will be your moderator.
Joining us today are Brian Bartnicki and Arianne Turnier. Brian is the senior business license sales engineer at the forefront assisting our customers with their industry-specific requirements, which range from research, portfolio management, and renewal services. Brian has been with CSC for more than a decade, offering his expertise in the field of license compliance Arianne has been at the forefront of our license compliance technology for 15 years. She is an advocate for supporting the needs of licensing professionals and recognizing the value they bring to their respective workplaces.
And with that let's welcome Brian and Arianne.
Brian: Thanks, Annie. I appreciate everybody's time this afternoon. Hopefully, you find this very informative.
Just to start with the agenda, we're going to talk about briefly who we are at CSC, what do we do. We're going to dive into types of business licenses in the market, whether those are common or industry specific. We're going to go then into license challenges, things that you might come across in your daily responsibilities. Then we're going to go into really why that's all important and why you need a strong process to avoid consequences and kind of go into what those would be. And then we're going to end with how CSC can help. There'll be a demonstration with one of our services, and then we'll open it for a Q&A.
So for those of you that are not familiar with CSC, we've been around a long time. We've been around since the 1800s. So I always like to say we've been around for three centuries and two millennia. And it really gives us the opportunity to really be established and really the preeminent compliance provider in the world.
We have offices all across the globe, and we perform services for all organizations in many ways. So we might do corporate M&A filings. We might do your brand protection. We might be your business license we're talking about on this call. We might do your UCC filings or manage your global subsidiary governance in other places around the globe. Those are just a handful of things that we do. There's many other services that we offer. But just know you're talking to the best and the company that can truly help you in any capacity.
So what I'm going to do, as we get in here, I'm going to pass it to my colleague Arianne to really kick us off officially with the types of business licenses.
Arianne: Hi, everyone. So licensing is not just business licensing. As you probably all know, there are lots of different types of business licenses. We typically tend to think about business licenses falling into really two buckets — common licenses and more regulated licenses.
So when we think about common licenses, it could be a business license, an occupation, a privilege, a tax receipt, some type of professional license. It may also be something like a chain store license. But just doing business and requiring that license is what we would consider a common or general license.
When we look at really some of the more complicated parts of licensing, it's when we get into licenses that are product and service specific. So you might be providing contractor or installation or technology services. You might be selling products. So you might need a food and health permit to sell food or liquor or tobacco or pharmaceuticals. So depending on the industry that you're in, whether it's insurance, healthcare, grocery, services, you will likely have licenses that are unique to the products and services that you offer.
Now as we look at these different examples of licensing, they're going to all have their own different challenges. So when we look at the different challenges that we see with licensing, they kind of fall into three key areas.
So I'm going to start here with research. How do we identify the correct jurisdictions to file with? Many of you may be experiencing challenges trying to figure out who am I actually supposed to be filing with. Oftentimes that has to do with the city, the county, and the state that you're doing business in. And sometimes that business address actually includes the city that you are getting your mail sent to, but not necessarily the city that you do business in. So there could be challenges both with what jurisdiction and locality you file with and also what licenses you are supposed to file in those localities.
The second area is do we need to file licenses specific to our product and industry, and again, as I mentioned earlier, these products and industries can be very specific. I've seen examples of licenses for bedding, not for gambling betting, but for pillows and blankets. So anytime you have a little tag that you pull off of your pillow, that might require a bedding license to sell. And an example of one story I've heard is we had a convenience store who had towels that they sold for beach season and they needed to actually have a bedding or linen license to sell those. So sometimes the products or services that you offer can trigger licensing requirements.
And the third thing here is do we have the expert resource resources to stay on top of these research requirements. So when we think about expertise for research requirements, it kind of falls into two categories. Do we have personnel in our team who know our business, know what we do and the nuances of our products and services and what might trigger a license? And then do we have enough knowledge to research that within the jurisdictions? So this can be really challenging in the area of research. It's an area we want to look at creating solutions for.
The other area of challenge oftentimes comes to once we've figured out what we're filing, what's needed for that new filing. So new filings oftentimes will require specific types of documents. That can range from affidavits, certificates of insurance, bonds, officer background checks. It can also require photographs of like the front of a building for a sign permit.
So the type of information needed to complete a file can vary dramatically, and keeping track of all that just to do one application can take quite a bit of time. And sometimes there are surprises. How do we keep track of all the applications in process? Depending on the growth of your business, this can vary a lot. Some of our clients are applying for one location, but they might have 50 licenses for the property depending on what they're doing. In other cases, we're going to have businesses that are applying for lots of growth, but maybe their licensing is fairly straightforward. There's just still a lot to manage.
And when we get through those applications, how do we make sure the jurisdictions are giving us our licenses as quickly as possible because we're running a business and it's important to make sure that the bottom line is always in mind. So how do we make sure that our licenses are getting filed and the jurisdictions are responding effectively?
So one of the ways we look at can jurisdictions move faster, it's really about hitting those first two items, making sure we have the right documentation, making sure we're keeping track of things so that we can get the jurisdictions to move a little faster because they won't have to come back and forth to us to get information.
And the last thing here is renewals. So now that we've got our licenses researched, we've got our licenses filed, you may all already have renewals that you're currently managing. Think about that as your portfolio of licenses. And how do you know when your licenses are due?
This can be I think one of the hardest things because renewals can be due based on the expiration date the jurisdiction set. It could be arbitrary, like it could be June 1st or December 31st. And sometimes the due date is not the same as the expiration date. So we might have licenses that expire December 31st but actually aren't due until January or February. And making sure that we're looking at which date really matters is important when we're talking about these deadlines. Sometimes license due dates are based on the anniversary of your application. So lots to juggle.
And what information is needed to submit a renewal? Similar to an application, many renewals require a lot of information. It can be information like gross sales or location details, like employee count, number of registers, seating occupancy. So the licensing requirements for renewal can vary dramatically, and they can require documents too. You might need a certificate of insurance or a bond or another tax form in order to submit a license renewal. So knowing what those are, being prepared for them, and also being able to swiftly get the information is really important to getting renewals effectively managed.
And the third thing here is do we have a single place that provides visibility into the status of our licensing. I regularly hear companies are tracking their licenses in a variety of methods, spreadsheets, binders, inboxes, Outlook calendars, along with lots of emails going back and forth to different people to manage things. And sometimes we're just waiting for that bill to show up in the mail, and we don't have a tracking mechanism at all. So it's important to look at is there a single place to see where all of my licenses are so that I really know that I'm compliant and that I'm not missing any deadlines.
Now these challenges are going to vary based on industry, and you're going to hear more about how we look to solve those, but also the consequences of those challenges throughout the meeting today.
Brian: All right. So I think it's time now to talk about the importance of a strong process, right, because, Arianne's point, you really have to make sure everything is buttoned up because if you don't, you're going to run into some consequences of non-compliance.
So first of all I want to talk about delay in kind of providing a product or service. Maybe you have a food truck business, right, and you want to start serving in, I don't know, I'll say Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but you haven't you haven't really gone through the process to understand if you need a City of Pittsburgh license, an Allegheny County License, a Washington Township license, right? You really don't have hypothetically that in order. Maybe that's a requirement, and until you have that all set up, you're not going to be able to provide or sell your wonderful food to the customers who want to eat it. So just know that it's imperative when you're going through kind of opening or going into a market or opening a store or whatever business you're doing, right, that you've gone through the steps to ensure that you have everything you need.
Simultaneously kind of similar to that but different, you might really not be able to bid on opportunities. So for those people on the phone that maybe are in the trade world, right, you might be an architect, you could be an engineering firm, a contractor, right, there's probably many times where you're running into RFPs, right, you're kind of bidding to win the job, and sometimes part of the RFP process is you need to give us a copy of your business license. And kind of in the world that you are, everything was needed yesterday. You kind of are trying to win the bid immediately. And it's very common, for really not just that industry but for a lot of industries, that you're really not going to be able to do that business because you didn't take the steps ahead of time and go through the appropriate licensure.
Something that people don't think about all the time is simply negative press. It's your brand, right? It's also you don't want to kind of have that embarrassing article out there. I don't know if anyone's familiar with this, but I think it was maybe November of this past year, one of the NHL hockey teams didn't actually file their city license, and the arena, it was in Arizona, no hints right there, right, if you know that this hockey team plays there, but the city threatened to lock them out of the arena because they didn't file their local city business license. And it was pretty comical but sad, right, negative press kind of just showing the state of the team and how they run the business. And that's just one of many examples, right? But to go back to kind of the health world, like what if you forgot to renew your health permit and they shut you down? There was nothing wrong, but now kind of everyone wonders, well, what happened. So your brand is everything. You want to stay out of the press. You really just want to avoid . . . licensing really affects your operation, right, versus kind of a secretary of state registration, which you can kind of quickly reinstate. This is more of the everyday affecting your ability to do business.
Another one or the most common problems you might come across are simply fines and penalties. If some of you maybe you're in the retail space or maybe some customers you might have these random licenses in Alabama that you don't understand why Alabama wants you to have it because you don't have a location there, maybe you drove through it a year ago, and they define that as doing business, so they sent you a license application. Some authorities will say, look, you've been doing business in our jurisdiction for x amount of years, we're going to charge you a fine based on the amount of years, or maybe it's based on revenue. I always tell people there was a customer that came to us in need. They had a retail location in Beverly Hills, California, and it was a semiannual license. They had to file it every six months, but they missed their June deadline and they had to pay a $34,000 penalty based on the amount of revenue that they had made for those six months. So some jurisdictions might have a small fine, right, but some could be large, and that's kind of the challenge. There's so many authorities, there's over 150,000 of them, that you just don't really want to even risk the chance of it happening.
Believe it or not, closures also occur. Some of you might . . . Hopefully this never happened, but if a jurisdiction deems that for whatever reason your business is non-compliant with licenses, maybe they've asked you a couple times or maybe it just went to somebody at the site who it wasn't their responsibility to handle licenses, it's somebody in the corporate office, but they didn't know and they tossed it in the trash. They didn't care about it. And before you know it, you have an inspector going to your location, saying that you have to cease business and shut down until you have a license. This is very common for those of you if you've gone through licensing in D.C. or Chicago. They're kind of notorious for having inspectors kind of do that, potentially close you down. But believe it or not, closures are a very common thing that can occur.
And the most extreme, although it does happen, it's not something that happens once and I hear this from customers sometimes every couple months, where they have a need, believe it or not, there's some authority that just really wanted to flex their muscles and they will arrest people on the site to encourage past due fees or get licenses in compliance. So again, I know it sounds extreme, but it is something that does happen. Not that it's going to happen to every company, but just know that they can revert to that if the jurisdiction deems it appropriate.
And so how can CSC help? We've gone over kind of the best practices, challenges, consequences. Now Arianne and I will kind of talk to how we can support in different ways. So I'm going to talk to our services in a second. I do want to just briefly talk to kind of CSC's Licensing Department as a whole. You have a dedicated contact when you work with us and with all services. It's very common with CSC. You're not calling into an 800 number. You have a true support contact who works with you, and based off of many other services you have, you have kind of other relationship people behind the scenes.
We are very knowledgeable. We deal with all of these jurisdictions nationally frequently. Our department has over 200 plus people that just do licenses. So again, we have close to 7,000 people globally, but this group solely just deals with that. So we have relationships, for example, with of every department of insurance, all the insurance commissioners, right? We have the resources. We have the relationships. Let us deal with all that red tape versus you having to manage it.
And we really do everything in-house. So we don't outsource our work. Every time you're using CSC, you're dealing with CSC people. With CSC work, nothing is being exposed indirectly for a security risk, especially with the type of information, right, that's on your licenses. And that really ties into our technology and security as a whole. So our technology is all world class. From a security perspective, we are all SOC 2 compliant. Again, partnering with us, again as the preeminent provider, allows you to just have confidence in your data and what we're managing.
So again, I promised I would talk about kind of some of our services. Then I'll pass it to Arianne to talk to others as well. But I'm going to talk to our research services first.
So we do offer research in a couple areas. One is a service that we call new location research. This would be used in a situation where you're opening a new physical site, maybe you're going into a new market, right, and you're going to perform services in Carlsbad, California. You've never done work there before, and you don't know what's needed. And so you complete an industry-specific questionnaire. So I'll use an example. Maybe you're going to perform a job contracting services Carlsbad. You don't know what's needed. Do you need a contractor license? Do you not? Because you're a subcontractor, you're not sure. And you're going to maybe do electrical work, right, whatever it would be. You complete the activity questionnaire. We can do the analysis, and we really uncover you only need a general contractor's license and a San Diego County license. You actually maybe don't need the Carlsbad license. Or maybe you just need the Carlsbad license. But our research will let you know, based on what you do and how you're doing it and where you're doing it, based on your business what licenses do you need, state, county, village, township, borough, etc. Provide you the forms and give you that data.
Existing location research is really more I like to kind of call it the Sherlock Holmes kind of state of the union approach, if you want to press the reset button. It's really used in a situation where the customer, you're doing work, you have licenses, but you don't know what you don't know. You just don't have confidence that you're where you need to be, that you're compliant holistically, and you just want to again reset everything. So we'll have you complete again that activity-driven questionnaire, and we're going to do a deep dive though. We're not only going to cover what you need, but then we're going to see if you have it. We're going to pull copies. We're going to make sure they're still active and make sure they haven't fallen out of good standing. If there's new requirements, right, what now needs to be filed that you didn't or that you that you already had?
And then the other part of it is to let you know potentially if you filed something unnecessarily. So an example, just to go back to that Carlsbad item, right, maybe you filed in the City of Carlsbad and San Diego County, but you don't need the Carlsbad one. We can tell you to get rid of it. So just to kind of Cliff note that service, that's going to tell you what you have, what you don't have, and what you have but you don't need.
And so there's another part of the service that my team deals with, before I pass it to Arianne, is simply just the full-service outsourcing of the actual renewals that you have. So if you give us your data or maybe we do that existing research, we'll build it into your CSC account. You'll actually get a dedicated contact here who's going to be responsible for paying for the licenses. We'll advance the government fees. We're going to send them out the door. We're going to file them. We may have to reach out to you for revenue or bonds or things like that, but you'll get a secure link to securely provide that or drag and drop it if it's necessary. Then we're going to follow up with the authorities, going to do all that red tape follow-up so you don't have to do it. And then when we get it back, we're going to upload the licenses into your account, send any originals to your locations to be posted if that's necessary, and then ultimately just bill you on a monthly basis with the outsourcing service. But we give you visibility into what we're doing. You can see kind of statuses as to what's going on. But that's how we handle our renewal service.
So I'm going to pass it to Arianne now to talk to our software side of the house.
Arianne: Perfect. Well, one of the priorities we have at CSC is making sure that we can provide you all the support you need for your business needs, and that includes being able to offer outsourcing solutions or software for your licensing. So when we look at License Pro, License Pro is really kind of the premier licensing product out there. We are really here to make sure that anybody who's doing licensing and permitting has a comprehensive tool to allow them to do the professional work that they're managing without having to cobble together different tools, like Excel and Outlook and other things.
So how you benefit from this, we're going to have customized workflows in the system. That means if you have a license in a state, like Georgia, that has some very specific steps, you can customize that so whenever you're renewing that license, you know that you're going to be reminded to do these two or three things, like getting an affidavit or a notary. We also allow you to build custom workflows for things outside of renewal, so new application work, change of ownership work. So making sure that all of the disciplines around your role for licensing and permitting are supported, not just renewal and applications.
We also want to have compliance processes that fit your industry. So that means we're going to provide forms for you that are based on your license types. We're going to be able to let you set up custom workflows based on the licenses that you have to file for products and services.
We also integrate with accounts payable and other systems so you can manage your check request process or online filings and keep accounting for that. We're going to deliver dashboards and reports so that you have full visibility into the system and everything that's pending. Really there's never a case where you shouldn't know what is pending. And then you also are going to have easy access to all of your licensing data and documents. So this is not just a data repository, but it'll also be a document repository.