Pandemic Spurs Innovation for Small- to Mid-Sized Businesses

Set up your business in the right entity and state. Mistakes in formation or taxation can have a lasting negative impact on business growth and viability. Before starting a new business, consider the best structure for asset protection and tax minimization. For example, a limited liability company (LLC) gives business owners time to operate at a loss for the first few months and write off the loss on their individual 1040 forms against other forms of income.

Pandemic spurs innovation for small- to mid-sized businesses

By Brandpoint

(BPT) – As COVID-19 continues to disrupt normal day-to-day operations of small- to mid-sized businesses and nearly half of the U.S. workforce hangs in the balance, employers are taking creative measures to reset their go-to-market strategies and offerings. By changing their operations to meet the demands of their customers, businesses can not only stay relevant but keep their staff employed and thrive in the new economy.

This pandemic offers business owners, investors and solopreneurs the opportunity to take a critical look at their overall business model, offerings and operations and reset the entire business structure, creating new opportunities to serve and prevail. This is the perfect time to explore new legal solutions to the most common business obstacles to help companies preserve and protect their brands and prosper for generations to come. There are great examples of resets happening within many industries.

With the pandemic closing summer camps throughout the country, ACA-accredited Adventure Links, a 23-year-old summer camp in Virginia, has found a way to replace its usual summer adventure camp programs with

The CampCloud(TM) , an experiential online alternative. The company is now offering its virtual camping programs to individuals and employers to assist employees working from home by keeping their kids engaged, learning and delighted all day from virtually anywhere. The program is being offered to other camps as a customizable, online option for their campers.

Ensuring the health and safety of employers when stay-at-home orders are lifted, and business resumes, is critical. Thanks to a team of entrepreneurs, Disinfect & Shield(TM), an FDA-registered, EPA-approved and eco-friendly disinfectant used in surgical suites for the last decade, is now available to businesses worldwide to kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and other dangerous organisms. It works by creating a permanent anti-microbial shield, preventing the virus from attaching to surfaces where it has been applied without risk to humans, animals or crops. With Disinfect & Shield(TM), employees, customers and visitors can feel safe knowing that their space has been properly disinfected and treated for optimum health and safety.

Clint Coons, founder of Anderson Business Advisors, offers 5 financing and entity creation tips to help entrepreneurs and small business owners:

  1. Know how to use loans: CARES Act loans have specific guidelines like having to use at least 60% of the loan within 24 weeks of receipt for payroll expenses. Concerned that money would dry up, many small business owners applied with no way of utilizing them because their business cannot reopen under the strict guidelines imposed on the industry.
  2. Alternate cash sources: Borrow from a 401(k) or IRA to keep businesses afloat, as it does not need to be paid back for at least 3-6 years. However, pulling money out of a retirement plan comes with some risk, such as if the business does not see profitability, then retirement funds were wasted on a failed business venture.
  3. Beware of increasing liabilities: Because insurance will not cover claims brought under COVID, reopening comes with risk and business owners are wondering how they will operate under strict COVID-19 related guidelines and still make a profit. Now is the time to pivot and reset.
  4. Consider restructuring: Set up your business in the right entity and state. Mistakes in formation or taxation can have a lasting negative impact on business growth and viability. Before starting a new business, consider the best structure for asset protection and tax minimization. For example, a limited liability company (LLC) gives business owners time to operate at a loss for the first few months and write off the loss on their individual 1040 forms against other forms of income. There are different entity funding options with protection ramifications.
  5. Utilize Privacy Shield Protection by creating anonymity with trusts.

COVID-19 has shown that many businesses aren’t prepared for worst-case scenarios and make common mistakes that can affect their ability to grow and borrow money. If approached strategically, small- to medium-sized businesses can take this time to implement changes and help their operations succeed and thrive.

An Interview With Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s CEO, Charles Watson

An Interview With Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s CEO, Charles Watson

By Gary Occhiogrosso
PHOTO COURTESY OF TROPICAL SMOOTHIE CAFE

CEO Shares His Story & Insights On Taking The Reins.
Amid all the pandemic news and stories of how the foodservice business is coping with the crisis, I thought I’d attempt to redirect our attention today, even if only for a short while. As a 35 year veteran of the restaurant and franchise industry, I have always been fascinated by the challenges, risks, rewards, and day to day “work” a CEO faces when first taking the helm of an ongoing franchise organization. Today’s post focus’ on that topic in an interview with Charles Watson, the CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café.

Mr. Watson was appointed the CEO position of Tropical Smoothie Cafe in December 2018. Since that time, he has led the company on its quest towards $1billion in sales by 2023. He’s no stranger to franchise development, nor is Charles Watson an outsider, having served four years as the company’s Chief Development Officer in addition to his prior role as VP of Franchise Development. He is directly responsible for selling more than 800 franchises.

As their franchise website states: “Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s menu boasts bold, flavorful smoothies with a healthy appeal, all made-to-order with quality ingredients. We find that real fruits, veggies, and juices just taste better.” The offerings have evolved over the years to include a menu of breakfast and lunch items beyond smoothies. From wraps to flatbreads to salads, Mr. Watson continues to solidly position Tropical Smoothie Cafe as a leader in the fast-casual, healthier lifestyle food category.

Gary Occhiogrosso: Tell us a little about your background before joining Tropical Smoothie?

Charles Watson: “Prior to joining Tropical Smoothie Cafe, I worked for several hotel and hospitality-centric companies, including Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels Group, US Franchise Systems, Inc. and Hospitality Real Estate Counselors. I joined Tropical Smoothie Cafe in 2010 as the Vice President of Franchise Development and, in 2016, became the Chief Development Officer, where I was responsible for all aspects of the development of the brand. In July 2018, I was named interim CEO, and then permanent in December 2018.”

Occhiogrosso: Please give our readers the “Elevator Pitch” for Tropical Smoothie Cafe?

Watson: “Tropical Smoothie Cafe is a national fast-casual cafe concept inspiring healthier lifestyles with more than 850 locations in 44 states. Beyond just smoothies, we serve better-for-you wraps, sandwiches, and flatbreads, and pride ourselves on living at the “intersection of taste, convenience, and hospitality.” In a highly competitive segment, we’re one of the fastest-growing quick-casual brands, opening 124 new locations in 2019 alone and singing 213 development agreements to open hundreds of businesses over the next few years.”

Occhiogrosso: What was the condition of the company before you were named CEO?

Watson: “We were in a good place! In 2018, when I was named CEO, we had more than 720 locations open nationwide. By year-end 2018 we opened 110 cafes and signed 191 new franchise agreements. Building off this momentum, in 2019, we celebrated the openings of our 750th and 800th locations, but taking over during such a monumental time for our brand certainly brought opportunities to improve. Each year, franchisees complete the Franchise Business Review to essentially grade us here at the Support Center on how we’re serving them. We gathered that feedback and used it to set goals and action plans for the company. Areas we wanted to attack immediately with our rapid growth were direct franchisee support as well as technology support and menu innovation. We set company-wide strategic imperatives around these issues immediately.”

Occhiogrosso: What were the one or two unique challenges that you faced upon taking over as CEO?

Watson: “As a first time CEO, learning to view the business from a thinking vs. a doing mentality was a challenge I faced. The success of our brand is about the talent and drive of our talented executives and Support Center team. It was not possible for me to get involved in every project – so I had to learn to let go and delegate. I would say that understanding the viewpoints and drivers of the different stakeholders I was serving was important. A presentation for a board is focused on very different things than a franchisee roadshow. Really trying to understand how to see the world through a different stakeholders’ eyes is something I still work on.”

Occhiogrosso: What was your plan for the first 90 days?

Watson: “I wanted to further instill a franchisee-first mentality. When our franchisees are successful, the brand is successful. When I became CEO, I launched a formal franchisee advisory council, known in our organization as the Tropical Franchisee Council (TFC). While we had always involved franchisees, I felt it needed to be formalized and more visible to our franchise system. In short, franchisees needed to know that there was a formal mechanism of their peers that was constantly feeding back to us at the Support Center. From there, we set up committees, reporting into our TFC, around the major parts of our business, and included more franchisees to provide feedback and work with us on further improving IT, Marketing, Design, and Construction, etc. It was important to me that we have franchisees themselves share their feedback and align on system initiatives and goals. In a franchise system, without broad franchisee buy-in, you cannot move as efficiently and effectively as is required in today’s business environment.”

Occhiogrosso: How is taking the reins of an existing company different than being part of a startup or a founder?

Watson: “I think when taking over any brand where you worked alongside your predecessor, there’s a certain level of pressure to continue carrying the torch, but also to make necessary changes to the brand to evolve with the changing economy and consumer trends. I was lucky enough to work with the founders of the business (and still do as they are board members) as well as work under our first CEO, who did an amazing job. Because 99% of Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s system is franchisee-owned and operated, it was my goal to maintain consistency for them and move the company forward in the right direction, with a lot of reverence and respect for the past. In my case, because I already had nearly a decade with Tropical Smoothie Cafe on the franchise development side, I had the unique advantage of personal relationships with our franchise community. We had a high level of mutual trust and respect for each other that existed before I assumed the role of CEO. I may have been, in fact, the person responsible for awarding them a franchise! My experience with the brand up to that point was beneficial because I was already very immersed in the operations and processes that had contributed to its success at that time. That created a kind of blueprint that served as the foundation for me to take the reins and lead the company the way I felt was best. Yes, I am putting my mark on the brand and culture, but I have been around long enough not to stray too far from the DNA of the brand.”

Occhiogrosso: What challenges, if any, did you face in getting “buy-in” from the existing franchise community once you became CEO? Were any of the franchisees reluctant to follow the system or embrace a new direction?

Watson: “Like I said, I was very fortunate to have had already developed relationships with our franchise community prior to becoming CEO. My predecessor did a great job, so most of the hesitancy candidly was, “will this guy be as good, will we have the same amount of success?” Luckily in my first two years as CEO, we continued to expand the footprint of the brand, and increase brand awareness, drive profitability for our franchisees and drive our comp sales…. So that was helpful! The impact of the more formalized committees we have set up, and the close connection I have with TFC has gotten the system more comfortable with my style and thinking, and I believe, since trust is earned, I still have a long way to go, but am off to a good start. Without our franchisees, committees, and council, I simply could not do this job. Those franchisees are serving our guests on the front lines – I can’t run this business without their candid feedback.”

Occhiogrosso: How do you feel about franchise advisory councils? And was one in place already?

Watson: “I’m a huge advocate for franchise advisory councils, specifically when nearly 60% of all franchise agreements at Tropical Smoothie Cafe come from existing franchisees. The Tropical Franchisee Council (TFC) was established in 2018 and has been invaluable for our growth. “Relationships Rule” is one of our core values, and because of that, people are at the heart of our company. Our relationships are founded on trust and respect for the unique talents of our teams, franchisees, and vendors alike. We strive to continue to harness these relationships in this way and feel that this approach will continue to fuel our success. The TFC works hand-in-hand with Tropical Smoothie on all facets of the business from operations, IT, marketing, construction, and beyond, and their genuine feedback continues to establish the open communication we strive for, helping us to enhance our business model on an ongoing basis. This process only helps our individual franchisees and their bottom line, respectively.”

Occhiogrosso: What is the mission and goal of the company over the next few years?

Watson: “At Tropical Smoothie Cafe, it’s our mission to inspire a healthier lifestyle by serving amazing food and smoothies, with a bit of tropical fun. We want to be an escape for our consumers in this hectic world we live, and an incredible business model for our franchise partners It’s an exciting time to be a fast-casual concept within this segment, specifically as the market size of the juice and smoothie bars industry is expected to increase by 2.3% in 2020, reaching nearly $3 billion in revenue across the globe. We consider ourselves to be an approachable, healthier option for the average American, and our customer loyalty system-wide continues to climb. Our company sells about 200 franchises, opens over 120 cafes a year, and has more than 500 locations in the pipeline. As a brand, we strive for excellence in service and creating a culture of hospitality for our business no matter which location you visit, and this year we’re prioritizing them even further by enhancing pillars of our hospitality-centric culture and the technology we use to create convenience for our guests in order to reinforce our position as the leader in our segment. Over the next five years, our goals are to reach 1,500 cafes open across the U.S., with over 18% profitability for our franchisees on average volumes in excess of $1M, all with very high operational satisfaction for our guests. Our annual tactics are focused around delivering those results.”


Although I did not want to focus on COVID-19 in this interview, it is difficult to ignore its impact on the restaurant community as well as franchisees in general. So I was compelled to ask Mr. Watson his thoughts on the pandemic and the company’s response.

Occhiogrosso: During the current COVID-19 crisis, what steps have you taken to ensure that Tropical Smoothie Cafe supports the local community?

Watson: “When COVID-19 struck the restaurant landscape in mid-March, we closed all dining rooms and shifted our focus to drive-thru, curbside pickup, and delivery where available. Then we determined two focus areas, giving back to the community and prioritizing support for our franchisees. Some of our franchisees had the idea to donate smoothies to first responders and hospital workers in Atlanta. We loved the idea so much we launched a nationwide campaign to donate 100,000 smoothies across the country and the response has been incredible. Within the first day, several local franchisees jumped on board and donated more than 600 smoothies each, and the donations just kept growing from there. On April 16 we met our goal of 100,000 smoothies, but our franchisees haven’t stopped there, and the new challenge is to donate a total of one million smoothies by the end of May. Knowing that those essential workers are not only in the healthcare fields, we’ve also extended our giving to grocery store, warehouse and post office employees. We’re proud to report that as of today, we’ve donated more than 200,000 smoothies to these hometown heroes, and we’re not done yet! In support of National Nurses Appreciation Month in May, we have also pledged to donate $100,000 to the American Nurses Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund upon reaching our goal of giving away 1,000,000 smoothies.”Our franchisees are the heart of our brand, so we wanted to make sure we were doing everything we could to help them stay afloat through the crisis. We decreased royalties and deployed hyper-local marketing strategies to drive business within a 1–to 2-mile radius of cafes. While our projected 2020 growth might take a step back due to the coronavirus, I believe our approach to navigating through this will help us emerge quickly once it passes.”

Occhiogrosso: What are some of the additional support initiatives you put in place for your franchise community during the pandemic?

Watson: “Our franchisees are the heart of our brand, so we wanted to make sure we were doing everything we could to help them stay afloat through the crisis. We’ve implemented various franchisee support initiatives, including decreased royalties by 50%, ongoing support with PPP loans and real estate deferrals and abatements, rolling out curbside delivery systemwide, deployed hyper-local marketing strategies to drive business within a 1–2-mile radius of cafes, among many others. While our projected 2020 growth might take a step back due to the coronavirus, I believe our approach to navigating through this will help us emerge quickly once it passes.

Occhiogrosso: How do you see the company moving forward?

Watson: “As you know, the restaurant industry has taken a huge hit. Although COVID-19 has directly impacted our business, some days being down more than 50 percent, we consider ourselves lucky to have a business model that allowed us to easily transition to grab-and-go, curbside, and delivery only. I think the biggest shift will take place for those restaurants that can’t be open right now. The guests who support local businesses in and around their communities are the ones we give the credit to because their loyalty to our cafes is what has ultimately maintained our ability to serve. Because of our amazing guests, our franchisees, and the communities they serve, including those on the front lines of this pandemic, we will get through this. As reopening guidelines are being determined, we plan to move forward with an abundance of caution.”

In conclusion, I believe the growth of Tropical Smoothie Cafe over the last two years demonstrates Mr. Watson’s steady leadership and a clear understanding of building on the momentum that has made the brand a leader in its category. In my experience, making franchisee success and profitability the priority is the key to the longevity of any franchised brand. The fact that nearly 60% of all new Tropical Smoothie Cafe units are opened by existing franchisees underscores the franchise owner’s satisfaction with the concept, the company, and it’s leadership. It’s almost all you need to know about the results of Mr. Watson’s work and commitment to the franchisees. Successfully taking the reins on an existing franchise company can be a daunting task, but in the case of Charles Watson, he continues, as their franchise website claims, to create waves for a brand that started on the beach.

About Charles Watson:

Charles Watson was named CEO in December 2018. In this role, he is responsible for the brand’s strategic vision and overall franchise performance. He was previously Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s Chief Development Officer since 2016, after serving as VP of Franchise Development since 2010. In these roles, Charles was responsible for all development of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe brand. A veteran hospitality professional, Charles has worked for several hospitality-related companies, including Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels Group, US Franchise Systems, Inc., and Hospitality Real Estate Counselors. Charles is a graduate of The Hotel School at Cornell University and also holds a Masters of Business Administration from The Terry School of Business at The University of Georgia.

The Human Resource: Engaging the workforce in a crisis

As business leaders, it is more critical now to demonstrate strong leadership values and ethics in how you treat your employees and how you create and maintain a life-work balance. That includes the safety and protection of the workforce while building sustainable processes and practices that enable you to continue providing your products and services to your customers and clients.

The Human Resource: Engaging the workforce in a crisis

WARREN COOK

By Warren Cook -President and co-founder of SymbianceHR

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted us all in ways that may take years or a lifetime to reflect upon and understand. As businesses begin to reopen and emerge from the shutdown, our workforce — the employees we value and need to succeed — are emerging from a stay at home lockdown that can be a traumatic experience.

The myriad challenges today include returning to a new normal work environment with changes to working conditions. Those changes include moving from remote locations back to the regular physical office and dealing with the stress of civil unrest, protests or riots, on top of a Covid-19 virus that has no cure, and the risk of death. They all combine to create a traumatic situation for many of the people in our community.

As business leaders, it is more critical now to demonstrate strong leadership values and ethics in how you treat your employees and how you create and maintain a life-work balance. That includes the safety and protection of the workforce while building sustainable processes and practices that enable you to continue providing your products and services to your customers and clients.

Three important considerations as we emerge from the stay-at-home lockdown to support your strategy for success.

Employees will have genuine, valid, and realistic fears and concerns when asked to return to a physical work location. Do not demonstrate a disrespectful attitude or communication style by “ordering” people to return to the work location. Instead, develop a communication strategy and alternative working conditions that allow these concerns to be addressed and resolved collaboratively. Treat all employees fairly and collaborate with them through an interactive process to determine how to achieve a win-win situation for the employee and the business.
The employer, as always, has a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace for their employees. This means following all local, state, and federal guidelines and regulations to meet safety standards in the workplace. This includes but is not limited to social distancing, remote work when possible, disinfecting the worksite, monitoring the health of the staff, and communicating timely and honestly about positive test results in the workforce that require quarantine or migration back to remote working conditions to avoid the spread of the virus.
Establish policies to handle the new work processes and practices and provide training to all people leaders and the employees. Failure to communicate consistently, transparently, and timely with trust, respect and engagement could lead to employee relations issues that you don’t need right now on top of all the other challenges your business is facing.
Remember your obligations to keep certain matters confidential, to protect the rights of your employees, and to ensure their safety while under your management. The more effective you can be as leaders during this crisis, the more evident it will be that you become an employer of choice who treats people with dignity and respect, which leads to community approval and sustainable business success.

Wishing you all good health and safety during these challenging times.
===========================

About Warren Cook
Warren is the President and co-founder of SymbianceHR and provides strategic oversight for service delivery, business operations, and technical guidance on consulting engagements. He is a human resources subject matter expert with over 25 years of experience as a strategic human resources business partner, project manager, and people leader across private and public sectors organizations. Warren is responsible for the strategic planning of all client consulting engagements from initial needs assessment and compliance review through delivery of customized strategic solutions that meet the client’s business goals. He has a proven track record of providing executive coaching and guidance to business leaders and human resource professionals at all levels including the C-Suite of Fortune 100 companies. Warren is also the Chief Talent Officer and cofounder of SymbianceHiRe, a Symbiance company dedicated to providing direct placement talent acquisition services and temporary and contract staffing solutions to the business community. Warren holds a B.S. in Human Resource Management, an MBA in Project Management, and a M.S. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Warren is the author of “Applicant Interview Preparation – Practical Coaching for Today.”

* * MasterMind Minutes * *

Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

MasterMind Minutes is the Webcast that shares expert business information in Minutes Not Hours. Each edition runs approximately 10 to 15 minutes and features an expert guest covering one question. The entire series is posted and updated several times a week on this page so you can binge watch back-to-back “episodes”. Three to five new editions are added each week so keep coming back to view the experts on an insightful topic that is sure to help you build, grow and run your business.

www.franchisegrowthsolutions.com

HOW TO EVALUATE A STARTUP OR EMERGING BRAND FRANCHISE WITH ONE OR NO FRANCHISEES?
Our Guest Today is: Ed Teixeira.
Ed has over 40 years of experience in the franchise industry and is the VP Franchise Development for FranchiseGrade.com a leading franchise market research firm. Ed is the author of Franchising from the Inside Out and The Franchise Buyers Manual and has spoken before the International Franchise Expo, Chinese Franchise Association in Shanghai, China and has lectured at the Stony Brook University Business School on Franchising.
Contact Ed at: https://www.franchisegrade.com/. 1-800-975-6101
Contact Gary at: [email protected]
Learn More About Franchising: https://www.franchisegrowthsolutions.com

WHAT SHOULD EMPLOYERS THINK ABOUT WITH RESPECT TO LIABILITY CONCERNING EMPLOYEES GETTING CORONAVIRUS AT THE WORKPLACE?
today’s guests are:
Joel Greenwald is the Founder and Managing Partner of Greenwald Doherty LLP, a national management-side employment law firm. Focusing on labor relations and employment law. AND Michael Einbinder is a founding Partner of Einbinder & Dunn. He is a participating member of the American Bar Association Forum on Franchising.
Contact Michael at: [email protected] – Contact Joel at:[email protected]

HOW A COMPANY CAN SUPPORT THE COMMUNITY, ITS EMPLOYEES AND ITS FRANCHISEES IN TIME OF CRISIS – Today’s guest is Hector Westerband. Hector is the Founder and CEO of ACAI EXPRESS. He has over 20 years in the hospitality industry. He was introduced to the amazing Acai Stone Fruit. It was there where he started his own Acai Food Truck Called Acai Express in 2013.development.
Acai Express: https://lnkd.in/eESYZ6U

WHAT ARE THE FRANCHISE BRANDS THAT ARE DOING WELL DURING AND WILL DO WELL AFTER THE PANDEMIC? – Today’s guest is Lance Graulich
Lance is the founder & CEO of ION Franchising, an industry leading franchise consulting and development group, that represents over 500 franchise brands & business opportunities within 90 categories. Lance helps prospective entrepreneurs find their perfect franchise for FREE.

ARE YOU OVERLOOKING POTENTIAL MONEY SAVING CHANGES IN THE FEDERAL TAX LAWS THAT WERE INCLUDED IN THE COVID STIMULUS BILLS? – Today’s guest is MICHAEL IANNUZZI
Michael Iannuzzi is a partner and co-leader in Citrin Copperman’s franchise practice providing a variety of services to a wide spectrum of clients within the franchise community.

GROWING YOUR FRANCHISE COMPANY POST COVID-19 – Today’s guest is Harold Kestenbaum.
Harold is a franchise attorney who has specialized in franchise law and other matters relating to franchising since 1977. https://youtu.be/OOCXqhGPA_U

WHY DO FRANCHISEES FAIL – Today’s guest is Tom Scarda, CFE, Founder & CEO of the Franchise Academy, Best selling author and Podcaster.

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MATTO FRANCHISE
A Revolution is Brewing
LEARN MORE HERE:
https://www.mattofranchise.com/

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HOW ARE BANKS RESPONDING TO LOANS FOR NEW BUSINESSES?
Today’s guest is Reginald Heard – Founder and CEO of Bankers One Capital.

HOW ARE YOU MARKETING AND GETTING THE WORD OUT THAT YOUR BUSINESS IS GETTING READY TO REOPEN? Laura Skulman, Director of Marketing and Events for B&D Burgers in Savannah Ga.

HOW FRANCHISORS ARE CREATING A DIGITAL STRATEGY AS THE ECONOMY OPENS UP – Today’s guest is Aubree Coderre, National Sales Manager at C-Squared Social

Stephen McCluskey Insurance Expert – Discussing what you can do if your Insurance Company is not paying business interruption insurance due to Covid 19 closure

Michael Einbinder – Founding Partner of Einbinder and Dunn, a Law firm focusing on the needs of franchisees and franchisors

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MATTO FRANCHISE
A Revolution is Brewing
LEARN MORE HERE:
https://www.mattofranchise.com/

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OPPORTUNITIES TO OPEN A RESTAURANT NOW! Today’s guest is David Simmonds – Commercial Rental Expert

MasterMind Minutes – One Question – One Expert Answer – Minutes Not Hours
Our guest today is Doug Smith… He is the Director of Sale for ROI Experts which is a digital marketing agency that works with restaurants around the world. ROI Experts generates trackable ROI using their unique ROI engine platform. Doug is 27 year veteran of the radio, sales and marketing. Visit their website at www.roiexperts.com‍

How Are You Handling Your Covid Financial Anxiety?

It is not worth the mental energy and distress to put pressure on yourself for what is out of your hands. Unproductive thoughts will put you on a never-ending cycle of “I have to figure it out, I have to figure it out.” That kind of spiraling activity just runs down your batteries.

Combating financial anxiety during a pandemic

Courtesy of BRANDPOINT
Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

(BPT) – In the face of a global pandemic, financial anxiety is an everyday reality. Concerns surrounding personal finances, businesses shutting down and market volatility have us navigating new waters, experiencing more acutely than ever before how our financial lives are intertwined with our mental health. Amanda Clayman, financial therapist and Prudential’s financial wellness advocate, works with people to better understand the emotional connection we have with money.

According to Clayman, financial stress, while it may be inevitable in these times, does not have to control our lives. Even in the midst of this crisis, we can practice good financial and mental health and grow in our ability to maintain calm.

How to ease your mind and overcome financial distress

Clayman offers the below tips on how to ease your mind and overcome your financial distress during the days of COVID-19.

  • Allow yourself to feel a sense of loss: These big market changes may throw a wrench in the vision you had for retirement or your 401K. This is a scary realization, and a sad one. It is natural to have an emotional response, so let those feelings come and acknowledge them as they do. By not bottling up those sensations you are better able to say goodbye to your former plans and move forward. Additionally, looking your feelings in the face and comparing them to the reality of the situation provides valuable perspective that is key in the healing process.
  • Embrace uncertainty as part of the plan: Concentrate on the here and now, and don’t think too far ahead. It is common to try to manage anxiety by making a plan, but that’s going to be challenging when the future feels so uncertain. Try telling yourself, “I’m going to make the best plan I can based on what I know now. Then I’m going to trust that I will figure out problems as they arise and ask for help when I need it.”
  • Let go of what you can’t control: It is not worth the mental energy and distress to put pressure on yourself for what is out of your hands. Unproductive thoughts will put you on a never-ending cycle of “I have to figure it out, I have to figure it out.” That kind of spiraling activity just runs down your batteries.
  • Be intentional, not impulsive: Anxiety floods your mind with fearful thoughts of worst-case scenarios, tricking you into believing immediate action is necessary to fix the problem. It may feel like you are making progress initially, but these are not emotionally grounded decisions and can lead to costly mistakes. What you need is space for perspective, to differentiate between internal feelings and external reality. Try stepping away from the computer or going for a walk before making big moves. Remind yourself that you are safe right here, right now.
  • Don’t be a hero: You don’t have to bear this weight alone. You may feel as if providing financial security is all up to you, especially if you’re a caretaker or your kids moved home to ride out the pandemic. But this is not an individual problem, it’s a collective one we can face together. So reach out — take care of each other and ask to be taken care of in return. In addition to sharing your feelings with family and friends, be in touch with creditors, landlords and service providers about your concerns. They may be able to offer a payment holiday, partial payment or interest-only payment.

Explore new types of self-care

One of the most important lessons in combating any anxiety is to remember that you will not feel this way forever. In the meantime, let’s use these moments to explore new forms of emotional and financial self-care. With thoughtful reflection, we can foster a relationship with money that promotes mental health in even the most challenging circumstances.

MATTO FRANCHISE
A Revolution is Brewing
LEARN MORE HERE:
https://www.mattofranchise.com/

5 Tips To Protect Your Network From Hackers When Staying At Home

“Cybercriminals are continuously looking for ways to exploit computer system vulnerabilities and home networks are popular targets because so many of our devices — phones, TVs, computers, even appliances — are connected to them,” said Jane Li, Mercury Insurance director of product management.

5 Tips To Protect Your Network From Hackers When Staying At Home

By BrandPoint

(BPT) – Being home 100% of the time has become the new norm for many Americans, as social distancing is implemented in communities across the country to slow the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic. Connected devices are being used virtually nonstop, as the homebound stream shows to binge watch and video chat with friends to help pass the time. Unfortunately, most residential computing networks aren’t regularly maintained and monitored to protect against security breaches. This presents hackers with a virtual playground of which to take advantage.

“Cybercriminals are continuously looking for ways to exploit computer system vulnerabilities and home networks are popular targets because so many of our devices — phones, TVs, computers, even appliances — are connected to them,” said Jane Li, Mercury Insurance director of product management. “Insurance companies like Mercury provide solutions to help financially protect homeowners and renters if they fall victim to a cyberattack. There are also steps they can take ahead of time to help prevent one from happening in the first place.”

Following are five tips to protect your home network — and the devices connected to it — from hackers.

  • Power down your devices. This disables the internet connection, cutting off access to any personal information stored on your computer, tablet or phone. Unattended machines are easy targets for hackers, especially if you’re asleep.
  • Secure your wireless network. Information accessed on an open network, including email passwords and sensitive bank information, is fair game for hackers. Don’t make their jobs easier — protect your Wi-Fi network with a strong password that’s difficult to guess. Wireless routers that are issued by cable providers are typically assigned a network name and password that’s easily located on a label on the device itself. These can be changed using your online account, so do this as soon as possible for added security.
  • Invest in anti-malware software. Malware — or malicious software — can be installed on your computer without your knowledge so hackers can damage your system, steal personal information or restrict your access to extort money from you. Anti-malware software helps protect against, detect and remove malware, stopping cybercriminals from doing further damage. Also, avoid downloading music or video files from suspicious websites, and clicking on links or email attachments in messages sent from unknown senders to help prevent malware from infiltrating your system.
  • Install recommended updates. Smartphone, computer, tablet and smart TV manufacturers, among other providers of connected devices, offer periodic software updates to protect against potential security breaches. Chances are, if an update is recommended, hackers have already discovered a way to access your personal property and information, so keep your software up-to-date. Set your devices to install auto-updates when possible.
  • Beware of phishing scams. Phishing scams aren’t new, but hackers continually use more sophisticated email — and even text messages — to trick people into providing their personal information. Once again, do not click on the links or attachments in messages from unknown senders.

Li suggests homeowners and renters consider adding Home Cyber Protection to their existing policies as an additional way to protect against hackers. “Even the most vigilant individuals can experience a cybersecurity breach,” said Li. “Having coverage to help recoup financial losses that are brought on by cyberextortion or stolen personal information can offer peace of mind during an otherwise stressful time.”

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End Of Article
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Restaurant Industry In Turmoil, But There Is A Way Out!

Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

In short, most operators, with a great deal of effort, should be able to generate enough sales, on premise and off, to satisfy their landlords, who will have become their partners, dependent on sales. Store level expenses will be largely variable, including rent, and there should be less upward pressure on the fixed costs at store level.

RESTAURANT INDUSTRY IN TURMOIL, BUT THERE IS A WAY OUT!
By Roger Lipton
restaurant, COVID-19, Roger Lipton, Franchise Money Maker

The world, as we have known it, is seriously changed for the foreseeable future. Restaurant and retailers will have to cope with lots of new requirements that deal with social distancing and testing.

PAYROLL PROTECTION?? NOT QUITE!

One of the current priorities is to access the Payroll Protection Program. Unintended consequences are already coming into focus. Restaurant operators realize that business will be slow after opening, which is still weeks or months away. If they spend 75% of the money, mostly for payroll and rent, in the next eight weeks to qualify for loan forgiveness, they will not have the resources to carry the predictable losses when they first reopen, and those losses will likely last for months at least. They have the option of holding the money, which will then remain a loan rather than a “grant. However, while the two year term, at only 1%, seems cheap enough, there is no way that cash flow will be sufficient to pay back the loan that quickly.

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Some operators will therefore let their ex-employees remain on unemployment insurance for the time being, use the government capital to cushion losses after reopening, and deal with the ramifications two years from now. Other operators, will take the money, never reopen, and walk away. There are no personal guarantees, after all.

At the least, therefore, the program must be changed to allow for a sufficient payback period to recoup losses. We suggest this will happen, because the problem, and the fix, is so obvious. There are, predictably, other unintended consequences of this huge program that was implemented with such a rush, but we will leave that for another day.

RENT – THE BIGGEST FIXED COST

We are all reading about various companies, small and large, holding back rent. It’s understandable under the circumstances, and landlords realize that their world has changed as well. At the end of the day, we believe that percentage rents will be the new normal. The lessors have no real option. Yesterday’s rent structure is gone, and their alternative in almost all cases is to have empty space for perhaps years.

OFF-PREMISE CONSUMPTION BECOMES CRITICAL

Even after vaccines and treatments are in place, it is going to be quite a while before consumers are comfortable in close contact with strangers. We can be assured that dine in traffic will be at a lower level than previously. It therefore becomes critical for restaurant operators to do everything possible to build their off premise activities. Drive-thru locations, where applicable, can help a lot, but delivery (with or without third parties), catering, curbside pickup, packaged products to go are all brand building alternatives that can help to carry the physical overhead.

OVER-STORED NO MORE

Stated most concisely: there will be more closures than we have seen in at least fifty years (from today’s huge base). Far fewer chains will be expanding. Survivors will have less competition.

LABOR COST PRESSURE WILL ABATE

When the stores open, there will be less upward wage pressure than we have seen in the last few years and that we were anticipating would continue.

The cost structure will be more variable than ever before. It will take a while for negotiations to take place but rent will be based on a percentage of sales. Cost of Sales is variable and Labor is largely variable. Other Operating Costs at the store level (waste removal, bank fees, insurance, property taxes, etc.) can be negotiated lower. (It happens that I am affiliated with a Company that can help in this regard, with no up front cost.) Corporate Overhead can be scaled for the new world we are all living within.

In short, most operators, with a great deal of effort, should be able to generate enough sales, on premise and off, to satisfy their landlords, who will have become their partners, dependent on sales. Store level expenses will be largely variable, including rent, and there should be less upward pressure on the fixed costs at store level. Store level cash flow may not approach previous levels but should be adequate to support, if not enrich, a reasonable level of corporate overhead. Regional operators will have an advantage, with their proximity to the store level and their ability to respond quickly and efficiently to changing circumstances. National operators should decentralize to whatever extent possible for the same reasons. Dedicated corporate management should be able, in most cases, especially if not burdened by excessive debt, to lead their companies to survive, and even prosper over the long term.
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About Roger Lipton
Roger is an investment professional with over 4 decades of experience specializing in chain restaurants and retailers, as well as macro-economic and monetary developments. After earning a BSME from R.P.I. and MBA from Harvard, and working as an auditor with Price, Waterhouse, he began following the restaurant industry as well as the gold mining industry. While he originally followed companies such as Church’s Fried Chicken, Morrison’s Cafeterias and others, over the years he invested in companies such as Panera Bread and shorted companies such as Boston Chicken.

Beyond the Covid 19 Shutdown, Returning Workers will be Judging “Workplace Culture”

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MATTO FRANCHISE
A Revolution is Brewing
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Workplace talent drives success. It is not products, not marketing, not demand that ultimately make a company competitive. Don’t fall victim to fear and culture failures during these times. It will inhibit the future health and growth of your company.

Beyond The Covid19 Shutdown, Returning Workers will be Judging “Workplace Culture”

By Gary Occhiogrosso
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

As companies continue to evaluate their business in these challenging times, one of the areas many small business operators, and CEO’s of large companies, are investigating is workplace culture. As we ramp back up, many companies will be seeking employees. Many workers will be very focused on how companies treated their employees, vendors, and customers during the pandemic shutdown. Returning employees will also want to know that they, their work, and their ideas, make a difference. Make no mistake; the job market will be so robust that workers have the opportunity to pick and choose for whom they will work. Companies should take this time to revisit, and if necessary, reinvent their workplace culture if they intend to compete for the most qualified employees. Workplace talent drives success. It is not products, not marketing, not demand that ultimately make a company competitive. Don’t fall victim to fear and culture failures during these times. It will inhibit the future health and growth of your company.

Please review this article in the Harvard Business Review. It clearly and expertly advances the concept of workplace culture and how to improve your approach and practices to best advance your company in the upcoming turnaround.

Excerpt:

    Today’s workforce wants to know that they’re making a difference within their companies. While work cultures are unique to every organization, the foundation of what enables a culture to thrive is the extent to which employees are empowered to be engaged, feel valued, and be heard. This is where leadership comes in.

Read the entire article here at Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2020/04/build-a-culture-that-aligns-with-peoples-values?utm_campaign=hbr&utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=social
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6 Key Points To Keep Your Restaurant Profitable In A Slow Down

Look for trends in your sales—for example, busy days and hours versus slower times and days. For instance, if Tuesday afternoons are consistently slow, then consider cutting back on your hourly staff for that period…

6 Key Points To Keep Your Restaurant Profitable In A Slow Down
by Gary Occhiogrosso – Managing Partner, Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC.
Photo by Gor Davtyan on Unsplash

In good times and not so good times, operating a profitable restaurant can be a daunting task. The high cost of rent, labor, and raw ingredients, often overlooked by guests seeking a fine dining experience at fast-food prices can make value perception and profitability difficult. Nonetheless, there are a few things every operator should be aware of, especially during tough economic times. Below I have listed six tips that when put into everyday practice, not only help save money and increase sales when times are lean but serve to maximize profits in better economic times.

Be Mindful Of Your Payroll
Payroll is the one thing in your operation that you have total control over. You determine it, and no one or anything else has a hand in the result. Knowing how to manage payroll is an essential element to success in the restaurant business.
Controlling labor during a slow business period can be tricky. If your businesses’ survival is dependent upon the need to terminate personnel, then managing the schedule of your hourly employees as well as your key people in a compassionate way must be your top priority. You’ll need to delicately balance the limiting of hours among your best employees. Whenever possible, spread the cutbacks out amongst as many team members as possible. That way you can lessen the impact to any one team member.
Be mindful that if you schedule less labor than you need, your restaurant may end up giving poor guest service. That will negatively impact the guest experience as well as your Social Media reviews. On the other hand, if you over-schedule your labor as a percentage of sales, then you’ll be out of line with acceptable budgets and typically lose money.
Look for trends in your sales—for example, busy days and hours versus slower times and days. For instance, if Tuesday afternoons are consistently slow, then consider cutting back on your hourly staff for that period. If you employ a salaried manager, have that person substitute in a station position. Labor is the most critical line item on your P&L. Oversee it, adjust it each day based on projected sales. Remember, unlike food inventory, which allows you to store it (in many cases) for another day, labor, once spent, is gone forever.

Engineer Your Menu To Reflect Current Goals
Sometimes bigger isn’t better. A smaller, more focused menu is often more profitable than the “be everything to everyone approach.” During a recession or slow season, use your menu to attract new customers as well as enticing your regular customers to visit more often. Adjust your menu by offering items that have more appeal in a budget-conscious climate. Understanding what guests want, what they can afford, and what you wish to sell them is a critical piece to menu engineering.
Also, position your lower food cost items in a prominent spot on your menu. That way, you can offer your guests lower-cost menu items and still make a profit.
And although it goes without saying, don’t forget to conduct a weekly inventory. Monitoring your food cost will help you manage cash flow most efficiently and accurately.

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A Revolution is Brewing
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Stay In Front Of Your Customers
The saying “out of sight, out of mind” is never is more accurate than in a recession or slow period. You may not want to run your full Radio/TV or Print campaign. However, now is not the time to cut advertising to zero. Instead, increase your paid social media and your paid Google ads. Post photographs of guests in your restaurant, delicious-looking food items, and creative, fun graphics to entice and remind your guests how much they enjoy your restaurant and what you have to offer.
In addition, utilize the database you’ve collected of customer’s email addresses and mobile telephone numbers. You can use this data to send your customers special offers via email blasts and text messaging. Be proactive!

Promote Value, Not Price
During a recession or other tough times, offer your guests real value, not discounts. It is my opinion that you should never attach the price of the menu item to the item itself, for example, selling a hamburger for $1.00. Discounting your products creates a considerable problem for future sales of those items when you move them back to full price. Lowering the price of a menu item creates a product/price value perception, which may negatively impact the customer’s perception of value at a later date. Guests will connect the cost of the menu item to its overall value, now and in the future. Cutting prices for the sake of attracting customers or keeping up with a competitor is never the answer.
Instead, create reasons and additional “occasions to use” your restaurant in your guest’s mind. Then the guest will associate a discounted price with a particular promotion or event. For example, ladies’ night, or seniors day, or it could be the anniversary of the restaurant, and you’re rolling back prices, or National “whatever” Day. Whichever the case, offer real value by promoting events and Limited Time Offers (LTO’s) as a reason to create the “frequency of visit.” This method is also useful for attracting new guests or guests that haven’t visited your restaurant in a while.

Paying Attention To The Details Saves Money
Pennies add up! Keep a watchful eye on expenses. Monitor electricity and water usage, napkins, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and other items that often go unnoticed until you see the cost on your P&L. Be mindful and control those costs each day. Make your staff aware of things like shutting off lights, turning off water faucets, and how many paper towels they may be used to clean a counter. Get your team members “woke” to the idea and actual cost of everything in the restaurant.

One Final Note
Good times follow bad times, and bad times follow good times. Nothing is forever, so learn how to manage a restaurant through a rough patch you’ll be in a better position to maximize your profits when times are good.

MATTO FRANCHISE
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What You Need To Know About Your Business and the Impact of COVID19

Legal Issues and COVID29 – Excerpt – Other potential avenues also turn on the exact language of the lease. If the tenant’s obligation to pay rent is conditioned on the landlord’s ability to deliver to the tenant continued access to the premises, it would reasonable to conclude that rent can be excused while the premises cannot be accessed.

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Today’s post is written by New York attorneys Michael Einbinder and Richard Bayer of the law firm Einbinder & Dunn. They have years of experience handling a variety of legal work for businesses large and small. The post today reflects their thoughts and advice regarding how small businesses can deal with the current COVID 19 issue.

Whether you’re running the small independent business or are an independent contractor or if you are a franchisor or a franchisee, you will find the information contained in this post helpful. Of course, if you need greater detail or have questions, the contact information for Einbinder & Dunn is located at the bottom of the post.

We wish everyone to stay safe and look to the future as we move past this trying and critical time in our history.
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A Message About COVID-19
By Michael Einbinder and Richard Bayer-
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Recently, we have received numerous inquiries from clients, including those in the retail and hospitality industries, concerned about the impact that Covid-19 will have on their businesses. Although the landscape appears to be ever-changing, we wanted to send this email to offer you general guidance and practical considerations as well as to highlight important legislature to keep in mind. As a firm, we are deeply committed to assisting our clients through these trying times and we will hold that commitment steadfast while new developments unfurl.

More and more states, counties and other municipalities are issuing “shelter-at-home,” work from home mandates and other restrictions on gathering in groups larger than 10, 20 or 50. The impact of such mandates has been felt across the board and has been especially painful for restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gyms, movie theaters, retail businesses, barber shops, health and beauty salons and countless other consumer facing businesses.

Real Estate Lease and Other Contracts

It is not surprising that in this current climate, many businesses are seeking help to understand their lease obligations. Can they close their store, restaurant, or business? Can they stop paying rent? The short answer is likely yes, but not in every instance. Your lease may contain clauses that may allow you to close your business and/or stop paying rent. Additionally, applicable case law may also support your ability to close your business and/or stop paying rent.

You are likely seeing the terms force majeure and “Acts of God” appear frequently in articles, newsletters and other publications as more and more businesses are looking for ways to freeze performance under a contract or perhaps, terminate the contract altogether. A force majeure clause, which typically includes a reference to “Acts of God,” is one that permits a party to a contract to be relieved from performing under that contract during a time when, due to some event outside of its reasonable control, the party’s ability to perform is impeded, hindered or prevented. Generally speaking, there is a high bar for the invocation of a force majeure clause and whether or not it will apply will depend on the exact language of the contract and the law of the jurisdiction set forth in the contract. In the context of a commercial lease, if the lease contains a force majeure clause that specifically relieves performance in the event of a pandemic or similar event, a tenant may be permitted to close and stop paying rent. However, force majeure clauses can often be a frustrating dead end because: (i) courts apply it very strictly; (ii) leases frequently apply it to limited circumstances such as delays in construction and few if any reference pandemics; and (iii) many leases specifically do not permit force majeure to forgive payment of rent.

However, in some jurisdictions case law may provide a stronger argument (than a contract) for relief from a contract, including possibly permitting a tenant to close its business and/or stop paying rent. Two such doctrines found in case law are the: (i) discharge by supervening impracticability; and (ii) prevention by governmental regulation or order. As to the former, a supervening event (such as a pandemic) may allow a tenant to close and/or stop paying rent if an event occurs, the non-occurrence of which was a basic assumption upon which both parties made the contract. The event must have been unforeseeable. The standard is high. It is not enough that the business has been made difficult or unprofitable, it must have been rendered impracticable, which means incapable of being performed. In the context of a lease, if customers are legally restricted from visiting a business location due to unforeseen circumstances (a pandemic lockdown), a court may find that to be sufficient under the supervening impracticability doctrine to permit the tenant to close and/or stop paying rent.

Prevention by governmental order is self-explanatory and much easier to prove. As in the case of the recent order by the Governor of New York, if a business is simply prohibited from operating due to unforeseeable circumstances, which prevents it from operating according to the terms of a contract (in a lease situation, the business is prohibited from operating in the premises), then the party may be excused from performance (in the case of a tenant, remain open or pay rent). The businesses that were targeted in the original Governor’s Orders in New York, such as gyms and movie theaters, certainly can argue they fall into this category. There is a gray area if businesses, such as restaurants, are able to partially operate through takeout and delivery. Whether their level of operation is enough to make their businesses legally “operable” will probably have to be tested in court.

Other potential avenues also turn on the exact language of the lease. If the tenant’s obligation to pay rent is conditioned on the landlord’s ability to deliver to the tenant continued access to the premises, it would reasonable to conclude that rent can be excused while the premises cannot be accessed.

Assuming for a moment that applicable law does not permit the tenant to close its business and/or stop paying rent, many businesses will make the practical decision to do just that. What repercussions may follow from that will likely be specified in the lease and subject to state/county/local municipality mandates. Many jurisdictions have already announced moratoriums on commercial evictions.

Many of the legal principles that offer an avenue for tenants to close and/or stop paying rent under a lease may also be applied to other contracts, including force majeure, doctrine of supervening impracticability, prevention by government regulation as well as others including frustration of purpose). Again, whether performance can ultimately be excused will depend on the exact language of the agreement and the applicable jurisdictional law.

We are urging clients to review their leases and contracts for the types of clauses that we highlighted above. We can help if you like with the review and the development of a plan of action for the future. With a proactive approach and open dialogue with the other party (whether your landlord, supplier or other contracting party), you may be able to develop a plan of action that gives you relief now and provides for the continuation of your business after things normalize.
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Banking and Customer Assistance

Businesses with insufficient cash reserves or access to capital will likely struggle during this time and for many, unfortunately, this outbreak will result in their permanent closure. For companies suffering from or expecting to suffer from a cash shortage, obtaining a credit line or increasing one is critical. We strongly recommend that such businesses immediately contact their existing banking partners to see what opportunities for financing are available. If your current banking partners are unable to assist, please let us know. We have cultivated strong relationships with contacts in the banking and financing industries and may be able to make an introduction.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has implemented a disaster loan assistance program under which, small businesses that have suffered economic injury as a result of Covid-19 may qualify for low-interest federal loans. Loans of up to $2,000,000 may be offered for use to pay debts, payroll, or other bills that cannot be paid due to the impact of Covid-19. Here is a link to the SBA’s website: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ Other relief may become available and businesses should continue to search for grants and programs that may provide additional funding.

In addition to increasing your access to capital, you should be acutely aware of voluntary assistance initiatives being offered by your existing business partners. Numerous credit card companies are encouraging customers who are experiencing financial hardship due to Covid-19 to reach out and discuss available options, which may include fee waivers, temporary interest rate reductions, waived penalties for missed payments Con Edison, a provider of electricity and gas in New York, is offering to extend payment deadlines to customers without penalty, provided that customers apply for that assistance. Throughout the country, other business partners will be offering similar assistance initiatives.

Insurance

We are advising all clients to review their insurance policies carefully and especially, their business interruption coverage. Business interruption insurance is generally intended to cover losses from a direct interruption to a business. It typically covers lost revenue, and fixed expenses, such as rent and utilities. Some companies may have additional coverage in the form of a contingent business interruption policy which is intended to cover losses resulting from indirect disruptions, such as supply chain issues. Because many insurers excluded viral or bacterial outbreaks from standard business interruption policies as a result of the SARS outbreak, whether your policies will cover losses resulting from Covid-19 business interruption will turn on the exact language of the coverage.

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Employment

These are extremely difficult times and businesses are forced to consider making equally difficult decisions regarding their employees. The White House has requested that states delay reporting lay off figures out of a fear that the skyrocketing numbers will set off another wave of panic in the stock market. Without a doubt, the number of layoffs will be staggering. Union Square Hospitality Group has already announced layoffs of 80% of its work force. Hotel and hospitality heavyweights such as Hilton, Marriott and MGM have furloughed tens of thousands of employees.

While not garnering the same media attention, small businesses will have to make the same decision. Principals will need to determine whether the business continue to pay staff their full wage during this outbreak or will it be forced to lay off employees, or short of that, furlough salaries until things recover.

Federal and state governments are keenly aware of this issue and are seeking to implement relief packages. Phase I included the Families First Coronavirus Emergency Response Act, which was signed into law on March 18th. The Act extends sick leave to workers diagnosed with or in quarantine due to Covid-19. A tax credit is made available to employers in an amount equal to 100% of the qualified sick leave wages paid by the employer. New York State has announced that employers are required to provide job protection and paid sick leave for individuals who have been quarantined as a result of Covid-19. New York City has enacted an Employee Retention Grant Program that offers assistance to New York City businesses with one to four employees that demonstrate at least a 25% decrease in revenue as a result of Covid-19. Other states and local municipalities may have similarly enacted assistance packages.

Further financial relief will required. As of today, potential recovery plans would give $1,200 to many Americans. Ongoing assistance will undoubtedly be necessary. New York has waived its seven-day waiting period to register for unemployment insurance and reports indicate that over 21,000 calls were made in a single day compared to approximately 2,000 the week before.

Government Support

In addition to the initiatives indicated above, the Federal government has extended the tax filing deadline until July 15, 2020. Tax payers will now have until July 15, 2020 to file and make tax payments that would have otherwise been due on April 15, 2020. If you are expecting a refund, you may want to file your Federal tax return as soon as possible. It is unclear when refunds will be issued, but those funds, if issued, would be helpful during this outbreak. New York State, at the moment, is silent on this issue, but we expect further guidance. We recommend that you keep abreast of state updates.
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About Einbinder & Dunn
Our story begins in 1990, when Michael Einbinder and Terrence Dunn became partners. We shared a vision to offer clients real value—by providing personalized, yet cost-effective legal services. We also employ a team of professional, highly dedicated associate attorneys and two paralegals, in addition to other support staff, all of whom share the partner’s vision of a sophisticated yet personalized practice. Based in Midtown Manhattan, with offices in White Plains and Millburn, New Jersey, Einbinder & Dunn serves mid-size and larger companies as well as small businesses and entrepreneurs.

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DISCLAIMER
This post is not intended to constitute legal advice, which would require a full review of your agreements and further clarity on the government response, which is in constant flux. All information, content and links in this email are provided for general information purposes only. Information below may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information, as the same is continuously changing. This email contains links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader. We do not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites. Readers should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this email without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only an attorney can provide assurances that the information contained herein, and your interpretation of it, is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation.