Monday, April 27, 2020

13. Get-Back-To-Work Resources for Roasters

@lineacaffe and Pinhole Coffee in San Francisco
  • What are the new OSHA requirements as I re-open?
  • What is HR best practice for messaging and managing bringing employees back from stay-home work or non-work?
  • Can anyone help me find PPE supplies?
If you're a roasting company considering opening soon, these are critical and important questions. Check out this new page on the Small Biz Assoc. of Michigan (SBAM) website with many answers and resources:  CLICK HERE. At least in Michigan, a documented "preparedness and response plan" is part of the governor's latest executive order. SBAM believes having this written plan is a good idea. In addition, they recommend writing a communication plan for messaging you will give to both employees and customers.

Also, do not wait until the day before! Start preparing now, so that lack of supplies, facility changes or staff do not hinder you opening by even one day! People need your coffee!!
No longer allowed! Even for take-out, baristas need masks!

Especially challenging is the question of health screening employees as they come back to work. This topic is addressed also on SBAM's page, (click here, then scroll down a bit).

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

12. Roaster Experiences with PPP, EIDL and other grants

Today we'd like to share a few of the roaster experiences we've heard.

Small roaster in SE Michigan has 1 cafe and 15 - 17 employees. All but 4 of them were laid-off at the beginning of the crisis. This business owner (so far) has chosen to:
* Applied for the EIDL Advance grant (no word on that yet)
* Applied for a Wayne County small business emergency relief grant and was awarded a couple thousand from this fund. This was a great relief as it basically paid one more month's rent. Her landlord was unwilling to consider any forgiveness or delay of the rent schedule.
* Did NOT apply for the PPP. Finds the benefit may not be worth the hassle on a number of levels. Not sure about loan forgiveness. Not sure about rules regarding bringing back employees when she's not sure she can employ them safely. Not certain the 8 week forgiveness period is long enough for her to put them on payroll if they are not working.

What impresses me about this roaster, like many I have talked to, is the agility she has shown adapting very quickly to the changing situation. She innovated continuously for weeks, for example, creating a contact-free take out window and beefing up on-line ordering operations. After the store fully shut down, they promoted a weekend take-out event that was very successful.

Another small roaster, south of the Detroit metro area, has one cafe. They remain open for take-out with reduced hours staying open only from 8am - 1pm. On April 14 they launched a web-store for their bags of beans for the first time. The owner's daughter helped him get that launched. The owner applied for and received about $5,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's emergency fund which are state funds.

A roaster with two cafes, one in Detroit and one in a northern suburb, chose this path:
* Applied for the EIDL and have received the $10,000 advance.
* Applied for the PPP but have not received funds from that one (yet).
* Applied for city-level grants and successfully received funding from those.
* Has been able to make arrangements for some leniency with landlords.
This roaster commented that while his spending is way down now, he's only now getting through paying for bills incurred in March just before the "shelter-in-place" orders were issued.

A St. Louis roaster with three locations has one of them open for pick-up, 8am - 3pm, and the other two are temporarily closed. The situation is dynamic for them, as with everyone, but when we talked on April 7th, the status was:
* Applied for the PPP
* Still considering applying for EIDL and local business emergency grants.
* Considering other SBA loan programs, not just the emergency loans, to help the business expand.
I was struck with this roaster's determination to not give up on business development plans. Slow down, perhaps, but not give up! They also promoted a Saturday take-out event at a store that sold out three hours before they had planned to end!

A New York roaster with 20 stores across Manhattan and Queens has about 200 employees. All stores have been closed and all but a core team of about 5 - 7 people had to be laid-off, which was "devastating" they told me. On top of that, their head of human resources moved to a different company in March and has not yet been replaced. They are still roasting for their wholesale accounts and on-line sales. The representative I talked to was confident that all government programs were being considered for possible fit, but was not aware of which, if any, SBA programs were being accessed. He shared that the company was serious about offering all employees job security. They've sent repeated messages to the laid off staff that the company will hire them back as soon as circumstances allow.

We hope this summary of economic and business realities of different roasters gives some reassurance, "you are not alone"! Pull up those boot-straps!

Monday, April 20, 2020

11. Great Resources and Unanswered Questions

Today we're sharing links to great resources we've found for roasters on the "small business"
Ken Pargulski at Espresso Royale in Whitmore Lake, MI
management front.
  • CPA firm's Q&A on the PPP loan. See especially the section towards the bottom on forgiveness. CLICK HERE  . For a spreadsheet to help you calculate your forgiveable amount, CLICK HERE -- created by CPA firm Capricore.
  • For questions about the weekly $600 additional unemployment benefit, and your costs as an employer, see this website's overview of the DoL guidelines.
  • Comment: the $600/week benefit remains an especially relevant issue for cafe-owners. Several times the advice has been given that you as the employer have the right to essentially threaten to remove that benefit from them, if you prefer to have them come back on payroll. You would do that by offering your employees a job, encouraging them to come back to work, and if they refuse, you need to be sure they refuse in writing. Then you file that with your state and the employees are no longer eligible for the UI benefit. The unanswered question, of course, which worries cafe owners is, "what is the "right" thing to do, not just what is my "right" as an employer?"  Add your comment below on how you will answer this question!

  • Small Biz Assoc of Michigan's (SBAM) COVID19 resources page is curated and updated daily. It's a valuable resource because they add the recordings of all the webinars and daily updates videos they are doing. If your state doesn't have a small biz association that's well organized, check this out! A lot of what they are recommending and sharing is relevant for small businesses across the country.

  • Friday, April 17, 2020

    10. PPP Tips: Covered period vs. Forgiveness Period

    "Speaking to you" today from the state that ranks fifth in the country for cases and fifith for the number of deaths per million residents. Testing remains in the bottom fifth, (read: public health crisis). Michigan also has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation, (read: economic crisis)! Telltale headline, "Detroit hospitals say they've begun storing bodies in refrigerated trucks to handle the surge."
    Jamie Lopiccolo, CPA at Capocore, gives small biz advice.

    With that grim reminder, it was helpful earlier this week to hear a few tips on how to operationalize your Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, should your roasting company be lucky enough to get one! Yesterday we learned the first $350 billion allocated for that program has been spent. Companies are being asked to wait for congress to approve more.

    It appears there are two key time periods to understand. One is the "covered period" and the other is the "forgiveness period." We attempt to clarify below:

    "Covered Period": Feb. 15, 2020 - Jun. 30, 2020 is the 4.5 month period in which qualified business expenses qualify to be used for the loan proceeds. Qualified business expenses are payroll, rent, interest on loans and utilities.

    "Forgiveness Period": the eight weeks that commence on the day you receive your loan funds. Let's assume you receive loan funds on May 4, so your forgiveness period will be May 4 - Jun 26, 2020. This means that qualified business expenses in this period can be reported and if approved, that amount will be forgiven. The PPP regulation states that not more than 25% of the amount forgiven can be for non-payroll expenses. In other words, prioritize using PPP funds for payroll. That is the intent of the program.

    On this SBAM webpage you can find the link to a recording of a great webinar given by CPA firm Capocore, titled: "What You Need to Know About Spending & Tracking Your PPP Loan." (Presented in partnership with the Michigan Association of CPAs April 13, 2020)

    Tuesday, April 7, 2020

    9. CPA Advice for Small Roasters

    April 7, 2020
    We are NOT a CPA! But today's blogpost
     includes a link where you can listen
    to one!
    Today's SBAM daily briefing was excellent! They had the Michigan CPA Association (MiCPA) on the call, advising  small business owners as if they were their client. A great resource for small businesses with limited access to such professionals.  CLICK HERE to listen to the recording. The CPA is interviewed in the first 20 minutes of this 30 minute briefing.

    James Lopiccolo (CPA) said they're telling their clients, "maximize the funds you can get on PPP." Even if you don't have enough payroll during the 8 weeks to have your loan 100% forgiven, you can prepay with no penalty if you truly do not want any debt.

    If you can stomach the debt for 2 years, the advantages you have are:
    1) first payment deferred for 6 months 
    2) an unheard of low interest rate of 1% with so few hurdles (guarantees, ineligibility for other credit, etc.)

    Other news today for government programs:
    • U.S. Congress is considering another large aid package. This is a relief, as it takes off some of the pressure on banks and businesses to be "the first" to get their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application completed. (Click here for info on PPP.)
    • I learned the state programs that have been funneled through the Economic Development agencies (like SPARK in Ann Arbor, MI) are then turned over to county economic development offices. While I am in Michigan, I can imagine this may be true in many states. I applied for Michigan's "Resiliency Fund" last week. Today I was contacted by email and then phone by a county administrator requesting further documentation. I was skeptical at first, being concerned about scammers looking for my tax information, but everything checked out. Indeed, it appears the county government is expected to follow through on finalizing state-level "Resiliency Fund" applications.

    Keep at it everyone! There's relief coming. You've got this.

    Monday, April 6, 2020

    8. LAAR webinars continue this week!

    Sign up today for tomorrow's Loan Application Assistance for Roasters (LAAR) webinar!
    Just click here for our contact page and send a message saying you'd like the call-in details!

    LAAR Webinar - Tuesday, Apr. 7, 11 am EST. Use the CONTACT page to request call-in details.

    Can't make it on Tuesday, join us...
    LAAR Webinar - Thursday, Apr. 9, 11 am EST. Use the CONTACT page to request call-in details

    The two webinars we held last week were uplifting, interactive sessions with the handful of roasters on the call. Everyone finishes the hour feeling more confident about the right next step for their business.
    "I could have spent half an hour digging into some rabbit hole on a government website to get to just one tip out of the dozen good pieces of advice Artisan shared during this webinar." ~ Andrew Timko, Blueprint Coffee, St. Louis, MO
    Can't make any webinars? Click here for easy resources from the SBA of Michigan (which is doing an excellent job of updating small businesses across the country).

    7. MONDAY - Apr. 6 UPDATE for Roasters on SBA resources

    Last week was a hurried run-up to the April 3 deadline for "banks to be ready" to start accepting Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications. (See this blogpost to learn about the PPP program.)

    From what I've heard, some banks did start accepting applications on Friday but the federal SBA did not give final guidance to SBA lenders until Friday morning (Apr. 3rd). So the biggest banks postponed even accepting PPP applications until today (Apr. 6) or even tomorrow, April 7. I understand the big banks are creating website portals on which applicants -- LIKE YOU, IF YOU ARE A ROASTING COMPANY -- may use to apply for PPP funds.

    See this blogpost for the "steps to take as a roaster." But here are some further tips given what we've learned in the last few days:

    1. It is important to decide whether a PPP loan-that-turns-to-a-grant is right for your business. One roaster I talked to last week was thinking that for her small, single-location business, with 15 - 17 staff total, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance grant, which is an $10,000 outright grant, was the best fit for her needs. (Click here to learn about the EIDL and why it has the confusing term "loan" in its name.)

    2. If your bank is not an SBA lender already, this is a major obstacle. That is actually the case for my business. So first, as advised in the paragraph above, I applied for the EIDL. Then I started calling banks and institutions where I had relationships with an individual loan officer because I had applied for business loans at their institution. I asked if they would help. All three flatly said "no." They are only helping current customers, with a checking account. It is understandable.
    • OTHER POSSIBLE OPTIONS for my PPP application and yours: 
    • My credit card is with Chase. I called Chase customer service on Friday and learned they are one of the big banks which will only be opening their portal on Monday or Tuesday (today or tomorrow) and the service representative had no idea whether I'd have access as a credit card customer. (I kind of doubt it, but I will try.)
    • A group called NAV serviced one of my student loans years ago and got in touch with me (by email) with links to their portal for PPP applications. Click here for their on-line application, but I suspect it is only for people that banked with them previously. My suggestion here is to broaden your search for a lender that will help you by even thinking about your student loan banker! In case it helps, check out NAV's SBA loan Facebook group 
    • A local SBA lending bank might consider taking your "non-customer" PPP application a week from now. I had one local bank in my town tell me this. This is nice, I must say, since 4 other banks flatly turned me down, but it is a tenuous offer and does not reassure me that my business would be considered before all the PPP funds are gone.
    The key is persistence, as is so often the case as a small business owner!

    Click here for easy resources from the SBA of Michigan (which is doing an excellent job of updating small businesses across the country).

    Friday, April 3, 2020

    6. What are roasters doing? Which SBA programs seem to apply?

    Eileen Tausch in Cincinnati, Ohio

    I've been talking to every roaster that will talk to me. The summary seems to be that roasters are all practically reinventing their business every week as the conditions change, sometimes due to governor executive orders and often also due to evolving circumstances with employees. Stressful and overwhelming for most, such that finding a clear path with these SBA offerings has been confusing. 

    I hear a lot of distrust of anything that smells like debt. But yesterday I was on a town hall call with Sen. Gary Peters who oversees the committee in charge of FEMA. He was absolutely adamant that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) (see this blogpost) loans are meant to be forgiven and your lender will have the tools to help you be qualified to have your loan turn into a grant.

    Where do you apply? At an SBA Lender. BIG NEWS today is that there is now a way to easily search for a lender new you! (This link JUST came on line today - thank you SBAM for dogging SBA to create this!)

    Would you consider joining the webinar we're having Tuesday, Apr. 7, 11am EST? There are usually only one or two roasters on the call and it is a great time of discussion among colleagues, as well as me offering insights on the 'loan landscape.'

    Join Zoom Meeting  
    Topic: Loan Application Assistance for Roasters
    Time: Apr 7, 2020 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
    Meeting ID: 810 838 5927

    Look forward to seeing you there!

    Wednesday, April 1, 2020

    5. How to Apply for the PPP -- get ready for April 3

    Roasters start your engines!

    U.S. Treasury has announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will go live on Friday, Apr. 3. Now every small business support agency and bank which is an SBA lender has their deadline. They must be ready to serve you on April 3.

    Here are basic steps you should do between now and Friday:
    1. Contact the bank where you do most of your business, ask to speak to someone in the business loans department (an average teller may not know the answers), and ask the following questions:
    • Are you an SBA certified lender?
    • Are you participating in the Paycheck Protection Program - new SBA lending authorized by the CARES Act?
    • Is there someone who can help me understand what are the requirements to qualify, and the benefits for my business? (BTW - we at Artisan Coffee Imports can help you with these questions, too, to a certain extent. It may be wise to feel like you have a basic understanding before calling the bank.)
    • If I want to apply for PPP, what are the steps with your bank? (Most banks are opening an on-line portal where you will submit the application form and supporting documents.)
    2. Download the application form and fill it out. It's pretty short - more like a cover sheet only.

    3. Gather the supporting documents which are listed on side 2 of the form. Items 3 and 4 under "Certifications" give you a good idea of what type of documents you'll need to provide to your banker. Your banker will be the one to specify exactly what is required. The items may include:
    • Number of full-time employees on payroll at the time the loan is issued.
    • Dollar amount of payroll costs at the time the loan is issued.
    • Mortgage interest payments.
    • Rent payments.
    • Utilities
    Contact us to ask questions using the comment field below or the contact page of our website!

    OR join our webinar "Loan Application Assistance for Roasters" on Th., Apr. 2, 11 am EST, or Tue, Apr. 7, 11am EST. Contact us to register (CLICK HERE).

    4. PPP Application Link NOW AVAILABLE

     ***the following text is copied from an email from Michigan's SBA team, "SBAM".**

    The application for borrowers can now be found here.
    The Payroll Protection Program goes live April 3, 2020.

    The Paycheck Protection Program is designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll by providing each small business a loan up to $10 million for payroll and certain other expenses.

    If all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks, SBA will forgive the portion of the loans used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Up to 100 percent of the loan is forgivable. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards. For a top-line overview of the program, click here.

    Please note that is processed through your local SBA lender. We recommend checking with your current financial institution first.
    Join a Loan Application Assistance for Roasters webinar! The next one is tomorrow, Apr. 2, 11am EST. Contact us via our contact page or use the comment field below to register! We'll review at a high level the key options offered by various government programs across the country and answer your questions. 

    Next week's webinar is Apr. 7, 11am EST