The auto sector is undergoing rapid change, from new technology and alternative fuels, to new taxes and regulations that hit your bottom line. The key to staying competitive is to understand the challenges you’re facing and how to manage them.
The business counsellors at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) field questions from gas bar and car wash owners all the time. Here are the four most common concerns we hear about – and some solutions to consider.
Many businesses face challenges filling vacant positions. An understaffed gas bar or car wash raises some perplexing HR questions. For example, if an employee is working alone for longer than five hours, do they need to close up shop for the 30-minute break they are entitled to – potentially losing customers for that half-hour?
Unlike a big business, you may not have a full HR department, leaving you to navigate questions like this related to hiring, labour laws, breaks and holidays alone. CFIB’s business counsellors can help provide resources and advice. In this case, our counsellors often advise employers to consider splitting their employees’ breaks into 15-minute intervals, before they have worked a full five hours, in order to avoid having to close up for longer periods of time.
Canada Revenue Agency
Dealing with the CRA, whether you’re being audited or just looking for basic information, can be intimidating. Many small business owners say they feel the CRA treats them as if they’ve done something wrong.
CFIB’s work with CRA has led to many improvements to their customer service, including getting CRA to honour written responses sent through My Business Account. That said, being proactive in managing your tax records can help keep the tax man at bay.
A good payroll solution is a great way to ensure your payroll taxes and T4s are submitted accurately and on time. CFIB has partnered with Payworks to offer members an exclusive discount on services to make managing payroll affordable and easy.
Credit card fees
It can feel almost mandatory to accept credit cards these days. Unfortunately, the processing fees involved can cut into already razor-thin profit margins, especially with more customers using specialty and reward point cards.
CFIB has been advocating for independent businesses with government and credit card companies for more than a decade, and we’ve scored some great wins, including the implementation of a Code of Conduct that protects small businesses from unfair treatment by the payments industry. In 2015, we secured lower fees and a five-year freeze from Visa and Mastercard – and another rate reduction just last year.
Federal carbon tax
The federal carbon tax, introduced in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick this April, is already causing regulatory headaches for gas stations, which need to display the fuel charge on their receipts. Some independent gas bar operators have told us that they’ve had to switch their systems entirely to accommodate for the new line on receipts.
In its campaign against the carbon tax, the Ontario government is introducing a new rule that forces gas stations to display a sticker on every pump or face a fine of up to $10,000 per day. This kind of regulatory overreach eats up gas bar operators’ time and resources, with no benefit in return. I encourage all business owners who are negatively affected by the carbon tax in one way or another to contact CFIB and reach out to their elected representatives and make themselves heard.
Remember: you are not alone
Owning an independent business can be a lonely calling, particularly when you’re up against big players like government and large corporations. Having someone in your corner, with the right mix of policy solutions and support, can make all the difference. Visit cfib.ca to discover this business edge.
Dan Kelly is president & CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.