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Special Feature: How Independent Operator Raymond Huff Used Federal Funds to Stay Open

How to Stay Open video RfR and Russell's
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Funding programs are helping many independent businesses that have struggled through the pandemic. If you’ve lost sales of 20% or more, federal funds available now can help your business. Raymond Huff, owner of HJB Convenience and Russell’s Convenience Stores, and a Resources for Retailers Advisory Board member, talks openly about the federal funds he used to continue to pay his employees and keep his doors open.

Ray’s step-by-step approach can serve as a template for other independent retailers.

We can learn a lot from Ray. If you’re an independent business owner and your sales have been affected by COVID-19, there’s still money out there to keep your business open.

Actions you can take to keep your independent business open:

1. Be Curious

Speak to fellow business owners in your community
Ask Business Owners: How are you keeping employees paid? How are you keeping the doors open?

2. Be Proactive

Form close relationships with your local bank, accountant, payroll service, mayor, and representatives.
Ask Banks, Accountants, Payroll, Community Leaders: What funds are available to me? Are the loans forgivable? What local funding is available for a business like mine?

3. Be Aggressive

While some funding is better than none, only you know what it truly takes to stay in business.
Ask Banks, Accountants, Payroll, Community Leaders: I need $______ to survive the next 12 months, and I need $_____ to actually grow as planned.

4. Be Persistent

Getting funds deposited into your operating account is just the beginning; be sure you know how to correctly direct the funds.
Ask Accountants: What are the steps I take now to ensure my loans are forgiven? Are there timeframes or directives on how this money must be spent?

5. Stay Open

Federal funds include two rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) and the Employee Retention Credit (“ERC”).
Research for Yourself: Are these federal funds available for my business?

  • PPP1
  • PPP2
  • ERC20
  • ERC21

Resources:

*Note: Federal funding and guidance change frequently. The information below is meant to get you started, but working closely with your banker and accountant will ensure you always have the latest information.

Paycheck Protection Program 1 (PPP1), March 27, 2020

Paycheck Protection Program 2 (PPP2) signed into law 12/27/2020 the CARES Act

Note: PPP loans are completely forgivable if you can prove you spent the money as the law allows.  The forgiven loan will be added to the company’s basis and may require an amended 2020 Tax return, check with your tax provider after the forgiveness is granted.

Employee Retention Credit 2020 (ERC20) Signed into law 3/27/2020 modified 12/27/2020 the CARES Act.

*Note: While companies may still be able to acquire funding for ERC20, be sure to ask your accountant how this funding will impact your tax returns for 2020 and 2021.

Employee Retention Credit 2021 (ERC21) Signed into law 12/27/2020 the CARES Act

The ERC is available to eligible companies that either saw a 50% or greater decline in revenue for a quarter in 2020 compared with the same quarter in 2019, or suffered more than a 20% decrease in revenue in either Q1 or Q2 of 2021 compared with the same quarters in 2019.

Note:  ERC20 is taxable income as it reduces the cost of wages to company resulting in additional cash available to your business.  The maximum credit in 2020 was $5,000.00 per full time employee for the year at 50% credit of wages paid (non-PPP funds).

ERC21 is also taxable and available for 1st and 2nd quarter of 2021, however the maximum credit has been raised to $7,000.00 per full time employee on the first $10,000 paid in the quarter which would be $14,000.00 over 2 quarters.  This credit is the government’s way to keep your best employees on the payroll.

Ray’s video interview is the first in a series of conversations with independent operators aimed at providing the convenience industry with real-world insight and action. When fellow independent convenience operators can share their stories with one another, we all learn and we all grow. Share your experiences and stories with us at RfR@StrasGlobal.com.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
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Resources for Retailers
StrasGlobal’s Resources for Retailers (RfR) is a growing collection of best practices providing solutions for problems that are common to small and mid-sized convenience store operators. Because we operate as a “small operator in many locations” and we have a thorough understanding of the industry, RfR will be a resource of reference materials, ‘how-to’ best practices, templates, and guidelines written for the independent and independent-minded retailer. RfR will provide problem-solving strategies written by experts and will deliver real-world solutions.

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