It’s that time of year again – business license renewals. If your renewal cycle is based on the calendar year, you are probably sending out reminders to hundreds or thousands of business owners right now.
There’s usually quite a bit of customer service involved in this program. Business owners often:
- Get confused about what they need to do
- Provide incorrect or incomplete information
- Miscalculate and pay the wrong amount of tax
So January and February means a lot of phone calls, emails, and probably some disgruntled walk-ins.
Here are some tips for helping business owners understand what you need them to do.
Separate new applications from renewals
The process for getting a new business license is typically different from renewing it. When the information is presented together, it’s harder for people to figure out.
Create separate web pages for each task:
- Apply for a new business license
- Renew your business license
Explain how to complete the form
There are usually some confusing elements, especially for small or home based businesses with no administrative support.
- What is an SIC code and how do I find mine?
- How do I figure out what my gross receipts are?
- How do I calculate what I owe if I’m an out of town business?
- I rent out an extra room in my house – do I owe anything?
Create website content or helper text to clarify the things people typically get wrong on the form. This will reduce the number of incorrect submissions and generally make it less of a pain to fill out.
Make sure to include:
- Who needs to do this (and who doesn’t)
- Minimum tax rates, late fees, and penalties
- How to calculate the tax owed, with examples
- How to find required information (like SIC codes or gross receipts)
- Specific instructions for submitting forms and payments
- Contact information for support
Here is a business license renewal content template you can use. Simply copy and paste the template text and add your rules and specifics.
You can also try using our:
- Generative AI prompt for government services and tasks
- Do a Gov Thing GPT (currently only available for people with ChatGPT Plus)