In our new column, staff share insider advice. Today our coordinator of new applications, Meaghan Kelly, shares insider tips for getting a speedy new certification review.
You just sent in your WBE application for the first time specifically because a potential client requested that you get certified. You're eager for a speedy review and to get your hands on that certificate as soon as possible.
But the certification process can be long and daunting, at least 3-4 months. Is there anything you can do to speed up the process?
1. Send in as much supporting documentation as applies to your business.
At least 95% of the time we have to ask for additional documents. If you think it might apply but can't find the document, I guarantee we will ask for it. Check out this post about document mistakes applicants often make.
So the most you can adhere to the documents as requested, the better. If it truly doesn't apply, send an uploaded statement explaining why you do not have this document.
2. Make sure your bylaws and operating agreement support female control.
One of the most common things we see is a statement in the bylaws or operating agreement that limits the voting power of the majority owner. If you are asked to make an update to your bylaws or operating agreement, it can delay your certification at least 30-60 days.
Read your documents carefully to see exactly how votes are counted and if there are any unanimous consent clauses that could overrule your decision. Imagine that you had a minority male owner that held 10% of the company. Is there anything in these documents that could potentially limit your control over the company? Do the bylaws state that the president is in control? If so, do you hold that president title? (I know, CEO seems higher up, but not legally if your bylaws don't say so.)
These documents are long, but I guarantee you that we read every line.
3. Reply in a timely manner.
Every new applicant will receive some degree of questions from your reviewer. If you take a week to answer, that's another week longer your process will be.
4. Avoid high application times.
January = new years resolutions. April/May = tax time. September = end of vacation time. These are all times when we get a huge influx of applications. Try an off-season time like mid-summer or around the holidays.
5. Be familiar with the timelines and know what to expect.
Ultimately, we tell people to expect the process to take 90-120 days minimum, because that's how long it really takes. Why?
- Step 1 Document Review: Most applications are comprised of dozens of documents, and we read them all. The more complicated your business is or the more documents you omit, the longer our Q&A period will be.
- Step 2 Committee Review: After the document review is complete and you've answered all questions, your application will go through our volunteer committee, who meet every two weeks. They're all volunteers who have full time jobs, and they do their best to get to applications in a first-come order.
- Step 3 Site Visit: Be prepared to be a little flexible so that we can get a volunteer out to you once your committee review is complete.
Each step takes about 30-45 days, depending on your response time and how many applications we have in the queue before yours. Either way, we will do our best to get your application completed in a timely manner. I hope these tips help us to help you!