In our 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, on average about 90-120 days. Is there anything you can do to speed up the process?
1. Send in as much supporting documentation as you can… and please make sure it is organized.
We very rarely see an application that isn’t missing at least one document. If can’t find a specific document and decide to leave it off, I guarantee we will ask for it. If you don’t know what a document means, simply ask us. 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 to your business, send an uploaded statement in a word doc explaining why you do not have this document. (example- I do not have a lease as I work out of my home.)
When you upload each document, do a quick scan to make sure it is readable and organized. Seriously, we read through everything, and if you can’t read it, neither can we.
2. Make sure your bylaws and operating agreement support the control of women… completely.
The number 1 reason applications are denied? Unanimous consent, highest title, or other clauses in your bylaws or operating agreement that limits the voting power of the majority owner.
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. Keep an eye out for those Q&As.
Every new applicant will receive some degree of questions from your reviewer. You will likely get a Q&A request with multiple questions and requests for additional documents from your reviewing officer about 2 weeks after you submit your application. If you take a month to answer, that’s another month longer your process will be.
All noticies from the system come from this auto-email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please whitelist it, and check your spam box if you haven’t heard back 2 weeks after submitting.
4. Reply in a timely manner with complete answers.
When you get a Q&A, please avoid sending the requested documents piecemeal. Take a couple of days, gather all of your responses and requested additional documents, and send one complete reply. Why? It helps cut down on the back and forth. When you respond with only half of the answers and documents, that’s more time for us to go through and find what’s still missing.
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 Q&A Period (30-60 days): 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 (15-30 days): 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 trained volunteers who have full time jobs, and they do their best to get to applications in a first-come order.
Step 3 Site Visit (15-30 days): Be prepared to be a little flexible so that we can get a meeting set up with a site visitor once your committee review is complete.
We will always do our best to get your application completed in a timely manner. I hope these tips help us to help you!