Canada Post Strike! What Canadian small businesses need to know
Update June 4, 2011: Canada Post is now on strike. The strike, which will rotate to different cities, started in Winnipeg and then shifted to Hamilton over the weekend. Please take our Small Business Postal Strike survey to tell us if/how the strike will affect you.
June 2, 2011 — Around 48,000 Canada Post workers could potentially be on strike as early as 11:59pm tonight.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers and Canada Post have been in contract talks for more than seven months, with the union rejecting Canada Post's latest offer and tabling its own counter-offer on Monday. If an agreement is not reached, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers said strike action will begin in Winnipeg at 11:59pm EST Thursday, June 2, 2011.
CUPW announced that the second walkout will be happening in Hamilton at 11:45pm EST Friday, June 3, 2011.
The over one million small businesses in the country will be among the hardest hit, according to a statement made by Canada Post.
If the vote to strike goes ahead, small businesses need to be ready. Here is what you need to know.
- Expect rotations from city to city. The first 24 hours of the strike will take place in Winnipeg. Canada Post has said that the strike will move to other cities, yet to be announced, but is not providing further details at this time.
- Almost all mail delivery will stop in cities where the strike takes place. During the strike Canada Post will stop almost all mail delivery, with the exception of pension cheques, benefit cheques, and welfare and child benefit cheques.
- For business source deductions and tax return filings: The deadline for self-employed Canadians to have their taxes filed is June 15th, 2011. Corporations with December 31st year ends must file by June 30th. You may want to take advantage of eFiling options. Employers may want to pay their source deductions at the bank, rather than risk having the payment delayed in the mail.
To protect yourself during a strike, here are several options that will help you do business without postal service.
Switch to credit card payments: PayPal enables quick set-up
E-commerce accounts can take time to set-up. Small businesses may want to create an account with PayPal, which will enable them to quickly postion themselves to accept online payments.
PayPal provides a way to complete transactions electronically that doesn't require implementing a complicated billing system. Signing up for a PayPal account will allow you to create and email invoices to your customers and receive credit card payments and bank payments securely.
The invoice you create and email has a Pay Now button which allows customers to pay directly into your account without being PayPal users themselves.
With a basica PayPal account, there are no fees to send an invoice and no additional costs for setup, monthly fees, or cancellation charges. However, there are transaction fees that vary depending on your location and total monthly sales. You may want to evaluate the benefit of signing up for a paid monthly account if you expect to have a lot of transactions.
For more information on this service visit the PayPal website.
Implement an Electronic Billing / Invoicing System
Though a strike would make life more difficult, it could also present an opportunity to technologically update your business. If you haven't already established one, an electronic invoicing system would be a good alternative.
Systems can be set up that allow for both business-to-consumer billing and payment or business-to-business billing and payment.
According to CRM Magazine, electronic invoicing can provide companies with a number of benefits that can be both cost effective and efficient:
- Elimination of paper handling costs: by reducing costs associated with handling, postage, and filing, both business and customer can save money;
- Improved dispute resolution and improved reporting;
- Better timing of payments; and
- Better growth possibilities: as your business grows, electronic billing ultimately reduces the administrative costs that would arise in a paper-based environment.
There are a variety of software and application options that can help your business transition into electronic invoicing. Comprehensive e-billing systems such as Quickbooks or Verian, to name a couple, are readily available online. Freshbooks is another option that is a good fit with smaller companies. Exploring your options will help you determine which electronic invoicing system, if any, is right for your business.
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