City Chat Service for Business Help

Part Of New Outreach Campaign

Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz announced “Good for Customers, Great for Business,” a business outreach campaign that features the city’s first online live chat option, which enables New York businesses to easily ask questions during business hours without having to visit DCA’s Licensing Center or take time away from their customers to call in a question.

The campaign also highlights an updated “10 Things Every Business Should Know” guide and an improved online “Business Toolbox,” which for the first time, makes public the checklists that DCA inspectors use to inspect almost 30 different types of businesses.

To market the new resources, advertisements are running on 2,000 subway cars, bus shelters, telephone kiosks, newspapers and online.

“We’ve seen the number of businesses applying for their licenses online more than double and we know that New Yorkers are increasingly looking for answers on our website,” said Mintz. “[The] DCA’s new Business Toolbox lets business owners see exactly what our inspectors are looking for and gives businesses the option to go online and have their questions answered through live chat. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for New York City businesses to access everything they need to know to do right by their customers and avoid violations.”

DCA representatives are available for live chat Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The easy-toread checklists provide businesses with a detailed list of what DCA inspectors look for during an inspection. Checklists are currently available for licensed industries such as sidewalk cafes and parking garages and other industries that DCA does not license but regulates such as supermarkets and general retail stores.

The updated 10 Things Every Business Should Know guide is available in English and Spanish and will soon be available in Chinese, Korean, Russian, Haitian-Creole and Bengali.

The DCA Business Toolbox gives businesses easy access to:

– learn about what to do if you get a violations, how to handle a complaint and what happens at an administrative hearings;

– download DCA model contracts and model receipts, required signs and other documents;

– request a scale inspection;

– pay fines (by debit card, credit card, or electronic check);

– learn about laws and legal interpretations; and

– learn about licenses that may be needed.

New York business owners in all 55 of the industries DCA licenses can also access licensing services online through the Business Toolbox, including:

– apply for or renew a license;

– update your name or business name, address and information about your corporate officers; and

– request replacement of a lost, stolen or damaged DCA license.

“Good for Customer, Great for Business” expands DCA’s ongoing efforts to educate businesses and encourage compliance with the city’s rules and regulations. The DCA also hosts annual Business Education Days to inform businesses of potential violations without handing out fines; after-hours, industry-specific open house events to review licensing laws, answer questions, and discuss enforcement issues; and neighborhood town halls where business owners can chat directly with the commissioner.

The DCA meets regularly with industry associations and business improvement districts, conducts community walk-throughs by request to help educate business owners and is available to speak at community groups and organizations.

The agency also recently implemented multiple changes to make it both easier and faster for New Yorkers to apply for business licenses and conduct other licensing functions. As the department posted online applications for each of its 55 industries, it also aggressively streamlined the applications, reducing overall requirements by 40 percent. The DCA now issues business licenses within an average of four days.

With expanded hours, in its licensing center, the DCA efficiencies have reduced wait times to an average of only 11 minutes. The department introduced roving “ombudsman” staff to assist customers with questions about the DCA applications and to help facilitate gathering required documents from other city and state agencies.

Visit the new Business Toolbox at www.nyc.gov/BusinessToolbox. New Yorkers can also stay informed about programs, services, events and tips on how to be an educated consumer and business owner by following DCA on Twitter at @NYCDCA, visiting DCA’s Facebook page or by watching DCA’s videos on YouTube. Businesses are encouraged to share suggestions about other business services they would find useful by tweeting @NYCDCA with the hashtag #BusinessToolbox or by posting on DCA’s Facebook page.

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