HR & Compliance

Add SBAM offers a full spectrum of human resources services to keep you compliant and help your business run more efficiently and profitably....

Human Resources Solutions

ASE LogoLooking for help with tough HR issues? 

SBAM partner ASE has the answers about hiring, firing, FMLA, ADA and more! Get access to a FREE HR hotline, affordable and cost-effective research consultation services, discounted employee handbooks and workplace posters, and more.

Section 125 Plan, FSA, HSA & HRA Administration


KUSHNER & COMPANY LogoLooking for ways to contain health care costs?
With the cost of health insurance continuing to rise, most employers require their employees to contribute to the cost of health insurance premiums. SBAM partner Kushner & Co. can help you put a tax-favored, consumer-directed plan in place that benefits you and your employees.


COBRA Administration

Personalized, affordable administration for your business. 

If you have 20 or more employees, your company is required by federal law to offer continued health insurance coverage via COBRA and will face huge fines if it's not administered correctly.  Let SBAM help you stay compliant for as little as $35 per month. 

What does it take to succeed in a small business today?

(By David Fant, chairman of SBAM’s Strategic Communications Advisory Committee. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.)

What does it take to become a successful business? And what does it take to remain in business after the first few years? It’s an interesting question considering the fact that the SBA estimates that over 90 percent of all start up businesses fail in the first three years. I got to thinking about this fact and went back to when I started my company 22 years go. What is it that has allowed me to be a part of the 10 percent that succeed in business?

There are many reasons. Some relate to how I was raised and taught as a child. Independent, quick at problem analysis and resolution, and learning to adapt and look at problems or issues from multiple perspectives. From a business viewpoint surrounding myself with friends and advisors, vendors, clients who would help me understand what I should be doing with my business and how to become more in-tune with my customers’ needs.

What is it that allows a business exist beyond the first three years? The reality is rather simple. A successful company provides a product or service that the market needs and wants at a price they are willing to pay. Sounds simple, but with today’s competition, pricing and defining market needs and wants can be a daunting task. Interestingly enough, many businesses totally ignore outside input and totally ignore data/information that is key to the success and growth of their company. Here are some suggestions for you to consider in growing your business:

1. Set aside one day a month, no interruptions, to look at your financials, sales/expenses and research, what is happening in your industry. In which areas can you save on expenses, and what new industry trends can you implement to diversify and increase sales?

2. Subscribe to industry business magazines, and join trade associations and set aside at least one hour a week to review articles and discover new ideas that are being discussed in your industry. 

3. Once every three months, gather your staff (if you’re a company of one, go see your accountant or other business advisor) and discuss what they see may be needed or could be done to lower costs and increase sales. Remember you are not the only one in the company who see’s what’s going on in your business. Others in direct contact with clients/vendors are more in tune to what is happening than you will ever be.

4. This may be an odd suggestion, but occasionally watch TV programs such as Restaurant Impossible or Hotel Impossible. You will see so many people who didn’t pay attention to their business and who are about to lose it all if they don’t change. The key word in that last sentence is change. Always innovate, always be ready to change to meet your market needs and in order to lower costs. And most importantly, don’t quit paying attention to your customers’ comments and needs.

5. Keep an open mind and be flexible. “We can’t do that,” should never be an answer to a request for a product or service. If you can’t, find someone who can and refer the business to them. If it’s something you can do, but never have, explore this as a new product line or opportunity to pursue.

Remember, success is not an accident. It’s a well-planned journey into business that makes a company a success. Delivering high quality products and services that customers are willing to buy is the key to ANY successful business.

David Fant is the sole owner of Market Mapping plus,

Improving your employees’ customer service skills! Advice Friday on the free Business Next audio seminar

SBAM’s Michael Rogers talks with business consultant Tom Borg about phone answering techniques for your small business, the importance of greeting customers at the door and appropriate ways to deals with customer complaints. Also on Friday’s show, Ken Cauley, Entrepreneurs Organization Detroit Global Student Awards Chairman, talks about the Aug. 1 deadline for entries in their student entrepreneur competition.

Listen Wednesday at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the 
Michigan Business NetworkSBAM members can log in and listen to archived programs anytime on a PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page.  

Michigan’s Health Insurance Exchange - Update

As mentioned in yesterday’s Agent Alert, earlier today there was a joint committee hearing of the House Health Policy Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).  The topic of this hearing was the status of Michigan’s Health Exchange.  The planning work for the Exchange is taking place, or maybe more appropriately stated, would take place in LARA.  Testifying on behalf of LARA were LARA Director Steve Hilfinger, Deputy Director Shelly Edgerton, Finance Director Allan Pohl and Project Manager Chris Priest.  

Following opening remarks and an overview of the Exchange timeline (which matches the timeline we reported yesterday) the key questions of the day centered around funding the development of the Exchange and timing, including:
  • Needed State Action
  • State based vs. Partnership vs. Federally-Facilitated Exchange
  • Medicaid Expansion
  • Essential Health Benefits
  • Federal Rulemaking
  • The potential for new legal challenges
Governor Snyder and the staff at LARA believe that it is prudent to act now on developing a Michigan based Exchange, but they need legislative authorization to request and spend $9.8 million available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The opportunity to receive these dollars expires in November of 2012 (although other similar dates have been extended).  These dollars would be spent conducting further studies on the type of Exchange for Michigan, developing requests for proposal for vendors and information technology, coordinating technologies between departments and other pre-launch steps necessary before an Exchange could be operated.  In total, there are forty-two requirements that must be met, with information technology as the most challenging.

Director Hilfinger worries that further delays may result in the only real choice for Michigan being either the Partnership model or the Federally-Facilitated Exchange, both which limit the flexibility of Michigan to design an Exchange that meets the needs of our citizens and our small businesses.  He commented that the Partnership model, for example, is not nearly a 50%/50% partnership between Michigan and Washington, but more of a 16% Michigan/84% Washington design, and a FFE is 100% Washington driven, with some of the invoices being paid by Michigan.  Hilfinger also commented that some other states are moving forward with planning and that LARA is seeing increases in vendor pricing and decreases in availability due to demand.  To date, seventeen states intend to run their own Exchange, two states will be in partnership models, seven states have declined to run an Exchange and twenty-four are undecided.

The opposing argument for delaying the development of the Michigan based Exchange is three-fold.  First, there are many unanswered questions.  This is especially true regarding the design and operation of a Federally-Facilitated Exchange, Essential Health Benefits, Medicaid Expansion and the debate about whether or not subsidies and tax credits can be made available via anything other than a state based exchange.  If HHS has a plan for a FFE, they are keeping that information to themselves for the time being.  Second, deadlines have shifted in the past and there is no reason to believe that they will not do so in the future. Third, the impending November elections.  

At the end of the day, what did we learn?  If Michigan starts with a FFE, we can apply to take it back in future years to a state based exchange, and we learned that deadlines are real, or maybe they aren’t.   Beyond the arguments of both sides, we also relearned that it is going to be a while before this one gets decided.  No vote was taken today and the only thing promised was that the committees will meet again - sometime in t

Department of Labor FMLA Guide

Many of you have called with questions regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act. Recently the Department of Labor, Wage and Hourly Division released a guide to the law.  While it is written to the employee, it does provide general guidance to the employer community on the basics of the law. 

Please click here for the guide...

Insurance Exchange Arguments & Timeline

Over the last several weeks, we have had many questions from agents and members regarding the status of a health exchange for Michigan.  Provided below is  a timeline for the Exchange,  as well as definitions and brief arguments for and against the Exchange that are taking place here in Lansing.  With a joint hearing scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th, we may know more on the direction Michigan will take.  If anything comes from this meeting of the House Health Policy and House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), we will report that tomorrow.  

Starting with a very brief review of the arguments for and against the Exchange:

Argument for the Exchange:  
  • Unless or until something changes in federal law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the law of the land and the ACA requires each state to establish an American Health Benefits Exchange for individuals and families and a Small Business Health Options Program.  The ACA  offers several grants available to the states to develop the Exchanges; these grants, worth roughly $9 million, require that legislation be passed and signed into law by Governor Snyder before the money can be accepted.  Delaying legislative action puts Michigan “behind the eight ball” in the software development and linkages to various legacy information systems and could result in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services establishing and operating the Exchange here in Michigan.  
Argument against the Exchange:
  • The first argument is one of control over the Exchange and Medicaid.  According to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), all state health insurance exchanges must be approved by the federal government, and the federal government, not the state, will have authority and oversight over the exchanges. The law gives the federal government full authority to commandeer any exchange that does not meet all federal requirements.  Second, if Mitt Romney defeats Barak Obama in this fall’s election and Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate, the ACA could be overturned.  Mitt Romney has vowed to throw it out soon after taking office and because the Supreme Court has ruled the individual mandate as a tax, a simple majority in the Senate is all that is required to pass legislation overturning the ACA.  
In addition to the option of Michigan developing our own American Health Benefits Exchange and the Small Business Health Options Program, there are a couple of other options that State legislature could decide upon.  The first is a hybrid of sorts called a State Partnership Exchange where Michigan could manage the health plans on the Exchange and the federal government could manage, for example, the Medicaid eligibility and subsidies of the Exchange.  A second option is that Michigan could simply refuse to cooperate and turn all functions of the Exchange over to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and let HHS develop and manage a Federally-Facilitated Exchange. 

SBAM believes both of these final two options would be a mistake and that Michigan should take control of our own destiny when it comes to issues of the Exchange.