Joelle Dorfman sees the new reality of realty

Owner Stories, Joelle Dorfman, Real Estate Broker, Groupe Sutton Performer, Montreal, Quebec

We’ve known Joelle Dorfman since we were kids, as she grew up in our neighbourhood and was friendly with our family. More recently, we’ve reconnected through our common networking group, The Networking Club here in the West Island of Montreal. getting to know them through our community sports programs and then as clients of 10|20 Marketing. Joelle has been a real estate broker since 2006 and has an interesting perspective on the market, the pandemic and just plain old hard work.

Our interview with Joelle is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Also, make sure to read our Owner Stories series and remember to support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place. And with the second wave now upon us, it’s the right time to prepare your business online.

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Joelle! Thanks so much for agreeing to participate. So when did you get into real estate? Is this what you’ve always done? Where did you get your start?

Joelle Dorfman: I officially got my licence in June 2006. Before that, I went to McGill University and earned my Bachelor’s of Social Work. After I graduated, there weren’t many jobs in that industry so I worked as a Montessori school teacher for three years. After that, I worked as an office manager at my father’s engineering consulting company until he sold the business.

I come from an entrepreneurial family. My father, brother and husband all ran or run their own businesses. I believed that the business experience I had working for many years in a professional engineering company, along with my social work education gave me the perfect tools for a career in real estate.

10|20 Marketing: Can you describe what kind of market we’re in now. And what advice do you have for anyone looking to buy a home now?

Joelle Dorfman: Well, it’s been a strange one! Lol. This year is a very unusual one, just like in most industries. The real estate industry was basically “on pause” and since things have reopened, any properties that had been on the market or have been put on the market, have sold quickly, often with multiple offers. It’s been a great market for sellers and often a frustrating market for buyers.

If you’re looking to buy a property, act fast and don’t hesitate! Work with a broker who is active in the current market and is consistently looking for anything new that comes up for sale.

10|20 Marketing: How do you see the housing market changing in the next 5 to 10 years?

Joelle Dorfman: Predicting is an imperfect endeavour. I think what this pandemic has taught us is that working from home can be a positive, as employees can be just as productive! So after the pandemic, companies may still allow their employees to either work from home on a full-time basis or allow them to work part-time from home. This will require people to have more space to set up proper permanent at-home offices which will, in turn, translate to the need for larger family homes.

10|20 Marketing: Great perspective, Joelle! What have you personally learned during the last few months from a professional perspective? From a personal perspective?

Joelle Dorfman: From a professional perspective, I have realized how my education in social work has really helped me to understand how to work with clients who may be feeling stressed out and unsure about their future during these unprecedented times.

On the personal side, I have learned how much I enjoy spending time with my family but also how much I miss the social aspect of life. I’m a very outgoing and sociable person and have realized what an integral role my friends play in my everyday life.

I think this pandemic has forced us all to look at our lives through different eyes. We’ve learned that we shouldn’t take anything for granted because we never know when it will be taken away from us, at least temporarily.

10|20 Marketing: Do you have any advice for other brokers out there? What about for brokers who may be starting out in the industry and only just now getting their feet wet?

Joelle Dorfman: In this business, it can be a lot of ups and downs. When you first start out, you have to really want it because it’s very challenging to get started and establish yourself in the industry. Like in anything in life, hard work pays off!

10|20 Marketing: Great advice, Joelle! I appreciate your time and participation in our series!

Joelle Dorfman: My pleasure! Thanks for having me!

**

This interview is part of our Owner Stories series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to mark@10-twenty.com. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

When it comes to leasing, Jamie Goren sees both sides of the coin

Owner Stories: Jamie Goren, Commercial Asset Leasing Consultant, Affiliated Financial Services, Montreal, Quebec

Nepotism comes to the Local Business Owner Spotlight series and we won’t apologize for it! Jamie Goren is not only my brother, he’s also an experienced businessman who has worked for others and owned several business. He now guides other business owners through the process of leasing equipment earmarked to help grow their revenues. In this discussion, we touch on what he does, who he helps and the importance of distinguishing between good debt and bad debt.

Our interview with Jamie is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Also, make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. Also remember to support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.

Interview with Jamie Goren, Commercial Asset Leasing Consultant

10|20 Marketing: Thanks for agreeing to do this, Mr. Goren. Your participation is greatly appreciated. How would you describe what you do if you were asked by mom?

Jamie Goren: Very basically, we help companies and sole proprietors alike to purchase commercial use assets without tying up working capital or depleting their cash. We can help companies to purchase everything from used or new trucks and construction equipment, to machinery, racking, telephone systems, alarm systems and even websites. We can even help professional offices to purchase furniture. We do this using lease-to-own contracts that typically go to a $10 buyback at the end. This the most tax efficient way to finance these purchases.

10|20 Marketing: So why would someone come to you for financial help rather than go to a bank or another lending company?

Jamie Goren: There are a few reasons, depending on the type of business you are running. For some proprietors (electricians, plumbers, contractors) it’s often a way to get commercial credit established while not tying up the amount of credit their bank will allow them to run their businesses.

For larger companies, the approval process is much quicker than traditional financing, the financing is off balance sheet (in many cases), and it does not tie up their working capital.

Lastly, for companies of all sizes, we will look at assets that traditionally a bank would not finance. We will also look at credit profiles that banks don’t usually touch.

10|20 Marketing: What advice would you give to business owners as they try to manage cash flow during what is now a very uncertain period of time with a lot of unknowns?

Jamie Goren: Managing your working capital is critical to buffering the uncertainty and the unknown. Even if you have the money in the bank it doesn’t mean it is the right time to reduce that balance and spend it.

There is such a thing as good debt just like there is such a thing as bad debt.

If you have the opportunity or the need to acquire an asset that will help you to grow revenues and it will generate positive cash flow when weighed against the payments, you should really consider leasing that asset and using the increased revenues/profits to make the payments.

I know it sounds self serving in this case, but adding debt to manage cash flow and punt the problems down the road is bad debt. Adding debt to purchase an asset that allows you to bill more or make more profits is good debt.

10|20 Marketing: You raise a great point. How do you help clients to see the good debt-bad debt point by coming across as help and not self-serving?

Jamie Goren: Having been in manufacturing businesses for 30 years prior to this career change, I feel like I know the experience from both sides of the coin. I truly believe that I am now selling a service that is really needed and in demand.

I will never put a gun to anyone’s head to sell them something that is not the right fit for them if they are not comfortable with it. I can help with the cashflow calculation, I can help with the weighing of pros and cons. I am in this for the long haul and want to be viewed as a client’s ally. I tell clients all of the time that I work for them, not for the lenders. In the end, my objective is to find a solution that fits their situation and that fits their business. If I cannot provide it, I will refer them to someone who can.

I recently did a financing for a company that I had that exact conversation with back in January. They opted to use cash for their purchase because an older member of the management team believed that there is no such thing as good debt. We had the conversation about good debt/bad debt, I let him know that I greatly respect his life experiences and his decision but I am always here if they need me. Not only did I recently do a deal with them, I have also been referred to another prospect by the same person.

10|20 Marketing: Do you see business getting back to normal now? What was your take of the market during the last three months of lockdown and pandemic panic?

Jamie Goren: Let me address the second part first. The business climate was really difficult in the months of April and May especially. Deals that were signed and ready to be funded were cancelled, especially in the event production space, and they won’t be coming back until next year at the earliest.

I hope that governments learned enough during the last three months to figure out a way to do target shutdowns on a much more micro level as best they could. But like any black swan event there were business opportunities to be had. And money to be made. We were busy with transport companies, Amazon delivery couriers, and some packaging equipment manufacturers.

I am thankful that we aren’t very focused on the restaurant trade, because that is going to be a really difficult industry (credit-wise) for an extended period of time.

As for the first part of the question, truthfully I am not sure what normal is. I have long felt that companies and consumers have very short memories and habits will return to the norm. I am not sure about that as a blanket statement in this case.

New credit approval will definitely be more challenging to get for a while. I certainly wouldn’t bet on an immediate return in travel and tourism.

On the other hand, home renovation companies, pools and drive-in entertainment venues are areas where we are seeing lots of demand.

I believe in the ability of entrepreneurs to innovate and adapt, but don’t think that the worst fallout has really hit yet. Lots of businesses are being propped up with payment relief and government subsidies.

It’s going to be a long summer and fall for the local economy and for the labor force, especially in retail and service based jobs.

10|20 Marketing: Thanks for this discussion, Jamie. Any final thoughts on credit, funding and moving forward?

Jamie Goren: I guess if I can leave your readers with a thought it is this: now is the time to make smart decisions. To conserve working capital but to not be fearful of capitalizing on opportunities. Some of the biggest success stories today are companies that took chances coming out of the recession back in 2009/2010 because they saw opportunities and pursued them.

There is money available for good businesses. While credit is tougher to get, it is far from impossible. There really is such a thing as good debt, especially for small and medium sized businesses.

I am available to discuss this with anyone who would like to.

I work for the clients. Not the lenders. Not a bank. Not anyone else. My job is to help businesses purchase the assets that they need for success. I can help you too.

Thanks so much for doing this, Mark. I have truly enjoyed reading every one of the stories and am grateful for you doing this one (even if I did have to wait my turn!)

10|20 Marketing: My pleasure. And the list is long! Thanks for playing along. See you later!

Jamie Goren: Of course!

**

This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to mark@10-twenty.com. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

Brad’s financial advice is most certainly wise

Local Business Owner Spotlight, Brad Wise, Investment Advisor and Financial Security Advisor, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec

We go back a long way with Brad Wise, having attended school together and now as a neighbour who lives down the street. Brad has always been meticulous in his work and developed a passion and knowledge for investments at a very young age. From as early as eight years old, he can remember listening to his father’s advice at dinner. His dad would often talk about the importance of dollar-cost averaging, compound interest and putting aside money for a rainy day. Brad believes that this dinnertime discussion resonated because he followed a career path to give the same advice to his clients.

This was a very interesting interview with Brad. And due to the uncertainty of our times, I’d encourage you to really listen to his advice. This interview is the result of several days of back and forth emails, plus some light editing. Our interview with Brad is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Also, make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series, including our interview with Brad’s wife, Kim Hannah. Also remember to  support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.

Interview with Brad Wise, Investment Advisor and Financial Security Advisor

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Brad! Thank you for agreeing to participate in our series. So perhaps we should get started by having you explain your area of specialty.

Brad Wise: Thanks for doing this, Mark! I have been working as an Investment Advisor and Insurance broker since 2002 and am a fully licensed Investment Advisor. The products and services I offer include: mutual funds, low cost ETFs, stocks, GICs, and retirement planning. I am also licensed to offer insurance products, including life insurance, disability insurance, salary insurance, critical illness insurance, mortgage insurance, travel insurance, and health insurance.

Although I do work at Manulife Securities, we are a brokerage firm so we could place investments and insurance through many companies such as Manulife, RBC, BMO, Desjardins, Canada Life and many others! This allows us to be objective in our advice and offer our clients the best value on the market.

10|20 Marketing: Great! So how do you stand out from all the advisors in your field? What makes people want to work with Brad Wise?

Brad Wise: It sounds like a cliché but it’s my honesty. I am upfront with my clients in terms of the fees and commissions they are paying for the investments and insurance products that I offer them. Some products have higher fees and commissions and are not necessarily the best value for my clients. I am very transparent with everyone I deal with.

Another area that differentiates me is my customer service and response time. I always ensure I respond to my clients in an efficient manner. Whether I get an email at 10 o’clock at night or on the weekend, I will always respond to my clients the same day. There’s nothing more frustrating to me than calling an institution and waiting on hold for 30 minutes or waiting until Monday if you absolutely need a response on the weekend.

I am very passionate about my job and love what I do. Even prior to becoming an investment advisor in 2002, I would follow the stock market and read books on various financial investing techniques. I welcome all questions from my clients as I love sharing my knowledge and passion about the market and helping them choose the right financial services based on their goals and risk tolerance. For some advisors, this is just a job. Personally, I don’t dread Monday mornings as I love what I do.

Not all investment advisors are fully licensed to offer all types of investment products. I am also a fully licensed IIROC advisor, which means I can offer all types of investments including low cost ETFs and stocks. Of course I do offer mutual funds as well but many people would benefit from having both mutual funds and low cost ETFs in their portfolios. Although I do work at Manulife Securities we can place business with several investment and insurance companies which ensures that my clients are getting the best value on the market for all their financial needs.

10|20 Marketing: Very interesting. Let’s change gears here for a bit. How have you been handling investments in the current market climate? What advice have you been giving people as the economy starts to suffer as a result of the pandemic?

Brad Wise: With over 17 years experience as an investment advisor, I have helped my clients manage their expectations and concerns during extreme market volatility including the 2008 Great Recession. I am always there to help my clients make informed decisions during these difficult times and guide them to make rational and logical investment choices rather than decisions based on their emotions. Prior to this correction, we had the longest bull run ever so I have been preparing my clients for an inevitable correction in the market by ensuring they had sufficient exposure to asset classes such as bonds to help reduce their volatility. Diversification across several sectors and asset classes is the key to ensuring your portfolio experiences less volatility than the market. Some government bonds, for example, have made money during this downturn.

Some people tend to become very nervous during these corrections and look to sell all their investment when the markets are falling. This rarely proves to be the right strategy as markets are resilient and investors who stay invested will recover their losses and grow their wealth. Generally the best days in the market follow a downturn so you don’t want to be on the sidelines when this happens. For many of my clients, I highly encourage investing the same amount each month to benefit from dollar cost averaging. This strategy helps reduce the impact of volatility by spreading out your fund purchases so you’re buying more shares at a lower price and less shares at a higher price. Dollar cost averaging works incredibly well in volatile markets and helps take emotion out of investing.

I am always there for my clients to talk about their investments and help respond to any concerns they have about the market, their finances and their general health and well being.

10|20 Marketing: Smart advice, Brad. What would you say are the top three areas where you help people the most. In other words, don’t answer with what you can do, but rather with what kind of work you find yourself doing the most!

Brad Wise:

  1. Responding to inquiries about my client’s investments whether it would be something simple as providing tax slips or an overall analysis of its diversification and past rate of returns.
  2. Finding life and health insurance solutions for potential clients. I search the market for the lowest pricing and best value and see which insurance product fits their needs. Some people assume they can’t get life or health insurance if they have any current health issues but there are plans that give coverage to those who are traditionally hard to insure.
  3. Keeping myself informed on the latest updates on the markets as well as insurance products by attending several webinars on a weekly basis.

10|20 Marketing: And in terms of the products you offer?

Brad Wise: The top 3 Insurance products I sell the most are:

  1. Manulife Vitality life insurance. Both my wife and I are personally on this life insurance plan and love it! It gives us the opportunity to earn rewards like Amazon gift cards and hotel discounts and lowers our life insurance premiums. In addition we get a free annual checkup from a nurse who comes to our home. Most importantly it encourages us to stay active thus improving our overall health.
  2. Health Insurance plans for people who are retiring or leaving group health plans. Everyone is accepted without any medical underwriting, which ensures that everyone could get complete coverage. I offer these plans through Sunlife, Manulife and Greenshield.
  3. Travel insurance for snowbirds. I have several clients who travel to Florida every year so I find them the most competitive pricing on the market.

10|20 Marketing: This has been great, Brad! Any last words of advice?

Brad Wise: To my knowledge, there is no crystal ball to help foresee the future of the market. Instead, I make sure to work with my clients to find the right strategy by building portfolios in anticipation of market volatility, not in reaction to it. I help people stay on track with their short-term and long-term financial goals and provide guidance during difficult times.

There are thousands of advisors to choose from with incredible credentials. When choosing an investment advisor, you want to make sure you are working with someone that actually cares about you. Any advisor can sell you products but it’s essential to find someone you can truly trust in helping you plan for your financial future. Find someone who will put your needs first and do what is in the best interest of you rather than the advisor. Make sure to B. Wise with your decision.

I wanted to thank you for including me in your spotlight series. I have read all the interviews you have conducted the last several weeks and I think it’s an incredible initiative on your part especially during these challenging times.

10|20 Marketing: Thank you, Brad! It’s been our pleasure.

Brad Wise: Thank you!

**

This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to mark@10-twenty.com. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

Helen Papazian’s work as a bookkeeper really counts

Owner Stories: Helen Papazian, Bookkeeper, Ville-Saint-Laurent, Quebec

Helen Papazian is a member of The Networking Club, a West Island based group that meets every second Tuesday. Helen is a Certified Bookkeeper and QBO Advanced Pro-Advisor who, having started and successfully run a wholesale/distribution company for 16 years and a bookkeeping firm for the last 6 years, is distinctively qualified to understand the plight of the entrepreneur. Having gone through learning about marketing, sales, HR, and finance, Helen is now able to share her knowledge with clients and support them with various aspects of their business.

Like we have with our other spotlight guests, we spent a few days going back and forth via email to discuss Helen’s business and where she stands out among bookkeepers. Our interview with Helen is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Also, make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series and support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.

Interview with Helen Papazian, Bookkeeper

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Helen. Thank you for doing this with us! Can you tell us a little bit about your bookkeeping business and some of the philosophy you have that sets you apart?

Helen Papazian: Thank you, Mark, for including me as one of your spotlight businesses. I appreciate this opportunity. You ask what sets me apart as a bookkeeper, well, I work to empower my customers to make better, more informed financial decisions. I do this by continuously upgrading my skills. I regularly meet with my clients and review their goals and help them plan for profit, setup processes, and implement new technologies. I am not merely their bookkeeper. I am their advisor, their company comptroller. My clients tend to call me before making significant financial decisions. I treat their money as if it were my own. This is what sets me apart from other bookkeepers. I can give you some of my business background if you like.

10|20 Marketing: Sounds great, Helen! Please go right ahead.

Helen Papazian: I started my first business venture at the age of 7, it was not a lemonade stand 😊, but I can tell you about that some other time. I started several companies in my life, some with partners, most on my own. In 2002, I started a wholesale company. I grew the business working part-time for 14 years, building the sales to $500K a year, I was selling to Costco and Indigo Chapters, yes all that part-time. I did this purely on intuition, creativity and innovation.

Throughout those years, I had hired several bookkeepers and accountants. I realized that neither was giving me any information or financial guidance. I was ready to take the next step and needed advice. I needed processes, a financial plan. So I decided to go back to school and learn all about accounting and finance myself. That is when I realized I was less interested in building the wholesale company and enjoyed managing the financials of the business, planning for profit. I finished my classes, passed the test with the IPBC, Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada, and became a certified bookkeeper. I also got my certification as a pro advisor with Intuit. Then I started my firm some six years ago, we are now two in the office, and planning to grow.

10|20 Marketing: So you must really understand the entrepreneur’s mindset then.

Helen Papazian:

I understand the anxiety they feel around numbers or their lack of accounting knowledge, the stress around navigating Revenue, Quebec and the CRA. I intimately know how it feels to have a vision for your business but not know what it takes, financially, and how to plan to get there. Because of this lack of financial planning, most startups fail. And for those companies who have successfully operated and want to grow their business, they can’t because it takes a new and higher level of understanding to grow the business without becoming overwhelmed and losing control. Planned growth is essential at that stage.

I am their advisor, their company comptroller. It is important to me that my clients succeed. I treat their businesses as if they were my own. If I am not able to help, it weighs on me, and I try to find ways I can be helpful. That said, not all clients require or ask for this level of help, so I listen to them, I try to understand what their goals are, and I guide them accordingly. I train them if they want or need training. I help them with implementing new online technology.

10|20 Marketing: So what are your core values as an advisor?

Helen Papazian: My core values are gratitude, innovation, creativity and mindset. We are grateful for our client’s trust in us and respect our client’s goals and vision and work to support it the best we can through my life experiences, creativity, mindset and accurate, relevant financial data.

10|20 Marketing: This is great, Helen! Can you give us some examples of how you’ve made a difference for a client of yours? Something that you noticed that most bookkeepers wouldn’t flag?

Helen Papazian: I don’t just enter data and call it a day I analyze it, I pay attention to the customers purchasing habits. I had a client who had posted a job ad on one of the websites after he had hired his employee I noticed that the job site kept charging him a monthly fee of $500, I flagged it and sent him the information so he could have them reverse the payment. You can’t just assume it’s a legitimate expense and pass it through.

I also look at the income statement at the end of each month to see if anything looks like it does not make sense. I’ve caught many errors this way! Paying bills twice, for instance, even some credit card fraudulent activities. It’s important to ask a lot of questions! I don’t plug the numbers just to get the month closed. I ask questions.

10|20 Marketing: Do you have any other examples?

Helen Papazian: Of course! Another way I help my clients is by reviewing their data. I had a client who owned a corporation and kept trying to pin him down for a review meeting. He kept postponing it. When I finally got him to sit with me, we went through his financial statements I told him even if he was showing an $80K profit, his cash flow was in a bad position. He was offering terms to his customers and had no terms with his vendors, this was creating a cash flow problem since he had an immediate cash outlay, but his receivables were 30 – 90 days down the line. He was using his line of credit to keep him floating.

As a result, I implemented two procedures. First, I got him to collect from customers sooner since most of them were passing the 30 days. We implemented monthly reminders, every 15th of the month, a statement would be sent to the client reminding them of upcoming due dates, and if over 45 days, a phone call would be made. Secondly, I told him to work on getting terms with his largest suppliers to defer the payments. After the review, my customer understood how important it was to sit with me every quarter to go over his financial statements and make adjustments and corrections. He never postponed another meeting request since.

I also have smaller clients who are registered businesses. I take the time to sit with them as well and review their data and always start by asking them what their goals are. What kind of income they are looking for, just enough to be comfortable or do they want to grow their business and eventually hire employees? These questions are important since their answer will determine the strategy. I had a client who was struggling with her finances. She had no idea what kind of income she needed to be comfortable, no clue as to her expenses so I gave her some homework. I gave her a spreadsheet and asked her to fill it in, list all household expenses, credit card balances and minimum payments. We did some analysis to see how much income she needed to generate to be financially comfortable, pay all her bills, bring down her credit cards and line of credit as well as save.

I empower my customers to make better, more informed financial decisions. This is what sets me apart from other bookkeepers.

10|20 Marketing: This has been great, Helen! Thank you for taking the time to participate. It sure sounds like you really do make an effort to help your clients in real important ways!

Helen Papazian: My pleasure, Mark! Thank you for including me in your spotlight series.

**

This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to mark@10-twenty.com. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

Michael Schacter works at a boutique law firm – and has advice for businesses of all sizes

Owner Stories: Michael Schacter, KAUFMAN LLP/s.e.n.c.r.l., Montreal, Quebec

Next up in our series, we welcome Michael Schacter to our platform. We met Michael last year after joining The Networking Club in the West Island of Montreal. Michael Schacter is an experienced litigator and business lawyer at Kaufman LLP and has over a decade of experience fighting for the rights of his clients. He regularly pleads cases before courts of all levels in the province of Quebec.

Over the past several months, it’s been great getting to know Micheal and we used this opportunity to get some insights from him and some advice for small business owners. Given that Kaufman LLP has been serving Montreal’s business community since 1934, we thought his input would be valuable. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Our interview with Michael is below. And please make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series and support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.

Interview with Michael Schacter of KAUFMAN LLP

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Michael. Appreciate you agreeing to do this with us! Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you landed at Kaufman?

Michael Schacter: I was raised in Dollard and grew up on the baseball diamonds and hockey rinks across the West Island. My first “adult” job was as a computer technician, repairing PCs and maintaining networks for SMEs. In fact, I nearly ended up becoming a computer programmer until I realized that I preferred to fix human problems rather than computers. I graduated from the University of Ottawa’s faculty of civil law in 2006 and have been a member of the Quebec Bar since 2007.

For three years, I worked in a small firm with a general practice, where I had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of cases. While there, I had the opportunity to plead my first trial and got hooked on the thrill of litigation and fighting for my clients. In 2010, an opportunity arose for me to join Kaufman LLP, a boutique firm with specialists in several fields. For the last 10 years I have had the pleasure of working with a team consisting of some of the most talented and passionate lawyers and support staff.

10|20 Marketing: Love that backstory and that it involves baseball! So let’s dive into your time at Kaufman. How many people are at the firm? What’s the firm’s area of specialty? Essentially, why should someone call Kaufman rather than another firm?

Michael Schacter: Kaufman is a boutique firm with 10 lawyers, in addition to law students, paralegals and other support staff. We are a full-service firm, meaning we are able to address all the legal needs of SMEs that might arise. We handle everything from simple incorporations and filing of annual minutes to complex multi-party litigation and corporate mergers. People choose Kaufman because of our reputation for vigorously promoting our clients’ rights. It is a reputation that has been carefully crafted since 1934 and has resulted in several former members of our firm being appointed to the Superior Court and the Court of Quebec. As it is impossible for an individual lawyer to specialize in everything, we are fortunate enough to have a team with experience in many areas, yet we remain small enough as to be accessible to small businesses and individuals.

10|20 Marketing: Do you know these judges? Could come in handy one day! All joking aside, here at 10|20 Marketing, we’re very interested in small businesses, their successes and our challenges. Can you speak a little bit about how your firm goes to bat for small businesses? And when you say you are accessible to small businesses and individuals, are you saying that your rates are reasonable?

Michael Schacter: To be sure, we go to bat for all of our clients with vigour, whether it be a Big Six bank or an individual. However, given our “boutique” size, we can certainly relate to the specific challenges faced by small businesses and can offer up creative, practical and cost-effective solutions. Our rates are definitely reasonable, particularly considering the experience and reputation we bring to the table. Of course, hourly rates are only one factor amongst a whole slew that determine your return on investment. There are very few black-and-white situations in law and most of the issues that come across my desk have more than one possible solution. Ultimately, I believe that Kaufman’s lawyers provide the best possible value by relying on our collective experience to recommend and implement strategies that will result in the best possible outcomes for our clients.

10|20 Marketing: Do you have any advice for people out there who may be struggling with their businesses right now due to the restrictions imposed by the government to deal with the pandemic? What advice do you have for small businesses owners looking to survive?

Michael Schacter: It goes without saying that small businesses are some of the hardest hit by the effects of the forced shutdown and only those that plan ahead and adapt will make it through these unprecedented times. My biggest piece of advice right now is to carefully manage your cash flow. In addition to the various programs offered by the different levels of government and financial institutions, businesses in need should also try to negotiate with their creditors. Virtually all creditors are facing issues with their own cash flow and will look favourably upon debtors that approach them early, rather than those that remain silent, hoping nobody will notice a missed payment.

I do, however, have a word of caution for those that operate their business through a corporation. Although it is more important than ever to show your dedication to your business, given the general uncertainty faced by the economy, shareholders should avoid giving personal guarantees to creditors unless absolutely necessary, as they risk extending the failure of the business into personal ruin. Fortunately, not all will be doom and gloom, and I look forward to hearing the success stories that are bound to arise about those small business owners who were able to successfully pivot their businesses and take advantage of new opportunities.

10|20 Marketing: How are you personally handling things given that you’re working from home and having to service your clients?

Michael Schacter: Fortunately, because of my background in computers, I’ve had the ability to work remotely for the last several years and the transition has been extremely smooth for me and my clients. I am equipped for digital signatures, electronic filings with the government and even certified e-mails to prove delivery of legal proceedings. While there are certainly downsides to working remotely, my focus remains on the positive aspects, the most important being the time additional time I get to spend with my wife and two children instead of commuting.

10|20 Marketing: That sounds great, Micheal! I want to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Be safe and stay healthy!

Michael Schacter: Likewise!
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This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to mark@10-twenty.com. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.