Exporters Own Your Mistakes

As noted in a recent post self-blinding carries risk for exporters in addition to the fines and penalties associated with export violations. Mistakes happen and it is best to take corrective action on your own as a part of your compliance program.

Export compliance means attention to detail, consistent procedures, up to date knowledge, and oversight. Due diligence is required for EEI filings, Schedule B and ECCN classification, Licensing entries, and Country of Origin determination. In spite of best efforts, mistakes will be made. In these cases a Voluntary Self-Disclosure is a smart move. Here is some info from the BIS (Bureau of Industry and Security) website:

BIS encourages the submission of Voluntary Self Disclosures (VSDs) by parties who believe they may have violated the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). VSDs are an excellent indicator of a party’s intent to comply with U.S. export control requirements and may provide BIS important information on other ongoing violations. BIS carefully reviews VSDs received from disclosing parties to determine if violations of the EAR have occurred and to determine the appropriate corrective action when violations have taken place. Additional information regarding VSDs can be found in Part 764.5 of the EAR, or the enforcement section of our website www.bis.doc.gov.


Contact mitch@adhoclogistics.com for help with Voluntary Self Disclosures.

Billable vs. Pro Bono Consulting

I have posted about this topic in the past and use this approach whenever the situation arises. “Quick Question” queries are frequent and I look at them as an opportunity. I am always happy to hear from former clients, colleagues, and business associates. The scope of their requests vary so need to be handled accordingly. For a consultant this is a good problem to have.

Consultants often receive “Just a quick question?” queries from clients or others and everyone responds differently. Most likely the questioner believes that their question is an easy one and may be looking for pro bono service. In fact, while it is easy to ask a quick question, an accurate response is not always quick.

I have been offered lunch or dinner as compensation for quick questions. Others have assumed that, since their question is quick, there will be no charge for the answer. As a solo practitioner I know that I need to remain flexible and avoid rigid procedures while making sure that I am compensated for my time and expertise. Based on trial and error, here is how I handle “quick questions”.

Active clients– I truly value my long-term clients who are the foundation of my business. It is easier to keep clients than to gain new ones. So, if I can help a client on the spot I will do so as a part of my service. This usually involves something simple like identifying a resource for them. If time and/or research is required I let the client know how I will handle the request and what I will charge. Most clients understand this approach because I have added value for them in the past. If they have frequent quick questions I may suggest my retainer service which allows them to prepay for brief consultations by choosing a set number of hours.

Prospective clients– This is a little trickier because of situations such as the ones I have described, so I am more selective in my responses. I do try to be helpful as I want them to remember me when they have a real project. If I can answer a question without expending time and research I may do so and consider it a free sample of my work. If time and research is required I will propose the retainer option or quote a minimum charge. I will always try to learn about the potential client’s business so that I can determine their real needs and follow up at a later date.

Former colleagues– One of the benefits of being a FedEx alum is having contacts with excellent colleagues all over the world. A number of active clients have been the result of referrals by former colleagues. Any questions they have are on behalf of their clients which can potentially become mine. Their referrals are my compensation. If they have a project requiring time and research I may ask them to connect me to the client if possible. I’m always happy to hear from former colleagues so FedExers don’t hesitate to reach out.

Friends and family- This is rare as I try not to mix personal with professional and I don’t want to charge friends or family. I will accommodate a minor request and give them a referral for anything more complex.

This method is not perfect but works well enough for me in my growing practice. I would be interested in hearing how other consultants handle “quick questions”

Contact mitch@adhoclogistics.com

Think You Know Your Customers?

No doubt you stay in close contact with your customers. Perhaps you even perform due diligence on prospective customers. In any case, exporters are required to screen all exports using the various watch lists or the Consolidated Screening List. Export software is a valuable tool for this purpose.

Most SMEs (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) do not have an ECP (Export Compliance Program) or in-house expertise. If you are the CEO, COO, or CFO of one of these companies we advise assessing the risk of non-compliance and taking action. Fines and penalties for export violations can be as high as $1 million. In the meantime, here is a list from the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) website of things to look for in an export transaction. Make sure you are not doing business with the bad guys. A little due diligence up front saves a lot of trouble later on.

The customer or its address is similar to one of the parties found on the Commerce Department’s [BIS’] list of denied persons.

The customer or purchasing agent is reluctant to offer information about the end-use of the item.

The product’s capabilities do not fit the buyer’s line of business, such as an order for sophisticated computers for a small bakery.

The item ordered is incompatible with the technical level of the country to which it is being shipped, such as semiconductor manufacturing equipment being shipped to a country that has no electronics industry.

The customer is willing to pay cash for a very expensive item when the terms of sale would normally call for financing.

The customer is unfamiliar with the product’s performance characteristics but still wants the product.

The customer has little or no business background.

Routine installation, training, or maintenance services are declined by the customer.

Delivery dates are vague, or deliveries are planned for out of the way destinations.

A freight forwarding firm is listed as the product’s final destination.

The shipping route is abnormal for the product and destination.

Packaging is inconsistent with the stated method of shipment or destination.

When questioned, the buyer is evasive and especially unclear about whether the purchased product is for domestic use, for export, or for reexport.

For help contact mitch@adhoclogistics.com