The Day We Saved the Wine

[sg_popup id=”2322″ event=”onLoad”][/sg_popup]willis-hallSmall businesses often run into big problems.  And they don’t have the resources to hire lawyers and fight for fairness. Instead, they need an advocate that can help them navigate a reasonable, cost effective solution.

The following case study is a great example of how we help small business:

The Day We Saved the Wine

John Bell parlayed his passion for wine into Willis Hall Winery in 2003.  By 2006, Seattle Magazine awarded him “Best New Winemaker in Washington.”

However, in late 2007 Snohomish County initiated a code enforcement action against Willis Hall Winery threatening to shut down the operation for failure to comply with the county’s home occupation code.  Mr. Bell hired a land use attorney to appeal the enforcement action, but such an appeal had some risks and was a slow process.  With millions of dollars invested, John couldn’t afford to shut down his winery or move aging barrels of wine to a new location.

Willis Hall retained our company in early 2008 to assist his land use counsel in the appeal of the County’s order, as well as explore non-legal remedies.

Seeking to avoid litigating the matter, our company proposed several alternative technical solutions – offering research that his business may be a grandfathered use, applying for a code interpretation that the winery was an incidental use to the residence, and seeking an administrative zoning variance under a set of binding conditions.  All of these solutions were rejected by county staff.

With the appeal hearing looming, we put on our lobbyist cap and approached the County Council. Recognizing the politics of shutting a business down, the Council Chairman was willing to consider adding an amendment to a zoning ordinance pending before the Council, providing a legal basis for the Willis Hall to exist.

Our company drafted the language for the amendment and worked with the prosecuting attorney’s office and planning department to ensure it wouldn’t run afoul of any growth management laws.

A short time later the County Council approved the amendment and Willis Hall was saved.

Is Red Tape Holding You Back?

The economy goes up, the economy goes down. Businesses do well, businesses do too well.  And the only thing that is guaranteed?   More regulation.

For decades business only had three solutions:

  1. Be big enough and wealthy enough to hire your own lobbyist;
  2. Join an association, federation or chamber of commerce that represents your industry in general; or
  3. Wait until things get so bad you need to hire a lawyer (or team of lawyers) to figure it out.

But now there’s a different way you can protect your business interests.

Toyer Strategic Consulting has nearly two decades of experience helping businesses, organizations and communities comprehend, combat and comply with new or pending regulations.  We can make a difference for your business without breaking your bank account.

Contact us today for a confidential consultation on how we can assist your business.

How We Helped This Business (and Could Help Yours)

Sometimes we are the last chance to save a business from drowning in regulations.

We recently helped a small business, The Grayson, resolve a zoning compliance matter that threatened to shut them down because their c0-housing solution to long term rentals for corporate relocation clients was defined as a “hotel” despite the fact it’s a far cry from a hotel.

Since it would be incredibly difficult to walk through the intricate challenges of their situation in a single blog post, we will try to simplify it.

The Grayson was an AirBNB style co-housing rental that the owners live in.  Unfortunately, such uses (businesses) aren’t defined in the County’s code.  When a use is not defined, it’s not allowed except that the County can interpret what use it most closely resembles.

In this case, their undefined use was found to be most closely like that of a “hotels” and hotels are not allowed in the zone where our client is located.

To solve the problem, we tenaciously pursued a code interpretation that argued our client was operating a boarding house.  And upon securing that code interpretation we helped bring the client into compliance with those regulations, saving the business.

Our client was willing to let us share her thoughts on our work. . .

“Toyer’s firm has a great background and working knowledge of regulations, zoning, and code. Toyer was able to navigate the complexity of county planning department and code, succeeding in getting a resolution that kept our business from having to close. More incredible was the fact that Toyer was successful where attorneys had failed to help us with the problem.  Without Toyer Strategic’s involvement, we would have spent thousands of dollars fighting a losing battle!”  Mariam Zinn, Owner, The Grayson

We’re proud of the work our company does and what it means to small business and entrepreneurs.

Got a zoning or zoning compliance issue?  We can help. Contact us

You Don’t Know You Need Us (Until You Do)

We’re a land use and economic development company.  Most people aren’t sure what that means, but essentially we have three types of clients:

  1. Developers – we help developers get the permits and approvals then need (especially difficult ones) in a timely manner.  We also help them analyze and select locations for their projects.  We also help bridge the gaps where a jurisdiction’s policies, permits and practice don’t quite fit or are not anticipatory of a type of project.
  2. Cities/Countys/EDOs – knowing what it takes to make a project happen, we help advise communities on policies, programs and marketing so that they are more effective at getting the economic development they want.  Essentially, we help these clients get smarter, more strategic and we do it for a better cost structure than “planning” companies.
  3. Small Businesses & Individuals – zoning is one regulation that applies to every business, every non-profit and every individual, so when small businesses run into zoning challenges that are complex and political, we help them navigate to safety.  Click here for an example

Unfortunately, we frequently hear our new small business and individual clients say something like, “Wow, I didn’t even know people like you were out there. . .”

We recently helped a small business, The Grayson, resolve a zoning compliance matter that threatened to shut them down because their c0-housing solution to long term rentals for corporate relocation clients was defined as a “hotel” though it’s a far cry from such.  It would be incredibly difficult to walk through the challenges of their situation in a single blog post (so we won’t try).  But, we’d like to provide you with our client’s thoughts, which she allowed us to share:

“Toyer’s firm has a great background and working knowledge of regulations, zoning, and code. Toyer was able to navigate the complexity of county planning department and code, succeeding in getting a resolution that kept our business from having to close. More incredible was the fact that Toyer was successful where attorneys had failed to help us with the problem.  Without Toyer Strategic’s involvement, we would have spent thousands of dollars fighting a losing battle,”  Mariam Zinn, Owner, The Grayson

We’re proud of the work our company does and what it means to small business and entrepreneurs.

Got a zoning or zoning compliance issue?  We can help. Contact us

 

Plan for Success in 2019

Soon summer will be over and you’ll start planning your annual executive, council or organization retreat.  You’ll analyze your business, organization or community and carefully put together a budget and a plan for 2019.

But, is planning the same way you did last year going to yield better results?

Yes, if you avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Too Much Optimism. No one wants to be negative. And unless self appointed to the role of ‘contrarian’ no employee, board member or council person wants that title. But, if you go through a planning process where none of your conversations dive into uncomfortable territory or produced thoughtful disagreement, then you’ve got problems. Inevitably there are some sacred cows holding you back. To be truly successful, both the good and the bad have to be on the table and everyone has to be empowered and prepared to state the obvious. No pain, no gain.
  2. Cruise Control.  Like comfy pants that make you feel good or cruise control in your car, goal setting can default to what’s easy, reliable or comfortable.  But, comfortable doesn’t get you better, bigger or bolder. This year it’s time to stretch.  Set goals that you may not accomplish, but still make you look good for trying.
  3. Rephrase, Rearrange, Repeat. Your 2019 plan shouldn’t be an extension of your 2018 plan, which was an extension of your 2017 plan? When you’re planning, you should be able to look back at the plans from the last several years and see that your not stuck in the same spot.  This can help the discussion as you can often see that while you may have fallen short of a goal last year, you’ve still grown.
  4. Your Budget is Not Your Plan. Do you need a plan? Yes. Do you need a budget? Absolutely. Is a budget a plan? Not even close.  Budgets are based on a conservative picture of what could happen.  And budgets can be inflexible.  By contrast, plans shouldn’t be as conservative and they should be adaptable to changing conditions.  Tracking a line item budget month to month doesn’t measure progress, it measures restraint.

Want to accelerate your growth next year?  Contact us to facilitate your next company, organization or community retreat.