The pandemic taught us many things, including the importance of being able to run a business remotely. While orthodontists may not have been able to see patients in person and their staff had to stay home, current and past-due payments still needed to be collected to keep the bills paid.
Having a third-party payment processing system in place that is equipped to handle patient financials remotely eliminates the need for an alternate, and often inconvenient, strategy for when you and your team aren’t in the office.
- Learn the benefits of having someone manage your patient lifecycles
- Discover how practices with third-party payment systems faired during the pandemic
- Find out more about OrthoBanc's suite of services
Richie Guerzon: Hey everyone. Our Guest today is Marla Merit. Marla is Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for OrthoBanc and has been with the company since the beginning over 20 years ago. Prior to working for OrthoBanc Marla was the director of sales for an organization that sold Equifax credit files to the financial industry where she learned about risk assessment and coaching businesses on establishing appropriate payment plan parameters. She holds a bachelor's degree in both Communications and psychology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. We’re glad you can join us Marla, welcome to the show.
Marla Merritt: Thank you. Hello.
Richie Guerzon: So tell us a little bit about you and the company.
Marla Merritt: Okay, my name is Marla Merritt and I've been with OrthoBanc for 20 years. We actually started in this industry in the year 2000, and so we have- we’re very fond of the orthodontic and dental Industries. But especially our hardest with orthodontist and especially during this time. We are right there with you feeling your pain and we have some tools that really can help a practice. So I'm excited to be here today and speak about some of those.
Richie Guerzon: Awesome. So it's 20 years. Is that anniversary for you?
Marla Merritt: Yes, 2020 marks our 20th year. We had, you know, quite a few promotions planned and we were really excited about coming into this 20th year and who knew what we were coming into so we've kind of geared down the marketing for our 20th year, but it is still a big milestone for us to be celebrating our 20th Year in 2020.
Richie Guerzon: Absolutely, that's great. The year 2000 that was an interesting time to start a business and then you went all the way through 2008 and all that craziness that must have been fun.
Marla Merritt: It was an interesting time to start a business, and just kind of as a side note December 31st 1999 I was in the hospital having my fourth child. He was like right on the border. Is she going to be that Y2K baby or not? So that's kind of an interesting little fact about my children first of all.
Richie Guerzon: Congratulations. I was looking on your site and they have something called the tools for the patient Financial life cycle. What do you mean by that?
Marla Merritt: Yeah. So OrthoBanc has services that address the entire patient Financial life cycle and I'm going to show a slide right here if that's okay. It's going to share my screen for a minute because it kind of helps to have a visual. Let me see here. Okay, so I think you can see those the suite of tools that we offer for the orthodontic industry. I'm going to focus on- I'm going to kind of talk about these in the order that they came about and again, I mentioned that we started in the year 2000 and the way they OrthoBanc kind of came to be- in my intro you heard that I was working for a credit reporting agency at the time and there was actually an orthodontist. He was in the building where our office is located and he was using our credit services our credit report. Yeah, and he came out and said, you know, this is great. But he had this big long credit report to show us and he said this is great, but I don't know what it means and so he helped me make sense of it. So we actually developed the scoring module for that orthodontist to help him use these credit reports and he said, you know, this is something that my industry needs and so we began talking with him. And then he said, you know what else what else does this industry need? And so he said, you know, we need help with our payments we’re orthodontist we want to focus on treatment. We don't want to be focusing on are we getting our payments every month. And so out of those initial conversations OrthoBanc payment management was formed and some of our challenges very early on is that many practices didn't have the internet, and we decided to build our platform. I know it was it was different. So we actually built our Solution on you know, it was a web browser tool. And so that was kind of a little bit of a question in the beginning rather than a software and then we also- the whole concept that OrthoBanc is built on is drafting the monthly payment so that they happen automatically each month. So we built with OrthoBanc around this monthly payment draft and it's going to happen electronically. Well that wasn't something that a lot of consumers were familiar with and so kind of the initial conversation with orthodontist was what if they don't want me drafting their payment. Well, of course 20 years later that's not an issue at all. Yeah. We were pretty early on at the payment drafting side, but then to further round that out for a practice. Not only do we drive those monthly payments, but then we take them and we manage them. So our team will follow us on failed payment and just kind of manage that entire life cycle of the patient. Once they have their payment started. So those are our initial to services that were really built to address a need and as we were growing and building out OrthoBanc something that kind of else that came up is we really need help presenting these payment plans and the initial stages of Ortho Bank, we had this paper form that they can print out and the table and you hear your payment options at that was built into our tool originally, but as times changed and people wanted a more digital option. We developed AcceptX Pro which is our treatment of see presentation tool which is the one the tool that you see in the middle of the slide and I'll remove the slide in a minute but this just kind of helps show you how it’s kind of from beginning to end we then we have practices asking us about the point of Care Solutions. So we developed Breeze. And then iMaxx is coming soon because we continue to get practices say, “hey help us with our insurance too”. So I'm going to stop sharing the screen, but I did want to show you those tools because it just kind of helps to see that we do address the entire life cycle from where you're kind of checking on insurance where you're assessing the risk of that consumer before you offer them a payment plan. But then the two tools that have become so essential during this time our AcceptX Pro treatment and see presentation tool and OrthoBanc payment management. Okay, so let's talk about AcceptX Pro for a minute AcceptX Pro is you know- right now practices are scrambling everybody's a hopefully about to go back to their practice and they're going to be tasked with keeping the patient and responsible party in the practice for less amount of time. So they're going to need shorter appointments. They're going to be looking for ways to shorten those visits to keep patients from running into each other and fewer people in the practice. And so we feel very fortunate that we already had AcceptX Pro in place and practices, you know, we've got some experience with practices that were already using it. What AcceptX Pro does is it allows you to present treatment options as well as payment options to the patient and responsible party that can be done in the practice, you know sitting there talking to them and showing them a payment calculator built into AcceptX Pro. You can do it on a tablet, you can share in on a screen for the responsible party, on the wall. It really works however is best suited for that practice. The thing that's become so important right now is it can also be shared for viewing at home. So the responsible party can open up that presentation they can use for their payment options from home. Maybe the TC even gets on a virtual chat with them through a zoom or some sort of meeting hosted.
Richie Guerzon: A lot of the doctors are using Zoom right now while the HIPAA compliance isn't an issue.
Marla Merritt: So yeah, I wonder- it's going to be interesting to see how that plays out because I know a lot of them have adopted the zoom and I wonder how long that will be allowed to continue that'll be something really interesting to watch and so you know, but so we don't have that that video conferencing piece. But what we do is we provide that the piece that they can explore and look into their options and the payment calculators there. And so what they've determined- this is the payment plan that works for me. They can actually accept treatment from home. So there's literally a green button that says accept. And when they accept it's going to take them through electronically signing the treatment forms that the practice has so that's all customized practice can load their custom forms in there. So whether they have two forms, they typically get signed, or seven. All of those can just be digitally signed by the responsible party there. TC gets a message, “hey, they've accepted treatment,” and then can have that she can even have the financial conversation over the phone and then once they've kind of determine, you know, “yes, we're ready to move forward,” they can set up their payment plan from home as well. So you think about what you're eliminating. I actually did some interviews with some practices that had already begun to use AcceptX Pro before COVID and you know, they said so for example you’ve got those amount of patients that you've been seeing for a long time. You know that they're eventually going to start treatment with you. You’ve seen their siblings and so they come in they're ready to start, but you know, you still need to have that Financial conversation, but do that does that conversation really need to happen there? And so that's a couple of practice visit that's mixture. And so that is the practice of said they actually just say, okay you're ready to start I'm going to send you the financial information. Once you find all your forms, and you could do that at home. We will set up your payment plan and then they just move forward that way.
Richie Guerzon: That’s a no brainer especially if they've been in treatment before with other family members, they know the deal with your practice.
Marla Merritt: Yeah, that's yeah, that's someone- save your in office visits for the ones who know and those consultations where you can have to have more of a conversation, save that, and kind of free that up schedule up and move some of those out. We’re using AcceptX Pro prior to all of this they were doing the gross guidance patient. And so now they have these presentations that they've shared previously and they are able to actually present with those people that they had previously presented a presentation to so had one person say, you know, I had people who have had Invisalign scans in the last four to six months and moving ahead with those. So they're using this time to reach out to responsible billing parties and say, “hey, I know you're home. And you may be wanting to take some things off the to-do list. Your Invisalign scan is still good. Should we go ahead?” Richie are you back with us? I kind of lost my train of thought there for a minute and thought I might have to run the show by myself. So yeah, and I was just explaining that their practices are using AcceptX Pro right now to kind of manage some of the presentations that they had done previously and they’ve been able to continue to get new starts even through this time.
Richie Guerzon: Any new starts right now is just so helpful. This year, you know the revenue where it should have been and hopefully will be.
Marla Merritt: Yeah. Yeah, you know, that's kind of an interesting statistic that we can offer. We work with a lot of practices of course, and we were typically saying between nine hundred to a thousand case starts per day and that was new starts that we were starting their payment plan and the average is always somewhere between nine hundred to a thousand per day, and beginning about March 15th kind of our running average is about 63 right now. Yeah, so it's really sad to see that number go down, but it's also encouraging that there have been practices that have been able to make this work and so as I began reaching out to some of those practices that- “hey, how are you? How are you still getting these starts?” You know, a lot of them were saying we have AcceptX Pro in place. We're going back and reaching out to people who hadn't yet accepted. We're continuing our growth group guidance consultations remotely, virtually, and so they have been able to see that case start continuing.
Richie Guerzon: Yeah. I mean we have we have several clients that they didn't have time to follow up with leads that we got them in 2019 even. You know, we are always talking to them over email etc. with the whole digital thing but there's always a place to make a phone call, you know those doctors that had that kind of bank of leads of people that potentially could be starts. Hey, this is a great time to reach out and they are getting starts because you know, they had all those potentials in there.
Marla Merritt: Right. Yeah, you know, I think that some one thing that's of course an orthodontist would be concerned with so they're reaching out to leads that like you guys are providing that haven't yet been- they haven't been seen so they don't have their records yet. But you know with the photo technology now, I did talk to some of our practices that are continuing to go ahead and offer presentations. And I said, you know, what are you doing? They come in and their records show that there's quite a change and you really should have charged more right now you have this consultation with someone remotely maybe via Zoom or however you're doing that right now. With AcceptX Pro. You can go ahead and send that treatment information. AcceptX Pro includes both the treatment and the payment information. So a practice can have it kind of outlined. Here's what treatment includes, here's how long you'll be in treatment, all that written down. The practice logo, marketing information for the practice. And so once they share that presentation they can have another call- they can they can share it while they're having that initial call and say okay you should have just received an email from me, open that up, and let's talk through your treatment. Now switch to the payment details and let's talk to your payment. So that conversation can just happen right there using AcceptX Pro, and they're ready to start, let them electronically sign their forms right then.
Richie Guerzon: Yeah, and it's great because you can answer questions right then in real time. I've done that one when someone- when we have a client ready to sign off, and either send them a recorded video via soapbox, or they can go over it, or just go over with them online. It's really helpful to do that. So let's talk about the payment management. You're managing orthodontists, how exactly do you do that? Is OrthoBanc still open for business?
Marla Merritt: We are, you know, we have a team of about 40 call center agents that take phone calls from responsible parties. We also follow up on failed payments for practices. So we thought we were planning for a snow storm. We had worked through if we have to send everybody to work from home, here's what we need. So we had transitioned, everybody had a laptop. We had talked through the internet connection for different people's homes. We had a plan in case of a snow storm. We were ready to go home and work, and boy did we not know the storm that was coming. The COVID storm came, and it hit hard. The very first day that our community was saying shut it down, all of our agents were able to work from home. And so what we've been able to provide practices during this time, is a voice for these responsible parties who are you know, maybe have lost their job, who are scared. They can call us, they can reach our agents all- you know that they can chat with us. We have a responsible portal so they can actually jump online login, they can make extra payments. They can change their payment method, they can chat with one of our agents. So we're- right now the practice is managing their own payment plans and suddenly they've had to furlough their team and they don't really have anyone to fill those calls, you know, some doctors have called us and you know said, “I've been taking these phone calls at home. I don't really know what to talk about right here and so on.” Yeah because their team, you know, they don't have their team to kind of run that so we've been able to continue to manage the payments for the practices that we serve and we expected to get so many calls saying we can't make the payment this month we manage payments for about 350,000 responsible parties right now. Yes. Yeah there we had a lot and so, you know we expected the number to be really large at the people who were calling in saying can't make my payment, but so far- and we're tracking for March 15th until now- we've had about 3,500 between 35 to 3600 call us and request to defer their payment. We've had another probably twenty-five, twenty-six hundred deferred by a practice user. So we had a few practices early on that said, you know, we're just we're going to wait for payment for everybody for a month and I'm like, that's probably not a great idea. We were able to talk to a few of them and say, “you know, let's just handle it on a case-by-case basis.” So when a responsible party calls us, what we typically do is say we can defer one payment. So the end of your contract if they specifically mention that they know they're having issues because of COVID, we can differ one payment to the end of your contract and then we'll resume drafting next month. And typically they're fine with that and again overall, it's less than 2% of all responsible parties who've had a payment deferred.
Richie Guerzon: So I was just trying to do the math in my head, and I was like that is very low percentage.
Marla Merritt: Well I had to do with the calculator before we got on the phone. I don’t do math in my head.
Richie Guerzon: That’s actually a very good sign I think for the economy because when you have that much data, I mean that's just an indicator of what's going on with a lot of other businesses and families in general. So that's actually very good to hear.
Marla Merritt: Yeah. It is good to hear and we even found a- the week that the checks were first- the stimulus checks were first distributed, we started listening our call volume increase and so some of the supervisors started listening in. We record every single call that we make. And some of the supervisors began listening, and a lot of those calls were people saying you had to defer a payment and then I got the stimulus check. I want to go ahead and get caught up. So it's been pretty remarkable and I'm not saying that it's not going to- that we won't see that number increase. I believe we will. Yeah, I think people, you know, it's on the front edge of the trouble that the American public will have over this, but I think initially this is way lower than we expected and you know, we'll continue to work with them. We've had responsible parties call and say, you know, I lost my job and we think you're calling to defer payment. They said, you know, can I just reduce my payment for a few months until I'm working again. I don't want to not pay it all. So it's been really been good to be there for responsible to are worried about their orthodontic payment and you know OrthoBanc has always prided ourselves on being an extension of the practices that we serve. We know that we are the front line to represent these practices, and if we don't represent them well and they're going to lose business so that customer service mentality has really served us well throughout this because we're having a lot of you know, causes, very concerned and worried individuals and we're just able to offer that compassion and voice to kind of walk them through a what's going to happen.
Richie Guerzon: So that's so helpful to help the practice of manage their brands and know you really need someone who knows what they're doing can be empathetic and manage, you know, a lot of these emotions which I'm sure are very high right now in certain situations.
Marla Merritt: Right. They really are. It's been interesting the phone calls, you know, we have a customer service team. My team does marketing and customer service with practices. So we have a whole team that works with responsible parties. My team really works the practices and so, you know typically we’re talking to practices about our solutions or maybe they're having an IP questions or whatever but during this time, a lot of our phone calls are actually the doctors that are saying, “I don't know how to even know what money is coming next month because my team does that,” and so we've been able to- they know that it's here, it's coming but they don't know really how to get a picture because their team pulls the report and make so we've trained a lot of doctors on how to view our reports, and shown them all that their team members are doing for them on a day in day out basis too. So it's been really fun to get them to have more conversations with the doctors and begin to show them, and we've had so many reach out and just say, you know don't even know what we'd be doing right now. If we didn't have this consistent cash flow that's been a little bit of a bright light.
Richie Guerzon: I mean just a huge piece of your practice to be automated and a very important piece. I mean if I can automate anything it's cash flow. So how do you see yourself helping orthodontists to return to their practices after COVID?
Marla Merritt: So we've been receiving a lot of requests for demos for practices that were not using AcceptX Pro, and we're doing all that we can to quickly move them through the setup process. AcceptX Pro is a very individual isolation we set up the practice with custom parameters. They set their own pricing, their own discounts, their own add-ons. So we're trying to rapidly move and all the doctors who are ready to get set up for this and move them through that setup process if they have it ready to go and then like I said, you know, they're going to really need to be limiting that time in the practice so they will be able to you know, when they open their doors they'll kind of have this new workflow where they can share the presentations at home, you know, I did a presentation recently, and I showed the screen where it's like a split screen and there's mom sitting in the car and the kids and you know getting his adjustment. I think that we're going to see a lot more of that where they're just really tried to limit the number of people in the practice and so in the case of records, they're going to be able to share those at home. We've also had this one (cannot read). It's kind of interesting. They said we're wanting to do some marketing right now to get some new starts shoot up for what we open back up and they were wanting to run a special, and that was you know pay $250 now and it'll count as 500 dollars towards your down payment when you schedule after we reopen. Yeah, they're you know, they're doing some Facebook marketing like that where if they go ahead and make their down payment of X, it'll be worth this when they come in for their first day of treatment. It'll cover their down payment. So yeah, it's yeah, it's just kind of an interesting little marketing piece. So this practice contacted us and said, you know, I want you to take that payment that initial payment. So we kind of had our developers do a- they call it a hackathon. Have you ever heard of that?
Richie Guerzon: No, but it makes sense in context.
Marla Merritt: I love it. Like I want to join it, but I don't know how to do anything. But and so they developed this just a quick solution for a practice can get up to five different payment links from us. So let's say a practice wants 250, 500, 750 in the South they want those for individual payment links. They can reuse those links over and over again and we just provide the secure payment portal for them to accept that payment and that's- we use our brief solution to kind of handle that single payment, and it's just something that we put together to help practices that are wanting to market in some way where they have a link to accept some sort of payment just to kind of get that buy-in absolutely anything. And we didn’t have anything like that before where we could just accept a single payment, you know, we've always been about those long-term payment plans. And so, you know, that's just something that we worked on pretty quickly to help it out for that one practice, but we decided to offer it to all the practices that are interested in that as well. Yeah, and then of course just moving forward. We don't know what the future's going to feel like. I've got a hair sticking up. Sorry. We don't know what the future is going to hold for practices in the fall of yes, you know, it's we keep here in is this we're going to have a second round of this virus. And so I think it's really important that a practice has a managed cash flow plan in place, especially by next fall, and you know, we're really beginning to have these conversations with practices that thought before, you know, I'll just manage these payments myself that are kind of second-guessing that right now.
Richie Guerzon: Oh so that's what you mean by manage cash flow. Someone else is managing it for you.
Marla Merritt: Oh, yeah. Yeah because even if they could have had a recurring payment plan, you know, there are other solutions where it sets it up to draft automatically, but they still require their team to manage that if the payment fails or if the responsible party calls and says, hey the money's not there, can you draft it in two weeks? Well if your practice is closed and you don't have anyone to take those all those phone calls right now, you know, how are you managing that, and that is- that's truly the solution that we bring for a practice.
Richie Guerzon: It's just fully managed to take care of all of it, I think that's huge. I mean, I think a lot of practices are going to look- looking for a lot of ways to Outsource. A lot of what the team is doing just to make sure that in situation like this. They know it's being managed properly. I know a lot of our clients are so happy that they have us because they're just so- they can just lean on us all day. We're all working from home, we’re digital, that's how we've always been. Literally just took my computer to the house.
Marla Merritt: Yeah, you know I was speaking to a consultant, Liz Conforti, and she mentioned to me that she, you know, she said habits are forming right now. So you've got this the general public that was already leaning toward probably a little too much technology in their day. Yeah, and now they've been sent home, and like me as an example, I sit in front of my computer 8 to 10 hours a day at my dining room table. And so how is so that's what so many consumers are doing right now and it's going to be very important that the orthodontic practice meets them where they live, and you're going to see more people working from home you're going to you know, and when I'm working from home, I had more flexibility to run out and do things than when I was at my office and had a true lunch hour, you know you get involved in your day at home, and you're not running those errands as much.
Richie Guerzon: Oh absolutely, I’m saving over an hour driving. I just got my garage finally cleaned up, and set up my workout equipment. So I'm like, oh I could just go out there and take care of business. That's great.
Marla Merritt: Yeah I tackled the photo project, you know, all those pictures that you used to get printed, and they just stacked up. But I would do that and put them in a photo album.
Richie Guerzon: I think it will be good for everyone to kind of organize their life. Like I feel like what they say when your house is cluttered your mind is cluttered like I feel that. When I finished that garage, it had been really messed up like a year and it's like wow. It makes you feel more organized.
Marla Merritt: And that's what I mean. I just think that so many people have seen that, you know by not driving into work every day and that commute you're going to see more and more people working from home, more and more people that are just wanting to as much as possible have you know to take care of things remotely and we're going to continue to evolve our products to work with that more and more. We had no idea how important it was going to become, and we had begun to work on that solution, and then bam. And it's been really- we've been doing a lot of demos and we get every demo- you get a few more suggestions and a few more thoughts on how this could be better and, you know, cataloging all of those suggestions and putting them in the backlog to make it better and better because we know it’s very important that the solution evolved to meet the changes that we're facing.
Richie Guerzon: Great advice. Is there anything else you want to share with the audience?
Marla Merritt: Well, maybe I could talk pricing?
Richie Guerzon: Yeah, totally everyone wants to know that.
Marla Merritt: you know, OrthoBanc has really worked to keep our Solutions very simple and affordable, you know, you get a lot of bang for the money that you spend with us. So the way that our- let's kind of start with our practice management and we'll work backwards from there. We completely manage a payment plan for the life cycle of that patient from the day they start until their balance is zero. And the starting price is $35 for the life of that patient. Okay, if you're buying in packages, so most practices will buy 400 starts a year. So they'll buy a package of four hundred and the more you buy, the less you pay. So most of our practices are spending somewhere 30 to 31 dollars per account. Okay, and that's for the life of that patient. So just think about you know, the we're going to draft their payment each month. We're going to follow up on all sales payments. We're going to get those expired credit card and get the new expiration dates for credit cards. We're going to provide the chat feature for them, the portal where they can change their payment method, and make extra payments. So all of that is included and wrapped up in that one price per patient. If we're drafting from their checking account, that's it and we're drafting from their credit card, and then you also pay the credit card fee associated with that. So it's a little bit more expensive for credit cards. And so that's how our payment management works, and it's just all encompassing. You know, one thing I didn't mention about our payment management is that the payment due also posts directly to most of the practice management system so Cloud Nine, Dolphin Management, OrthoII, all of those have a an integration with OrthoBanc that allows those payments to also post. So again, one less thing that you have to worry about in your practice.
Richie Guerzon: I mean, that’s so nice because a lot of software does not work with a lot of patient management systems like from a marketing point of view, but I hear about a lot of my clients.
Marla Merritt: Yeah, and again, that goes back to our 20 years. We've had these integrations with the majority of those software vendors and we have others with other vendors as well, but we've had those going back. Some of them since 2005 and so, you know, we got on and on the front end of those integrations pretty early and they're really great innovations to post those payments back. So that one price per patient includes all of that. And so it's all the management you're doing. It's all just wrapped in that price and then AcceptX Pro is if you're just using it by itself without OrthoBanc management it's a 100 and 99 a month. If you're using it with OrthoBanc payment management, then it's 149 from that. Okay, and so if you kind of wrap that together and you know, AcceptX Pro from AcceptX Pro, you can set their payment plan up on OrthoBanc directly from there they really work very well together and you get the discount for AcceptX Pro if you're using our management. So that's how that works. A minute ago I mentioned that there was something else I want to share. I mentioned credit cards and it just kind of triggered a thought. One thing we've been watching is failure rates as well. And yeah, so typically when we draft payments, if we're drafting ACH say about 2% of the payments will fail, and if we're drafting from a credit card, it's more like about 8%. And so you know, that doesn't mean that it's terminated. Again, if it fails we're reaching out, we're following that, so this is what a practice would be experiencing if they were drafting from a checking account or a credit card. So those are those initial primary drives 2% to 8%. The average kind of all in is somewhere around 5.5%, and we have not seen that failure rate go up through this whole process.
Richie Guerzon: Oh really? That's a huge indicator right there. That's surprising.
Marla Merritt: And again, we're still watching it because we know we're on the front end of when this really begins to affect people's, you know that they have lost their job. But so far our failure rates are about even with where they have been previously and so that's really good, you know mentioning the ACH versus credit card, your credit cards you have lost or stolen cars Etc. And so that would be happening at the practice were managing and then what happens they have to reach out to the responsible party. They have to get that new credit card number in there, taking it over the phone, you know where we have a secure portal that the patient can log in and do all that. So it just really takes a lot of those steps that you don't even see them think about day in, day out, but they really add up in the time that the staff spends managing those payments.
Richie Guerzon: Every little administrative tasks, anything you can take out. So it sounds like you'd prefer someone who's ACH, do you have any recommendations? When are they choosing which credit card ACH and you have any recommendations for that?
Marla Merritt: Yeah, so that that conversation was happening up front in the practice with the financial coordinator, and what we would recommend is that we had kind of a script where they would say, “we're going to draft your monthly payment automatically each month.” But if you know, if you want to take advantage of our free office payment plan, we're going to be drafting your payment each month from your checking account. I'll just need a checking account and routing number so only mentioning the checking account and not mentioning that credit card. And a lot of times, that's their only choice. So okay well, but you know, they think that's their only choice and processes that if they did come and say can you draft from a credit card instead? Some of our practices will say we can, but we charge a $150 book keeping fee we'd recommend debit cards. We have other practices that will say we're going to draw from your checking account or credit card. And if we draft from your checking account, we're going to give you a $150 discount. So there's just different ways that you can kind of do that. Some practices will not accept credit cards at all, they only do the ACH. So it's just a preference of the practice, do they want to accept credit cards? Do they want to offer a discount for ACH? We don't recommend offering charging more for credit cards. There's some states where it's kind of sticky whether or not you can charge more for credit cards. But when you discount the ACH that tends to work.
Richie Guerzon: That makes sense. I think that's a good way to go about it. Just because you have a thousand, two thousand people, you can get the majority of them ACH. They see a chance of significance.
Marla Merritt: Yeah. Well, you've got two benefits there. Number one, it saves the practice money. And then number two your failure rates are going to just be less. And I think the primary reasons less people watch their checking account. You know, they don't want their ACH draft failing because then their bank is going to hit them with fees. So that's monitored a lot more closely. We're more likely to get a call from someone saying please don't draft this week. The money's not there. So we can have an arrangement with the practices that we serve, that as long as they're only wanting to move that payment out for two weeks. It will do it without asking the practice. But if they want to go beyond two weeks, then we reach out and say, are you okay with this?
Richie Guerzon: Oh, that's really smart because that's yet another thing that you're managing for them without having to have a whole conversation to figure stuff out and get the staff. You have a decent amount of viewers right now. If you guys have any questions use our chat, and we'll have our guest answer them. So, is there anything else on your mind you want to talk about?
Marla Merritt: I can't think of anything. I feel like I've talked about a lot of stuff. We do have our exact solution as well. And that's probably a whole other webinar. Should a practice consider risk assessment before they offer a payment plan? And you know, that credit scoring will- that is and that's where my background was, and our president as well, before we started OrthoBanc in the year 2000. So we have a lot of experience in putting risk assessment together. Our module was developed but also about (Paul dholki?) the consultant and kind of different school of thought should use risk assessment or not. But I think that we're going to have some practices right now saying maybe I should consider that again.
Richie Guerzon: People are probably having significant changes to their credit right now.
Marla Merritt: Yeah, and so, you know, what kind of the typical school of thought with credit grades is if you keep your credit score high always, even if you're presented with troubled times, you're going to you know, you're going to work things through and as best as possible keep your credit score good, and continue to make your payments. So, you know, it's just an added measure for you to kind of know the measure before you know the risk, before you determine. Look at it this way, if that person comes in and they're pretty high risk and you know, you want that case start but maybe Invisalign is a lot more costly for your practice. So maybe that particular patient can only get Invisalign if they pay a higher down payment. Otherwise, they qualify for traditional braces, you know, there's different ways that it can be used to still get that case start but also lower your risk.
Richie Guerzon: Okay. Is there any practice that's too small for the service?
Marla Merritt: No, what we recommend is a practice that is just starting out if you get OrthoBanc in place very early on, then as you grow and need more and more team members, you're not going to need them as quickly because we're taking so many of those administrative tasks off that the small team that you'll be starting with. So yeah just really keeps you from having to grow as fast. Our minimum package, you know, I told you we sell, it’s 35 or less per patient and we do require that a practice purchases 50 to get started as long as they're continuing to set up accounts with us, as they get new starts, those aren't going to expire so those will just be there to use. And so there really is no practice that’s too small.
Richie Guerzon: So what's the onboarding process for practice that wants to get started on those?
Marla Merritt: So what we recommend that we do is have some paperwork because we are touching bank account. So, you know, we have to meet PCI standards, you know, there's just a lot of regulations that we have to meet. Also we sell the credit recommendation. So there's other standards there. So our initial paperwork is you know, you got to work through it a minute. But what we recommend is get that part of it completed as soon as possible once we have the paperwork we can get a practice started in just a few days, and get their training schedule. So typically once we have the paperwork, we can get them on our training calendar within just a couple weeks. AcceptX Pro can sometimes be a little bit longer because the practice really needs to give us their okay on this is what I want it to look like. We're customizing it for each practice. So what I would recommend right now, you know that we have quite a few offices they're ready to get set up for this. So the sooner you contact us and get the paperwork in, the sooner we can get you on our training calendar. But we do all our training remotely, and you don't pay extra for the training and you know, it's just where we can move through those trainings pretty quickly.
Richie Guerzon: I got you. So what if someone is using a different service right now and they want to change, how do you help them through that transition process?
Marla Merritt: Yeah, you know if somebody else is using a service that's already drafting their monthly payments as recurring monthly drafts, those payment methods have been stored securely and most likely you're not going to be able to get at those payment methods. So there's a couple of options some practices will do a complete conversion of all of those accounts and they'll reach out to the responsible parties to get the payment method again, kind of a pain, but right now while you know, if a practice is not seen patients, this could be where they may have a little bit more time for that. But it's you know, it's just kind of a PPP money and you need to give the snap something to do perfect. Yeah, but you know, it's a pain to have to gather those payment lessons again. So a lot of practices will say I'm going to keep at in place for the ones that were already on that system and I'm just going to use OrthoBanc from this point forward, you know, that's perfectly fine. That's one way to address it. We will if you're going to do a conversion, so let's say you have two hundred accounts drafting with someone else you're going to do a conversion. We’ll price as a little bit less than the full price for the fully-managed case, so we can help through that process. It's just, I won't lie, it's kind of a pain to get those payment methods.
Richie Guerzon: I can I can imagine. Well, at least you're helping through the process for sure.
Marla Merritt: We’ll help in any way we can.
Richie Guerzon: Well Marla, I think that's it. I was really great talking to you. I learned a lot.
Marla Merritt: Awesome. Well, it's great to talk to you, and I do want to say if anybody's interested in hearing more about us, firstname.lastname@example.org, and again, so far we have not had to furlough. We have a hundred and ten employees and you know, orthodontics is our industry. So it's been a little bit rough over the last- but we know that it's really important that we keep these people in place to manage the payments for the practices that are coming in. So we do have a full team waiting there take your call.
Richie Guerzon: Perfect. All right. Well, thanks for your time and take it easy and stay safe out there.
Marla Merritt: Okay, great to talk to you. Thank you.