After surging upward for quite some time, the U.S. economy came to a grinding halt with the implementation of shelter-in-place orders across the nation. The U.S. government quickly responded by drafting and passing the CARES Act to provide trillions of dollars of economic relief to Americans. As small businesses, orthodontic offices can take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) initiated by the CARES Act, which provides forgivable loans so businesses can maintain payroll and cover some expenses.
However, between the uncertainty on the horizon and the confusion surrounding receiving funds from the CARES Act, many orthodontists are understandably confused about how to move forward. COO of Engaged Practice Growth Specialists Manon Newell provides guidance on how orthodontic practices can best make use of loans they qualify for.
- Discover the importance of being well-informed on COVID-19 related legislation before taking out a loan
- Learn the benefits of taking the time to have a "morning huddle" with your staff
- Understand your options when it comes to staffing during this time
Richie Guerzon: Hey guys, this is Rich from Ortho Sales Engine. We had a great meeting today. We had a special guest Mannon Newell from Engaged Practice Growth Specialist. She has a ton of knowledge on the legislation that's coming. She can tell you about the disaster SBA loan versus the SBA loan that's going to be coming up after the legislation is passed. She's read about a quarter of the 800 pages of legislation now, so she has a bunch of notes she is sharing with us today. We answered a bunch of attendee questions we're talking layoffs verus furloughs, how do you do part-time people work? And should they be in the office tons of questions about how you need to operate your business right now and a lot of knowledge is going to help you make some super important decisions over the next coming days and weeks. So, let's get going. I think you're going to love it and I'll see you soon. The contents of this recording are not intended as legal advice rather general advice concerning the COVID pandemic and how it relates to dental and orthodontic practices. Hey everyone. Thanks for coming to this live consulting session with Ortho Sales Engine today. We have a special guest Mannon Newell from Engaged Practice Growth Specialists. I can't wait to hear what she has to say. She has a lot of knowledge about the legislation that's a moving Target right now. Let's get started. Mannon, why don't you just let us know a little bit about you and Engaged and then get going on the questions here.
Mannon Newell: So, my name is Mannon Newell for those of you that are joining us today. That don't know me. I'm a partner at Engaged Practice Growth Specialist. We are orthodontic consultants and we work with orthodontic practices across the spectrum of their businesses really from training their staff to working with financials and insurance and we do strength development with all of our teams, which is really a topic for another day I think it's a could be a whole other webinar to explain what all that entails. I also have a background in the law. I went to law school and I worked in appellate courts employment law happened to be a specific interest of mine. So, I consult with our clients on legal issues that they have I should also get the disclaimer that today's topic is really not legal advice, but just general advice about the pending legislation.
Richie Guerzon: Perfect. So, before we get into the legislation, we were talking the other day and you mentioned the importance of a morning huddle, and I thought that was really interesting. So, talked about in theory why are we doing the morning huddle. What's the purpose of doing that every day? Why is it important?
Mannon Newell: yeah, so over the past two weeks, I think we're all in the same boat, which is the sort of feels like we're living a little bit in a dream, right and it's not happening and everyone all small businesses and especially, you know, the dental industry and orthodontist and particular have been hit very hard by this. Many of them have been mandated to close by their states or were on stay-at-home orders and that necessitated some really quick decisions about what we would do with staff and I will say this is a little bit of I'm going to circle back around to morning huddle, Richie. I'm kind of going off on a tangent but I'll say that for all of our clients the discussions that we had with them regarding how they would take care of their staff during this time. They were really gut-wrenching decisions for both us and for our clients every single one of them wanted to make sure that their staff was taken care of and also, at the same time trying to scramble to figure out how do we maintain the viability of the practice so that everyone has a job to come back to and so, you know the decision to lay staff off in the short term I think was a good one in order to maintain cash reserves and to preserve the viability of practice and I would say without exception that staff members also felt that that was in the best interest of the practice because you know, I can only speak for our practices, but I know that the employees on the teams and our practices love their jobs love their teams and you know want to be able to get back to work as soon as it's possible and it's safe.
Richie Guerzon: Yeah, so that's really the benefit of having an Engaged team that cares about the practice as a whole
Mannon Newell: Exactly. I mean, these are people that love coming to work every day and they're very passionate about their patients and passionate about what they do in the practice. And so you know the decision to temporarily lay off staff was with the idea that everyone would come back as soon as the office was able to operate and then the question becomes how do we stay connected? Because these groups of people are very close. They work in very tight teams and depend on one another every day in a very demanding and busy environment and so off the top of you know our heads and all of our doctors were on board was to do some kind of virtual huddle. I mean by huddle is the way that we start our day every day, you know, it's how we talk about what the day ahead of us. Looks like how we're going to get through it together how we're going to pull on our own strength and the strength of her teammates that day and so, you know faced with what's going on people feel isolated and disconnected. They have their own personal financial concerns about job stability. So, kind of the last thing that you want is for people to feel isolated at a time like this and we like the idea of maintaining that morning huddle, whether you move it to once a week and make it sort of one big huddle to connect or you continue doing it on a daily basis. It's a nice time just to connect with everyone to touch base and it kind of reminds everyone of the overarching goal that the whole team has which is to get back to work and to get back to being part of that team. I think at this time
it's also a great support system because different members of the team are going to be dealing with a lot of different personal issues as well that they may need to discuss.
Richie Guerzon: Yeah, we were just having a meeting with one of my clients this morning. She was saying how all the different team members are reacting differently. Some of them just want to be at work and get work done and they feel great about it that just say they're worried about that. Can I come to work and at least be working because that's what I want. And others are saying Oh, I can kind of take off here and there and they're not as engaged and that's kind of pointing out those issues that she didn't even know were there are you know, it's kind of coming to the surface now.
Mannon Newell: Exactly. I mean, I think we're all learning and are going to continue to learn a lot from what's going on and we're really still just kind of I was talking to a client yesterday and I said, it's like we're just at the top of the slide we haven't been pushed down yet. So, we're kind of still teetering there and I think we've already learned a lot but I think the personal growth and professional growth that's going to come out of this is the real silver lining. Just you know, the fact that over the past week all of these conversations with my clients have been you know, really tended with emotion and caring and wanting to make sure that they're doing the right thing for their team and their patients and that's been very inspirational to me and I'm you know, I feel fortunate to be part of those conversations and to be able to help make decisions that are helping other people.
Richie Guerzon: Yeah. Absolutely. It's nice to be considered as part of the team too. That's how our clients are because we do so much for them. These times are showing it. All right, so I know I'm going to want to talk about the legislation. That's definitely a moving Target, isn't it?
Mannon Newell: I was hoping it would be passed for sure.
Richie Guerzon: What's going on, what should we know?
Mannon Newell: Yeah. I want to kind of give the disclaimer that the legislation has been in various forms throughout this week and the form that's being sent back to the house to be signed into Law, which will probably happen tomorrow is 880 Pages. Excuse me. In its final form. And so, the first thing I did this morning I got up and I've gotten through the first 200 pages. I have a lot of notes here because obviously I'm not able to commit that amount of information to memory right off the bat, which is why this is going to be a sort of general advice about the legislation that's coming and how it's going to be able to help small businesses and in particular Orthodontic practices. How it's going to offer additional benefit in relief to your staff that may be either furloughed or laid off at this time. And then to remember that even once this is signed into law, all legislation goes to different regulatory bodies. And then those regulatory bodies will start to interpret and lay down the infrastructure for you know, like for instance the SBA Loans that everyone wants to know about that are going to be in part forgivable and so we are going to have to be patient in terms of waiting for those parts of the equation to fall into place so that we know exactly how and when we start applying for the loans, when you can expect disbursement. Some of that is laid out in the text of the bill. But again, we have to wait to see how it gets implemented in reality.
Richie Guerzon: Yes. So, you're saying it can be interpreted slightly differently than how we might interpret it reading it by the different reading it?
Mannon Newell: Well, I think that the layperson actually reading the legislation could be overwhelming because it you know, like any sort of legal writing if you're not familiar with it. It can be easy to interpret and to know how it's supposed to be construed. The other thing that's going on right now that I'll just touch on is I'm in various, you know, Facebook groups industry groups and they're awesome and there are a lot of really smart people out there that are giving advice and helping free of charge and I think that's awesome. But one of the things that I see is that the comment sections so someone will give some you know, pretty good advice based on what we know today, which is all we can do we can only talk about what we know today and not get too far out ahead of ourselves. The comment sections just will literally blow up and people are panicking about a number of things that I would say kind of everyone take a deep breath. We're all home right now for a reason. All of these business things are important, but I think if everyone can wait to take, you know legitimate direct direction as it becomes available, the process is going to be much more calm. We're not running out of money. There's no need to like make the application for the loan, you know retroactive or put you know, everybody is like, oh I need to get this loan in right now and I would just say…
Richie Guerzon: that is the general sentiment from what I've seen, yeah.
Mannon Newell: Exactly and I would say just you know, take a breath because as of right now the loans that you can apply for our the SBA disaster loans that are always available anytime a disaster has been declared anywhere in the country. Those loans are different than the loans that you know are in the legislation from last night.
Richie Guerzon: So there is legislation that will be very specifically tailored to this exact situation?
Mannon Newell: Exactly. So, the new SBA loan is related directly to covid-19. It essentially will function as a grant rather than a loan because the loan will be forgiven. I think it's being done this way because going through the loan process will require small business owners to present certain information to the lender in order to show what our let's just I'll break down quickly. What is covered in the loan that's going to be forgivable. So, average payroll expense.
They’ll look at over the past 12 months the average payroll expense and multiply that times 2 and 1/2. Everyone is kind of worried. Like if I laid my staff off is that going to decrease the amount in our average payroll expense? There is, that was considered in the legislation and there is a waiver on that. So, as long as staff is brought back within the covered period which I actually have a question and it may just require me reading it a couple of times or seeing how it is interpreted. But currently the covered period for these loans is from February 15th to June 30th. So, I think what would happen is if staff has been laid off for two weeks or a month. They're not going to be looking at your payroll from the time obviously that people have been laid off because your payroll is probably dropped to next to nothing. The other things that are going to be covered in this refundable loan would be expenses that are related to premiums for group health insurance. If you offer those benefits in your practice, they will be covering interest or payments on mortgages related to the business rent a release expenses interest on any debt that the practice has incurred since February 15th through that covered period again, which will be the June 30th. The other would be utilities and that would also include your internet but any utility expense that you have related to the practice, so quite broad use…
Richie Guerzon: If you're using your line of credit right now for instance to make payroll. You're possibly going to get that it will be forgiven?
Mannon Newell: I believe so, yes, and I think those are the things like when I say this will go to regulatory bodies and they will be kind of giving us more direction on you know what's covered. There are people who have maintained their staff to this point and they may be using an existing line of credit to help them cover payroll. So yes, I believe that it would probably be a wash because you would be using your you abusing the amount on the loan based on your average payroll expense. And so, if you've used an existing line of credit to this point to cover payroll then moving forward when you start to pick up production, you may cover a month of payroll through this forgivable portion of the loan. So, does that does that answer that question?
Richie Guerzon: Yeah.
Mannon Newell: So, the other some of the other questions that I been seeing have been directly related to the unemployment benefits, which I think are an amazing thing actually for our staff right now. This legislation is also covering an additional $600 on however your individual states calculate your unemployment rate week. It's adding on to that an additional $600. There's been concern about that coming from some places that maybe people would be getting unemployment benefits that exceed what they make at their jobs. And so, that would become a deterrent to returning to work and well, I you know my response to that. I feel that it's great support for all of our staff members who have had to be furloughed or laid off. I also think that you know, these unemployment benefits are good for four months as opposed to the normal three months. So, there is an extension on that but also unemployment is temporary and all of the staff members that I work with and know really can't wait to get back.
Richie Guerzon: That's what I was just thinking. If you have the right team, they wouldn't.
Mannon Newell: Exactly, because it's a career, you know, and unemployment is short-term. I'm glad to see that there's additional help, you know because the original unemployment amounts are pretty difficult for people to try to cover their existing expenses on so for me, I'm really happy to see some stress relief for all of the people that I know that are currently, you know, currently in this situation and having to take unemployment benefits for the for the short term. So, I think that's actually that represents a good thing.
Richie Guerzon: So, should you lay off the team now or wait? What would be your advice?
Mannon Newell: You know for us and I feel like in everything that I have been reading over the past week, especially with the dental industry or any other like, you know, Healthcare type industry where the offices are effectively closed. Most people have already laid off or furloughed their staff. Yeah, I would say we don't know when we're coming back. I know that states have given people directions that April 6th I think is in Ohio. I don't know where you are. Have they actually closed?
Richie Guerzon: Yeah. Charleston doesn't have to around Charleston our client in Colorado, they right now until the 15th they can open on the 15th as of right now. So around April right now.
Mannon Newell: So, I think like, you know from the beginning this has been a very fluid situation. I think it's optimistic to think that we would be back in full swing anytime in April, that's my opinion. It's just what I've been told.
Richie Guerzon: I'm sure everyone loves to hear that opinion. I know you're probably right.
Mannon Newell: Yeah. I just I think if we look at historically what's happened with this virus and other areas of the country and the amount of time that it takes to so-called flatten the curve. Yeah. I don't think we're I mean, we're still trending on our upward. I mean we haven't even picked here yet.
Richie Guerzon: So yeah, that trend is definitely pointing aggressive exactly.
Mannon Newell: You know, I think that it will be probably closer to May before we start seeing patients in any sort of regular fashion. Of course, our doctors are going to have emergency patients that they will see, you know on an as-needed basis, but in terms of a regular patient load it's going to be a while and so, you know my question and this is something I think that we can connect on next week and talk more about when we know more, you know to me I'm thinking almost that since the covered period is running to June 30th. I think we're going to be seeing patients in regular fashion by June. So, it may make sense to maintain employees on layoff or for furlough for several weeks or having them do like a partial. I know a lot of our clients are doing partial unemployment where their employees are working a certain number of hours per week taking care of, you know the things that absolutely have to be taken care of every day.
Richie Guerzon: Yeah, let's talk about that. So, hundred percent layoff partial and furlough. What are the difference, and pros and cons between those?
Mannon Newell: So, the main differences without kind of getting down into the nitty-gritty if you are a practice that offers group health insurance benefits the term furlough and they're effectively the same furlough and layoffs are effectively the same. It's really an issue of semantics. I think if they're furloughed the employer can continue to pay their health benefits, which of course is what you would want to do. Otherwise, it leaves the employee in a position where they would have to pick up Cobra coverage which is extremely expensive. But an employee that's been furloughed is also able to collect full on insurance benefits unemployment insurance benefits. So, either way the only clients I have that have furloughed their employees or those that do have those extra benefits in their practice. In terms of partial unemployment and working partial hours, it really depends on your state law and that's something that you would need to look up on your unemployment website in your own state. I'm pretty familiar with a lot of States. So, I think most of my clients and myself we've looked at all of those in the states where they practice and figured out what the rules are and some it's you know, they can work up to 50% of what their normal hours were and others it's 20% So it really depends and then when they file every week for their benefits they take they will take the average of the numbers of hours that they worked in that week and it will just be counted against the unemployment benefit but then the practice will obviously be paying at the normal pay rate for the hours that that employee worked. And before we move on from this I just have to add to this really quickly. This isn't anything that I've experienced with my clients, but it's something that I've seen in a lot of the forums over the past couple of weeks because there are critical functions that have to be covered in the offices and I you know, sometimes I think to my clients chagrin I always have to look at things through illegal lens. It's just it's my training and my background and one of the things that keep coming up in some of these forms is you know, I'm only allowed to work five hours per week per my state unemployment insurance guidelines. However, my employer is essentially asking me to work much more than that.
Richie Guerzon: Oh really?
Mannon Newell: So, I would caution everyone even on the morning huddle. So, anything that you're doing to stay connected to your staff during this time where they're technically on lay off, all of those connections obviously have to be voluntary and all of the teams that I know are going to show up because they want to be there and you know, they want to be connected to the practice and their team but you have to be really careful just it's just good business and legal advice to be very careful not to request things of your employees that have that amount to asking them to work without being paid. And it can be really easy I think without even meaning to I don't even think that it's always, you know, something that an employer is even thinking that they're doing by sending, you know, a little tiny assignment and saying hey watch this video or do this CE class but that does amount to asking them to work without pay so I would just be very mindful when you're sending out communication with your staff to make sure that you're not crossing over that line during this time.
Richie Guerzon: Gotcha. What would you say the keyword as I should Google if I'm trying to find out what the maximum?
Mannon Newell: If you're trying to find out the maximum number of hours that they can work. So, I would go directly to your state unemployment website, and there they you can like I'm always a big fan of if you're on your phone the find on page function. I don't know if everyone knows how to use that either the find on page function or the Ctrl F if you're on a regular website, and I would just type in partial unemployment. Or just even the word partial and you'll hit on whatever section of your unemployment guidelines will talk specifically or speak specifically to that element of having employees that are working a limited number of hours.
Richie Guerzon: We have a couple questions if you want to address them now.
Mannon Newell: Yeah. Sure.
Richie Guerzon: From Michael. We just ceased patient care one week ago and have still been working with most of our theme for this past week. None of been furloughed many have applied. Unemployment coverage but none are definitely laid off. We just heard from Utah's Governor that are that were out till April 25th. Once the bill passes assuming it does who can best advise me what to do?
Mannon Newell: So, this is one of those questions I can tell you what I think I would do currently which from a business standpoint is, you know, when we don't have production coming in we have to for the sake of the business, which is ultimately for the sake of you know, our team to have a place of employment for them to come back to, we have to think about conserving cash and maintaining the viability of the business. So, my current understanding and Michael can feel free to contact me if he wants to go to our Facebook page or our website, my contact information is there. My current recommendation would be to lay the staff off so that they can get their unemployment benefits because you won't be seeing patients. Now you can also again take advantage of your State's partial unemployment benefits because I know I'm not sure if you're a dentist or an orthodontist, but a dentist will probably especially be seeing more emergency patients than orthodontist. I would assume I also would assume that you know, most of their procedures are what I would consider high risk procedures when we're dealing with an Airborne type of virus like the Coronavirus so they will have to have staff, you know available for them for those procedures to be able to come in the office and assist but yeah, I think I do think in the short term as long as it's under the covered period and again, there's a little bit of a question mark in my mind about the rehire date for staff in order to qualify for the forgiveness in the loan. They define the covered period as February 15th of this year to June 30th of this year. My understanding is that if staff is hired back at the same if your payroll is at the same level that it was prior to this event by June 30th, you are then in compliance with the legislation and the amounts of money that you're using in the loan are going to be able to cover those payroll expenses for the amount covered which is the two and a half times. That's my best understanding. Again, I think we should do this next week as we see, you know, more details come out about how this is going to be administered to small businesses.
Richie Guerzon: Well, I think let's look at another question. What if they are still being paid and not on unemployment can they still take care of duties at the office if the social distance is respected?
Mannon Newell: So, that's going to depend a believe on the state that you're in. You know, I think there's an argument that any Dental any healthcare provider could probably be considered essential services. At this time, even if you're under, you know, estate sort of State, you know, shelter-in-place order. My personal opinion on that is I don't like the idea of the social distancing in the office right now unless it's critical. So, if you have an emergency patient that absolutely has to be seen. Otherwise, I'm you know to me the majority of daily operations that still have to occur. I'm having a hard time thinking of many that can't be done remotely.
Mannon Newell: Yes, the doctor could handle emergencies in the office just right now.
Mannon Newell: And so, I've advised my clients an orthodontic practices, you know, the majority of emergency appointments. They see can likely be handled just by the doctor now there will be you know outliers where they will need an assistant and that's okay. This isn't any different than you know, because people have asked that question like should I have staff sign? Essentially like a waiver of liability for exposure within the office and I would say no because people can't waive their rights like that. It might make someone feel better to have them sign that but at the end of the day, you know worker’s compensation claims are not going to be any different in this situation than they would be with any other situation except that I think, you know, there can be some argument for if it's obviously traceable. I think it would be hard to prove but still could be obviously traceable to the office. If somebody were to contract the virus for instance. You had an emergency patient come in and then that patient calls four days later and says I have to inform you, you know, I've been diagnosed I've tested positive for the virus. And then if the doctor and staff member shortly thereafter were the test positive, I think that opens up some questions about, you know, worker’s compensation claims. So, my best advice would be to avoid having multiple employees in the office if you have people coming in. So maybe you have someone coming in daily to check the mail, you know, if they're coming to post checks that maybe you're getting still paper checks in the mail and someone has to get those into post those I would say to stagger employees and as much as possible. So maybe you have someone coming in that's checking voicemail and returning calls which again could be done remotely. But if you're going to have someone coming to the office and do it, then I would have say, you know, I would have stringent infection protocols in place to wipe down keyboards phones any surface that another employee is going to later come into the office and come into contact with so just common sense disinfection and staggering employees. I think it's the best way to handle that right now until we move kind of past where we are.
Richie Guerzon: Yeah, that makes sense. I think I'll answer the rest of the questions at the end as want to make sure we get through everything. Do you have to pay PTO? What is the situation there?
Mannon Newell: So, this you know, I think that this situation represents what we're in sort of uncharted territory, right? I mean this is not normal. So, a lot of this sort of normal rules that I would think of as applying if we terminate an employee or an employee otherwise separates from us, we would pay out there PTO depending on what your state laws are regarding that and also depending on what your policy manual says because many policy manuals they can't change the law in terms of giving people less than what the law requires but oftentimes policy manuals will give employees more than what the law requires in terms of paying out PTO. So, if an employee asks to be paid out there PTO on separation, which a layoff is technically a separation even if temporary then you would be required to pay that out. In this case where I'm saying, I think we're kind of you know outside of normal bounds. Yeah, for sure. The majority of employees are wanting to bank and save their PTO to be able to come back to that because what's going to happen at least in my mind what's going to happen is, you know, when we're able to start seeing patients again, there's going to be a huge influx upfront. There are going to be patients that have been waiting to be seen for a month or longer. There will also be you know parents who are waiting to get braces on their children or were you know looking to do that when all this happened. I think we're going to see really quite a packed schedule in probably the first month back from this and then I think that it's going to be you know, there's going to be a slow down likely because of the economic impact. So, I think that I think we're going to be on a little bit of a roller coaster honestly for the rest of this year. I think we're going to see peaks and valleys in terms of how busy our offices are and so what was the question about?
Richie Guerzon: Do we have to pay the PTO? We would normally have to pay the PTO.
Mannon Newell: I would say in this case, I see with my clients you know, we've already been talking about how we're going to fill in the schedule for days or weeks that had been previously blocked out this year will now be opening up those days which means that there are going to be periods over, you know, the remainder of this year where our practices are going to be slammed, and just the I think the emotional toll of the whole this whole experience from what started a few weeks ago to what's going to happen in the coming months. A lot of employees are going to want to maintain their PTO so that they can take time off.
Richie Guerzon: Yeah, that's true. So maybe you would you ask the employee their preference?
Mannon Newell: So normally yes, we have to pay the PTO but right now but I don’t know how to phrase this. I think most employees are aware of what's in their policy manual. So, if they feel that they need PTO right now, I think that they will ask for that because they know that that's available to them. My experience in the past couple of weeks is that most people did not want to take their PTO because it would reduce any unemployment insurance benefits gotcha. But if you took two weeks of your PTO you would not receive unemployment for those two weeks and plus you wouldn't you would have it already and then you’re essentially you're burning up your PTO and you'll have nothing left later in the year. And now that I think they're calling it unemployment on steroids. Now that that's phasing in and then there will also be individual relief checks. That's also part of this legislation for I think it's $1200 for adults %500 children checks. They're saying will be going out in the next three weeks. So, with the kind of beefed up unemployment in addition to the relief checks that are just being paid. I think that most employees are saying we're going to need that PTO. Yeah, so that I mean, that's what I think but again if somebody asks or they want that and they're willing to delay their insurance their unemployment benefits, then you know, you would need to pay out your PTO coach.
Richie Guerzon: Alright, so we were talking the other day about changes in messaging voicemail how you're talking to people. Let's talk a little bit about that. What should we address?
Mannon Newell: Okay. So, in most of our practices, we've kind of moved to this checking messages to times a day routine where we have either one or two employees who will check morning messages and check afternoon messages and that's very well communicated to the patients both through social media and in the voicemail messages themselves letting them know that obviously the office is closed. If you have an emergency, you know, there's another option so you can get through to someone immediately. Generally we're having them, you know, they'll be able to like press a button that will forward them to the clinical coordinator the clinical coordinator can then make a decision. Like is this really an emergency? We may use some virtual methods where patients can send photos of what's going on and then the clinical coordinator can make a determination like whether or not we need to bring the doctor in to the office or consult with the doctor to determine how to handle, otherwise the messages are checked and returned twice a day and I think it's just really important to just like we're talking about staying connected to the staff and Richie, this would really be your area of expertise. But in terms of our marketing or we're shifting, you know into a kind of a different mode and we want to stay connected to our patients. We want to make them aware of what's going on in the office. I know originally a lot of our clients were told that they would reopen April 6 and so they started to schedule appointments in those first two weeks, which will now again have to be moved and that's sort of it sort of the frustrating part of all this right which is why I'm saying it's fluid and we all have to sort of learn how to go with the flow.
Richie Guerzon: I think everyone understands that so no one's getting mad that they need to be rescheduled, right? We live in a digital world luckily so, we have the mail we have social media. A lot of doctors are getting virtual consultations and some software that supports that so, we have a lot of ways to touch our patients right now and let them know we're still here and still supporting them.
Mannon Newell: Right and I think that's I mean, I think that's ultimately so important. I think for those doctors. This is sort of will be my round to next week with our clients. I think over the past two weeks. It's been just HR up and down. It's all kind of all we've been dealing with is how we support the staff how we make the best that we can on any given day with the information that we have that day, but I think you know, I have several clients who are utilizing virtual consults. I think it's an absolute great way to stay connected with potential patients to start the process, you know, you can start your new patient process remotely and then when they're able to come back into the office, you know to really create that personal experience that we that we talked about with our patients. So, I think that is an option that everyone should be tapping into right now.
Richie Guerzon: Yes, I agree and we have a client that we were in the middle of a campaign and we're at the point. We need to call everyone back and give them an offer. So, we decided to just move forward this week and see how it is. And to be honest, we're calling these people haven't been reached for a while and we're calling them back. Hey, this is you know, you entered this contest and we have this offer. And we're getting a great response. I was honestly very surprised but we're getting a better response now than we have in the past because people are home. Yeah, but I was surprised are willing to schedule an appointment they're doing it. So, I feel like that's a really positive thing that's happened. You know, I got it but sentiment seems to be high.
Mannon Newell: I agree and you know, I think that it’s really going to vary like I know everyone is worried like something that's on everyone's mind is are people going to really make decisions about Orthodontics like is that really like, you know, something that people will see as a necessity if they're suffering economically and I would say that for most of our clients the demographics where their practices are it's very mixed. So, of course they're going to be they're going to be a lot of people that are, you know, economically damaged by this unfortunately. I also think that there are a lot of people who are maintaining their employment their working remotely and I think what I can see in my own neighborhood just looking out my office window people are like dying to get out.
Richie Guerzon: That's I honestly think that's what's gonna happen is gonna be like a boom spring break we’re allowed out of the house and just a ton of consumer spending.
Mannon Newell: Well, I think there's going to be a real boom when this like I said to me, I think it's going to be sort of a peaks and valleys type of thing. I think when the office is first opened back up you're going to have an influx of patients in the daily schedule is going to be crazy and then I think we met my experience, you know some valleys in there, but overall I think it will balance out over the course of the year. I really do. You know again based on what we know right now. So, I think we just have to take it kind of a day or a week at a time.
Richie Guerzon: The only thing I had left and we did talk about this a little bit of haven't had a handle emergencies. Is there anything else you wanted to talk about regarding that?
Mannon Newell: Just you know, one of the things on my mind I've seen clients of ours actually that have donated a lot of PPE to local hospitals. And I think that's amazing. I was really happy to see that, you know happening because so many doctors, you know that are working in hospitals and nurses are completely, you know under protected during this time. I also have concerns for most of our practices because you know, I think that it's not always standard procedure in an orthodontic practice to have N-95 masks, which I would say right now if I were doing a procedure that was going to create a aeresol also using a hand piece of any kind. I would want to be wearing an N-95 mask and have full, you know, facial protection. If you don't have that then I think the next best thing is going to be to use your normal face mask but also a face shield I would want eyes protected, you know, not even mouth. Obviously, some of the things that we had in the initial week of all of this which feel it kind of feels like it's been a year ago by this time
Richie Guerzon: Every day feels like a year right now.
Mannon Newell: Time is a very off concept right now, but the first week we were kind of preparing for what protective measures and we were writing up protocol for our offices on you know, this exact thing and just some things that you don't even think about but you know in a lot of Ortho practices the assistants will wear just scrubs and they may be short-sleeved. They may not have a lab coat over top. So, that was something that we wanted to change right away, which is you need to have some kind of a lab coat over top of the scrubs that buttons because if you think about it, if you have a contaminated scrub top and then most people mean you're just going to flip it up and take it off, right if it's contaminated. Now, you're bringing that into contact with the whole risk area of don't touch your eyes nose or mouth. So, that way you can take something off on button and immediately put it in the wash. We were requiring employees to leave their scrubs at work to have them washed. They're not wearing them home or out of the office bringing a change of clothes with you. If you have to handle an emergency appointment and then obviously just following the most stringent protocols that you can to reduce exposure.
Richie Guerzon: Great. All right, so I think we'll open it up to questions. We have a few to get through but if you have questions now put them in the chat and we'll answer them. All right. So, Courtney is out of Missouri the shared work program available and hours worked on employment for benefit adjustment with the portion paid by the office for you reimburse will be the test credit with the new legislation.
Mannon Newell: So, you're talking so Courtney's talking about the CARES act that first went into effect that t actually goes into effect on April 2nd. I think to the best of my knowledge that the legislation that passed last night is going to supersede that. However, so she's saying like the employees on partial, you know, I'm thinking if they were fully employed that the tax credit for the two weeks and the 12 weeks would apply but those were and if I'm not understanding your question correctly Courtney, feel free to clarify the two weeks in the 12 weeks though. We're really for like full-time employees that were out of the office due to a Corona related event. So, that could be them being diagnosed a family they're being quarantine because they have been in contact with somebody who tested positive or their children were out of school. And then the question was there sort of a waiver in there for employees that have less than 50 or employers that have less than 50 employees. And that wasn't very well detailed in the deal like how you would kind of apply for that waiver. I don't think that I don't think that the tax credits there will apply to a partially employed employee. But again, I think the legislation that's coming coming in. This week is going to kind of supersede that effectively.
Richie Guerzon: Gotcha. All right. Let's look Emily's my assistant screenshot a Facebook post and sent it to me assistant posted there doc made them use vacation hours while the office is closed, but has message them to do things. This is not okay, even though we really like this after me working on things during this time.
Mannon Newell: Can you kind of repeat that.
Richie Guerzon: I guess her assistant sshot a Facebook post and send it to me. An assistant posted there doc made them use vacation hours while the office is closed but his message to them. Asking them to do things take it. This is not okay, even though they really like staff to be working on things during this time.
Mannon Newell: So no, that wouldn't be okay. I can see where and I think, you know again in some of the online forms, I've been in regarding HR and some of the legalities around all this my assumption is always that most people are operating from a good place, right and that their intention is sometimes not what it appears to be. This almost an exact question in another form that I was in yesterday. Where a doctor was actually asking employees not to sign up for unemployment which you can't you can't do that. I think the doctor was concerned that his you know, unemployment expenses were going to raise which is will be waived actually from this legislation. So, I don't think that he was actually trying to do something like underhanded. I think he was trying to figure out a way to keep his staff onboard not increases unemployment expenses and that's kind of the problem we have legislation that's being you know written like as we're trying to make decisions, which is something I've tried to with my clients every day to say just hold on. Just hold on. I know it's hard to hear. I know you want to know today like what can I do but I wouldn't be doing my job if I just sort of gave advice off of a knee-jerk reaction on an article I read that's you know, a journalist interpreting what they think is going to happen because I'm like that's not prudent. So, I think that a lot of these situations that are coming up that she's talking about. I don't think that most employers are trying to do something underhanded. I think that they're trying to stay connected to their staff. I think they're trying to figure out how they keep this business running and they probably feel that they're being generous by paying out the PTO instead of immediately laying off. So, or they may have received advice from their CPA or from someone else initially. And again, everybody's just doing their best with partial information by saying I think you should do I think this is the best decision. That would be my guest in that scenario. If you are technically taking your PTO and on vacation then yes, we can't tell an employee to take their PTO and then at the same time be asking them to work for the practice. So, there you have to make a decision on that.
Richie Guerzon: Absolutely. Okay. Stephanie says how does keeping a staff member on staff affect their eligibility for two weeks plus three months FMLA? Can SBA be used for the expenses and will that expense be forgiven? For example people on staff meeting and keep them working.
Mannon Newell: So, she's referring to the CARES Act again. The one that goes into effect on April 2nd. So, what she's saying is if we have an employee who we have coming into the office right now and they're impacted directly by coronavirus in the next, you know, during this covered period of time. Will she be subject to that if anyone's not familiar to it if you have an employee that meets. That meets the criteria for that which we all do essentially because it also includes anyone whose children are not in school. Well you don't have child care. So, I think that's like, you know, probably almost a hundred a hundred percent of our staff except for those people that don't have children. Then you would be responsible for paying two weeks at full-time pay and then 12 weeks at 2/3 pay and you would be reimbursed for this in a sense do a tax credit through your payroll company. What I've also said that I'd something kind of strange is going on with my screen.
Richie Guerzon: Someone just was not muted. Eric mute your iPhone.
Mannon Newell: So, the I think that if you if you are subject to this, I think that the waiver will apply. I also think that if you have someone on full payroll during this covered period because if you apply for the SBA loan the one that's directly related to the to covid-19, then that is going to cover your payroll expense. So, to me that's kind of just superseding that CARES Act. It's and meaning that if you're applying for this long, you're going to be covering your payroll through that loan, which is forgiven. That's the way that I see that right now.
Richie Guerzon: All right. One more says if your employees are furloughed are they no longer eligible for the two weeks pay and 10 weeks FMLA?
Mannon Newell: So, that is I think an open question and that's part of the difference I think between the furlough and the lay off, but if they're on furlough and receiving unemployment than I assume they're not coming into the office, so it would be one or the other I believe. They wouldn't be able to collect unemployment. But also, collect the two weeks and the 12 weeks. And then again, there's the question will become and I think next week. We're going to know more about that. I think we're going to know more about it every day, but both from the perspective of where are we in terms of the pandemic and how it's spreading in our country and when you get back to work and also, in the sense of exactly how the loans are going to be dispersed. I know that in the legislation, I think they say they have no more than 60 days to approve and disburse funds and then there's also a portion there is also a portion for an immediate $10,000 advance which is something that we can talk about more next time when they hammer that out. So, the way that I read it. I think it's a little conflicting because the original CARES Act had that April 2nd day and everyone was saying we have to bring everyone back by April 2nd or we won't be able to have loan forgiveness. I don't think that's the case now. I think we're looking at a wider covered period and again I'm happy to kind of talk about that more next week when we know more. But I believe that you know, again all of your employees would fall under that original CARES Act have they been impacted most likely? Yes, so they would either be collecting the unemployment insurance which would make them not eligible for the pay that you were kind of on the hook for in the original CARES Act or you'll be bringing them back onto full payroll and they will be covered under the new SBA loan related to covid sense.
Richie Guerzon: Okay Courtney, we have staff in office individually. Not more than one person at a time for phone coverage a line of drops to their car excetera. Does this pose a problem if they are not seeing patients. We are asking they work only on one workstation and wipe down the station, etc.
Mannon Newell: I think that seems like you're taking all the precautions that you can. My preference is going to be throughout this that if something can be done remotely that I would have it done remotely just because that takes you from any risk to no risk, at least that's connected to your practice. But if there are things I mean and there are there are going to be some critical functions where somebody is coming into the office whether it's the doctor or you know or whoever you know and that case then the precautions that she's taking I think are the best that you can do under the circumstances. But yeah, if it can be done remotely than that would definitely be my preference.
All right Sherry Agosta, I guess it's a marketing question. How often do you recommend Social Media communication from the office to the general public we could tag team this. I would say. I would say don't stop what you're normally doing. We like to do at least one per day for our clients as situations arise if there's news about your office and send it out immediately just on top of your regular communication, but people are stuck at home. They're on their phone. They're in this digital world. So why not have them interact with your brand and this is the time to do fun stuff as well just to kind of keep their mind off of it. You actually have a great opportunity if you weren't doing a lot of social media posts and you want to give your employees something to do. This is a great thing. They could be doing social media. They could work on SEO. They could be writing blogs have as much communication as possible in my opinion. Okay, let's see. On the scrubs and lab coats what if your office does not have laundry setup Can employees change at the office and launder separately at home?
Mannon Newell: Yeah. I think that's fine. And that was something that came up when we were writing the protocols last week is not every office obviously has laundry facilities. So, what I would recommend in that case is to have some kind of, you know, like have them put the scrubs in a plastic bag or something of some sort that can be disposed of I would put them into the laundry, wash them on, you know the hottest setting that they'll that they'll survive. Yeah, but that's fine.
Richie Guerzon: I think to encapsulate them in something.
Mannon Newell: Yeah, right.
Richie Guerzon: We have one more question if you guys have questions now's the time. but the last question regards to the SBA loan is application currently on the SBA website, not the application for the covid-19 specific SBA loan. If not, should we wait until that is available to apply?
Mannon Newell: Yes. So, that that has really been like the hot button topic over the past week, which is there are people who have already submitted their they've gone on to the regular SBA disaster and it says it's related to covid-19 and it is because you know, it's been it's been declared a National Emergency. That loan, so, this is a question that's outstanding in my head that I can't really give you definitively an answer to but I think we will have an answer soon. I have a question as to if you applied for the first loan, the regular disaster loan, and you stated in that loan application that part of your purpose for taking out that loan would be to cover basic expenses such as payroll, which I'm sure that is what anyone would be putting in that loan. That is what you're looking to cover like your mortgage expense, release expense.
Richie Guerzon: We haven't been in a hurricane.
Mannon Newell: So yeah, yeah. I think that those could potentially just be converted over because your it's going through the same agency and the same winners are going to be managing these loans. So, I think it probably could be converted over. The other thing is if you did apply or you want to apply for the SBA disaster loan, that's not going to Bar you from applying for this new one the new one, it doesn't really exist in any real platform yet because the legislation it still isn't signed into law. So, once that happens then the Regulators were all sort of jump into action and create that infrastructure. So, there should be you know, I would imagine that on the same SBA website. There will be a second or additional link in there will be more instruction explaining what are the differences between the two. But I do think that it's possible you could have you could apply for both and that would be fine too as long as you know, it would borrow you in a second application. If you went to apply for the new SBA covid type loan and you were to put in there your you know what you're wanting to cover with that and you had already taken out or applied for the previous loan and you have the same expenditures outlined in that room. That is I think what would the problem would be if they were separate and they had you know separate issues and them or what you were looking to cover with the worm then I think it would be
Richie Guerzon: So it's better that they would overlap, the more likely you're going to get. All right. Thank you so much this has been super informative. If anyone wants to connect with you, what is the best way what should they do?
Mannon Newell: So, go to our website EngagedOrtho.com and my contact information is there you can feel free to shoot me an e-mail, send me a message on our Facebook site also Engaged Ortho, and I will do my best to get back to people in a timely manner and I think this is a great Forum. So, I would say potentially earlier next week when we have some more direction about the new forgivable loan we should probably meet back up and we'll have more specifics at that time about the application process the timeframe in any other questions that come up.
between now and then which will probably be a lot.
Absolutely. Oh, Stephanie just wanted to repeat the contact info. So, Stephanie just go to EngagedOrtho.com. Everything you need is there you can contact with Mannon also in Facebook man. Thank you so much. This has been great. I'm looking forward to our conversation next week. Of course, we'll figure out the best day probably be midweek or some more time like that. And if any of you guys need any help just contact either one of us would be happy to help you
Mannon Newell: Sounds good. Thanks for having me and I'll look forward to connecting with everyone again,
Richie Guerzon: Great, okay. I'll see you soon.