If you have visited an emergency room recently, you likely waited a long time to be seen for a non-life-threatening medical issue, or even COVID-19 testing. And in the midst of a pandemic, there are not many business owners who can say things are looking up. But that’s exactly the reality for Paul Peiffer and his two AFC Urgent Care centers in Clearwater and Citrus Park.
Peiffer had a long, successful career in the corporate world. After taking early retirement, he was trying to figure out what to do next. Looking for a franchise model that would prove resistant, he bought into the Doctors Express Urgent Care franchise system, and opened up his first location near Safety Harbor, in August 2012. That franchise has since been bought out and is now the AFC Urgent Care system.
“I felt urgent care was a less sensitive business to economic situations,” he said of his decision. “Obviously we have a pandemic going on right now, and if I was in the bar business or restaurant business, I’d be really struggling. In retrospect, I made a good decision, not to say there aren’t other issues in starting up a new business.”
One of those issues is marketing. While Peiffer has a background in marketing, he knows that it’s always an asset to have an ideas man around. Through his involvement with the Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Peiffer was introduced to Kurt Forster, a business consultant with the Florida SBDC at Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED).
“We were struggling to get the patient volume up so I was really looking for someone to take a look at what I was doing in marketing,” he said. After meeting with Forster a few times, Peiffer started implementing some of the recommendations Forster made, including adding additional services.
In addition to utilizing Forster as a sounding board for marketing efforts, an opportunity came up for Florida SBDC at University of South Florida business consultant Kyle King, to complete an in-depth financial analysis on the business.
“He did a complete financial analysis that was really well done and he made some suggestions about reducing our costs,” Peiffer said. At that time, payroll costs were accounting for a significant expense on the books for the centers, which were traditionally being staffed by physicians.
“One of the big things [he recommended] was to hire P.A.’s instead of physicians. I checked a couple of them out and tried it out and it was actually really good. We have better patient satisfaction than we had with some of our physicians.”
Once the pandemic set in, Peiffer was met with a new set of challenges. “When the state shut down in the middle of March, we were doing really well and then one day everybody just hunkered down at home,” he said. In order to adjust, they changed center hours, cut down on staffing hours, and started offering telemedicine services and COVID-19 testing. “We kind of hunkered down for about a month and then things started picking back up again. And now our regular business has started coming back again,” he added. The rebound is due in part to COVID-19 testing and antibody testing.
As early as September, the centers will add COVID-19 rapid testing to its list of services, which provides immediate test results without having to ship tests to a lab.
Peiffer has seen great success in his business since 2012. In June 2019, he opened another urgent care center in Citrus Park, taking on 19 additional employees. In addition, he said, “We’ve been able to reduce our costs which is terrific and we’ve added different services and we’ve been increasing our patient count double digit every year so it’s been a very successful partnership with the SBDC.”
Moving forward, Peiffer says one of his biggest challenges will be, “getting back to usual business and making sure that we retain and grow the existing type of businesses that we’ve been involved in prior to COVID.”
No one knows what COVID-19 will bring in the future – whether it will be a yearly occurrence like the flu, or here and gone like a distant memory, solved by a one-time vaccine. Regardless, Peiffer will continue to call on Forster at the Florida SBDC at PCED as a sounding board.
“I really appreciate him. He’s become like a friend now as well. It’s been a great find for me. It’s always good to get honest, unbiased views from people not involved in your business day-to-day,” he said.
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COVID-19 Emergency Bridge Loan Extensions: The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) sent an email on April 21, 2021, to COVID-19 Emergency Bridge Loan recipients with directions regarding how to apply for a repayment extension. The email came from “Rebuild Florida No Reply” with the Subject: “Emergency Bridge Loan Extension Request.” Check your email for the directions to apply for a repayment extension. For questions, contact DEO directly at EmergencyBridgeLoan@deo.myflorida.com.
SBA Disaster Relief Contact Information: For help with EIDL, call 1-800-659-2955 or email email@example.com.
5.16.22 EIDL Update: As of May 6, 2022, the COVID-19 EIDL funds are exhausted. SBA is no longer accepting COVID-19 EIDL loan increase requests or requests for reconsideration. Approved borrowers that have not signed their loan closing documents must do so by May 16, 2022, or will face delayed disbursement or possible loss of funding. Visit SBA.gov to manage your EIDL and fund up-to-date program information.
Preparedness Plan for Reopening Template
This template is designed to help businesses develop and implement a plan for reopening their business, ensuring a safe and healthy workplace for all workers. The template fits the potential needs of different types of businesses.
Tips to Prepare for Reopening
Though your business may be closed, now is the time to start preparing for your next chapter. We recommend you develop a well-thought-out plan for when you can open again. While not all businesses are brick and mortar, many of these tips can be applied to your business. Focusing on the highlighted areas will help make the transition easier for you, your employees, and your customers.
Guide to Business Resiliency in Times of Disaster
Many business owners are wondering what they can do (outside of taking on additional debt) to help meet the challenges of COVID-19. The guide provides suggestions for cash management, pricing and cost containment, supply chain management, and marketing.
Work From Home Assessments: Has your top employee all of a sudden become a challenge? If you are struggling to manage your work-from-home team, this free assessment can help you capitalize on your teams’ strengths. Each report contains a personalized communication style page, tips for working remotely based on their dominant communication style, and four pages of communication tips for working with other styles remotely.
COVID-19 Preparedness Plans: Business as usual may be a thing of the past. Professional consultants are available to assist with detailing how you will implement the following, at a minimum: infection prevention measures; prompt identification and isolation of sick persons; engineering and administrative controls for social distancing; housekeeping, disinfecting and decontamination; communications and training for managers and workers; and provision of management and supervision necessary to ensure effective implementation of the survival plan.
Student Teams: Working with Student Teams is a mutually advantageous situation for all parties involved. Each project is assigned a Florida SBDC at USF business consultant to oversee the project. This program lasts one semester. During the semester, the student team will prepare an individualized product, based on the business’ needs and selected team.
On-Demand and Live Webinars: While our face-to-face seminars have been suspended until further notice, we are offering additional learning opportunities via our on-demand webinars and live webinars. These short on-demand webinars will give you strategies you can implement in your business immediately. Want more detailed information after watching a webinar? Contact us to schedule a no-cost consulting session as a follow up. All webinars are currently being offered at no cost.
THE CORONAVIRUS AID, RELIEF AND ECONOMIC SECURITY ACT, CARES ACT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
Passed by Congress and signed by the President, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act tasks the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) with overseeing the distribution of millions of dollars in loans and grants to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic. It also provides additional funding for SBA’s resource partners to provide advice and training to help small businesses respond to the unprecedented challenges in communities throughout the country.
Small businesses are encouraged to look into other Federal relief programs that are made available thanks to the passage of the CARES Act. Additional funding opportunities may arise through the State of Florida or local county entities, as needed. Speak with a Florida SBDC at USF consultant for details.
SBA Debt Relief
The SBA’s Debt Relief Program provides immediate relief for new and existing borrowers of SBA’s regular loan guarantee programs. For existing borrowers with a regular 7(a), 504 or micro-loan, SBA will automatically make payments on your behalf for a period of six months. For new borrowers, SBA will automatically cover payments due prior to September 27, 2020. Debt relief is automatic, but you should check in with your lender. Under the new law, the SBA is directed to make payments within 30 days of the date on which the first payment is due. For more information about the Debt Relief Program, click here.
SBA Serviced Disaster Loan Debt Relief
For current SBA Serviced Disaster (Home and Business) Loans, if your disaster loan was in “regular servicing” status on March 1, 2020, the SBA is providing automatic deferments through December 31, 2020. Learn more about this debt relief program by clicking here.
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act. The program includes over $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.
Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million.$2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.
Eligible entities include:
Live venue operators or promoters
Live performing arts organization operators
Relevant museum operators, zoos and aquariums who meet specific criteria
Motion picture theater operators
Each business entity owned by an eligible entity that also meets the eligibility requirements
The SBA’s Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loan or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for a decision and disbursement on an EIDL, they may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan. Click here to learn more about the Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program.
Other SBA Lending Options
The 7(a) loan program is the SBA’s primary program for providing financial assistance to small businesses. The terms and conditions, like the guaranty percentage and loan amount, may vary by the type of loan. For information on other traditional SBA lending options, click here.
Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)
The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, enacted December 27, 2020, made a number of changes to the employee retention tax credits previously made available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), including modifying and extending the Employee Retention Credit (ERC), for six months through June 30, 2021. Several of the changes apply only to 2021, while others apply to both 2020 and 2021.
As a result of the new legislation, eligible employers can now claim a refundable tax credit against the employer share of Social Security tax equal to 70% of the qualified wages they pay to employees after December 31, 2020, through June 30, 2021. Qualified wages are limited to $10,000 per employee per calendar quarter in 2021. Thus, the maximum ERC amount available is $7,000 per employee per calendar quarter, for a total of $14,000 in 2021. Learn more on the IRS website.
Information and guidance regarding COVID-19 in Florida.
For questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, individuals and business can contact the Florida Department of Health dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling (866) 779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours a day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Information regarding business preparedness, recovery, online training, links and news. The Business Damage Assessment is open for COVID-19. If your small business has been impacted, please complete the survey.
These resources can help small businesses develop a plan to protect their employees, lessen the financial impact of disasters, and re-open for business quickly to support the economic recovery of the community.
The Three Step Process: SBA Disaster Loans
While disaster loans have not been activated yet, small businesses can prepare by getting the appropriate documents gathered, using this PDF.
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Regional Office Contact Info
3802 Spectrum Blvd., Suite 201
Tampa, FL 33612
The Florida SBDC at the University of South Florida is a member of the Florida SBDC Network, a statewide partnership program nationally accredited by the Association of America’s SBDCs and funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida, and other private and public partners, with the University of West Florida serving as the network’s lead host institution. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for limited English proficient individuals.
State Designated as Florida’s Principal Provider of Business Assistance [§ 288.01, Fla. Stat.]