Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds, the team behind Massage Business Blueprint and Massage & Bodywork magazine’s column Blueprint for Success, join us to discuss current life without massage and touch, client communication during a crisis, Allissa’s decision to close her practice, and what’s the secret sauce that makes up MBB's services and membership offerings.
This episode is sponsored by ABMP.
00:01 Speaker 1: As a way to give back to the profession during this challenging time of COVID-19, ABMP is offering non-members free access and CE to some courses in the ABMP Education Center each week for a limited time. Simply register online at ABMP.com/CE for access. ABMP members earn free CE for all 200 plus courses in the ABMP Education Center, including the new Ruth Werner course, "Taking The Danger Out of Endangerment Sites."
00:44 Darren Buford: Welcome to Conversations in Quarantine. My name is Darren Buford and I'm the editor-in-chief of Massage & Bodywork magazine, and Senior Director of Communications for ABMP. Our goal here is to speak with luminaries and experts in and around the massage profession, to talk about the effects of COVID-19 on bodywork practitioners, the fears, the frustrations and, more importantly, to discuss next steps towards safely re-opening our doors when the time is right. How to pivot now, how to prepare for the future, and discussing what the new normal will be.
01:14 DB: My guests today are Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds, the wonder duo who make up Massage Business Blueprint. Allissa is a practicing massage therapist of 15 years, and self-described Director of Shenanigans at Massage Business Blueprint. Michael is a former massage therapist, financial advisor, and tech entrepreneur, and self-described Director of Nerdy Things at Massage Business Blueprint. Both happen to be authors for Massage & Bodywork Magazine, and are columnists of the Blueprint for Success Column. For more info about them, please visit their site at massagebusinessblueprint.com. For more info about their year-long financial series, visit ABMP.com/Money. And to find their wonderful article, "Financially Surviving COVID-19," that was featured in the special issue of Massage & Bodywork, go to massageandbodyworkdigital.com. Hello friends.
02:07 Allissa Haines: Hey.
02:07 Michael Reynolds: Hey Darren.
02:08 DB: How are we feeling today? Hopeful? Pessimistic? Why?
02:14 AH: Impatient. I am feeling impatient today. Everyday is a little bit of a rollercoaster with a little taste of... It is a tapas platter of emotions. [chuckle] Today I'm just impatient and a little grumpy that we still don't have any answers, and we still have no timeline, and I'm aggravated by that. That's how I'm feeling. How are you feeling Michael? [chuckle]
02:39 MR: Oh, I've... I'm generally feeling hopeful and somewhat energized, because, when things change and kind of go crazy, I just... My way of coping is to be really focused on doing things and taking actions, and productivity. And so, yeah. So I'm generally hopeful, I'm generally an optimistic person. So yeah, not too shabby. Hanging in there.
03:00 DB: Yeah, I'm there too. I am generally optimistic, because of humans, and I am sometimes pessimistic because of humans.
03:11 MR: Both of those things...
03:12 AH: That's fair.
03:13 MR: Are valid, yeah. We haven't imploded yet, so, the track work of the human race is still on an upward curve so far, but there's always room for... That could change.
03:23 DB: Okay, what do you miss most right now about pre-COVID society? And that could be professional or personal.
03:30 AH: I deeply miss being financially independent and super secure. That was... It was only a couple of years ago that I really hit that point that I was really able to fully support myself and plan and save and pay off debt, and I actually was supposed to be debt-free on this, come August. And that's gonna get delayed a little bit, and... [chuckle] And that's okay, and I'm so... I'm also really grateful about the last couple of years and having those goals, 'cause it's put me in a decent position now to not have to freak out. But I miss feeling good about a day of work, and earning that money, and not having to think about anyone else helping to support me. I miss that.
04:16 MR: So I miss general socializing. But, I have a five-year-old, and I miss being able to have his friends over to play. It sounds kind of silly, but, he's being really good about it. He's like, "Yeah, when the coronavirus is over, then I'll have Henry over to play." And he's really good about it, and he's really kind of accepting things and just saying, "Okay, here's what it is." But, it kind of breaks my heart a little bit when he's like, "Yeah, I wish I could have my friends over," 'cause he's at that age where he wants to get his friends together and play and... So 'm really missing that. So I'm hoping that there's a time soon in the near future that we can get his friends over to play again, and let him socialize.
04:47 DB: I miss restaurants.
04:50 AH: Yes.
04:51 DB: I love restaurants, and I love going out, and I like the social aspect, and I love the food, and I miss that. And I am gonna agree absolutely with Allissa. I miss the semblance of whatever financial security means. The idea that you were working towards this goal, and it all kind of got blown up. And to rethink that is scary, and something I kind of re-visit at least, if not every couple of days, once a week. How are we gonna do this? How are we gonna get out of this? Those are the things that... I heard somebody say something that was really interesting. They said, "Different generations have used phrases like 'before the war', 'before 9/11', and now we're in 'before COVID.'" Remember that... Remember when we did that before COVID? I'm sure there's gonna be aspects of our lives that are gonna be like that, as sad as that sounds. What do you miss about touch, and why?
05:51 AH: I found... And I knew this already, but it had been a while since I'd really experienced it. That practicing massage keeps me calm. It takes the edge off of my Type A-ness. And it took me a few weeks to realize that that's why I was super edgy. I mean partly just, "This is scary, and traumatic, and crisis-filled." But I was touch-starved. And, also, the first week that I was out of work, I was quarantined. I spent the week in my bedroom by myself, with food being dropped off at my bedroom door. And, I had a head cold, and it was fairly mild. It wasn't bad, but it was still scary, 'cause, "Is this COVID?" And then even after I got out of quarantine, it was like a couple of weeks before anybody wanted to get near me, [laughter] 'cause it's like scary, and I was still a little sniffly and whatever. So I went three weeks without a hug, and, I was super grumpy. So I miss the regulating that happens to me physically and mentally when I'm practicing massage. So I've had to find other ways to be really tactile, which I think this is what this bread-making is all about for people. [laughter] It's like, that's a tangible thing you can start and finish. But, yeah, so I've... That's what I miss about touch.
07:11 MR: I miss getting a massage, I spend all day on Zoom meetings with my neck hunched over like this and I can feel my spine just [laughter] totally messed up. So, yeah, I miss getting massage.
07:23 DB: I concur. Absolutely. My... I can feel it right now, my shoulders are just... My whole body...
07:29 MR: Yeah, my back is killing me.
07:31 DB: Absolutely.
07:31 MR: This Zoom neck I have from Zoom meetings is just...
07:34 DB: [laughter] Zoom neck.
07:35 MR: Yeah.
07:35 DB: Absolutely. Yeah. I think about that delicious moment when the muscles relax at the beginning of that, and I just start to release. The only thing that's close right now. It's not close, but the only thing even comparable might be meditating, when I kind of lose it there, lose it in a, "I've escaped, I'm kind of not thinking," mode of meditation right now. But yeah, nothing is gonna supplant the amazing effects of massage that I think we all miss right now. Alright, Allissa, you are a current massage practitioner, you were practicing, not currently, but you have been up until this moment. Tell our listeners a little bit about your own practice, and any specific type of work that you do or clientele that you work with.
08:22 AH: I have a mostly general practice that has been been honed down over the last couple of years. So most of my clients are long-term, they've been with me 10 years or more, they all have monthly or every other week appointments. I still have a weekly client that has been with me 11 years. Mostly stress, anxiety relief with some minor aches and pains here and there. And, some migraine clients, a couple of knee people, a couple of lingering occasional sciatica issues, but, mostly people who see me for the mental health of it, versus the physical aches and pains. And for the physical aches and pains that are related to the mental health of it.
09:03 DB: Take me through communicating with them. And I mean, from when you shut down to now. I mean, was there multiple communications, one communication, are you still communicating?
09:14 AH: I sent one email, probably five or six days after I shut down. Or, I individually emailed clients. I decided on March 12th, I wasn't going back, and on March 13th, I individually emailed clients who were scheduled for the following week and I just said, "Hey, I'm canceling appointments and I will... " And most of my clients book two or three months out, so I just said, "Hey, your next appointment is April whatever, let's plan for that, and I'll reach out before then to confirm." And, I canceled, I think, the next couple of weeks, and about a week into it, so probably around March 20th, I just cleared my schedule entirely. And I... When I cancel the clients, it sends them an automated email that says I'm cancelling, and I just put a little note in there saying, "Closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus situation, I will reach out to reschedule you when we're ready." And, that's what I did, and I ended up... I did send a mass email to any client who'd seen me in the last 18 months, just saying, "I'm shut down right now and... " So a couple of people had reached out and asked if I was selling gift certificates, 'cause a lot of people are doing that to kind of float their business while there's no cash flow.
10:32 AH: I'm not doing that, so, I felt like it would just be easier for me to tell people I'm not doing that. I encourage them to donate to the local food bank because we usually have a food bank collection bucket in my office, and I drop it off at the local food bank every so often. We're not doing that now. So I encouraged my clients to just donate cash via a donate button, and told them I'd be in touch as the situation progressed, and, that was that. And I haven't... I haven't sent a mass email yet, I have reached out to one or two clients for specific reasons.
11:09 AH: A nursing home got hit really bad here and I have a client who I know his father is there, and I dropped an email yesterday, just to say hello and see how he's doing. And that's it. But not... Not a lot, I have felt... A lot of people are really concentrating on staying connected and, I have not felt that way. I felt like I wanna keep my clients well-informed, but, I've really needed to kinda keep my head down for my own mental health, and to prioritize caring for my family right now. So I have not gone bonkers over communicating or communicating all of that much with my clients.
11:49 MR: My... I did appreciate the... There's a massage therapist that I work with, who lives a few blocks away from us. And, I really did appreciate the closing... "I'm closing shop for this amount of period... " I really appreciated that. And then I appreciated there might have been one more communication with regard to some self-care tips. And then recently, because we're in Colorado and things will be opening up this Friday. So I received some emails as well about reopening. I just liked the idea that I was getting something.
12:25 MR: I didn't need some extensive communication back and forth, but I did enjoy the idea that... I liked the idea that, "We're still here. Just, how are you doing?" And I received the same thing from a hair stylist, "We've shut it down, this is the reason we're gonna keep things closed, this is what we're doing." I just appreciated some type of communication. My wife on the other hand, had a stylist who had no communication the entire time. And I would imagine as business experts that might make you guys cringe a little bit to have no communication.
12:55 AH: Yeah. But some people, and we might talk about this later, not everyone has built up that foundation, not everybody has sent a bulk email, not everybody has sent a bulk text, not everyone has their clients' contact information handy. And if you left your office in a hurry and you didn't know that you weren't going back the next day, and you have paper files, you've had a hard time getting there, you're not reaching out to your clients, you're going through whoever is in your phone book and that's it.
13:24 DB: Yeah, absolutely.
13:25 AH: Depending how it is.
13:26 DB: Allissa, do you own a building or rent to other MTs, and if so, how are you working with renters at this time?
13:35 AH: Yeah. So, I do. I rent an office space, and it has four treatment rooms, and I have sublet it to one acupuncturist and four other massage therapists... I think it's three other massage therapists now. And I really struggled for the last month about what to do. And, in the last week or so, when Healwell put together that brilliant course on new protocols and looking through ABMP's resource, the back-to-practice resource, spending a lot of time on those, I have decided that I cannot keep the shared space clean and safe. And we all share our massage rooms, nobody has a room to themselves. And, yeah, I spoke to my landlord yesterday, and made the decision to close my office permanently. I have a month-to-month lease, so I am super lucky in that respect. It was very easy to get out of that. And, there's just no way I can be in there myself cleaning every day, that is not what I want for me. And, I'm not sure how to verify that other people in the office are following the protocols in the way I feel they need to be followed. And, the upgrades that would be needed for this space, we... We've got a really old industrial carpet, we gotta rip that up and put down some kind of sanitized floorings for the place to meet my standards, and get rid of furnishings that have any upholstery on them.
15:04 AH: And we have a lot of curtains and stuff that would need to get stripped down and replaced with blinds that are easier to clean on a regular basis. And, I decided that was out of my reach and desire to take on financially, and also liability-wise. I was just super uncomfortable with my liability if someone in my office... Even though they're running their own businesses, and they're renting from me, and everyone's got their own insurance, how would my liability be impacted, and how would my reputation be impacted if the world knows... The world in my town knows that I run this collaborative wellness space, that I am in charge of it. And if people get sick out of my space, even if it wasn't my client, even if it wasn't within my massage practice, that's not... That's not... I don't want that. I'd like to sleep at night, and also I'd like my reputation that I have worked really hard for to be protected. And I decided I cannot do that, and it was stressing me out. So I am shutting down my office.
16:06 AH: And a little follow-up is the next email that will go out to my clients is tomorrow morning that tells them this. And tells them I am closing, and I'm closing for one reason, because I don't feel like my office can meet the safety and hygiene protocols, and two, there's so much we don't know about this virus and what it's doing to peoples' bodies, and what's happening in the asymptomatic stage. I'm deeply concerned about the clotting issues that are causing strokes and major organ failure, and, I don't know how we screen for that. I just... You can take someone's temperature, but it doesn't matter because they could be asymptomatic. You can ask people if they have calf pain, but that doesn't matter if with the COVID stuff, clots aren't presenting in the calf primarily. [laughter] It doesn't... We cannot screen for this, and so, I would have to assume that every client that walks in my door has a stroke or some kind of clotting risk, and I don't... I'm not ready to practice that way yet. So I'm shutting down indefinitely.
17:19 DB: Let's pause for a second as we take a quick break.
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17:57 DB: Now, let's get back to the podcast. The hot take here is that this is Ruth Werner's next column, in the July-August [laughter] Massage and Bodywork Magazine about clotting. And I was just reading it earlier, and it's terrifying. And yes, there's so much we don't know about that. Now, did you speak... Tell me how... You spoke with the landlord, how did you speak with the people you work with, with the practitioners and the acupuncturists?
18:26 AH: So I have always run my space... I call it a collaborative wellness space, but I'm in charge. People pay me rent, I make the rules, they follow them. But I make the rules collaboratively, there's nothing that has happened in my office in the past four or five years that wasn't super transparent. So, when I first shut down on March 12th... I was the first person in my office to shut down, and they all thought I was bonkers. And it was about four days later that everyone else shut down, thankfully. And, I emailed them right then, and said, "Alright here's the deal, I'm paying our April rent... " And this was mid-March. I said, "I'm paying our April rent, I don't want you to pay me. I have this emergency savings. I know you're not working, let's... And we're gonna talk again in a couple of weeks." And I called my landlord. Literally, it was like March 15th or something, I called my landlord and said, "Here's the deal, we are all out of work indefinitely. I am prepared to pay April rent. I am not prepared to pay rent after that, if we are not working. Would you like me to give you my notice now for the end of April, or do you wanna wait this out with me?" And, mind you, I've known this woman for 11 or 12 years I've been renting in this building.
19:36 AH: We've done... Her and I have worked together with expansions in the building and constructions. So, we have a really good relationship. And again, I was on a lease. I was on a two or three-year lease a couple of years ago, and then that lapsed and we just go month by month. And, my landlord was great. She said, "Let's wait this out. Let's see. Let's talk. We're gonna talk in a couple of weeks and see how it's going." And, I... I hadn't talked to her, I had emailed and said, "I'm applying for PPP loans, I'm doing this, I'm doing that, if I get that, I will absolutely pay you a month of rent." And...
20:09 AH: And she had said to me, she said, "You know, I don't know where this is gonna go, but I'm okay with you not paying rent right now. We'll talk every couple of weeks." And I said, "Listen if you get the chance... If you need to rent out this office before I'm back to work, you need me to meet you there and we'll show the office to somebody, great. I will keep paying the utilities if you let me keep my stuff there." And so we kinda just were talking, and before... I called all of my tenants last week, and had conversations saying, "How are you feeling? Are you gonna go back the second that the Governor Watts says you can? Have you read through all the protocols? What do you feel about the safety of the space?" And they were... All but one was really on the same page with me, feeling that they were gonna be really really prudent, and maybe they'd be back in the fall, and maybe it would be after that.
20:55 AH: And, that's very much how I was feeling. And so, knowing they were feeling that... And then I had one tenant who said, "Well, I'm not really worried about any of it." And I said, "Well, have you... Have you read through the protocols I sent you?" "Oh, no." And I was like, "Okay." She's like, "I'm just... I probably shouldn't go back right away." I'm like, "Okay." And I hung up the phone and that is when all the liability stuff hit me. So, yeah. And every conversation with every one of my tenants last week ended with, "I don't know what's gonna happen, I'm leaning towards closing the space." And every one of them, even the one who didn't care about protocol said, "I understand why you would do that, keep me in the loop." And, yeah, I had a conversation with my landlord and I said, "I can't work safely for a long time, I'm afraid if you front me rent for the next six months, or you comp me rent for the next six months, six months comes, and none of us wanna go back to work at all, and then you could have been showing the office." So that's how that happened.
21:56 AH: And that's how I communicated with everyone during all of it. As clearly and transparently as possible, taking everyone's thoughts into consideration, but recognizing that the buck stopped with me. And I feel really really good about it. I was talking to somebody today and they were like, "I'm so sorry, this must have been so hard." This decision was the easiest thing I'm dealing with right now. I am not devastated by this. I'm sad, I'm not devastated by this because I am a 100% confident it is the right thing to do. I'm not gonna risk hurting somebody just because I miss my job and I wanna go back to work. And, the decision-making early on really involved a lot of my grief, and my sadness about this, and my ego thinking, "Well, the sooner I get back to work, the more people I can help." And once I put that out of the way, and thought about safety, and how I really wanna show up for my clients, which right now means not showing up for my clients, the rest of this decision was really easy. It is the best for safety, and it is the best decision for finances. And that's it. That's my lecture on that.
23:05 DB: So is that a weight off your... It sounds like it's a weight off your shoulders.
23:08 AH: Yes.
23:09 DB: Okay.
23:09 AH: It is. When I made the decision after I talked to that spacey renter, I... Yes, it was... I slept really well this past weekend for the first time in a long time, and I am just so relieved to have the decision made. I'm so relieved to have my landlord notified and, I feel really good about it. And, since doing all that yesterday morning, a couple of my renters have asked me about reaching out to my landlord because they might want to rent the space. And I have to say, the hit to my ego was really something. To be like, "I spent two days diving into these protocols, and I have deemed that office unsafe, how dare you think that you know better than me?" [laughter]
23:54 AH: I labored over this decision, and I am so bitter that not everybody thinks that I am the smartest person in the room on this. And which is so... Again, there's the ego, and there's a little pettiness, and there's my own sadness and... And also my own... And I did a step back when that happened and I was like, "Well, maybe the office is really safe. Maybe I should keep it. Maybe I should go... Maybe I can rent from one of them." And I was like, "No, no, no, no, you've been through this. You know it's not safe." And we do this, we cycle through these bits and pieces. But, I am... I am fortunate, I feel like I've always come back to the, "Nope, I know that this is the right decision." And I can cycle now in 15 seconds, so that's good.
24:34 DB: I totally agree because, we are all going through so many emotions that... When I come in here, I wake up, I come into our office, in our home, I work for eight hours. Things feel normal, even though I'm reading about COVID-19 almost all day long with regards to massage practitioners and the other associations that we represent. But, my reality hits every day when I turn on the news at 5:30, and then I'm like, "Oh yeah, that's going on." Not that I didn't know it, not that I haven't been reading about this all day long. There's just a reality check of, I can associate with Michael what he mentioned earlier about that productivity. I kinda get in my zone and I'm churning along, but then all of a sudden you're like, "Oh yeah, this is going on. Take a step back. Maybe do I feel okay? Maybe I should go out. Maybe I should go to a restaurant that's now opening. Maybe I should go... Nope, I'm not gonna do that. I've been careful thus far, I'm protecting myself." So, I think we're all going back and forth through those emotions right now. And, I think, yeah, it was well put when you described it as a roller coaster of emotions.
25:41 DB: Let's transition here, I'm... I'm gonna ask you... I wanna ask Michael, tell our listeners who don't know, anybody who is out there who has never heard of Massage Business Blueprint, what is it and what do you do?
25:53 MR: What? There are people who have never heard of Massage Business Blueprint? That's shocking. I'm kidding. So, the kinda short [26:00] ____ pithy answer is we teach massage therapists how to business. The longer answer is, we are both a public brand, and a community for massage therapists. So we launched in 2015, and, the goal was to provide a space where we could have ongoing support and community around the business angle of running a massage therapy practice. We know a lot of massage therapists are wonderful at their craft, they graduated from school, they have great skills and great potential, but then there's always this hunger for more business learning and more business help.
26:34 MR: A lot of times massage therapists are launching a business and have never done it before, and they're not sure how to do things like financial statements and reporting and marketing and the productivity stuff that helps you run a business successfully and efficiently, and the technology behind it, and websites and just all of the stuff that goes into running a business, it's overwhelming. And so we know there is a real hunger out there, a need for that type of business support. And so, on the public side, we have a flagship public facing thing is our podcast. It gets about 30,000 downloads a month, and it's been going on since 2015. We haven't missed a week yet. We're really proud of the fact that we've never missed a week in our podcast, we're pretty proud of that. Consistency has been been good. And so we... Every week, everytime... Occasionally a couple of times a week, but every week on Friday we release an episode about a topic and before COVID-19 it was various topics around business. Now we are working through helping massage therapists navigate COVID-19 from the regulations, the CARES Act, the financial impact, the reimagining your practice kind of impact.
27:40 MR: So, yeah. So that's kind of the public facing side. We have a website as well, and we blog about stuff. And then the community is really the thing we're most proud of, where you can sign up to join our community and, we have a lot of resources, we have downloadable images, stock photos, marketing resources, content you can use in your website, articles, blog posts, courses. We have regular office hours for our community, where you can hop on a Zoom call like this, various times throughout the month. And, Allissa and/or I will be in the meeting to kind of facilitate, and then mentor a little bit. There's a lot of peer mentoring as well. People bring challenges, it's a really supportive group environment to really work through challenges together. So, just a number of really great resources in that community.
28:25 MR: So, before COVID-19, it was $17 a month, it was growing, and now we've really made the decision to pivot a little bit, and offer a 30-day free trial as well as after that it's a $5 a month, very minimal membership while we're navigating COVID-19, because we know people can't afford it. People simply can't. There's no income right now, so we wanna make sure that we keep the lights on, but we are still accessible to people that wanna join our community, and give support through this really trying time. So, that's what we're all about. We have approximately 300 members, and, like I said, about 30,000 downloads on the podcast. So both the public and a private community. So we like to be an alternative to the drama that people find in other Facebook groups on the interwebs. We like to be a safe haven from all that.
29:15 AH: We have never had a fight about essential oils in our premium discussion group.
29:20 MR: And we keep it to business. [laughter] We're business focused. We're not... There are other places to get hands-on technique kind of stuff, and we... We venture a little bit if it's appropriate here and there, but really, we... We keep to business. We're gonna help you with money, we're gonna help you with productivity, with technology, with marketing, that's the kind of stuff we're gonna help you with.
29:37 DB: You... I've referred to you numerous times as the pod fathers of the massage universe. You are two hundred and ninety I think something episodes in, that is unbelievable, especially for somebody whose doing number six, right now.
29:52 MR: We're pretty proud of that. Yeah.
29:53 DB: That is absolutely incredible, and, I am in awe, honestly, that you have never missed a week. That is unbelievable. And if you've never... If you, audience people listening, if you've never heard, you have to go listen to the podcast. You guys are excellent. And with regards to your business advice, I have sat next to you at the World Massage Festival, and I have watched people... The rock stars that you are as people clamored to set up times to discuss businesses with you. And it's... Though... Even though I know this, I know that massage practitioners may not have had appropriate or a high level of business training in their schools. It's really palpable for me when I've sat next to you guys, and I've watched you help people, and guide them through basic things, or very complex things. So again, kudos to what you guys have done for the field. Let me ask you a question with regards to the members that you represent at Massage Business Blueprint. Do you know... Do you have an idea of the makeup of your members who never stopped practicing, have reopened, are considering reopening, or will not open for the foreseeable future?
31:11 AH: I don't have a really clear skew on that. The bulk of the conversation within our premium community has definitely leaned towards prudence, and stopping practice. Even many of our members stopping practice even well before their government said they had to, and are pausing before they return, even if their state and legislature says it's okay to go back. So, my guess is, the majority of our people are comfortable with the pause, and that they want to be mindful of safety. I know a handful are planning to go back, probably sooner rather than later, but, I also know that I... Clearly, I have some feelings on the topic, and, being the loudest voice in the room sometimes in that group, I'm not always, but sometimes I am, I am sure that my very clear stance on this, and the resources that I and some others have shared in the group, are very, "We all need to stop touching people" oriented. So, I have probably had a silencing effect. So I have a feeling... I am sure we have plenty of members who will be... Who are still working, if they can legally, and probably, people if they can't legally [laughter] and also plan to return quickly.
32:36 AH: And, not every state has their unemployment set up... Their pandemic unemployment assistance set up. We have plenty of people out of work who have been out of work since the middle of March, and haven't seen a penny yet. And, the loans are hard to get, and not everybody got the EIDL advance and I really feel for people who are so strapped they need to return quickly. And, I am confident that my opinions on the matter have probably silenced many of those voices in my group. So I don't wanna pretend that we're all on the same page because I'm sure there are plenty of people who aren't.
33:13 DB: Are your members asking certain questions that seem to come up often... Concerns that come up? Is everything still business-driven? Has it shifted to emotionally-driven? Is it both?
33:26 AH: It's definitely both. And on occasion, we had a little bit of... We have a lot of mental health talk, actually, in our group. But it has definitely increased. And, it's... It's really nice 'cause people will share when they're having a really good day, and people will share when they're like, "I am melting down. And here are the things I am melting down about." And it's so wonderful when there's a couple hundred other people there to be like, "Oh heck, I melted down about that yesterday. Yes." And, able to comfort and commiserate a little bit, without dragging each other down. It's really remarkable that way. Yeah, so most people are really concerned about exposure. About exposing themselves, about something in their office being the way someone catches the bug and... Yeah, and a lot of fear about these clotting things and system failures. So there's a lot of talk about safety. And then secondarily, Michael can cover the second most popular topic.
34:23 MR: Yeah, the second most popular is three letters, PPP. No, it's that and other things. So, there's a lot of... I'm actually really proud of the way we've been able to kind of be a conversation point for a lot of massage therapists about navigating the CARES Act and all of the financial relief available, because, it is very overwhelming. I live and... As a financial advisor, I live and breathe this stuff all the time right now, because it's... I'm keeping up on every detail if possible, which is not possible, but I do the best I can. And, if that's my world I'm in already, I can't imagine what it must be like for the average business owner/massage therapist who is just struggling to figure it all out. And so, we've been a really great place, I think, to talk about things like, "Does the PPP loan apply to me? If so, how do I apply for it? What makes it forgivable? What records do I need? What happens if it combines with unemployment? What if I get this and that? What about EIDL?" There's just a huge landscape of details that are very difficult to navigate. And so, no one person has all of the answers, but we've done a pretty good job I think of distilling some wisdom and information to the top that helps a lot of people navigate it.
35:29 MR: And we've had a really... A lot of success stories. And we've had a lot of members that have gotten PPP loans approved. They were able to kind of weather the storm with that, and maybe some other assistance. We're helping people with financial stuff, getting their books in order, giving them advice on how to create the proper reporting systems for this time and, God forbid, next time if something happens. Getting them more prepped for things like that. So, I feel like we're really seeing a lot of questions around that stuff, and we're really navigating that pretty well, I think.
36:02 DB: We will continue the conversation with a Allissa and Michael in our next episode of the ABMP Podcast.
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