The two sisters who own Front Office Staff-Reno are using their own experience as entrepreneurs to help other small businesses cope with the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. Shortly after they started their company in 2008, they faced a major recession and had to get creative to stay afloat.  “We strapped on our boots, guerilla marketed and worked from sunup to sundown Monday to Sunday,” said Rena Zatica, VP of Sales and Marketing. “We went without paychecks for a whole year, and most importantly, we joined every networking group in town. We built a solid reputation as hardworking ladies who cared deeply about each client, and we became involved with the city’s nonprofit groups. We still have many clients on our service from the 2008 recession.”

Rena and her sister, Loretta Bonilla, jointly own and manage Front Office Staff-Reno, with Rena handing sales and marketing and Loretta serving as VP of Operations. Their company offers a virtual receptionist and call answering service with live operators well versed in their clients’ company, so callers don’t realize their calls are being answered remotely. Virtual administrative assistants schedule appointments, make outbound calls to confirm appointments, and assist with direct marketing campaigns by making follow-up calls.

Clients include law firms and attorneys, contractors, insurance agencies, web design firms and marketing agencies. In 2018, Front Office Staff became an official benefit provider for the Nevada State Bar and the Washoe County Bar Association. Attorneys and law firms now comprise more than 30 percent of their client base.

Rena noted that supporting, connecting and mentoring small to middle-sized companies is an important part of the service they provide. “Loretta and I share the good, the bad, and the ugly of what has happened to our company,” she said. “We share our humble beginnings during the 2008 recession, and we encourage clients to stay the course because we are examples of how a company can overcome adversity.”

When COVID-19 hit, many small businesses, including Front Office Staff and its clients, were affected. “COVID-19 ranks right up there with the 2008 recession,” said Rena. “In the middle of April, we were considering laying off employees as well as the possibility of closing our company down.” Then, the sisters received a call from Cesar Quintanilla, Business Banking Officer at Nevada State Bank’s West Liberty branch, where they had their business accounts. He let them know that the SBA would be starting Paycheck Protection Program loans and helped them through the application process.

Cesar worked with them through the weekend and emailed late Sunday night to let them know the SBA had accepted their loan application. Cesar and Tammi Wright, the West Liberty branch manager, finalized their paperwork and the funds were deposited into their account the following Thursday.

“Loretta and I are extremely grateful to our banking team at Nevada State Bank,” said Rena. “We even sent clients and business associates to Tammi and Cesar if they were having trouble with the process. The PPP loan gave us time to review our options and come up with a plan. We were able to keep our entire team employed and keep the business running. Most importantly, we have been able to pay it forward to a few of our clients who were struggling. We currently have over 270 clients and have heard many sad stories about layoffs and closures. We truly feel blessed to continue serving our clients, and we owe it all to Tammi and Cesar at Nevada State Bank.”

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The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC