Maria Elena is the quintessential multitasking entrepreneur. As a student of the NYU nursing program and a single mother of two young children, Maria Elena owns and operates a residential cleaning business based in Westchester County. Her clientele have been mostly residential clients in New York City.
How did Covid impact her business?
Maria’s business was severely affected by the public health restrictions imposed to control the spread of Covid. The business from residential clients contracted by 58%. She quickly realized that she needed to pivot her business, diversify her service offerings and utilize resources more efficiently to remain viable and profitable.
How did TAP help?
TAP consultants Regina Altaras and Becky Schamis worked with Maria to expand her business beyond residential work to commercial cleaning. They did a competitive analysis and developed a marketing plan to rebrand the business and expand to this new sector. The consultants developed a website plan, to include online reviews to optimize for SEO and business credibility. They also recommended creating a business profile on home service websites, such as Angie’s List and Yelp, as well as local B2B business organizations in Westchester. To enhance her brand further the consultants suggested adding certifications such as Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise and Green Clean Institute Certification.
Where is she now?
As a result of TAP’s engagement, Maria Elena is more confident to advance her business. She updated her business cards with a more professional look and is focused on allocating resources more efficiently. She is trying to tighten her geographic area to reduce travel time by focusing on fewer buildings but increasing the number of units cleaned in each location. She is also delegating employees to execute cleaning jobs that she previously did herself. Her revenue is up by about 30% from last year, and she has added 7 new residential clients. While she still plans to expand to the commercial sector, that focus will wait until the fall when businesses are fully reopened. In terms of promotion, she’s been using social media channels to market her brand and plans to develop her website later this year. She also hopes to get some of the certifications TAP suggested and collaborate with online platforms to expand her client base.
Maria Elena believes TAP helped her advance her business by offering a new perspective and giving her the incentive and tools to change her operations. Those tools combined with her business savvy and “can do” mindset will propel her to more success in the future.
163,735 total U.S. businesses have closed since the beginning of the pandemic,1 but StepWISEnow is not one of them.
Meet Molly Roffman, Founder and Director of StepWISEnow
Molly Roffman is a New York State Physical Therapist who specializes in fall prevention and balance training. Molly’s experience rehabilitating patients who sustained fractures inspired her to develop StepWISEnow, a balance and fall prevention studio. The goal of StepWISEnow is to help older adults live more active and independent lives by providing fitness classes.
Why did Molly need the help of TAP?
When the pandemic began, many small businesses were forced to adapt. StepWISEnow transitioned their in-person classes to online. Molly came to TAP needing help with messaging and marketing tactics, as well as social media. In addition, she wanted help acquiring clients, increasing cash flow, and ideas on how to adapt during COVID.
How did TAP help Molly and StepWISEnow?
Immediately, TAP consultants, Susan Berman, Kyra Chenoweth, and Betsy Weiser reviewed current marketing efforts and used brand analysis to guide changes to the website and other communications. They also utilized competitive analysis to determine where Molly fit into a saturated market and how she could focus on her niche to get results. The team analyzed her financials and created a model to optimize Molly’s time and earnings. The pricing options for classes and memberships were re-evaluated to ensure steady income and profitability. The consultants also analyzed StepWise’s customer base and recommended strategies for retaining clients, re-engaging those that lapsed, and acquiring new members. Lastly, TAP served as a sounding board as Molly worked through obstacles posed by COVID-19.
Where is she now?
Molly is still working hard to improve StepWISEnow. She is researching and testing out multiple platforms, such as Vimeo, to expand course offerings. Molly also plans to re-decorate her studio, including painting the walls and floor as well as purchasing new studio lights. In addition, Molly has started thinking about merchandise for her company and enrolled in classes to expand her knowledge.
Source: 1 Yelp Local Economic Impact Report (Sept 2020)
Meet Elizabeth Reddin, Founder & Director of The Dog Institute of Williamsburg
As a longtime Williamsburg resident, Elizabeth has deep community ties and over 15 years of experience helping new parents of puppies and dogs. After securing her certification through the Dog Training Internship Academy (DTIA), she launched The Dog Institute of Williamsburg in 2018. Along with teaching pet parents how to raise well-behaved pups through positive reinforcement, The Dog Institute provides opportunities for dogs and puppies to socialize through drop-off “play and train” programs.
What Were Elizabeth’s Key Challenges?
Due to pandemic restrictions, Elizabeth moved from site-based training to offering private virtual lessons. As she planned to transition to a blended model in a post-COVID environment, she felt uncertain about the financial impact of changing her offerings. She also needed help adding eCommerce capabilities and increasing her overall profitability.
How Did TAP Help?
TAP consultants Tasha Kewalramani and Alison Schlesinger compiled financial information to gain a better understanding of the business, both pre and post-COVID. They analyzed Elizabeth’s pricing compared to her competition and uncovered opportunities to reduce costs like rent and other supplies. The consultants also reviewed The Dog Institute website and mapped out an enhanced site structure to incorporate eCommerce capabilities. Elizabeth received an action plan complete with supporting tools and detailed next steps.
Where is She Now?
Elizabeth is more knowledgeable about her financial position and understands how to make business decisions with the bottom line in mind. Most notably, TAP used data Elizabeth had collected from competitors to guide her pricing strategy, allowing her to be more in line with the marketplace and maintain her client base. Armed with a fully developed eCommerce plan and refined hiring strategy, Elizabeth is excited to start selling products on her website, hire a new employee and implement some of Tasha and Alison’s other recommendations. She now feels better equipped to advance her business.
Meet Daysi Briones, owner of IQ Contracting, Inc. & Associates
Daysi Briones, originally from Peru, always dreamed of running her own business. While working as a real estate agent she developed a passion for remodeling, which grew stronger as she watched her father and brother working in the construction industry. With $5,000 and the help of the NYC Women Chamber of Commerce, Daysi started her own contracting business. She constantly works to prove herself in this male dominated industry.
Business Challenges Lead IQ Contracting to TAP
Daysi turned to TAP to help her revamp her proposal process and better track her finances to increase profitability. She also needed help outlining both short and long term goals to navigate the uncertainty that Covid brought.
How did TAP Help?
TAP consultants Natalia Alarcon and Laura Stobbe helped IQ Contracting analyze finances on a per project basis. To ensure Daysi more accurately quoted jobs going forward, they reviewed costs from previous projects and studied competitors. They developed an estimation process that was clear to customers, aligned with industry standards and allowed for profit. The TAP team also helped Daysi determine revenue levels needed to satisfy her monthly expenses. They worked collaboratively with Daysi’s new accountant to categorize her expenses more thoughtfully and coached her on the best types of hires to help her with administrative tasks.
Where is Daysi now?
Daysi now has better tools to price jobs appropriately and the confidence to push her business to the next level. She added four full-time employees, three independent contractors and an administrative assistant. She also plans to hire an operations manager so that she can focus on sales. IQ Contracting transitioned out of her home office to a new rented space, and has secured some new clients, with a new focus on the private business space. Daysi utilized an SBA loan to purchase a new truck and new computer. With new financial awareness and a fighting spirit, Daysi is prepared to take advantage of the post-Covid recovery and realize her dream of making IQ Contracting a strong, profitable business.
From seedbeads to symbols to semi-precious stones, Bead Everything offers customers all of the resources they need to create and style beautiful pieces of jewelry. In 2016, Owner Debbie Daum took her shining passion for gemology one step further and opened Bead Everything, a full-service bead store in White Plains, New York. Offering all types of beads, gemstones, and raw materials, her store attracts both novice and professional jewelry designers alike. Not only does Bead Everything have the materials to do-it-yourself, but it also offers beautiful finished pieces and jewelry-making classes.
Why did Debbie need TAP?
Debbie was looking to expand her customer base, update her website and explore new marketing tactics. With the goal of increasing revenue, Debbie also wanted to determine whether or not she should invest in a POS system. As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, fewer people were visiting the store, having an effect on revenues, but also giving her more time to make strategic changes for the future.
How did TAP help Debbie and Bead Everything?
TAP consultants Laurie Medvinsky and Stephanie Bettis worked closely with Debbie to implement several changes to maximize efficiency. The consultants made recommendations around her different customer segments. They encouraged Debbie to target new customers, while improving marketing efforts to leverage her existing loyal base. They also offered ideas to increase website functionality for ecommerce transactions. To improve operations, Laurie and Stephanie helped Debbie compare different POS systems, and assisted her in evaluating her cash flows.
Where is she now?
As a result of TAP’s engagement, Debbie was given a better idea of what needed to be prioritized. She purchased Clover, a POS system, to better track customer purchases and inventory. She began utilizing "grab and go" kiosks to move out older inventory and is watching her expenses more carefully. Her client base has increased as more people have discovered the store through classes in waist beads and jewelry made by her new wire artist. Debbie is increasing social media activity and using virtual guest artists and craft shows to attract customers across the country to her products. She now has a roadmap to direct her efforts going forward. Debbie’s determination and creativity combined with TAP’s professional expertise helped Bead Everything position for growth in the future.
Since the age of six, Kyra Johnson has danced with elite schools including The Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey, Joffrey, and Steps on Broadway. In order to share her lifelong love of dance with others, “Ms. Jay” opened the New Beginnings Performing Arts Studio in 2009, offering dance and performing arts instruction to children, adolescents and adults. The studio focuses on retaining students throughout their progression with learning options ranging from walk-in classes to residency programs (pre-COVID). A recipient of the 2018 Woman of Excellence Entrepreneurial Award, Ms. Jay is a community leader creating mentorship opportunities for college students, fighting childhood obesity, and providing scholarships and other programs to support underprivileged youth.
How Did COVID Impact New Beginnings?
The COVID crisis had a devastating impact on the performing arts industry. The shut-down meant lost customers and declining income for the studio. Kyra prepared to offer virtual classes and invested in screens and cameras for the studio, but she was unsure of how to market it to new and existing clients.
How Did TAP Help?
TAP consultants, Paula Hernandez Rios and Souha Alameddine, assessed Kyra’s revenues and expenses to determine how to price her classes and calculate the number of enrollments she would need to ensure profitability. They also created a monthly cashflow tracker, and trained Kyra how to use it to make more informed business decisions. To strengthen digital marketing efforts, the consultants conducted a customer segmentation analysis, delivered a social media toolbox, helped with website improvements and coached Kyra on the use of social media analytics. TAP also offered information on grants and other business resources to provide additional financial relief.
Where is She Now?
New Beginnings Performing Arts Studio has an increased social media presence, resulting in improved brand awareness and new clients. Course offerings now include a robust mix of virtual and in-person classes. Most importantly, Kyra feels better equipped to run her business. She has a clearer understanding of New Beginnings’ key differentiators, as well as competitor products and pricing, and she confidently reviews her cash position on a regular basis.
As a NYS Licensed Massage Therapist and Psychic Medium, Alyse Shyne realized her dream of being an entrepreneur and opened a three story, chic wellness and healing spa with all female service providers. Located in White Plains, NY, The Healing Collective provides wellness treatments and contains an elegant boutique which offers leisurewear, oils and energy crystals. It also delivers a welcoming community with a focus on 360 Health, as well as diverse and alternative services.
How Did COVID-19 Impact The Healing Collective?
The pandemic devastated The Healing Collective’s business, which relies heavily on in-person services and sales. Not only was Alyse burdened by fixed expenses, but she had also recently signed a five-year lease for the three-story building and needed to quickly pivot to cover the mounting costs. Concerns were also rapidly growing around her lack of a structured strategy for marketing, customer acquisition and social media.
How Did TAP Help?
TAP consultants Jenny Carragher and Anna Denysenko developed recommendations for prioritizing Alyse as a landlord, to cover her lease obligations, and utilize excess capacity of unused treatment rooms. The consultants also assessed current rental income and inventory to maximize THC revenue. Lastly, they helped develop a robust marketing program and tailored customer acquisition plan.
Where is She Now?
The Healing Collective is open once again, with increased customers and revenue! Motivated by TAP’s support, Alyse has added a new tenant and is almost at full capacity. She has also begun using Shopify to assist with her e-commerce business and has seen a consistent increase in revenue each month. Most importantly, Alyse is running her business with renewed energy and confidence as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to decline. She is equipped with new business tools to guide her through the next year
Leni, a lighting design expert with over twenty years of experience, has won several awards for her ability to “transform the night”. She believes lighting can change the way people and cities operate after daytime hours. Her dazzling displays and strategic use of light have enabled many to see the “other side of day” in a whole new way.
Why did Leni seek TAP’s help?
Leni came to TAP because she needed help leveraging her international reputation to restart her urban lightning business, Leni Schwendinger Light Projects. She wanted to consolidate her product offerings into one strong brand and develop a marketing plan to identify new clients, forge strategic partnerships and generate revenues.
How did TAP help?
TAP consultants Susan Berman and Pam Miner helped Leni develop a plan to expand her customer base and identify potential partners. They suggested targeting local governments, businesses and commercial property owners. They also recommended changes to her website so clients could better visualize the creative possibilities she could implement for personal and public spaces. Susan and Pam also aimed to increase income by helping Leni prioritize short term opportunities like speaking engagements, podcasts and her innovative Nightseeing™ program.
Where is Leni now?
With limitations on travel and cancellation of in-person events imposed by COVID, Leni is focused on offering virtual speaking engagements about nighttime lighting. These are helping build her brand and provide a steady source of income. As many activities have been forced outdoors, she is capitalizing on the increased need for, and value of, purposeful urban lighting. Leni is excited to use her knowledge and creativity to increase safety and security, stimulate economic growth, improve public health, and increase social interactions into the night hours for cities around the world.
With a background in social work and a passion for personal wellness, Nathalie turned to massage as a way to help others release their stressors. In 2013, she opened her own business, Touche Moi, in the heart of New Rochelle. The studio, like the one-woman powerhouse that remains its staff, is relationship-driven and focuses on both physical and emotional health. Nathalie’s service is highly individualized, as she offers diverse techniques to suit the needs of her varied customers.
How Did COVID Impact Nathalie’s Business?
The pandemic forced the studio’s temporary shutdown, and implementing new safety measures burdened Nathalie’s already tight budget and schedule. When Nathalie reopened, she needed to quickly make up for lost revenue. Time management became a major concern, as the single mom juggled homeschooling her kids, developing her business, and maintaining her own wellness.
How Did TAP Help?
TAP took as holistic an approach to consulting as Nathalie takes to massage. Kyra Chenoweth and Mindy Grigg reworked Nathalie’s operations, marketing, and financial strategy to help Touche Moi emerge from COVID with strength. The consultants customized a financial model to identify revenue goals, and created a marketing plan to highlight her brand, schedule her advertising and promotion, and better target her customers. With data from a competitive analysis of other massage studios, Kyra and Mindy helped Nathalie understand the worth of her expertise versus others in the industry and price her services appropriately. TAP also helped implement an online payment system to make booking and billing easier.
Where is She Now?
Nathalie’s business is back and booming post shutdown, as her loyal customers have gratefully reintegrated massage into their health routines. Thanks to the support she received from TAP, Nathalie now structures her schedule specifically to meet her profit goals. Her marketing is more effective as she is incorporating TAP’s branding strategy into communications with her client base. Touche Moi has always existed as a healing space for Nathalie’s clients, who appreciate that now, more than ever before.
Cheryl, a mindfulness expert and instructor, and Stephanie, a business and operations professional, combined forces to create Pause to be Present, an oasis of calm located in Mamaroneck, New York. The meditation studio is an open community centered on finding physical and mental calm, greater balance, better health and happiness.
How did COVID impact their business?
When Covid hit, Pause to be Present had to close their physical studio. The founders needed help making decisions about the future of their business and what reopening would look like. They had questions about their optimal service mix, and other necessary changes they needed to make to operate during the pandemic.
How did TAP help?
TAP consultants Natsuko Murakami, who has a background in finance and operations, and Claire Shields, who has expertise in project management and communications, worked with Cheryl and Stephanie to adapt their existing business and expand their offerings to corporations and other organizations.
The consultants analyzed client surveys and the customer database to help define the Pause to be Present brand and gain insight into the competition. They suggested focusing on corporate clients which would add more sessions, and to leverage existing connections to gain new patrons. And, they helped the studio target their marketing towards these new goals. They also reorganized the company’s financials to better identify revenues and costs associated with different services.
Where are they now?
Cheryl and Stephanie decided to temporarily close the physical studio, but the virtual studio is brimming with offerings. There is unlimited access to daily live streaming meditations, an on-demand video library and many workshops.
The business retained 100% of existing corporate customers and added many new clients, including a major organization and a school community. Program offerings include mindfulness workshops, support sessions and guided meditations, all designed to support people in managing the changed environment. Pause to be Present has adapted to a new reality and has provided a rare spot of calm to help many others navigate the challenges of living in a pandemic.
About this blog
This blog features some of our client engagements.