The son of an Air Force Sergeant, Julius West lived in many parts of the United States as a child. He enjoyed sampling dishes from the different areas he called home, and spent many hours in the kitchen with his mother where they prepared traditional, homestyle dishes. This inspired Julius to open his food truck in 2012, and his delicious shrimp & grits quickly became the most popular item on the menu. He recently decided to retire his food truck and focus on selling his bottled shrimp and grits sauce.
Julius engaged TAP because he needed help with a sales and marketing strategy for his new business. He also wanted direction on managing his finances.
Julius and TAP
TAP consultants, Christine Iozza Lukkes and Souha Alameddine, worked with Julius to better understand the Sarge’s brand, its target market and its competition. The consultants suggested changes to the company logo and website to better reflect the focus on the new jarred sauce. Knowing it would be difficult to build a following for a new product solely online, they made recommendations on how to get Sarge’s Sauce to market via local groceries and fish markets. They emphasized the importance of sampling and suggested taking it to events such as fairs, festivals and farmer’s markets. Christine and Souha reviewed Julius’ FaceBook campaign and suggested testing out different targets segmented by geography, age and interests. The pair also created P&L and cash flow worksheets so Julius could get a better understanding of his revenues and expenses. Finally, they researched potential grants and showed Julius how to apply for funding under programs like the Restaurant Recovery Fund.
Where is Sarge’s now?
With TAP’s help Julius is taking Sarge’s Sauce to the next level. He recently got his product into three grocery chains and has received interest from food service companies. Sales have increased 15-20%. He eliminated some marketing channels that were not effective and is working on updating his logo and product labels. Julius also introduced a new product, packaged ground grits and is excited about its prospects. He uses spreadsheets that TAP consultants created for him to keep track of his finances and says, “TAP put us on a good path and taught us to focus on what is most important. I am more discerning about keeping my expenses in line.” Julius is energized by his business’ growth and is hopeful for the future.
Growing up, Asia Roscoe was influenced by the strong, hardworking women in her family, and she dreamed of creating an online beauty destination for Black women. After graduating from Howard University in 2020, Asia developed “Above the Baar,” an ecommerce business specializing in satin-lined headwear and other hair accessories.
Asia partnered with TAP because she needed help with her pricing, inventory management, and marketing plan. She also wanted guidance revamping her website, and needed a better understanding of her finances.
Above the Baar and TAP
TAP consultants, Susan Berman and Beth Dell’Orto, created a pricing model for Asia to ensure her revenues were covering costs and allowing for some profit. They worked with Asia to identify her brand and use it to guide her marketing plan and website changes. The consultants also provided a basic financial model to help Asia plan for Above the Baar’s future growth. Finally, they provided Asia with industry resources to support her business.
Where is Asia now?
As a result of TAP’s engagement, Asia’s sales are up roughly 15%, and she feels she has a clearer sense of who her ideal clients are. She adjusted her pricing strategy to ensure her costs were being covered while still remaining competitive with others in the space. Asia updated her website and is using email marketing to reach her target audience. Asia credits her TAP consultants saying, “Susan and Beth were awesome! They connected me with so many different resources and people that helped my business grow and helped me grow as an entrepreneur. TAP’s tools were very useful and helped out a lot with financial planning and organizing.” Asia is now better prepared to grow her business, and is more confident about the future.
Joanna Prisco, a former food writer, transformed her farmer’s market pop-up into a thriving brick and mortar cafe when she opened The Good Witch Coffee Bar. Located in the Hastings-on-Hudson train station, the cafe offers delicious coffee and baked goods and prides itself on creating a sense of community by hosting live music, movies and other events. Joanna is incredibly passionate about her business and the impact it has on those around her.
Why did Joanna need TAP?
Joanna needed to make up for lost commuter and in-store business due to COVID. She was unsure of her financials and wanted marketing tactics and other strategies to help The Good Witch recover. In addition, she needed some legal advice regarding a denied insurance claim after a storm damaged her HVAC system.
How did TAP help?
TAP consultants Beatriz Franco and Suzanne Yearley created cash flow statements so Joanna could track revenues and expenses on a weekly basis. They suggested marketing tactics to help Good Witch increase sales and boost brand awareness, including website revisions, holiday boxes, local partnerships and changes to the menu. They also recommended initiating online ordering and delivery service to support business during the pandemic. Finally, they supplied resources so that Joanna could choose the right legal advice to help settle her insurance claim.
Where are they now?
Based on TAP’s recommendations, Joanna is updating the Good Witch website to include more visuals that showcase the breadth of baked goods it offers. She also introduced a "drink of the month" initiative that generated an immediate response from customers. Joanna is currently working with a law firm to help recover a claim owed to her by her insurance company. She notes, “my experience working with TAP was extremely beneficial. The consultants assigned to my business were experienced and well-suited to tackle challenges that the hospitality industry was uniquely faced with during the pandemic. Together, they brought a lot of energy and thoughtfulness to the project.” Joanna is now geared for growth, and Good Witch is thriving.
Meet Denene Rodney, Founder of Zebra Strategies
Denene Rodney founded Zebra Strategies in 2001 to fill a gap in the market research industry. Zebra examines marginalized and underserved communities, presenting its findings to Fortune 500 companies, non profits, and government agencies. Denene and her team aim to capture nuances that traditional market research often overlooks.
Why Did Denene Need TAP?
With a recent surge in sales, Denene turned to TAP for help scaling her business.
How Did Tap Help?
TAP’s Devon Briger, Elyse Kane and Amber Yusuf reviewed Zebra’s project allocation process and interviewed key employees to better understand operations. They built a new workflow plan to improve efficiency and reviewed Denene’s daily schedule to offer ways to reallocate responsibilities. Knowing Zebra would need additional workers to meet increased demand, the consultants updated job descriptions and suggested resources to improve access to a skilled and flexible workforce. They also presented strategies to increase brand awareness and analyzed financial reports so they could make realistic recommendations regarding scaling the business.
Where is She Now?
TAP gave Denene the tools to expand Zebra’s reach without sacrificing the quality of its services. Denene took steps to tie bonuses of senior staff members to sales which has had a positive effect on revenue. She is utilizing an intern to assist with financial reporting and looking for a new vendor to help manage the database. Denene is implementing software for time management tracking and is working on organizational structure and task allocation. Denene stated, “There are a lot of advisory programs out there, but TAP’s one on one, customized approach is really unique.” She is confident she has the tools she needs to scale her business.
Meet Gessie, Owner of A&T Iron Works
A&T Iron Works, established in 1974, is located in an impressive 17,000 square foot facility in New Rochelle, NY. Gessie, as president, runs daily operations with her daughter Theresa. She is deeply passionate about the industry, the quality of her products, and growing the business. She was recently recognized at both the state and national levels for her efforts, strong leadership and impressive achievements.
Why did Gessie need TAP?
Gessie partnered with TAP to improve cash flow management, streamline her operations and expand her business. She also needed help prioritizing time spent on soliciting sales. TAP stepped right in.
How did TAP help?
TAP consultants Angela Pearson and Tracy Grey focused on helping Gessie increase productivity by developing a time log to pinpoint inefficiencies. They helped her set growth targets by segment and identified sales and marketing opportunities to achieve them. The consultants encouraged a more proactive sales approach that would qualify potential customers and thus save staff time writing new quotes. This included a more efficient “contact us” format that would help determine priorities and size of estimates. With the help of another TAP consultant, Amy Lai, they created a cash flow template so Gessie could ensure she had funds to meet daily business needs in an industry where working capital is tight.
Where are they now?
With TAP’s assistance and Gessie’s resilience, A&T has already begun to regain its position in the industry. They hired four new employees and are landing more high-end jobs within target segments. Gessie credits TAP with “helping us to take a step back and focus on the overall picture of the company. By doing this, we could increase sales, better manage our cash flow, and improve our website.” A&T is now more organized and efficient and thus able to bid on more projects. As a result, A&T has already been able to increase clients by 20%, and sales are up 30%.
With a BS in biology and chemistry, Rayshone Phillips channeled her scientific knowledge into a career as a professional hairstylist. She is the owner of The Head Spa Studio, a salon specializing in smoothing naturally curly “4C” hair. Rayshone provides services that improve scalp and hair health using organic essential oils. She works out of her home, but she reaches thousands more through her viral TikTok and Youtube videos.
Why did Rayshone need TAP?
Rayshone partnered with TAP to get a better handle of her finances and to develop a cohesive marketing strategy for her existing products and services and the new online scalp care course she was launching. She also needed guidance applying for PPP loans to get funding during Covid.
How did TAP help Rayshone and The Head Spa Studio?
TAP consultants, Christine Rupp and Naomi Azrak, conducted a brand strategy session with Rayshone and provided input on marketing materials, including educational materials for her new Head Spa Studio class for stylists. They reviewed her website and overall business plan. They guided Rayshone as she applied for PPP funding and created simple P&L and revenue projection spreadsheets so she could understand her profitability and better predict her cash needs. The consultants helped determine a reasonable marketing budget for Head Spa, suggested ways to attract new customers and created a Yelp presence to capture reviews.
Where is she now?
Rayshone has moved forward with her new class planning, and customer volume for her traditional services has increased an average of two new clients per week. She is seeing more referrals into her business from online listings- especially Google- and has been able to increase revenues from silk press treatments. Rayshone notes, “TAP was most helpful in building up my confidence. I feel more articulate communicating my brand in both my traditional business and the new HSS class business. Also, their financial projections encouraged me to make better, numbers- based decisions." Rayshone hopes that by applying TAP’s tools to her specialized services for hair and scalp care she can improve her business and help others look and feel their best.
Maria was a journalist in Peru, but struggled to find work when she moved to Westchester because she didn’t speak English. After working miscellaneous jobs, she began freelancing for newspapers and radio shows across New Jersey and New York. Maria dreamed of owning her own Spanish-language newspaper; fourteen years ago, she opened Westchester Hispano to provide news to the Spanish speaking residents of the tri-state area.
Why did Maria need TAP?
Despite being Westchester's largest newspaper in Spanish, Westchester Hispano was struggling to attract the right salespeople and needed help with cash flow management. The niche media outlet was also in need of updated marketing materials and a stronger social media strategy. Due to the Covid pandemic, Maria lost some advertisers and needed ideas on how to pivot and conserve cash. For the longer term, Maria felt it was important to expand the newspaper’s use of digital media but she needed to navigate how this might affect customer behavior, particularly her readers in the hispanic community.
How did TAP help Maria and Westchester Hispano?
TAP consultants, Claudine Kelly and Rebecca Shalam, created a customized tool to help Maria manage her cash flow. They developed a marketing sales sheet and established weekly sales meetings for Maria and her team to coordinate geographies and goals. The consultants also created detailed job descriptions, provided Maria with recruiting contacts in the area to help her source additional staff, and brainstormed best compensation plans for the sales team. They discussed social media strategies and equipped Maria with the necessary tools to expand her presence on different platforms. The consultants presented the idea of reducing print cycles during Covid to reduce expenses, and lastly, TAP provided ideas for an eventual migration from print to digital for the newspaper.
Where is she now?
By focusing her time and energy on her most responsive clients and hiring reliable salespeople, Maria has been able to expand her business. After three months of collaborating with TAP, sales have increased by 20% and profitability has improved. Maria has also implemented QuickBooks to manage her cash flows and improve financial health. “I’m very thankful to TAP for helping me in so many areas: marketing, accounting, cash flow management and digital media. They really made a difference in my business.” Maria is using her talents as a reporter, publisher, editor and salesperson to work through challenges, and is hopeful for the future.
Cross Culture Kombucha
Ian Ceppos decided to stop drinking alcohol in search of a healthier lifestyle. When traditional juices and sodas didn’t satisfy, he and his wife Liz began brewing kombucha at home. They founded Cross Culture Kombucha to share their newfound obsession and now offer many flavors like Mojito and Earl Grey. You can purchase their products on their website, visit their taproom in Danbury, or find their bottles lining the shelves of many New York and Connecticut cafés and markets.
Why did Cross Culture Kombucha need TAP?
Ian and Liz looked to TAP for guidance on how to develop a healthy growth plan and increase sales. They needed help constructing accurate revenue and production forecasts, establishing a relationship with a distributor, recruiting employees, and implementing a strong marketing plan.
How did TAP help?
TAP consultants Natalie Rawlinson and May Lee were eager to work with CCK to reach these goals, but first needed to help Ian and Liz navigate the pandemic. CCK established home delivery options, curbside pickups and partnerships with local companies. They also upgraded their website to accommodate online sales. The consultants worked with CCK on loan applications, contingency planning and PPP terms and devised plans to grow retail sales. They developed a forecasting model for budgeting and planning and made recommendations on distribution, physical space requirements, and market competition.
Where is Cross Culture Kombucha now?
With TAP’s help, CCK not only survived the pandemic, but has grown its business. They are now working with a distributor and hiring independent workers. CCK has also added a fun new flavor, Lemon Lavender, to complete their six regular kombuchas. To reach even more customers they will secure more vendors after their planned move to a new location. They also worked to enhance their social media presence. The Ceppos’ determination to share their delicious products and promote a healthy (and tasty!) lifestyle paired with the new tools TAP has given them will ensure CCK’s continued growth and future success.
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)
About this blog
This blog features some of our client engagements.