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.
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
163,735 total U.S. businesses have closed since the beginning of the pandemic,1 but Grace Kelli Cupcakes is not one of them!
Meet Sandra Mathis, Owner and Founder of Grace Kelli Cupcakes
Sandra always loved to bake. She grew up in Waycross, North Carolina where she shadowned her grandmother in the kitchen and learned how to put a Southern spin on various recipes. Sandra brought that passion to NYC where she opened Grace Kelli Cupcakes (GKC), specializing in baked goods and Southern-style meals. Sandra’s ambition was evident in the many hours she devoted to perfecting her recipes and chocolate-dipped treats.
How did COVID impact Sandra’s business?
When the pandemic forced Sandra to shut down, GKC’s future was uncertain. New orders dropped to zero. Sandra worried how she would earn enough money to support her family.
How did TAP help Sandra and Grace Kelli Cupcakes?
Immediately, TAP consultants Rachel Dugoff and Mary Beth Minton helped Sandra apply for small business loans and grants to offset lost revenue; they then worked with GKC over a four-week period to stabilize and adapt her business. During that time, Rachel and Mary Beth helped Sandra brainstorm innovative product ideas suited to the new consumer landscape. They encouraged Sandra to network with other minority-owned businesses and expand GKC’s reach through an enhanced social media presence. Sandra’s passionate commitment combined with TAP’s professional expertise and empathetic support allowed GKC to stay afloat and plan for a successful future.
Source: 1 Yelp Local Economic Impact Report (Sept 2020)
The couple are the founders of Cornbread 26 Food Co, a catering company that aims to elevate comfort food classics with creativity and unique touches. They began with a few cornbread recipes, including their now famous Cornbread Madeleines, and evolved to offer specialities like lobster waffle nachos and a variety of crostini. With no formal training, Craig learned the trade through cookbooks, TV shows and instructional videos, and his determination landed him as a finalist on the very first season of Master Chef (USA). Claude always loved cooking and developing new recipes, and his career as a NYC Jazz performer often inspires his creations.
How did Covid impact Cornbread 26?
Craig and Claude, like many in the food services industry, watched their business come to a complete standstill when the Covid 19 pandemic hit the New York area. Suddenly they had no events to cater and were left wondering how they would make ends meet.
How did TAP help?
TAP consultants, Victoria Drozdov and Susan Berman quickly began brainstorming with Cornbread 26. Victoria offered her deep knowledge of operations and strategy. Susan contributed her many years of experience as a successful entrepreneur and an editor at Food and Wine magazine. The consultants encouraged Craig and Claude to reach out to old customers and to find new ones by improving their online presence. They ran through pricing exercises to determine which business segments were most profitable, and gave them suggestions for new product offerings and packaging concepts.
Where are they now?
Cornbread 26 has received orders from Apple Stores and one customer ordered 3,900 Cornbread Madeleines. They have been able to resume catering small parties and weddings and have positioned themselves to service corporate lunches when employees return to the workplace.
It is clear that Craig and Claude’s hard work and determination, combined with high quality guidance from TAP, will continue to fuel their recovery and future success.
About this blog
This blog features some of our client engagements.