Photography by Alexis Marie Photography + Designs
When small business owners make decisions about growing their businesses, they face many questions: Which opportunities align with my business’ mission? How do I integrate new offerings into my business model? How do I grow my business at a sustainable pace?
Leslie Cozza, the owner of TapTastings, asked these questions herself. Leslie and her wife, Karen, founded TapTastings in 2019 as a way to offer safe, fun excursions to local Cape Cod breweries. Leslie could gather up to 14 guests in their van, Barley, and didn’t foresee any change to their business model until the pandemic forced them to temporarily shut down and reopen with limited capacity. In the new landscape of 2020, Leslie pursued new avenues to grow TapTastings that she and Karen had not previously worked into their business model.
When Leslie was introduced to the Entrepreneurs Forever (eforever) program, the opportunity to meet once per month with other entrepreneurs appealed to her. She was looking for a group that provided a supportive push in moving TapTastings forward.
“You want to go to the gym but you can get away with not going to the gym. The group is like having a personal trainer. If you have an appointment, you don’t want to miss the appointment. So you do it,” says Leslie.
Leslie started meeting with her peer group in April of 2021 while she was evaluating potential ways to grow TapTastings.
“We had this idea when we started the business, but the pandemic made us think outside of the box. Now we’re trying to peel back again because we don’t want to dilute the brand…We need help with keeping the business focused, yet growing and taking advantage of opportunities. That’s one of the reasons why Entrepreneurs Forever is hopefully going to be helpful for me,” says Leslie.
Originally, Leslie and Karen curated public tours that individuals 21 and older could join by purchasing tickets. They guided locals and tourists to breweries they had established relationships with and created memorable, stress-free experiences. As they drove guests safely to each venue, they also recommended beverages and presented short videos about the businesses to connect their guests with each brewery more deeply.
“Our job is really about hospitality and making sure that people have a fun and safe time…They love the fact that they don’t have to worry about things,” says Leslie.
Shortly after winning Cape Cod’s Best in the boat charters or tours category in the Cape Cod Times in 2020, the pandemic forced TapTastings to stop their tours completely. The first way that Leslie pivoted was by obtaining an alcohol delivery license to deliver orders from local breweries as a tips-only service. As a result, TapTastings expanded their relationships with wineries and stayed in the minds of local business owners and customers.
When TapTastings was able to reopen their tours, Leslie received an influx of inquiries from large groups of friends and families. At limited capacity, they weren’t able to accommodate entire parties in one van and so they began offering at-home tastings. Leslie and Karen delivered guests’ beverage orders right to their homes, educated guests about each beer and brewery, and organized swag raffles.
After a few months of incorporating the delivery and at-home tastings into her business, Leslie realized that there was a market for these services. She decided to keep offering them, in addition to the TapTastings’ tours.
The stream of incoming bookings from groups of friends and families also helped Leslie and Karen realize that there was a better way to operate their tours. They stopped offering public, ticketed tours and designed two types of private excursions instead. With the new approach, TapTastings now creates a more customized experience for private parties. Guests are picked up and dropped off at their homes and they can select which breweries, wineries, and restaurants to visit. TapTastings also makes reservations at each venue and takes care of paying for food and beverages in their all-inclusive tours.
Leslie anticipated reopening TapTastings’ tours to 100% capacity on August 1, 2021. Unexpectedly, TapTastings was able to reopen fully on May 29, and Leslie and Karen were able to resume their tours in full swing. In an Entrepreneurs Forever peer group of other small business owners who also felt the weight of capacity limitations, Leslie’s group celebrated the reopening.
“We were lucky enough that our business is easily adjustable. Since we don’t have employees, we didn’t need to suddenly hire our staff back. The main challenge was fielding the huge influx in inquiries. The group was very happy for our business!” says Leslie.
Now that TapTastings is operating their tours fully and offering more services, hiring employees may be an upcoming step for TapTastings. In addition to her peer group, Leslie also has the support of Facilitator Harold Behar and Community Director Will Rubenstein to offer insight when TapTastings is ready to hire.
Reserve a private tour for your friends, family, and coworkers at taptastings.com/book-a-tour! And, follow TapTastings on Instagram and Facebook for updates on their private tours.