Calling In the Experts
From marketing to media, the county’s niche consultants meet a wide range of business needs.
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In a highly competitive business environment, it takes focused expertise and an objective eye to provide the guidance and planning necessary for that extra edge—and the right outside consultant can offer both. The expertise a qualified consultant brings to the table can make a significant difference in the direction your business takes. After weeks of researching, reporting, and asking friends and colleagues for recommendations, we present 22 consultants whose professional backgrounds, client approval ratings, diversity of services, awards and recognition, and accessibility make them stand out from the crowd. That said, this list is by no means comprehensive—it's merely a smattering of the many talented go-to pros throughout Westchester who are available whenever you or your business needs some expert advice.
Small Business Development
Half Moon Consulting
Ossining; (914) 923-5051
Jack Kennedy launched Half Moon Consulting in 2004 to help clients “look at the people processes in their organization in order to maximize and optimize the utilization and effectiveness of talent to make sure they're aligned with the business strategy,” explains Kennedy. For example, “I will typically analyze the effectiveness of a company’s recruiting efforts, how they bring in new employees, and how quickly they get them up to speed and contributing to the company’s operations. I will also look at the effectiveness of a company’s internal communications—just how effective are they at communicating to their employees how what they do day-to-day contributes to the success of the business? Are they training their employees effectively? And I also consult on how best to undertake any sort of transition—like an expansion or a downsizing. For example, if you’re going through a downsizing, how do you keep your people focused and engaged and retain their morale? There’s a lot of built-up resentment in companies today from how their employees were treated during the recession. A company needs to be mindful of that—or else the chickens will come home to roost.”
Half Moon works mostly with mid-sized to large companies, including Ampacet in Tarrytown. “Jack’s consulting expertise has benefited Ampacet with cultural improvements at several of our U.S. locations,” reports Stephen Cullum, Ampacet's human resources manager.
Chappaqua; (914) 238-3500
Fees: $400-$3,100 per month
Since 1994, Strategy Leaders has been helping companies get bigger. “Basically, we put them on track to double revenue and triple profits,” says Andi Gray, president and founder, who worked in sales and marketing at American Express and Xerox, among other companies. “They don’t need us to teach them their industry,” says Gray.
Small Business & Franchises
The Entrepreneur's Source of Westchester
Bedford; (914) 234-8622
Fees: $2,250-$2,750/month with a minimum 3-month commitment
When Barry Kleiman opened the Westchester office of the nationally recognized-franchise Entrepreneur's Source two years ago, he brought with him an MBA in finance and investments plus 25 years of experience as an equity trader on Wall Street. Today he is a business and self-employment consultant and coach. Kleiman helps entrepreneurs start a small business or franchise.
P.M. Brill Consultants
Mount Kisco; (914) 241-0926
Fees: Customized based on client needs
For more than 30 years, Patricia Brill has consulted business leaders to help make their leadership more effective. “My greatest reward is to help leaders understand their blind spots and learn how to use their attention to make time for what’s important,” says Brill, who has worked with leaders in Fortune 100 corporations and non-profit national organizations, from the CEO level to new business leaders. Clients include Citigroup/Citibank, Colgate-Palmolive, Exxon, General Dynamics and Time-Life.
RosenStrach Consulting Services
White Plains; (914) 584-3165
Fees: $1,500 daily rate or project rates that vary
In 1969, Jerry Rosenstrach started Merrill Lynch’s marketing research department. In 2000 he launched his own consulting service. “We don’t take an assignment until I spend at least half a day meeting with the principals to understand the company and its culture,” says Rosenstrach. He then, he says, helps the company market itself better. “For example, we created a successful new website for a marketing company called the Target Research Group. The content of the new site was based on research we did into what their existing clients thought of their company. The company has a great track record with their clients—many go back ten or more years with them, which is unheard of in marketing—so we wanted to get a handle on why so we could promote that on their site. Their old site had too many drop-down boxes and wasn’t very user-friendly. So we streamlined the site, rewrote the content to better explain and position the services they provide, and made it easier to contact someone at the company. I just spoke with them last month, and since the website was revamped, they’ve secured three requests for proposals for six-figure projects from new clients through the site, which shows that a lot more is at stake than just being clicked on more frequently.”
InSight Marketing & Consulting Firm
Mamaroneck; (914) 777-9700
Fees: Monthly retainers typically from $1,500 - $3,500
InSight Marketing & Consulting specializes in branding, marketing, advertising, PR, and both direct and online marketing. “We work as a strategic planning group,” says Rocco Cipriano, who started InSight in 2001, after 20 years in the fields of advertising, marketing, and graphic design. “Typically, we start by getting to know the business, their goals, key customers, and their position in the marketplace.”
InSight has a staff of six with expertise in web development, and marketing. Cipriano is also author of the book Branding Insights for Small Businesses.
Marketing & New Products
New Directions Consulting Inc.
White Plains; (914) 347-6672
Fees: $10,000-$200,000 per project
New Directions Consulting, a family-run business, specializes in all stages of new product development, from concept writing to determining a new product’s best features and how to position it in the marketing plan.
They provide insight into what consumers want and expect from new products before companies introduce them to the public. They can, for example, help companies evaluate which aspects of a product customers like best. They then combine qualitative and quantitative analysis to determine which combinations of attributes work best in the product so it can be retooled to maximize its appeal before it’s launched. “They provide great first-hand learning that helps accelerate our speed to market,” says Kathy O’Shaughnessy of Kraft Foods.
Harrison; (914) 468-0892
Fees: Corporate coaching programs range from $400-$800/hour. Half- to full-day workshops from $1,500-$4,800
Laura Katen founded Katen Consulting, a professional development training company, in 2001 and the Enhance Your Chance brand in 2003. “We enhance your chance at success by teaching you seven separate skills that everyone needs to appear professional in the workplace,” Katen says. They include: business etiquette, public speaking, executive presence, networking and others. “We offer full- and half-day training programs, weekly classes, group workshops, and one-on-one coaching sessions,” Katan says.
Really Social Strategies
Katonah; (914) 315-9686
Fees: Initial half-hour meeting free. New Media and Grassroots Marketing Strategy Sessions, 2 hours. $500. Website and Blog Consultation: from $150 to $250 for 1 hour
“We consult, coach, teach, and implement social media and grassroots marketing,” says Heather Flournoy who runs the two-year-old Really Social Strategies with her partner, Christopher Roberts. Flournoy has a background in grassroots marketing, while Roberts had a career in theater production as well as film promotion.
“Their consulting helped us re-evaluate our whole plan for marketing, advertising, PR, and community connections," says Jeff Konchalski, owner of Nature’s Temptations in Ridgefield. Other clients include NoKa & NoKa Joe's in Katonah and the local chapter of Slow Foods.
Ruby Media Group
“We help companies adapt their traditional marketing to new media marketing,” says Kristen Ruby, who launched her company after graduating from Boston University’s College of Communications and Public Relations over a year ago. “We help manage their Facebook pages, Twitter pages, LinkedIn strategies, YouTube exposure, blogging, and overall social media strategies,”
The youngest ever recipient of the Westchester Business Council’s Rising Stars Award, Ruby consults with businesses on their specific social media needs. “There are three phases. First is creating a social media strategy, second is training internal staff members, and third is managing the building of a social media platform,” Ruby says. She also assists in social media brand management.
"Social media has been a critical component of our business being up ten percent over the previous year,” reports David Cingari, president and founder of David’s Catering in Stamford, Connecticut. “We hired Ruby Media to ‘socialize’ our company on Facebook and Twitter in 2010, and we have seen a direct increase in new business leads and an increase in traffic to the website. As a result of our work with RMG, we now see that social media is critical for new business development in 2011.” Other clients include Stark Office Suites in Scarsdale and Eclisse Restaurant in White Plains.
John Meyer Consulting
Robert Roth, President
Armonk; (914) 273-5225
Fees: $150-$225 per hour
John Meyer Consulting’s more than 40 professionals handle all aspects of site development, including surveying land, getting the necessary permits, addressing all environmental concerns, and doing post construction inspections to ensure the property meets all building codes. The firm has been in business for more than 30 years and has worked in nearly 40 of the 44 villages, towns or cities that comprise Westchester County. Their work has been noticed. The Westchester Chapter of the NY State Professional Engineering Society has recognized John Meyer Consulting as engineer firm of the year as well as outstanding engineer in private practice in 2000, 2001, and 2006. Also, in the past five years, the New York State Real Estate Journal has awarded project of the month honors to Meyer Consulting for their work on Fordham University in Harrison, the Cross County Shopping Center in Yonkers, and Minerva Place Condominium in White Plains. Among the projects they’ve consulted on: Heritage Hills in Somers, the multi-plex cinemas in Greenburgh and Hawthorne, the Summit in Mount Pleasant, the Northern Westchester Y, the Siwanoy Country Club in Eastchester, and the JPMorgan Hangar at Westchester County Airport.