This week's featured franchisees are a father daughter duo, Pat Sharkey and Kaitlyn Sharkey, who franchised TAPinto Stafford/LBI. Find out how they have built a sustainable business while spending time with their family, why they love covering the town in which they live, and how this dynamic duo went from TAPinto readers to owners.
When did you join TAPinto.net?:
We joined in December of 2015 and had our official site launch in January 2016.
Why did you want to franchise your own TAPinto? What makes TAPinto different or unique?
My dad came across TAPinto in the Summer of 2015 from one of his childhood friends facebook pages. He was originally from West Orange, so he saw the TAPinto West Orange news site. He was intrigued and contacted Mike Shapiro, the CEO to learn more about it.
He told me about it and we decided it was a no brainer for our town. Especially for me, going to school for business and always having that niche to be a business owner I was ecstatic when this opportunity approached me.
What’s unique and different about TAPinto than other new sites or print papers is that for one we actually live in this town and love being a part of our community. Secondly, the only other news we have in our area is a once a week paper. What we love about TAP is that it’s daily local news where we can break stories and write things as they happen in real time. We didn’t have that in Stafford and on LBI.
You guys have a different setup than most at TAPinto. Can you tell us about your team?
We’re a father-daughter team so at times it can be a little tough, just like any family business, but I feel like we work really great together and we each have our things we excel in.
My dad is really good at covering sports events and reaching out to the coaches and interviewing them along with writing a lot.
For me I really enjoy throwing myself into events and getting to meet new people in our community along with business owners and writing stories on that.
I would say my dad does a majority of the writing while I’m usually the one to go and discuss details with potential advertisers and close sales.
I also do a lot on the social media side and work with our advertisers to make them the happiest I possibly can because this isn’t just a job for me, but it’s fueling my dream to be at home with my baby. The bottom line is without our advertisers my dad and I wouldn’t be able to do this and we are forever grateful for those who have jumped in, trusted us and ultimately supported us!
What do you enjoy covering the most in Stafford and LBI?
My favorite things to cover are the events because not only are they fun, but I would say 90% of the events we have throughout Stafford Township and on Long Beach Island, benefit some kind of charity or cause. Whether it be for a local mom battling cancer, or for the local school sports team to a college scholarship fund and memorial fund, most of these events are driven to raise money and I love getting to watch our community come together in these ways. It’s truly special.
What did you do before you franchised your Stafford/LBI site?
I was attending OCC and waitressing at Fred’s Beach Haven Diner on LBI. When we decided to franchise TAPinto, I took a break from school to use my money on this business venture and to really focus on this. I continued to waitress at Fred’s since it’s great extra money and another way to meet lots of locals and tourists throughout the summer and off-season.
Is TAPinto full time for you or do you still work outside of the journalism world?
TAPinto is full time for me now that I’m a mommy to my five-month-old daughter Lily. I will waitress at Fred’s on the weekends when my husband is off of work until TAPinto can solely become my income, which is ultimately the goal. My husband and I would like more babies in the future and TAPinto is the perfect job and business for me to be able to stay home with our kids.
TAPinto allows businesses and users to post content on our sites, either for free or for a small fee. How do you think they can best utilize TAPintoStaffordLBI.net? What sort of advantages do you have that other advertising platforms lack?
With how much social media and an internet presence plays a role in doing business today, TAPinto Stafford & LBI is a great and affordable way for businesses to promote their events, sales, open houses, deals, specials, etc. We share it through our e-news, free app, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts. This is a huge advantage from other advertising platforms because you’re getting a ton of promotion included in your ad on our site. A business doesn’t need to pay for additional social media advertising when we also do that for them.
What are some of your business strengths? Your weaknesses?
My business strengths would definitely be my drive. I have always been a hustler, so I take TAP really seriously. Some days it's harder with a baby because right now she needs so much of me, but I make it work.
My weaknesses are that I get nervous when going to meetings and putting myself out there sometimes. It can be scary, but I just push through it and I get better each time. I live by the quote “You have to fail to succeed,” it helps me to not overthink too much.
Describe the TAPinto culture as a franchisee.
I love the culture that Mike created at TAPinto. The franchisees are from all over NJ and NY and everyone is different. Different ages, different backgrounds, different ideas, but all with the ultimate plan to make TAPinto THE household name for all things local news. Everyone is always there to help one another when someone needs it.
What are your goals at TAPinto? Any future plans for TAPinto Stafford/LBI?
My goal is to continue to bring great objective news to our community, while getting more attention to our local businesses. Also, to make TAPinto Stafford/LBI the place to get all of your news.
As we continue to grow, our plans for TAPinto Stafford/LBI is to eventually bring in a few more writers, so that we can do even more for our community.