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There are two different discussions going on right now on the ABMP and Massage Mag LinkedIn groups regarding Groupon. If you don’t know what Groupon is, check it out at www.groupon.com.
I’m not here to advocate the use of Groupon or steer you away from it. I just know that services like this are being used by therapist with varying results. Therefore, I felt it important to open up the discussion so we can all learn more about this promotional concept from those that have used it.
Allow me to weigh in first with some input based on my observations of some of the experiences our clients and prospective clients are having:
A) “My phone is ringing off the hook!” (This is what we are hearing from prospective clients calling looking for a solution to deal with their crazy call volume).
It seems that the response you can get from running a Groupon promotion can be very high (200 to 1200 Groupons sold in a day). Which means: That once your Groupon (coupon) is posted you can expect a flood of calls coming in. Not being prepared to absorb the increased call volume can create a problem.
B) “All I am doing is discounted appointments!”
The other issue that I see happening is if you do not limit the times when someone can us their Groupon, you can end up giving $18 one hour massage (a $60 massage offered at $30 and then the 40% Groupon fee taken out) until you fade off into the sunset.
Offering the ability to allow clients to schedule online and then having the criteria that all Groupons must be scheduled by the client online, can resolve ‘A’. Limiting their ability to only schedule on certain times on certain days can resolve ‘B’. We have a client that only allows two appointments per shift for 9 out of his 16 therapists to be scheduled with a Groupon. The calendars for these 9 therapists have Groupon appointments booked almost to the end of the year.
That's all I know. So please share your Groupon experience if you have one. Hopefully the folks on LinkedIn that have shared their experiences there will jump in here.
This is awesome feedback!
So there you go. A sole practitioner is just trying to generate some volume and buzz with a Groupon. Then (because they are not in a position to deal with the overwhelming response) they get scorched on a site like Yelp.
Plan a head folks before you pull the trigger on doing a Groupon. You have to be prepared to respond to the immediate tsunami of appointment requests that a Groupon can create, and then be able to deliver the goods.
I know you can set the minimum number of Groupons that need to be sold before the ‘deal is on’. Can you also set a cap for the total number sold?
As a massage therapist in the San Francisco Bay Area and a regular purchaser of Groupon's for stuff like bay cruises and restaurants I am on the Groupon mailing list and follow their discussion boards. Out here when a massage or spa service gets posted a lot of buyers jump. I imagine it could be good for a spa with capacity but I have seen sole practitioners get a lot of bad exposure on groupon and other review sites such as yelp! either because they could not keep up with demand or they had to keep on booking out too far advance for the clients. In San Francisco is not uncommon for hundreds or thousands of Groupon's to sell in one day. Once you sell them you get about 50 percent of the value of the discounted price and then you and your good name is on the hook for the duration of the coupon. That is a lot of massages for a sole practitioner to juggle with the client he or she already has while striving to maintain quality work. One bay area therapist has a discussion on linkedin as to how it works for him but he also has posted about on other threads about his ability to do a lot of massages. So yes if you are a workhorse who can do 6 plus massages it might work or are in a smaller market it could work too but I personally would be worried about too much of a good thing while creating a Groupon in a big market.
I think the broader discussion is about mass discounting and its implications.
SpaWeek creates a similar issue.
The goal is not throughput, the goal is repeat clientele and profitability.
I have yet to see any data to suggest that these promotions build either short term or long term profitability.
Thanks Paul. I was hoping you'd jump in.
In every post there are a few details emerging on what is involved when doing a Groupon. Can someone that has done one present the process from start to finish?
Details on things like: Once you decide to do a Groupon ... What happens next? Once someone buys your Groupon ... What do they 'get'? What do you as the entity offering one get when a Groupon is sold (are you notified of each sale or do you get a comprehensive report after the deal is done)?
The detail that Groupon sends out an e-mail to the vouchers purchasers one month before the expiration date, is important to know. When that e-mail goes out your call volume is going to spike.
That pretty much provided the detail I was looking for. Thanks Paul!
Paul - What was your original Groupon offer?
What percent did you have to pay Groupon?
Do you have any plans of doing it again?
What would you have done differently?
Does anybody else have a Groupon story to share? Good or bad?
Great feedback thanks Paul. Your posts are always interesting.