THE RIGHT WAY TO USE GROUPON, PART 2: MANAGING YOUR SCHEDULE

In the first installment of this series, I presented some strategies for creating a Groupon deal that will grow your business. Once your deal is up and running, chances are you’re going to get lots of new bookings. Sounds awesome, right? But this is where much of Groupon’s sad reputation comes from.

In the early days of Groupon, they sent an email blast to all of their members with deals in their area. This resulted in selling tons of vouchers all at once. The problem for a sole provider then became how to book all of these new customers and have room in their schedule to rebook the ones who wanted to return, as well as maintain space for existing clients. With a schedule full of nothing but bargain appointments, those practices suffered.

Today, deals are listed on the Groupon website. Anyone can search for massage in their city or zip code, check out the Beauty and Spas section, or scroll down the home page to find massage offers. Members still get emails with special offers, but the inundation factor has decreased immensely.

YOU NEED ONLINE SCHEDULING

I wouldn’t recommend running a Groupon campaign without online scheduling. It’s extremely challenging to get back to those who contact us by phone or email in a timely way when we are busy seeing clients all day. Many new clients will take advantage of the convenience of online scheduling so you won’t miss out on bookings because you were working. If you’re worried about creepers, relax. Groupon customers have to provide a credit card to pay for your deal, and requiring a phone number and valid email address to book online is a turn off to those with ulterior motives because they don’t want to leave a trail. Should you get walk-ins or calls for same-day appointments offering to pay you directly, do some screening or offer another option.

TAKE CARE OF EXISTING CLIENTS

So what about your existing clients? Let them know that your practice is growing and encourage them to set up standing appointments or book in advance to ensure they’ll get in (scarcity is a great sales tactic). You can also block off time in your schedule reserved for clients you see frequently (just let them know they’ll need to contact you directly to book those spots).

KNOW YOUR CAPACITY

It’s also important to know your capacity for providing quality bodywork. Overbooking to make up for earning less per massage is a recipe for disaster. You’ll be risking injury and burnout with little (if any) gain because your clients won’t be receiving your full attention and energy. This will lead to fewer repeat clients and poorer reviews.

Should you find that you’re getting overwhelmed, you can adjust your monthly maximum to make your deal less visible on the Groupon site. This will slow sales down if you lower your limit or speed sales up if you increase it. When you’re consistently booked out as far as you’re comfortable with, you can pause your deal so no more vouchers will sell until you restart it.

Done right, a Groupon deal will be short-lived because you’ll retain enough new clients to keep you going without a steady stream of new ones. Unless you can see the value of providing deeply discounted massages in exchange for massive exposure that will speed up the growth of your practice, you’ll likely be disappointed with the results. The whole objective to using Groupon (or doing any other marketing for that matter) is to help clients who are a good fit for your practice find you. Once they have, it’s up to you to bring them back. I have some proven incentives to get clients to not only return, but do so often (and refer others), regardless of how they find us. Stay tuned!

GO TO PART 3 OF THIS SERIES

Cath Cox has been a licensed massage therapist in Colorado since 1999 and is the creator of the Booked and Busy in 90 Days System™. Her mission is to heal the world by inspiring independent massage therapists to build thriving practices of their own so they can work authentically for as long as they desire. She currently provides Ashiatsu barefoot deep tissue massage exclusively in her private practice. You can learn more about Cath and her journey at her Booked and Busy site.