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Groupon, The Unexpected Springboard

There I was, nestled in the heart of Melbourne, Florida, with my newfound solo venture, The Deep Tissue Spa. I had signed the lease, racked up $3k in credit card debt furnishing my room and building my website annnddd… crickets. The dream was alive, the ambiance was set, yet my suite echoed in silence. Two months rolled by without a single client gracing my doors. The whispers of anxiety began to muffle the calming spa music. Out of desperation, I turned to Groupon, a platform I viewed through a skeptical lense after a horrific experience with it as an employee of a poorly-managed spa.

Let's think of our service price as a pie. Initially, Groupon swoops in, carving the pie in half with its discount. Then, with a sweeping cut, it claims its fee portion, leaving behind a slice that gets divided yet again between the spa owner and the service provider. In the spa where I worked, the slice that finally reached my hands as the provider felt more like a crumb.

In my previous spa, management ambitiously showcased our most luxurious package on Groupon's platform. However, this move left no room to inch the revenue needle upward with enhancements or time upgrades. And because it was a "fluffier" service, it wasn't something people were willing to rebook on a regular basis at our full prices. This further limited our ability to grow our books as providers.

The atmosphere around "Grouponers" in that spa soon turned chilly. They were seen as bargain hunters, not deserving of the warm, welcoming embrace usually extended to full-paying clientele. Each Groupon redemption seemed to irk the management and the provider team a tad more, a sentiment that trickled down to the service delivery, tainting the client experience.

When I transitioned to my solo practice, I took those lessons learned and reverse engineered them.

I opted for a different tactic with my Groupon offerings. Instead of showcasing my premium package, I presented my most basic service that left ample room for clients to explore additional, full-priced offerings.

The earnings from each Groupon deal, though discounted, didn't have to bypass a middleman. The remaining pie, modest as it was, belonged to me.

Each call to book a Groupon deal was an opportunity. I softly upsold time extensions and service enhancements, a tactic that not only improved revenue but also enriched the client's experience.

The booking process was a breeze. With a simple online setup, clients could pick their slots without a hitch, a small yet significant detail that added to the positive impression.

And when they walked through the door, I rolled out a red carpet of service. Despite the discounted price, I was determined to deliver a wow experience, to make them feel valued, welcomed.

This was my Groupon strategy, a stark contrast to the spa's. It was a deliberate, well-thought-out approach that aimed to make the most out of each interaction, to ensure that while the service was discounted, the experience was premium.

With every Groupon redeemed, I saw an opportunity; an opportunity to dazzle them with an experience that transcended the transaction. From the moment they stepped in, I embarked on a mission to not just provide a service, but to create an experience. An experience so soothing, so unique, that it etched a memory.

I didn’t stop at just delivering a stellar first appointment. I confidently proposed a treatment plan, articulating the wellness journey we could embark on together. I introduced packages where they could purchase multiple services up front for a discount from my "full' prices. Hint: at that time, I basically had no "full" paying customers. These packages were designed to encourage upfront commitments, which subtly blended the assurance of future appointments with financial savings. Before they stepped out, their next appointment was booked in my schedule.

As the cycle of Groupon customers and rebookings spun, a remarkable thing happened. The suite now buzzed with clients, and I was able to quit my day job. Four years in, many of the faces that walked into my solo suite with a Groupon voucher are now the loyal patrons who keep coming back to my team members, adhering to the same treatment rhythm I recommended during our first encounter.

These Grouponers didn’t just bring in revenue; they built the foundation of what now is a thriving six-figure spa business. They spread the word, they referred friends, left me online reviews, and they kept coming back, their loyalty unwavering.

The skeptical view of Groupon transformed into a narrative of growth, reflecting the power of a well-strategized approach and impeccable service delivery.

As I reflect on this journey, the essence of the Groupon initiative isn’t lost on me. It's not about the discounts or the influx of clients; it's about seizing the opportunity to build relationships, to showcase your expertise, and to morph a one-time deal-seeker into a loyal client.

Here are the distilled nuggets of wisdom from my Groupon endeavor:

1. Groupon as a Marketing Vehicle, not a Revenue Generator:

See it as a marketing investment, a stage to showcase your expertise.

2. Non-negotiable Rebooking:

Craft a rebooking strategy that starts from the first appointment. Offer packages and confidently propose a treatment plan. Make it a "no-brainer" deal.

3. The Relationship Route:

Build rapport, share your journey, and let them in on your aspirations.

4. The Referral Request:

Encourage referrals, make your clients part of your growth story.

5. Want to pick my brain about this, or any other business topic?

I now offer a la carte coaching calls for those keen on diving deeper into business strategies, sharing the script of my journey from a solo practitioner to a six-figure business owner.

Groupon was the unexpected plot twist in my business narrative, a springboard that propelled my spa from the shadows of obscurity into the limelight of success. With the right strategy, it can do the same for you.

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