But local does not stop with food. Many of our gyms, yoga studios, and restaurants are corporately owned by a franchise. The business structure of such organization is very different, and as a consumer we know it feels different to step into a family owned a gym, restaurant or yoga studio.
Seattle is also a growing town with increasing real estate prices and wages. Daily deals are wonderful ways to get the word out to new clients. I could not have grown my business with this speed without Groupon or Living Social. But I am cautious to only do deals for new customers only. I do my absolute best that if an existing customer accidentally buys a deal, I honor the cash value of their purchase. But as a small business, I simply cannot afford to open these super discount deals up for all customers; old and new. These daily deals take a significant chunk of the proceeds of already heavily discounted prices.
I try to make sure that all customers start with a great deal, this is why I have a new student special. Even if there is no daily deal running, all of my customers get to try us at with a great deal. After that, I have faith that the quality of yoga we provide will make our customers come back for more and will pay prices that allow us to stay open and let me to pay my teacher’s respectable wages.
The choices that we make as consumers affect the society. Now as a small business owner, I know how hard daily deals are in restaurants. Restaurants are in a tougher place than yoga studios. They cannot track new vs. old customers, and they badly need business, so they stick with daily deals. I am happy to try a new restaurant with a daily deal, but if I like a small restaurant as a repeat customer, I never use coupons. I try to support local businesses. This is definitely something that I did not understand till I owned my own business.
All this said as I mentioned daily deals have been a great marketing tool for Spira. My favorite business to work with is Groupon. Their customer service and sales relationships are fantastic. I feel like I am the most important thing on their agenda, they are respectful of my needs as a small business. Living Social has been good to work with as well, though their sales Representative is not nearly as responsive year round as Groupon’s. Amazon Local is now forcing businesses to open the coupon to all customers. They say it is better customer service experience; I say they make more money on those deals… So you may not see me working with them much longer. Sad since they are our local Seattle employers.
In short, this is Dora’s guideline for responsible Daily Deal shopping;
1.) If you are new to the business – Go buy it, they want you to try their business.
2.) You have been there, and you like them…. make sure to read the small print. The limitations are always written somewhere hard to find. Take the time to find small print, and read carefully. You will save yourself and the business an uncomfortable encounter. Businesses don’t try to put restrictions because they are mean, the restrictions help us stay in business, this is our only defense against third party discount merchants. If the Deal is open to repeat customers ask following questions and let your moral, ethical inner-self guide you to the right decision…
Am I in the financial situation that this coupon is the only way that I can enjoy this night out, food, service and so on…
Do I see the owner at this business all the time? – Guess what, if the owner is there all the time he or she probably can’t afford full-time help. Trust me every owner loves their business, but it is crazy hard long hours. We all would take a little time off for our families if we could afford it….
Does this business have multiple locations and maybe a corporate office elsewhere? Larger companies can write off losses and distribute gains across multiple business locations, they are not as sensitive to single point losses such as a single coupon.
Finally, does this business make your neighborhood richer, more delightful place to live? Would you be sad to see it go belly up?
The rest is between your conscience and your spiritual guide. Remember you create the world you live in more ways than you may realize.
PS: The above article was written in 2013, since then I stopped working with most third party app merchants and my relationship with Groupon is no longer perfect. Year to year, there are more and more technologically savvy companies that ring on my doorstep to offer their amazing App that will grow my business. I gave some of them a try, none of them delivered. Groupon seems to help in bringing new clients, but I do wonder if I would not have a Daily Deal with a third party merchant, if people would just buy our In-house New Student Special, which is an equally good deal.
I wonder if I need Third Party Merchants to help me find New Customers? Please leave me your opinion as a consumer, I would love to hear from you!
Dora – Owner of Spira Power Yoga