Online Group Deals, Local Deals and Massage Therapy, a Guide for the LMT and Client
Groupon. Yelp. Amazon Local. Living Social. - "$5,000 off $10,000 in laser treatments!", teeth whitening, lifetime package of hair removal, pooper scooper service. You know what I mean, those funny-sounding pitches for every service imaginable, right into your e-mail, for a BARGAIN.
Oooh! I can get $40 off my next Vietnamese-Irish fusion meal! Great deal! Where do I pay?
Enter massage therapy...
A massage therapist is trained in school to become a professional who can work independently, or at a spa, or a membership massage mill. The training in the clinical environment is designed for students to learn how to provide a professional 50-minute full-body treatment, perfect for the massage mill or busy spa. Las Vegas is full of legitimate massage mills, high-end resort spas, and also tons of dirty places that claim to be foot spas or massage establishments.
A select few brave massage therapists venture into the Independent Massage Therapy field, scouting for locations, working on advertising and hoping that the clients will arrive... and also return. Frequently.
Many new professionals try to get their name into the marketplace with these Group Deal companies (let's call them GD Companies). The thing that many people don't know about them is the amount of money the merchant actually receives for partnering with these GD Companies.
I personally have interacted with Groupon and Yelp. I have a friend who is a business owner who has worked with Living Social and Amazon Local. Typically their format is set up like this:
- Group Discount Company demands a minimum 50% discount on original price
- GD Company advertises sale price to mailing list
- Merchant (Massage Therapist) splits prepaid service purchase with Group Deal company (typically 50/50, or maybe 60/40 if you do business with them frequently)
So what you get is this: 25% of your standard pricing. Are you worth 25% of your work? Can your hands, wrists, arms and body handle months of 25% massages? Can your checkbook?
The other caveat with using a group sale company is that the customers are bargain hunters. They generally are not going to return. The only benefit is that some people will purchase the deal, but never redeem it. That is what a deal is banking on: the people who pay but never follow up. Unfortunately I don't feel that this is a way to build a clientele, but it is a way to make some quick money. Sort of quick, you may not be ready to be published on their page for 30 days, and you may need to offer that deal for a minimum of 3-6 months.
I'm not saying "Don't use deal sites for marketing", but I am saying to go into the agreement with your eyes wide open, your website and business ready for the sale, and shop around on the deal pages for other local competitors to see what their "original" price is, the amount of discount they are offering, and how many competitors you will have on the deal pages for the consumer to sift through. What sets you apart? Probably your price. Read the fine print.
As for you, consumers, if you do see a massage business out there that you want to try, and you contact them directly for a special or a sale, you may be able to get a discount. If they don't offer any discount, they have a full schedule and you get to be squeezed in, you can expect that massage therapist to be in high demand, which can mean you will get an expert massage, which is always worth the money.
Denise Bolanos is a licensed massage therapist in Las Vegas, Nevada. NVMT.6185