When Groupon first launched I was all over it. I am a sucker for a good deal and love to promote local business whenever possible. I buy locally most of the time and used Groupon as an excuse to spend more locally then I normally would. The first few Groupon experiences with local vendors was pretty good, however as I began to use it more I felt like I was becoming more of a pest to the business owner then a honored supporter.
As a typical purchaser of a credit I would use some of them and let some of them expire. This is probably where the business owner has the opportunity to break even. Some of the Groupon purchasers redeem the Groupon and others forget and it expires. They lose their money spent on the Groupon in that case. I am unsure as to wether or not that unredeemed credit goes to Groupon, the business or both. Regardless, I spent some and some expired.
I had great experiences with online retailers with whom I purchased Groupons and local retailers where a kid who could care less about what form of payment I used handled the transaction. However, when dealing with the owner it was almost always a negative experience. They made me feel like I was taking advantage of them. I felt like in the owners head he/she was thinking, “great, another customer who is only going to have to pay half price.” I was only welcomed as a new customer by one business which is Oodles Frozen Yogurt in Modesto. Other then that, every experience made me feel like I was an inconvenience.
It really comes down to how you are going to use a platform such as Groupon and others like it to grow your business. It can be a great way to reach new customers you may not have had access to before. However you need to have the right mindset and understand that these Groupon users are probably hyper-social online types who will blog and comment about their experiences. If you give them a bad experience not only did you receive a smaller portion of their finances for the transaction you will probably end up losing even more money due to the negative remarks the customers will leave all over the internet.
I won’t be using Groupon locally any longer because most business people around here have the wrong mindset. I am sure they start off with great intentions of loving their customers but that fades for many owners. This is why I do a lot of my buying online. If my only local option is a big box store I would rather order online then have to deal with some teenager who is just doing time and wondering what their Facebook and Tumblr friends are posting while they suffer at work. I am going to digress before this blog entry turns into a rant about how big box stores and non-passionate employees are ruining the local economy.
I have ordered several items off of the internet using Groupons from online stores where the Groupon was a coupon coded entered at check out. This to me is a win because there are no grumpy store owners to deal with. You get the same checkout confirmation and thank you page as the full paying customers. I will continue to watch for good online deals through Groupon.
If you have used a Groupon, think about how that experience went. Was it a positive one? Did the person who helped you seem genuinely happy that you were there? If so, then make sure that you go back again and again because that is the kind of business person that deserves business and success. I would even suggest that you tell the owner or manager why you decided to come back. Encourage them to keep the positive attitude. Business owners need encouragement. Half of the time they don’t know if they are making the right decisions with their business. Encouragement and affirmation from you is the best thing you can offer them, along with your credit card of course.
Share with me your Groupon experiences. I would love to hear them.