Seattle is a very progressive town. We care for our environment. We care where our food comes from and how our consumer choices effect the world. We know that it is very good for our farmers if we shop locally for our fruits and vegetables. We also know that local foods are healthier.
But local does not stop with food. Many of our gyms, yoga studios and restaurants are corporately owned as a franchise. The business structure of such business is very different, and as a consumer we know it feels different to step into a family owned gym, restaurant or yoga studio.
Daily deals are wonderful ways to get the word out for new clients. I could not have grown my business with this speed without Groupon or Living Social. But I am extremely careful 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 major 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 allow me to pay my teachers respectable wages.
The choices that we make as consumers effect the society that we live in. Now as a small business owner, I know how hard daily deals are on 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. If it is open to repeat customers ask following questions and let your moral ethical inner self guide you to the right decision…
a.) 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…
b.) 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 a 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….
c.) Does this business have multiple locations and maybe a corporate office elsewhere? Larger businesses 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.
d.) Finally, is this a business that makes your neighborhood richer, nicer place to live? Would you be sad seeing it go belly up?
The rest is between your conscience and your God. Remember you create the world you live in more ways than you may realize.