Should Acupuncturists Use Groupon, Living Social & Other Online Coupons?

March 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Acupuncture Marketing

There seem to be two ‘camps’ when it comes to acupuncturists using Groupon, Living Social and other online coupon programs to promote their services. One camp says, it’s a great opportunity to gain exposure, get new patients and make some money. And another camp says that the deep discounts and high fees make it a financial bust, and worse, devalues the profession.

There’s no doubt that you can lose money using these online coupon programs (as has been well documented in the dining industry), but if you read the coupon program’s fine print, understand your goals, calculate your ‘ break even price point’ and plan accordingly, I believe you can make these programs work for your acupuncture practice.

Here are my recommendations to any practitioner who is thinking about using Groupon, Living Social, or any online coupon company.  Understand and plan on ways to optimize:

(1) Front end income
(2) Back end income ** VERY IMPORTANT!
(3) Costs (including time)

(1) Front end income
Front end income is what you get from your coupon sales. When you see service based businesses using Groupon to sell over 1000 coupons at $50 a pop (like a local glass blowing teacher did), it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the “$50,000 payday” and think you’ve found the answer to all your prayers.  But if that’s all you see, you could be one of the many business owners who lose money on these deals. So please, pay attention! If we examine an acupuncturist who courageously tried out the Groupon program to sell a $30 coupon for a 45 minute session we can see that $30 x 109 purchases (last I checked) = $3,270. Half goes to Groupon so that leaves $1,635 in front end income. That’s only about $15 per person for 45 minutes of treatment, which stinks! BUT WAIT…  here’s what you also have to factor in:

  • 15-30% of people who buy the coupon never redeem it before it expires. That free money. Don’t count on it, but just know that it’s there.
  • For an acupuncturist who does not have a full schedule and ALL s/he has is TIME, this is a great way to get exposure, create buzz, and generate profit (see back end income below) without laying out any cash.

(2) Back end income
This is the key to generating profits! You need a plan in place to upsell these coupon-purchasing customers. What I like about Mary Ann’s Groupon is she included in her sale an “Individual Wellness Plan”. This is clearly aimed at getting these initial buyers back through her doors for a series of treatments.  Even if just 10% of her initial 109 people scheduled 6 treatments as part of her “Individual Wellness Plan” (at her normal rate of $80) that’s 10 (people) x 6 (visits) x $80 = $4,800. Now we’re talkin! Acupuncturists MUST learn how to turn these qualified customers into repeat patients (who refer new patients) in order to make significant long term income. If you add in sales of herbs, oils, books etc., that backend revenue per coupon-paying customer increases. For those of us who understand (and teach) online marketing, the backend income can also significantly increase by offering products like digital products or online wellness coaching and creating automated email campaigns to keep customers interested and coming back. In other words, this is a great way to build a list of qualified customers for future service or product sales.

(3) Costs
The big thing acupuncturists need to watch here is time. (Costs for needles and other office supplies is usually minimal.)  The cash infusion from the front end income can help take care of working expenses and pay for upsell items (sold when they receive their session).  But time is something that is limited and scheduling must be planned so that full paying patient slots are not taken up by $15 slots. I would recommend dedicating 2-3 days a week just to the Groupon people and get them all scheduled and treated within 3 – 6 months. Personally I think a year is too long to ‘wrap up’ the coupon customers. This may mean working days that you don’t usually work until everyone gets their coupon redeemed.

So before we dismiss Groupons and other social online coupon programs for acupuncture practitioners, I think it’s important do some research (read other business’ deals), think things through, test it out on a small scale then take the lessons learned to larger and larger scales so you can minimize your risk and maximize your potential for generating profits. That’s why I congratulate Mary Ann for having the courage to TRY something new, generate buzz and build her business.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this (or any other acupuncture marketing) topic.  Chime in below!

Peace,

Lisa Hanfileti, LAc
Insights-For-Acupuncturists.com

 

 

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Comments

49 Responses to “Should Acupuncturists Use Groupon, Living Social & Other Online Coupons?”
  1. hi Lisa,

    Every one of my coaching clients who has tried Groupon or similar programs have expressed very positive feedback on the process.

    Like you said, it ultimately depends on the practitioner’s skill level in converting the deal-seekers into patients. If you know how to educate and lay out a treatment plan effectively and you create a WOW experience for these people, you should be able to convert a fairly high % of them.

    The hardest part for acupuncturists is just getting new people in the door. Once they’re there, the experience tends to sell itself (if the practitioner is skilled at what they do). Groupon helps with this challenge immensely; it’s up to the practitioner to raise their sales/marketing IQ to convert those folks into return patients.

    Kevin

  2. Elie says:

    I didn’t know anything about groupon but great article Lisa! It does seem like a nice way for a practitioner to get their feet wet, and like Kevin says if they are skilled in converting them then even better.

    There is also an element of a “marketing expense”. It does cost to market (patients cost money) and sometimes after the marketing expense you may be left with a patient that even if you charge them $80, you may only have $10 left after the expense to get that patient. But then you see them several times and that’s where the profit really comes in. Groupon markets for you and is your marketing expense. It all depends on how you look at it. You get many new patients and if you convert them well then this can be a gold mine every month.

  3. Hi Kevin, thanks for sharing the experience from your coaching clients. It’s great to hear their feedback that their experience has been positive.

    Hi Elie, I hope you sign up for Groupon (it’s free) and get the daily coupon for your local area so you can see how it works. Their copywriters are very funny so it’s entertaining too.

    I’ve heard that Living Social is more business friendly than Groupon (taking less of a percentage), but I’m sure there are pros and cons to both.

    I guess we’ll all just keep livin’ and learning’ together!

    Peace,
    Lisa

  4. Hi Lisa, This are great tips for a massage therapists or spa treatment, but not for acupuncturists. We are in the medical profession, not the spa industry. Our level of responsibility for patient care and safety is well beyond an initial 45-minute session. We all know that in TCM the typical first visit takes 1.5 hours. What medical doctors do you know, who will drop their medical intake time down just to get new patients into the door? It is irresponsible and potentially dangerous, (it reminds me of all the complaints of Elie\’s Medical Acupuncture Facts website) and this is why many of us think that these types promotions of bring our profession down. We ought to stand together as community for the most effective way to appropriately execute our extremely powerful medicine.
    Be Well, Juliette Aiyana

  5. Hi Juliette,

    Thank you for sharing your perspective. I certainly appreciate us all working together to strengthen the acupuncture profession (which is why I created and continue to grow Insights-For-Acupuncturists.com). I just disagree with your underlying premise that if a customer receives acupuncture by purchasing through a social/online coupon program that they are not receiving excellent medical care. There are many acupuncturists who spend 45 minutes or less with a new patient and I don’t think we need to make time requirement to be an excellent acupuncturist and provider of powerful medical services.

    It’s really not a fair comparison to say acupuncturists should be like medical doctors and not use price incentives to attract more patients when medical doctors don’t typically control their prices. Insurance carriers dictate the price structure which is not a model we should aspire to. A medical doctor’s revenue is often a base salary (regardless of the number of patients seen each day) with bonuses that are comprised of things like, lab tests, procedures and prescription medications. It’s really a different model, for better or worse.

    Having said that, I agree with you that we should not devalue our profession and our skills and qualifications as health care providers. And I do not believe that happens when acupuncturists use Groupon and other social coupon programs to attract new patients. Instead I think it opens the door and provides an easy entry point for many people who might otherwise never know that acupuncture can help them. If I had 45 minutes with 100 people who never had acupuncture before, I feel very confident that I could give them a safe and effective treatment (as well as educate them on the benefits of scheduling for future treatments.) 🙂

    Juliette, I want you to know I totally respect and appreciate your position and I THANK YOU for sharing your thoughts. I think we have the same ultimate goal (to strengthen the profession), but we just have different views about how to accomplish it. I do believe that every acupuncture practitioner needs to model their marketing so that it is consistent with their individual beliefs, ideals and goals. That’s one of the things I love about marketing… you can pick and choose the methods that feel right to you. I’m glad you are sharing where you draw the line and why as I am sure your perspective will resonate with other practitioners and help them to make good decisions for their business.

    Peace,
    Lisa Hanfileti, LAc

  6. Dan Poreda says:

    I am a TCM acupuncturist/herbalist/tui na masseuse. I have only held a professional license for 5 months now. At first, I deeply regretted pursuing a career in acupuncture because though i love the work, there are virtually no hiring jobs and I had 5 years of debt to pay off. I tried starting a practice and lost over $3000 in rent for the first few months. No new patients, cold calling doctors, chiropractors, PTs; nobody wanted to be bothered with sending an acupuncturist referrals or they already had 5 of them renting space in their offices..

    My business went from non existent to booming with my first online deal. it is my primary marketing strategy now. and yes, its all about converting them once they are in your door; i find about 20 – 30% come back, some become loyal every week. Also, some people see your deal running and call before purchasing; i tell them to just come to my office and i will honor the same price point (to circumvent obscenely high commission)

    Juliette has a good point that I mostly agree with; acupuncture needs to become integrated into healthcare. it is worth alot more than $30 or $40 per session and insurance companies should be paying us that. the problem is that virtually none of my clients can afford $100 a session (the retail value in NYC) unless they are working in a high rise investment banking firm on wall street. acupuncture is also foreign to most americans, so throwing out a low price point to come in the door entices them to come discover it; I can tell you some of my most loyal customers were those curious people who would have never come unless there was some enticing deal.

    some tips: upsell them by offering them a 50% discount (or whatever else) on continued treatments (now theres no commission so you don’t really lose money). you can print out some kind of “member benefits” card which entitles them to this discount for X amount of time for coming through the promotion.

    as for time: i have people coming through these promotions fill out the comprehensive evalulation and bring it with them to expedite the process and fit it into 45 – 1 hour.

    just my 2 cents..

  7. Great article! So much helpful information! Thank you for this post and all of the great tips.

  8. Hi Dan,

    Wow… thank you so much for sharing your experience, impressions and tips about using online coupon programs! I love your tip regarding applying the coupon price to people who call without purchasing. I agree that the upsell to return at a special discounted price is a great idea and it’s good to know from your experience, it works. A 20-30% return rate is terrific!! I do all my calculations estimating a 10% return rate so it’s great to see that it can be much higher. Please feel free to post back here if you think of any more tips or ideas. They are very helpful! 🙂

  9. Dan Poreda says:

    your very welcome!

    i permute deals of acupuncture or massage, or both. the good thing about massage is people insist on tipping (which i do accept for massage but not acupuncture), so the gratuity compensates for some of the loss. massage is good because even if you dont want a tui na clinic, it entices people to just come through your door, and perhaos they may be interested in trying acupuncture down the line or maybe they would like to try herbs, or refer friends who are looking for acupuncture.

    The good news is that it appears these sites are not saturated with acupuncture clinics as much as spa treatments or even chiropractic, so its still a niche market for acupuncture. I totally believe in the daily deal as a concept for future marketing and intend on buying up as many shares of groupon once it goes public, and I think its only a matter of time before alot more acupuncturists start running deals.

    and that picture you have of “win win” with groupon is gross misrepesentation; they take 50% commission, not what appears to be 25% 🙂

  10. Casey Lewis says:

    I had this article sent to me by the salesman I was working with on setting up my online “Deal of the Day”. My deal ran for two days last week and I had 17 vouchers sold. Additionally I had 3 people call who couldn’t access the website (work restriction) or got the email from a friend the next day- 2 of which scheduled appointments and will pay me directly. So within just a few days I have gotten 4 new patients and still have 15 people to still hear from. Not to mention the money made on selling the vouchers in the first place. With no upfront cost to me I can not think of a better way to reach the 30,000+ people that Deal of the Day email went to.

    So far my experience is definitely positive and I plan on doing more promotions in the future – I should be hearing from Living Social this week, and have a meeting set up with a local news station that is doing their own version. Yes I have to give up 1.5 hrs of my time for a laughably low rate, but I’m not so busy that I can’t handle the extra traffic. If you’re close to your capacity then maybe these promotions would not be a good idea.

    One piece of advice, especially for new practitioners – work on your first visit interactions. If you find you have a lot of one-time patients figure out what why. If you’re not good at converting first time visits then you will not get as much out of these promotions as you should and might find it is not worth your time/energy.

    I will also be tracking revenue generated from the promotion including first order referrals. That way I can definitively state how much I gained from the promotion.

  11. Great business tips and overall website. Keep up the good work!

  12. Thank you, Dr. Brown, for your kind words. I took a peek at your website, http://www.browncnc.com and your info and especially your videos are great! I recommended adding a place for visitors to subscribe (to a newsletter or updates, it doesn’t have to be anything formal) so you can send out emails each time you post a new video, or have clinic specials. It’s an easy (and inexpensive) way to stay in front of your patients.
    Best regards,
    Lisa Hanfileti, LAc

  13. Here’s an excellent “case study” on how a business used Groupon to address their needs. Notice how methodical they were with determining what their goals were prior to placing the ad.

    http://bloggertone.com/marketing/2011/06/15/groupon-case-study-derrynoid-centre-draperstown-northern-ireland/

  14. Mark says:

    Our clinic sold about 300 coupons through Groupon about a year ago. It was a good experience, mostly for my receptionist, she got extra working hours, but not so much for me as a practitioner.

    Most of these discounted program participants are coupon clippers and no matter how you educate them, very small percentage come back for follow ups. One day I remember having 15 new patients.

    It’s not the same as your regular clients, most are not motivated to come back for a full price tx, even if you get great results.

    A short term promo may be OK. Also if you do not have a receptionist, you will be swamped with calls you may not be able to handle the volume. On some days we got 13-15 voice mails.

    In conclusion, I would say, I would not do it again, unless the terms were different.
    Mark.

  15. Hi Mark,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences with Groupon. I think we are all still figuring out if and how these online coupon programs can benefit our practices. I appreciate you adding your perspective and cautions to the mix! I’m sure they will benefit others who are considering using these programs.
    Peace,
    Lisa

  16. Hmm, yes, I can see how Groupon can help acupuncturists. However, while I’m sure I could find a way, I see little benefit there for editors. 🙂

  17. atxgenius says:

    I found this new product that just came out called SalesVu that can measure the ROI of using Groupon or other online promotions. It’s been a life-saver for my plumbing business. This thing is priceless because I can accept mobile payments, track my inventory, track my employee sales, and my product sales. I recommend it to anyone that is looking into accepting mobile payments and a complete business solution.

  18. I did a group on run just earlier this month – they forced a big discoiunt – and I ran it as a loss leader. It bought in c.50 clients and I was full on with it – and tierd for the end – about 3 months! it generated a few long term patients, but on the whole I would not recoment it . . . I have decide to put more efort into basic advertising – ie web/talks – fewer patients, but ledd hectic and better long term results. . .

  19. Hi Lisa and readers,

    I recently contacted Living Social about launching a coupon campaign for acupuncture and was told that they are not doing acupuncture now as they did not make enough money to make it worth doing for them…but call back later…things change.

    I’m wondering if any other Acupuncturists have had this experience recently with Living Social?

    I’m going to contact Groupon to see if they will do a campaign for me.

    I’ll let you know what happens.
    Glenn

  20. Hey Glenn,

    I have heard the same thing from Living Social — they are not working with acupuncturists, at least not right now. That’s okay, there are lots of other online coupon programs to choose from. Here’s an example of a recent one for a Texas acupuncturist:

    http://deals.adpages.com/deal/austin/plugerville-acupuncture

    The important thing is that you plan ahead to capitalize on future income through rescheduling and product sales. Let us know how it goes!

  21. Jeremy says:

    I did a Groupon about two years ago, just before the coupon sites began to multiply. At this time, I was maybe 7-8 months into my practice and seeing maybe 10 patients/week.

    I offered a choice for an hour Tui Na massage or 1.5 hour new patient Acupuncture treatment. I included the massage because I thought it would bring more people in the door that I could convert to acupuncture.

    I expected that I would get about 3:1 massage:acupuncture visits and we planned on capping it at 300. As the day came closer, Groupon asked me to raise the cap as they thought it would sell more. I agreed, though I negotiated a higher share of the cost for anything above 300. We sold about 450. I had to quit my other work that I had been doing though school, because suddenly I was booked out for 2+ months!

    Yes, it was tiring, and yes, the initial visits were a lot of time for little money, but it was an unmitigated success on every level (except the one terrible yelp review that i expected was inevitable). It turned out that 60% of people chose acupuncture. Out of those, at least 65% came back for at least one more visit. Quite a few of these folks are still patients today. The massage people were the “coupon clippers” in my experience. I was able to move some of them to longer term care, mostly in acupuncture.

    Two things I would encourage. Be sure to check everyone’s insurance to see if they had acupuncture benefits. Most people had no idea and many had very good benefits. Also be sure to schedule wisely, so you are not filled everyday with only new patients (i limited this to 4). This is both exhausting and makes it difficult to get regular patients on the schedule.

    In the end, about 100 never used the coupon and so my income per patient rose accordingly.

    I think Lisa’s points are right on. It’s really about getting people through the door and showing them what you can do for them. When you show them how valuable you are, you have a long term patient and future referral source.

    One more thing. This does not devalue the profession at all. In fact, I think quite the opposite. I don’t have the figure, but I would say that at least 50% of the acupuncture people were new to acupuncture. This was a low bar for them to come and give it a try, when they’ve been thinking about it for a long time.

    Filling your practice, making a living, promoting the profession. In my case, this was a win-win-win.

  22. Hi Jeremy,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with Groupon! Online coupon programs are still such a new concept that learning from each practitioner’s experience is extremely beneficial.

    Your two tips are excellent. Checking insurance benefits is very wise and could be the tipping point for people rescheduling. And you’re absolutely right about scheduling strategically. Not only to avoid burnout but to make sure that every day has some ‘paying patients’ while the coupon patients are also being treated. That keeps the revenue flowing.

    I have two questions for you…

    [1] How far out was your expiration date for buyers to collect on their coupon? The math of scheduling 450 new patients (at 4/day) working 5 days per week suggests you would need 6 months at minimum and more likely closer to a year. Whatever it was, you must have breathed a sigh of relief when the expiration date was up! 🙂

    [2] Did you collect the email addresses of your Groupon customers? I ask this because following up using an email autoresponder can often result in greater customer retention. (Although 65% returning for at least a second visit is great!) Having an email autoresponder set up and ready to go for coupon customers is something I highly recommend to promote more visits, products, specials, referrals and to collect feedback (among many other things). Because it’s automated, it doesn’t take any extra time. (Here’s a link to a free email autoresponder that’s easy for acupuncturists to use:
    http://eepurl.com/gzb9T)

    Once again thank you, Jeremy, for sharing your insights! I am sure your experience will help other acupuncturists make good decisions for their business.

    Peace,
    Lisa Hanfileti, LAc

  23. Hi Lisa.

    Groupon is doing a daily deal promotion for me that is supposed to go out starting this Sunday.

    This will be a rather long post, but I think the subject matter warrants it…Don’t Make The Mistakes I Made.

    I’m focusing on treatments for pain reduction. There will be two options. 1. Is for a new patient intake, history, evaluation, diagnosis and acupuncture treatment $125 value for $42.00 or 66% discount and option 2. Includes option 1 and a follow-on acupuncture visit, a $75 value, for only an additional $17 or there about. The final price for both hopefully will be $59 or $60. This is a 70% discount…I am still awaiting finalization.

    There is an interesting story here. I thought I was being helpful in making some suggestions for copy for my deal Lisa, based upon the one you gave a link to as an example from the TX acupuncture clinic…I put in some numbers for treatment values…not thinking they were anything but filler…one of them was $60 for an acupuncture treatment. At that time I had no idea how they came up with prices for deal offerings…I thought they would be telling me things like no, let’s set the value of the deal at $X, because that is the price that sells the most deals and will make us both the most money or something like that. I just didn’t know how they set “values”.

    My Rep at Groupon took my brainstorming literally as my official price for an acupuncture treatment. And when I asked for an increase to my true “official price” of $75.00 gave me grief including some threatening comments like you sure are trouble..you know we have another acupuncture deal in the pipeline…we can’t have bait and switch here now…

    This all began when the rep sent me a link to the Daily Deal they proposed to put out for me. I sent an email requesting a correction saying that there is something wrong here and rep must have misunderstood me when we were initially talking because I remembered telling her distinctly about my normal or usual and customary price being $75 for an acupuncture only treatment and that I would sometimes give increasing discounts from there if patients paid in advance for X or y number of treatments. She got her numbers…my numbers from my “helpful” sample offer…and she “deemed” them to be my “official pricing” and almost would not budge..

    I practically had to beg her to change the price to what it actually is…what actually prints out on my receipts when I perform acupuncture is $75.00. If I am discounting from this price I do so just above the total due. At first she thought I was lying to her…really. Finally, she accepted an email from me stating what my usual and customary charges for both items were.

    This happened in part because I thought I was discussing this with a pro marketer who knew, because I told her that I didn’t completely understand the ins and outs of their program so let’s discuss options and then decide. There really was no discussion…not only did she take the numbers and only the numbers in my little brainstorming email to be hard fact…as someone else commented above she dictated the deal prices and all and the 2 options.

    Folks don’t make this mistake. Be sure that you have your prices firmly in mind and speak about them and email them precisely the way you want them to be, because you will be stuck with them. So be sure they are on the high side, because you are likely going to be giving a nearly 70% discount…I see Groupons for massage all the time in my area for only a 55% discount. They will tell you this is the way it has to be.

    I don’t mind the big hit the rather outrageous discount takes. I’m in a real low spot in my practice. I am good at enlisting people into treatment when they hear me speak about the effectiveness of acupuncture or once they have experienced the powerful pain relieving effects of my acupuncture treatments.

    I just need people to come thru the door…yellow page ads aren’t cutting it, google adwords ads for even a free treatment to try acupuncture on your pain didn’t work. I just got a patient who will be coming in today because she found my website and my new special offer of a $25. treatment to try my acupuncture on your pain…no intake, extensive history etc…just acupuncture…show me where it hurts…they still have to have an initial office visit with history etc…if they want me to treat them…and they usually do.

    The rep mentioned that they had stopped doing Groupons for acupuncturists for a while because they weren’t profitable enough for them…I suppose meaning not selling enough, hence the huge discount for me and the two part deal to increase their revenue. This implies to me that they make their money by selling huge numbers of Groupons on a particular deal.

    Also, in the proof of my ad that they gave me a link to for me to review…thank God. They used a large photo of a person getting acupuncture on the face…I couldn’t believe it…Here we are trying to get people to try acupuncture for their pain and likely to try acupuncture for the first time ever and we are going to sell this by explicitly suggesting that you come in and we will put needles in your face…

    Thank God they didn’t argue about changing to a photo of a smiling woman getting acupuncture on her back…much less threatening don’t you think.

    Also the rep left in the limit of one gift certificate purchase allowed, when before I signed the contract I pointed out that since this is the holiday season why not let folks buy as many gift certificates as possible? She told me then no problem…just sign the contract and I will change that in the ad…Whoops she forgot…

    I also suggested that they post my office hours as being Monday thru Friday 1PM to 7PM since some folks in my area get up at 6AM and would please like an 8AM appointment…I am not a morning person (if you are a morning person you probably can’t relate to this and have no sympathy for me at all) and so I do all the work to manage my practice as I’m waking up with my coffee and by 1 PM I’m ready to deal with people. I just have always been that way…Also a lot of people work and like late appointments so this is how I accommodate those who need late appointments.

    So I thought it would be helpful if people knew the office hours to avoid problems…for Groupon purchasers and me. She agreed to post my hours. Thank goodness

    If I hadn’t carefully reviewed the copy of my proposed ad thinking that somehow the “gods and geniuses” at Groupon know best…I don’t think I would have sold a single groupon…my special offers for packages of treatments would have been screwed up…forced to be discounted far more than I have ever done…

    Please don’t make the mistakes I made, your life will be so much less stressful, if you learn from my mistakes.

  24. On another topic…you have written about and you and I have talked about getting an email responder…I did. I subscribed to MailChimp…

    I don’t have any experience with using an auto-responder for follow-on offers, deals, etc…I’m sure that I’m not the only one who feels intimidated by the prospect of creating and writing such offers…and who doesn’t have a clue how to structure such things…timing issues…I know you do this kind of thing really well.

    As you know I offer packages of treatments…given that this is very good for both the patients and me as we discussed, can you post here or provide a link to some information about how to do a successful auto-responder campaign after a “Groupon” Coupon sale…

    To the folks who come to me to use their Groupon deals, I plan to provide them with information about how this treatment works, why it may take between 5 and 15 treatments depending on how long they have had the pain and the nature or cause of the pain and incremental price reductions from the $75 pay as you go price for packages of 5, 10 and 15 treatments so that they can save money. And If they do so I will see that they get a copy of my e-book for free.

    I am planning to offer everyone who comes in a free subscription to my monthly newsletter so that I can get their email address to do follow on offers and newsletters.

    But for the life of me I don’t know what to offer people who come and use their Groupon and don’t engage in further treatment. What would such a campaign look like? How often to email, what to offer, etc…

    I’m sure there are others following your blog who could use some help along these lines, too.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Glenn

  25. Jeremy says:

    Hey Lisa

    1 – The expiration was one year. My first few months were extremely busy. The whole year was pretty busy, but those first 2-4 months were packed. The last month was also packed. So definitely think ahead! Groupon and other sites send a reminder email for people to use their vouchers about a month or so before they expire.

    And… 100 people never used it at all. And oddly enough, next to nobody contacted me after it expired. I had extended the deadline by a week or two as people were having trouble booking. The law, at least in CA, is that the vouchers are still good for face value after the expiration.

    I was actually excited when I got packed again during the last month. Honestly, I’m happy having new patients come in all the time.. even at the low rate.

    2 – I collect email on everyone who makes an appointment. Since I use an online service, Genbook.com, an email address is required to make an appointment. I do follow up with everyone who comes in and send out emails to the group from time to time.

    The online scheduling was key, as I only had to field about 10 phone calls from the 450! I left an outgoing message to make an appointment online and most people did just that. It was remarkable.

    I’m happy to share any other info or questions you may have.

    Jeremy

  26. I’m curious about Genbook.com. I’d like Jeremy to tell us more about it.

    As surprising as it may seem, many of my patients do not have computers or if they do, don’t use them. Most of my patients are retirees…older folk…

    So, I’d say that have of new patients find me the old fashion way by “Yellow” pages…

    Has using this service brought you all the benefits they promise on their website, such as new patients, more patients that you would not have gotten, improved exposure on the internet.

    In short Jeremy, what is marketing BS and what is your real experience?

    Glenn

  27. Hi Everyone…and of course…Lisa,

    Here is an update that I find worth providing in helping us all learn how to use these “Groupon” type deals…and I will continue to update my experience day by day.

    At the end of today 12.2.2011 Friday with the changes I mentioned in my other posts still pending. It was 4:30 pm and I hadn’t heard from my Groupon rep by phone or email. I decided I needed information to work with since my Groupon had been scheduled to go out this coming Sunday 12.4.2011. I wondered if it would still be going out…After all I am scheduling my life around this.

    I called my rep and of course didn’t get her directly and had to leave a voice mail message, “please call me back and let me know if my deal is going to happen and what the price of the offer will be.”

    Fortunately, my Rep did call me back at about 5 pm EST. She told me it all looked good, the changes hadn’t formally been approved…but she didn’t expect any problems and for me to plan on the deal going out with all my changes including pricing on Sunday as planned…

    Of course I was grateful and told her so. I explained once again that I had never intended to be difficult with the pricing issue and that the info I had emailed her was a brain storming session which I thought would be the basis of discussion. And to my great surprise after the threats of not doing the deal with me…etc… she spoke as if it was never a big issue. She told me of course it was not a problem.

    She told me that she felt the changes were a done deal…no threats…no repeat of how many other acupuncturists where dying to do a deal already in the pipeline if I screwed this up by continuing to be so difficult they just might call the deal off.

    I asked her to confirm the new deal prices and she did.

    I’m sitting here late tonight brainstorming all the things I need to do to be ready for terrific success and it just dawned on me the incredible irony of the change in tone of voice from my Groupon Rep today vs. yesterday.

    It blows my mind…as if life isn’t stressful enough. I hope you find this input helpful if you do a “Groupon” type of deal…I’ll keep you posted.

    Glenn

  28. Hi everyone,

    Glad to have a chance to update you all.

    I haven’t been able to find out yet what this means but to date I have sold 44 of 52 coupons…Now at one point this was at 40 or 42 and moved up to 44…I’m grateful.

    I don’t know why it keeps increasing…why there are 52 Groupons pending that may come in…yet.

    The limit I placed on the number I was willing to sell was 200. You have my sales stats above from my control panel…Now here is a real head spinner…I downloaded a list from Groupon of all the people I have sold and it looks to me like it was 200…Which is it Groupon?

    Geeze this enough to make you wonder, when you consider all of my experience, what is the truth…what is real…and does Groupon tell the truth…

    One set of statistics says I am at 44 and another give me a list of 200 Groupons sold.

    In any event…

    This is a huge success for me and I got emailed that my portion of earnings was upwards of $1,100.00 and I will soon be getting in the mail a check for $369…in a few days and another check for that amount in another 30 days and another check the final one with adjustments for those who wanted a refund…

    Oh, by the way Groupon doesn’t just charge 50% they are now tacking on another 2.5% for handling the credit card expense.

    So far 4 people have called for appointments who bought coupons…I think all of them will buy treatment packages…I’ll know for sure tomorrow. I’m totally confident of at least two of those who have already had their first office visit…two more come tomorrow…we’ll see.

    Another two folks called who hadn’t yet bought from Groupon and took the opportunity to pay me directly…That’s great…both of them are very likely to buy a package of treatments.

    So after all the drama I think this is a great program.

    I’ll be honest 44 new patients is more than I got this entire year until this.

    They are not all calling right this moment…In other words I’m not being crushed…the coupon is valid until June 2012…that is just fine with me. If they dribble in over time…great.

    I suspect that many of them will call after the first of the year. I have no idea how many were gift certificates.

    I plan on doing this again, as soon as I can with someone, if not Groupon. If they won’t do it…and they can stop on a dime…just like livingsocial decided not to do a campaign for acupuncturists right now.

    I’m wondering if enough Groupons were sold for Groupon that they will do a deal for me again.

    I say again…this is the single most successful advertising campaign I have ever done…it is definitely worth doing if you are in a jam and are good at explaining and selling further treatment.

    I’ve got new patients coming in and most are going to be writing checks or paying by credit card for further treatment. Tomorrow should be a good payday…perhaps $400 to $600.

    Sorry to say, Lisa, but this has done more for me than my website has ever done. But, but…my website is beginning to take off and make a difference…I don’t regret spending the hundreds of hours of time I put in to create it…it will grow and produce more and more…especially over time…I’m really proud of it and get a lot of good comments about it.

    People are beginning to call me from all over the country or ask questions of the “expert”…not a lot, but more and more especially recently.

    I will be recognized as an expert…more and more…

    I’ll update you further as I have more to report.

    Love and Peace,

    Glenn

  29. Kate Carter says:

    I think before everyone gets all excited about participating in these online deals, we should be very clear about the laws in our state regarding fee-splitting, pre-payment, and online referrals…many of these things are illegal for medical and complementary medical practitioners.

  30. I’ve used a few online coupon sites that aren’t as well-known as Groupon, and I’ve had great results. I think this is partially because the smaller sites don’t reach as many clients, which is fine because I wouldn’t be able to handle a huge influx of hundreds of new patients.
    One site in particular, Whofish, really worked out well for me. Now, I did not benefit initially, but I knew that I wouldn’t. The deal was 3 treatments for $50, and I received half of that. It breaks down to about $8 a treatment, and I normally charge $80. However, in the course of the the treatments, the patients got to really know me, and more importantly…had great results! They developed the confidence in me that is impossible to build in a single session. Of all the Whofish clients I have seen, I have retained about 80-90% of them after the deal was over.
    This type of marketing might not work for someone who is already established, but as a first-year acupuncturist, it was perfect for me. Not only did I make a lot of connections and retain these clients, it also just felt really good to have patients streaming through the door.
    I think another issue should also be brought up with these online coupons: the tendency to treat these clients as if they will never return. I know a few acupuncturists who run Groupons, then give lazy treatments because they think these patients aren’t returning anyway. I use lots of adjuncts on my patients; I will spend an hour rolling thread moxa if I feel it is necessary; I never leave the room and am always working on the patient the entire time. I do this for ALL of my patients, coupons or not. If the patient senses that you aren’t giving them your all because their treatment has been discounted, they won’t come back. Period.
    I have had colleagues tell me that all these coupon promotions “cheapen” acupuncture. To that I say: I can’t give a great treatment to someone who is not there. These people came in because of a discount, but they left with better health, free of pain. If not for the coupon, they may never have had the chance to experience something that is still considered a bit out of the norm.

  31. Casey Lewis says:

    Hi all, I see this thread is still going. I’ll update you on what I’ve learned from doing these promotions. You can see a previous comment above. I had previously worked with smaller local versions and sold anywhere from 10-25 each time I did the promotion. Just last week I finally worked with Living Social. If anything, it went too well with over 200 sold. I did not put a cap on it thinking it wouldn’t be that popular but obviously I was wrong. So with a 6 month expiration I basically have to be able to see 10 of these vouchers each week. As a sole practitioner that is going to be very difficult to do. So lesson learned, put a cap on these deals. Also, run the promotion on a slow day because experience also shows that the phone will ring a lot as people call with questions or to start scheduling appts. If you have smaller local versions that you can do, start with those. It will help you put into place the mechanisms you need to handle these people and get them to reschedule.

  32. Hi Casey,

    Thanks for your account of your recent Living Social Deal…it would be helpful to know what city you live in or what the population is.

    As I mentioned I live in a rather small community just South of Sarasota, FL which is South of Tampa, FL and my Groupon sold 47 which I was thrilled with.

    2/3 of those who redeemed their coupon, and there are a little less than half unredeemed, returned for additional treatment. Which was great.

    I’m thinking of doing a Living Social Deal, that’s why I’m asking…I’d love to hear from you soon.

    Thanks,

    Glenn

  33. Casey Lewis says:

    Hi Glenn,

    Good point. I’m in Syracuse, NY – over 600,000 in the metropolitan area. Even in a smaller area figuring a cap is a good idea. If you don’t hit the cap, fine. If you do, you might be glad you had one. I’m not sure what I would have capped it at actually if I had done it. I’d rather have too many people than not enough, but I also don’t want a bad reputation because I wasn’t able to get enough people in a timely fashion.

  34. Heather says:

    My concern about groupon deals is possibility of insurance fraud for those of us contracting with insurance companies. Any insight on this?

  35. Dianne says:

    Great information, thank you. I have been toying with this marketing opportunity but now have a much clearer understanding. Glenn, I am also in FL. Did you check into the legalities of prepaid treatments in our state? I do a lot of insurance billing so discounting my services on Groupon may not make sense for me. I also wonder about the implications from current patients that are billed at higher rates through insurance if they were to see the ad.

  36. Jacqui says:

    I am a new practitioner (just licensed at the end of January) in Ohio. Acupuncture is a slow-growing field here, and trying to start out in a city with dozens of other acupuncturists is hard. The chiropractor I work for ran a Living Social ad for me and it has turned out to be wonderful. I have a 75-80% conversion rate, and of those who have returned, the majority are already long-term patients. In addition, several of these “discount” patients have also referred others.

    I absolutely agree with Marisa that it is imperative to spend just as much time and energy with these discounted clients as you would with a full-paying patient; if they feel comfortable and get good results, most WILL come back. The biggest problem acupuncturists have is getting people to understand what exactly our craft is and how they can benefit from it; if I get $20 for an initial treatment but then $600 in return visits from a single client then that initial discount was ABSOLUTELY worth it! You can’t make money if no one is coming in!

    Some senior acupuncturists actually told me in person that I was “cheapening our profession” by going this route. Quite frankly, I think anyone who believes this has too much of a chip on their shoulder. It is up to our generation of acupuncturists to grow the profession as a whole, just like chiropractors in the 80s and 90s. I will gladly take a pay cut if it means introducing my craft to people who may never have experienced it otherwise. There are thousands upon thousands of people out there who have lost a lot of money trying different therapies for their ailments; why should I expect them to invest another $100 on a treatment they know little to nothing about on the hope that “this” will be the answer they’re looking for? Unfortunately, we need to face the reality that acupuncture doesn’t have that kind of reputation in our country right now. The only way to build that type of reputation is to introduce acupuncture to as many different people as possible. We need to get them in the door, show them the science behind it, and let them feel the results for themselves. After that, it will sell itself.

  37. Hi Jacqui,

    I’m glad running a Living Social coupon was beneficial to your practice. Thank you for sharing your experience. Can you share a bit more… I am particularly interested in the value you placed on the visit and the discount you (or the chiropractor) offered. I think showing the VALUE is one of the most important aspects of these coupon programs.

    One word of caution… I don’t think we should turn this into a “senior acupuncturists” versus “our generation” discussion. It’s great to hear your enthusiasm and love of the profession, but remember we are all riding the backs of the senior acupuncturists who paved the way. (See, http://www.insights-for-acupuncturists.com/history-of-acupuncture.html). Without their courage, wisdom and determination, we would not have such an easy path today.

    I think the concerns about using these online coupon programs (expressed by both new and seasoned acupuncturists) are very valid, and we need to help each other understand the legality, ethics, economics and effect they are having on the acupuncture profession.

    Once again, thank you for sharing your personal insights (and enthusiasm) about running a Living Social coupon. It benefits us all!

    Peace,
    Lisa Hanfileti, LAc

  38. Jacqui says:

    Lisa,

    I apologize that my meaning came off that way, as it is certainly not what I was trying to say. By “our generation,” I simply meant all of us practicing right now, regardless of age or length of time in practice. Thus when I used the term “senior acupuncturists” I did not mean to differentiate them from myself in any way except to say that they had been in practice longer (in fact, they have only been in practice 3 or 4 years each). We are still in the beginning stages of introducing acupuncture to some parts of the country, Ohio included, and that is true regardless of how long someone has been in practice. I would never want to make it an “us” vs. “them” mentality as it is from the more seasoned acupuncturists that we learn our craft and, as you said, even have the opportunity to do so. (Also, as you said, length of time in practice has no bearing on whether someone agrees with the use of coupons or not.)

    I must respectfully disagree that all of the concerns raised are valid; it is one thing to question the benefits of a method, but quite another to say that we are cheapening the profession. Plastic surgeons, dentists, and chiropractors all use discount coupon sites without “harming” their profession’s reputation. If we say using a coupon program is bad for our reputation, what are we saying about those that choose to work in spas that may only charge $15-$30 per treatment? Or community acupuncture, where there may be a sliding scale and practitioners may see several patients each hour? The value of our medicine is not in the price we charge, but in the results we achieve. No one way of doing or promoting acupuncture is right, and I don’t think it is beneficial to claim that someone else’s methods are “wrong” or “cheap.” As long as we are all helping people, who really cares?

    As for your question regarding my experience… For an initial consult and treatment, which lasts between 1 1/2-2 hours, my normal price is $95. We ran this information in the promo, with a cost of $30 per coupon, which means we only brought in $15 for each treatment.

    Please let me know if you have any other questions!

    Thanks!

  39. Hi All,

    What a great discussion…Jacqui, I agree with everything you said about your experience and especially this, “The only way to build that type of reputation is to introduce acupuncture to as many different people as possible. We need to get them in the door, show them the science behind it, and let them feel the results for themselves. After that, it will sell itself.”

    And as Lisa added let each acupuncturist decide what the best way to market their practice is.

    The Groupon Deal that Groupon put out for me at the end of last December is the single most successful marketing/advertising method I have ever used. In a couple of cases I earned (over and above what I got from the Groupon Coupon) $1,000 in sale of addition treatment and products…most were in the $600 range and a few were in the $300 range…only 3 or 4 were stopped after their 2 Groupon treatments were completed. Nearly everyone of these lived 25 to 50 miles away…Although I had one drive to see me over 50 miles one way two or three times a week.

    As of now nearly 3 months later only half of the 47 Groupon purchasers have come in to redeem their Groupons. I emailed Groupon about what they do to remind folks to remember to use their Groupon…they replied that they send out monthly reminders. I can’t ask for more than that. I want everyone who bought a Groupon for my offer to come to me and give acupuncture a try. I don’t at all look at this as, “Wow, isn’t this great, I’m made $25 from 25 people I didn’t have to treat.” No, I know when people try my acupuncture the majority will come back for more treatment and be happy to pay what I ask, for treatment they now know is going to work for them, especially when nothing else has worked before.

    I never worry for a second or run the numbers counting my losses and feeling sorry for myself about giving up 71% on the first two treatments. To paraphrase Jacqui, if you don’t have patients coming in you can’t help people and you definitely won’t be making any money.

    Just like Jacqui, I give my best in every treatment to every “Groupon” patient, just as I do with everyone who comes to me…it would be extremely short-sighted not to always give your best to everyone who comes to you.

    The process of getting ready for the release of my Groupon has resulted in wonderful improvements in my presentation skills during the first office visit, due to the motivation to really get the most out of the potential opportunity to jump start my practice with new patients who I hopped would be so impressed with me and my healing skills that they would want me to treat them until their pain was totally gone. It’s not that I’d never given this a great deal of thought, it’s more like after having been in practice for 10 years a complete fresh review of my successes and failures with new patients created a revolution in my understanding of what to say and how to say it.

    It also helps that I am able to produce perceptible pain reducing during the first office visit with 99% of those I see.

    I have a website, a pretty great website, of nearly 100 pages…As of this month I am up to an average of 181 visitors per day. Honestly, If I were waiting for that to bring me patients I’d be out of business. At this time it is most effective in helping me educating new patients…I am beginning to earn some income from Google adsense ads(about $110 every two months which I think will only increase.

    I think there are many great reasons to be building a first class website, but don’t count on it bringing a lot of new patients to you by itself, especially if you live in a more rural or suburban area with older people who are not universally tech/computer savy…In my area of Sarasota to Venice, FL. which is 50 miles South of Tampa most people still pick up the yellow pages rather than go on line…whereas in the region where Lisa lives the Pacific Northwest (this is just conjecture on my part) the population is younger, hipper, and very tech savy and probably uses the internet for nearly everything…

    So, for those of us in the not so tech savvy regions, a Living Social or Groupon Deal may be our best bet, especially, if your practice is new or languishing for lack of new patients as was mine.

    One final thought about the legality issue…this is just my opinion and not legal advice…here is my analysis for what it is worth…I pay the “yellow pages” for advertisements they run in their books, I’ve paid Google to run pay-per-click Google Adwords ads…As far as I’m concerned I’m paying Groupon or Living Social, etc…to run ads for me now and they are kind enough to let me pay them out of what they produce for me…this is not like an MD who owns in whole or in part an MRI center who gets kick backs or makes money on discount offers that generate business via stock price value or direct revenue from partial or complete ownership (revenue sharing) for referring patients to that center or whom the center refers patients to him or her.

    This is not like what has happened so often in the Western Medical community where a certain hospital starts doing incredible numbers of spinal fusions and is in cahoots with the device manufacturer and the surgeon and they all share the benefits…

    I’m making deferred payments for my special offer coupons delivered via the internet. How is this any different from paying one of those companies who send out packets of discount coupons for everything under the sun including acupuncture? Just my take on the whole subject.

    I’m in the process of getting approved with Living Social to do an offer for me by the beginning of next month…I’m so excited…about getting to help more people and about not being afraid about how I’m going to pay my bills.

    Lisa, thanks for the opportunity to share and to participate with our wonderful community of caring healers.

  40. Hello Diane and all,

    Diane of Florida, I missed your question to me about the legality of pre-paid treatments…I’m not a legal expert so I cannot comment on that.

    I do know this, I don’t insure anyone’s health care…I’m not in the insurance business. I’m in the business of providing Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Services. I don’t offer and no one has ever paid me to buy a policy that insures coverage for x number of treatments for certain diseases for which they pay me premiums. People pay me for the treatment they want and the treatment they get…there is no “insurance” in this. I charge them what I can and what they are willing and able to pay. We come to a mutual agreement. I have never charged anyone for treatment they didn’t get or perhaps might not get. Does this make sense to you.

    The essence of health insurance these days is to promise payment for treatment and then hope the patient never gets sick or never makes a claim or to find ways to reduce reimbursement, deny payment and otherwise defraud people. I personally would never be despicable like that

    I have continued to treat some fine folks who could not afford to continue treatment just for the joy of seeing them get better.

    Once someone has used the special offer treatments, I charge people my usual and customary cash discount price (meaning credit card, debit card, check or cash payments as opposed to insurance payments)for follow-on treatments…that should have no bearing on what I bill an insurance company, if I charge the normal rates for the area I live in…we all charge about the same for the various things we do.

    As far as I know we and every other healing profession and every other business on the planet is allowed to discount their prices or even wave their fees for any product or service they provide to anyone at any time…I call it compassion and good business sense…and it is none of the insurance companies business.

    Regarding all the insurance billing you do, my question to you is how do you do so much of that? How do you find patients with coverage for Acupuncture?

    Once in a while I get a patient who was in an auto accident who still has some PIP left and for whom I can bill for treatment…I’ve had very few people come to my practice who have health insurance policies that cover Acupuncture…

    An additional thought. My experience with insurance companies now is that it doesn’t matter how much we bill for any of the services we provide, they have things so nailed down in the “system” that they only pay a fraction of what ever we charge anyway rationalizing/linking it to some statutory limit their lobbyists have managed to get for them.

    I’d really like to learn more about how you find so many…if you’d care to post here, or if not please visit my website and contact me via my contact form. If you give me your email address, I’ll email you back and you will have my email address. I don’t want to post it here and risk getting any more spam than I already do.

    Regarding you doing so much insurance billing and wondering about the potential impact of doing a Groupon or such, my only thought at this moment is there are a lot of MDs, MD Spas that use Groupons and make other special offers. Don’t you think it highly likely that nearly all of them do a lot of insurance billing and as Jacqui points out do a lot of discount treatment offers…why can they do that and we not?

    Boy, I don’t know about you but I just hate dealing with the insurance companies…they waste a lot of my time trying to collect payment, give me headaches, attempt to give me ulcers and just generally are not fun to deal with…

    I like having a mostly, almost totally “cash” practice for those reasons.

    These are just a few more of the reasons why I think Groupon or Living Social are good things for me.

    Just a few thoughts…What do you think?

    Glenn

  41. kendra says:

    I think that if it brings people in the door who normally wouldn’t try alternative treatments or acupuncture, using deal sites is great. I don’t see it undermining the profession if more people are becoming aware of the benefits of acupuncture and the social stigma of alternative treatments lessons as a result.

  42. Tara says:

    Thank you for this wonderful article and continuing discussion on Social Coupons.

    Another practitioner and myself have started a new clinic last month. We’ve been working hard marketing our practice and slowly gaining patients.

    We decided to look into Groupon and are going to run a feature for next month. We’ve capped the sales to 200 vouchers (total of 320 visit: 1 & 3 visit deals). We’re also (based on Lisa’s great suggestion) to do a 5 month expiration.

    We’re looking forward to spreading the word about our community acu clinic. So far the response has been great, it’s just trying to get new patients in the door.

    I’ll be sure to update you on how everything goes.

    Thanks!

  43. Selma says:

    Hi everyone,

    I offer Massage Therapy and Acupuncture in my clinic. I did a groupon for massage about 7 months ago and will never do it again. The good thing is that I did get about 10 acupuncture patients out of it the bad thing is that yes, most of them are coupon clippers. This is not new to the online coupon business. This is one of the reasons Living Social is not going to be expanding and may be eliminating their coupons all together. This was just published @ inc.com june 2012. Living Social says that they realize this is not helping small businesses and they have something else in the works that will help us out.

    #1 check out inc.com.
    #2 I’m opening my second acupuncture clinic in the fall! And yes, I do a lot of insurance billing for acupuncture. It depends on the state your in if insurance will cover acupuncture. A person could live in FL and have coverage for acupuncture with Blue Cross Blue Shield FL but move to Illinois and and Blue Cross Blue Shield IL will not cover it. This is an ongoing problem. This should change in 2014! Many of my patient have money but want their insurance to pay for it. I use Office Ally for my electronic insurance billing, they are GREAT! #3 I have found in my experience that people have money you just have to convince them to spend it on you. You have to know how to be a good sales person. All small business is sales! Not like a used car sales person but knowing how to convince people about all you can do for them!
    #3 Sorry, but not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. It’s very hard and takes lots of work.
    #4 I see OVER 25 acupuncture patients per day in my first clinic! I have 4 treatment rooms and staff. All without groupon! I get 60% of my patients from lectures that I give at the local YMCA and libraries. When a person come to a lecture you already know that they are interested its your job to reel them in! I love to give lectures so I\’m good at this! I also do much better with women, (maybe because we are smarter)!

    I have faith that you will all make it! Stay strong and work hard! Good luck to you all! peace!

  44. Mark says:

    Dont’ be losers to not use Groupon or Living Social or any other time wasting coupon clipper worthless clients base schemes.

    I’ve done it, won’t do it again unless I get 80% of my usual fees. My office gets calls all the time asking me to participate. We said no to all of them.

    As I said it before, does not work for anyone unless, you like working for peanuts and do not have self appreciation for your work.

    If you are starting your practice in in business for no more than 3 years, may be it is OK. But just to pay rent about 2 to 5% of Coupon clippers, and that is who those people are will come back. Not real clients.
    Mark.

  45. Sharon says:

    Very helpful comments. I did a Living Social campaign in January, but only sold about 60 coupons. I offered a half hour massage and an hour acupuncture treatment. It is now near the end of April and nearly half have not contacted me yet. They only have until the beginning of June to use the coupon. Quite a few have acupuncture insurance coverage which they didn’t realize. While I have been able to convert some into steady patients, even those with insurance did not return.

    I have generally found this population not to really be interested in health. Most will not purchase any herbs or supplements. Some did rebook for massage but just a handful. I only used massage to draw them in, however, I had to pay a therapist so I made very little money myself on the deal. Living Social would not advertise acupuncture by itself. They told me that they don’t sell enough to make it worth their while.

    I recently spoke with a LS rep to see if I could offer a different promtion, but now they want me to offer an hour massage + acupuncture and only make 40%. I hung up on the guy! He said that the previous promotion didn’t sell well enough.

    Because I am new in this part of town, exposure is critical. I would rather have some flow than no flow, because I noticed when I was seeing the Living Social clients, my own practice really began to pick up, so I believe that it can work this way. I also want to be working vs. not working. Psychologically it is better for me because it makes me show up to my office every day.

    I recently decided to try Groupon, but it has not panned out and I am going to pull my promotion. They currently only promote acupuncture in their “marketplace”, where clients have to search on acupuncture to find the promotions, so it’s long term but you can take it down at any time. I am getting very little response and every person I’ve treated so far I could not get to come back at my regular fee or buy supplements so that’s it. At the moment I am burnt out on these types of clients/patients and have no desire to do this again.

  46. Doc Jec says:

    One thing I have enjoyed most about this post are the genuine conversations that have come from it. 45 comments and counting – excellent!

    I practice acupuncture in Peoria, Illinois. Originally, I started my practice just doing chiropractic work. When I added acupuncture to my practice, my patients and I saw tremendous results – they coupled together beautifully.

    I have never done a Groupon before and can see both sides of the coin. I did want to share what has worked for my practice (which has been running for over 30 years).

    My philosophy is “no problem.” I allow my patients to pay as they can with 0 interest. This has not hurt my practice. In fact, being flexible has allowed certain customers to be treated in the appropriate manner. (As we know, acupuncture is a process one must commit to).

    If any of you are in a position where you can be easier on patients – I say go for it!

  47. WARNING TO ACUPUNCTURISTS USING COUPONS: “I work with a Chiropractor that was turned in for running a Living Social and Amazon Local for massage (not even chiropractic services) and is now facing the board with lawyers from his malpractice insurance. He has told me not to run a Groupon anymore like I have in the past. Anyone with a license through the Medical Board is being turned in if you have an Amazon Local, Living Social or Groupon deal out. He specifically told me he found where Acupuncturists fall into this category too. Along with MDs, Dentists, Nurses, etc. I have also been contacted by Care Xtend which is doing the same kind of deals as these companies but is aimed at BCBS members. The Chiropractor could possibly have to pay back the entire sum he collected even if he already rendered services for those patients. This is for Minnesota, I have no idea about other states and their laws. I just wanted to let all of you that are in Minnesota know this before having to face any consequences, if that even happens. If anyone has thoughts on this, please share.” (Reprinted with permission from Cassie Trenhaile)

  48. Jen Walz says:

    I just read an article on Acupuncture Today saying that we (acupuncturists) cannot do a discount prepay program for treatments and was wondering if that included Groupon and the like.

  49. Janik L. says:

    I’m not in acupuncture but my overall experience with groupon and the like: DON’T.
    They bring in people who would not visit you and, general rule, they won’t at full price.

    I tried groupon once. Never again

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