April Blog Challenge – Day 29 – Offering discounts

In the last few years there has been a growth in websites offering discounts prices at restaurants, spas and for massage treatments. In The UK the most popular websites are Groupon, Living Social and KGB deals. I have seen massages offered as low as £19 for a 1-hour session. In these times of austerity these heavily reduced prices may be great for the client. It can be a great promotional opportunity for a spa to advertise their services to subscribers to these websites and attract new clients.

The discount company takes a percentage fee from the spa or therapist. Depending on the size and facilities of a spa, they can add on additional non physical services such as a glass of champagne or use of a steam or sauna which makes the offer more attractive. I do not know if the spa or therapist is able to put a limit on how many discounted treatments can be sold.

However for a solo therapist like myself, I am not sure that taking this route is the best approach for my business and myself. There is a limit to how many massages or reflexology treatments I can do in one day. I am mindful of avoiding burnout, which is what happened when I previously worked full time at a spa. Recently I met therapist at an event who said she had run a Groupon offer at her clinic. She said that she had done 320 massages in the space of 3 months.

In terms of the type of clients that discount websites attract, I tend to feel that clients looking for cheap massages are unlikely to become regular full paying clients but will be on the lookout for the next cheap offer elsewhere. I want my business to grow with clients who are willing and able to have regular treatments. I value the work that I do and do not want to devalue it by offering massages at an extremely low price. I cannot afford to offer my treatments as cheaply as some of the discount websites.

I am not opposed to discounts or special offers, I do occasionally run them myself. I am in full control of the offer and how long it will run for. The reason I do them is to attract new clients, to entice lapsed clients to return and to give my regular clients a chance to save some money.

In the past I have run a 2 for 1 offer. The client could either have both treatments within a 2-week period or they could bring a friend on their first visit who would have their treatment straight after. This offer did bring me a few new clients but I realised I was giving too much away.

During December I ran an offer on a block of 3 x 60 minute massages for £99. The offer ran for about 3 weeks and all the massages had to be used within 3 months. The treatments could be used by one person or given as gift vouchers. Some people had weekly sessions and others had one treatment a month. I this offer encouraged clients to have regular sessions.

My most recent offer was a 90-minute massage or reflexology session for the price of a 60-minute session. Regular clients who would normally book just a 60-minute treatment were able to indulge in an extra 30 minutes for free.

Occasionally a new client will ask if I will reduce my treatment cost. If I am not running a special offer at the time then I won’t do it. Recently a potential new client asked if I would reduce the cost of my 60-minute massage from £45 to £35 because this is what his last therapist used to charge. I told him that I was unable to do this. He decided not to book a massage. I am not offended when someone asks for a discount and I hope they equally are not offended when I refuse their request. I believe that I charge a reasonable rate for my treatments. There will always be someone cheaper and I have no problem with that. I do wonder if people would ask for a discount when they visited a dentist, physiotherapist or an osteopath.

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