I recently found out that smaller local business can actually take a loss on social buying site deals. The sites take 50% of whatever the customer pays, which means it’s pretty easy for a company to go in the red to attract new customers.
When it comes to deal sites, I’ve spent years gladly voucher hopping. I’d go to whichever company offered me the lowest price for a service. Unless that company put out a new deal, it would never see me again.
Of course, loss leaders aren’t exactly a new concept. But usually it’s only bigger companies that have them. Those can take a bit more of a hit — and you’re more likely to use that company in the future anyway. That’s not really the case for, say, a massage therapist that normally charges $70.
I know that companies on deal sites have are there voluntarily. It’s a calculated risk that will hopefully attract new customers. And they’re well aware that there will be one-time customers.
Still, this new knowledge has changed how I think about social buying offers.
That’s not to say I want to spend more money. I’m certainly not abandoning deal sites. But we’re not broke anymore, so I can afford to be a little less bottom-line oriented. Besides, it’s exhausting having to find a new place every time you want a service cheaply.
If it’s at all plausible that we’d be return customers, I’ll buy a voucher for a business. But if it’s a one-and-done, I’m trying to be more circumspect.
That’s not to say I won’t take deals on big things. We saved $300 on a deal for yard work. We also saved hundreds to tint the car windows. Great deals, but I wouldn’t use those companies again at full price.
I guess there will always be some boundary shifts.
In the future, I’m going to try to compromise by trying to negotiate the same rate directly with the business.
If I get a service that I like, I’ll ask the business if I can buy it again at the same rate. At least that way, they would get 100% of the discounted rate.
If they accept, they’ll get a repeat customer — who tips based on full price thankyouverymuch — and I get a good ongoing deal without the muss and fuss of constant deal scouring.
If they decline, then I’ll either bite the bullet and pay full price or, more likely, go back to the deal site when I want the service again. Maybe the next place I find will be willing to wheel and deal.
So what do you think: Do I have an overactive guilt complex? Do you use vouchers mainly as indulgences or as ways to find good local businesses?
Image credit: Robert Couse-Baker