Whenever I see the debate for whether it’s worth an osteopath to advertise on Groupon, it seems to be a quick open-close case. While the clear downsides to being an osteopath on Groupon are heavy-hitting and universally agreed upon, we here at Osteohustle believe it’s important to dig deeper.
This blog will cover the viewpoint of my experience, both advantages and disadvantages, being an osteopathic clinic owner advertising on Groupon.
Disclaimer: Be sure to add value to this discussion by commenting on your experience with Groupon. We’ve probably missed a few things out, and some features/details may be out of date since writing this article.
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There are some severe negatives about being an osteopath on Groupon. The primary downside is that it devalues the profession. This is somewhat true, but we’re here to explore some other negative aspects of Groupon.
Groupon will try and make you offer two treatments, and they won’t let you charge more than £25-£30 for this. Of that £25-£30, you will usually only make 50%, so it’s essential that if you go down the Groupon path, you don’t offer more than one session per voucher, or you could take as little as £5 per appointment. It would be best if you also made sure that people can only buy one voucher.
Over on the Osteohustle Marketing University Facebook group, one clinic owner shared their experience.
“Worked in a clinic that used Groupon. The owner eventually stopped it as he said all it attracted was ‘tyre-kickers. 2 biggest issues were that they wouldn’t spend money on treatment at all or that they came in with completely unrealistic expectations and were super hard work. There was a lot of as****** too.”
I didn’t experience a low patient return rate, but I know many osteopaths that have. I think this is because many osteopaths have to do two sessions as part of the bundle, and by the end of that second session, the patient is starting to feel better and will see if they can get by after that.
My return rate was closer to 80%. I don’t think this is because I’m a better osteopath than all the others who have tried Groupon, but I do believe I marketed myself well. As I only offered one session, I think they were more likely to come back as most people will need more than one treatment. There was also an emphasis on pain education during the session, so they knew the benefits of coming in again.
I also made sure that there was an incentive to come back in and book through me. My standard fees were £65. If they booked in immediately after the treatment was over, they could get £25 off the next session (meaning £40 was mine rather than the £10 I would get through Groupon).
They could also wait three days, but then I’d only give them £10 off. Letting them know they could get another cheap session for only £15 more than what they just paid was often all the incentive they needed.
Having said this, never be pushy. It can be tempting to try and push the patient into booking in again as you’ve just worked for next to nothing, but this is transparent to the patient, and they won’t book in.
This may have changed now, but as of a couple of years ago, they didn’t integrate their booking system with Cliniko or JaneApps. A lack of integration makes the potential for double bookings relatively high, and you may have to cancel appointments that can put people off and make life stressful for you. There will also come the point where you begin to get more and more full-paying patients, so you need to constantly be checking how many vouchers you are offering and your availability. Because you need to make sure you have space to fulfil Groupon obligations alongside having space to treat those who are full paying.
You will be fully booked, almost guaranteed, and you will be doing this for next to nothing. This level of work, paired with the minimal reward, can be demoralising long term, as you will inevitably start working out how much money you could have earned. I did this for six months, which was far too long in hindsight. I think small bursts for a month or two at a time is all you need to do to reek any benefits Groupon has to offer.
Does Groupon really devalue our profession? One member of the Osteohustle Marketing University Facebook group suggests:
“I’ve been on Groupon for years, and I probably get two-thirds of my new patients through it. I try to run my clinic on a foundation of inclusivity. Although some of the voucher buyers are ‘bargain hunters’, the vast majority are people who have wanted to try osteopathy for a while but couldn’t risk paying the amounts we charge in case it didn’t work.
I see a lot of students, unemployed or low-income patients and often offer discounts for follow up treatments because I truly believe we should be there for everyone. I don’t see it as devaluing my knowledge, skill and experience; I see it as making osteopathy available to everyone.”
Interesting consideration, right?
Osteopathy is expensive for many people, and Groupon allows them to afford osteopathic care. Yes, of course, some won’t be the greatest patients, and a few won’t ever pay full price, but you’re gaining a lot of experience, many will share their experience with their friends and family, and some will be great patients who you’ll treat for years.
They advertise for you. Groupon is a trusted website in regards to Google and SEO. Having your website listed on their site will improve your websites SEO and rankings. You’ll also get increased traffic as people will often visit your website when they find you on Groupon.
Groupon offers an excellent opportunity to gain plenty of reviews on Groupon’s website and Google My Business. Instead of being on Groupon to get more patients, you can shift your version of success to be the number of positive reviews you collect. Having a number of testimonials you’d like to reach gives you a numerical target to hit. Once you hit your testimonial target, you can leave Groupon with a smile. Use your time with Groupon to regularly post on Google My Business and get reviews, so you start to rank highly on search engines.
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BrightLocal, GatherUp, UberAll, and others have all run studies. All of these studies found that businesses with a perfect 5.0 rating ended up with fewer conversions (customers). They found that a business with many reviews (over 30) with a 4.2-4.6 overall score reflects a trustworthy business and excellent experience.
Getting a lower rating is never a nice feeling, but you can’t please everyone. No one is perfect; you won’t put people off, and how you reply to negative reviews can increase your chances of someone booking in with you as it shows a lot of character.
*sorry, my AHPRA osteopaths, this pro doesn’t apply to you.
Groupon can help you cover rental costs as you start. Setting up an osteopathic clinic is expensive, and not knowing where your next patient will come from is stressful. Groupon will almost guarantee that that’s not a problem you face. While I didn’t make much money whilst I was on Groupon, I always knew I wouldn’t be losing money, which was obviously important.
You don’t have to do it for long. As you don’t get much money through Groupon, you only need to be bringing in a couple of new full-paying patients a working day to make the same amount of money. Your aim is to get off Groupon as quickly as possible, leaving you working far less for the same amount of money, but now with a high SEO ranking, 4-5 star Google review clinic. Once there, you can begin to implement the marketing strategies that will help your clinic long term but knowing your clinic costs are now being covered, or you have that little extra pocket money than you had before.
“What are your opinions on Groupon?” That’s a question I get asked all the time. As someone who used Groupon for six months after opening my first clinic, I can say I have mixed feelings on the topic. I will openly say that there are better ways to attract patients when you start your clinic venture. Having a steady income from an associate job is preferable, where you can begin to set up your clinic at your own pace, and you can gradually transition to going full-time at your practice. Also, if you have savings, using them to set up your clinic is preferable to working on Groupon. However, not everyone is in the position to do this, and sometimes you need to rapidly grow your patient list to cover your outgoings.
I hope this has helped. If you have an associate job, savings or already established, there are far better marketing strategies to bring in new patients. However, if you have just opened up and things are tight, a short term Groupon strategy can be pretty effective. It all depends on your personal circumstances.
So, if you’re looking to set goals that really matter, skip expensive learning curves, prevent burnout, become a better problem-solver, prevent procrastination, stay accountable and transition your hobby into a successful business so you can gain your ideal work-life balance, then osteopathy business coaching is for you.