When you own your own business, your ability to survive—and to thrive—depends on two things.
Keeping your current customers happy and regularly bringing new patients in through the doors.
Though there are many marketing avenues that can help you achieve both of these goals, some health professionals have turned to Groupon in an effort to grow their patient base. What makes this marketing strategy so appealing?
The Groupon appeal
First and foremost, Groupon is a site that is used by a large number of people. In fact, statistics tell us that 171 million individuals downloaded this discount-based app in December 2017 alone.
People are using it as well, with some 49.5 million people having purchased at least one Groupon deal within the last 12 months. So, if you’re interested in getting your name out to more people, and people who are likely to take advantage of your deal, this top-ranking promotional site could definitely carry some appeal.
Groupon also caters to individual markets, further adding to its charm from a business standpoint. For instance, if you join Groupon Merchant as a health and wellness entity, new customers can conveniently book their appointments with you through the Groupon app. You can also increase your online exposure with a Groupon Page for your business, even if you decide not to offer a discount via this site.
But is Groupon really an effective growth strategy for chiropractic professionals specifically? As it turns out, the answer to this question isn’t as simple as saying yes or no as there are several considerations DCs must make before choosing to take this route.
Groupon for chiropractors considerations
The first consideration deals with potential legal ramifications associated with this type of site. “I have never personally used Groupon because we were taught in school that it can get tricky with board violations,” says Niccie Dearing, RN, DC at Vitality Chiropractic in Gaffney, South Carolina.
Dearing is referencing regulations such as section 650 of California’s Business and Professions Code which outlines what is lawful and unlawful in regard to offers, discounts, and referrals between healthcare professionals and prospective patients. For instance, as the California Dental Association pointed out in mid-2013, the California State Department of Consumer Affairs had deemed contractual agreements between companies like Groupon and healthcare professionals a direct violation of this state law, mainly because these discount sites were technically referring patients as they dictated who received the promotion.
Thus, before deciding whether or not to use Groupon to help you grow your chiropractic practice, you must first familiarize yourself with the statutes and regulations within your local jurisdiction to ensure that you’re not inadvertently violating the law.
Another consideration is whether offering reduced services on discount sites like Groupon will actually connect you with the right type of patient. Dearing explains that, though she doesn’t offer reduced services on Groupon, she does have a massage therapist (MT) in the office who has used it in the past. Ultimately, Dearing says that her MT found that “the customers she gets from it don’t stick around and they tend to be the type of people that are jumping from place to place just for the deal.”
Other service providers have found similar results. For instance, one survey of small business owners found that “most businesses said only ‘a handful’ of Groupon buyers became repeat customers.” Because chiropractic typically entails numerous visits in order for the patient to achieve maximum results, giving them just one treatment session isn’t likely to provide the relief or value the patient is seeking, potentially reducing their desire to return. Plus, initial exams generally take a lot of time, time that could be spent with patients who are willing to engage in a longer-term solution.
There’s also the concern that your regular patients could feel slighted if you only offer discounts and incentives to new customers. This could negatively impact their loyalty to you and your office if they wind up feeling undervalued and underappreciated, lowering your repeat business solely because you used this marketing method to grow your practice.
One final word
This isn’t to say that Groupon is inherently good or bad, but that you want to think through all of the possible scenarios before signing up for this or any other type of discount site. Put yourself in the shoes of your patients and think about how an ad like this would look to them. Then, weigh that against your need to grow your business to ascertain whether it is the right move.
As long as you walk into marketing strategies like this with your eyes wide open, you’ll be better able to make the best decision for your individual chiropractic practice. Regardless of what that final decision is.