Let it be known that from this moment on PPY will no longer be doing daily deals. Never again. In a nutshell, daily deal offers hurt small businesses. And we are one of those that got hurt.
The concept of daily deals is ostensibly a good thing if you’re buying: you sign up, get a great deal on services at local business. But the problem with these daily deals is that the negative impact they have on small businesses. I’ve made many mistakes during the seven years PPY has been in business and none has been more frustrating than doing business with the outfits that offer these deals.
If you want to know why daily deals harm businesses you can google that for yourself. There’s lots of stories out there and lots of different reasons they harm businesses. If you’re thinking you still haven’t had enough then check out these horror stories and decide for yourself if you can still support a company with very shady practices that doesn’t even really know what’s its brand is anymore and that recently fired it’s founder. The writing is on the wall for the daily deals business in general. I only wish I’d decided not to work with them sooner.
Despite a perception that PPY is raking in money hand over fist sadly that is just not the case. I say this not just as a yoga teacher who loves Power Vinyasa Yoga but also as a small business owner who works 60-80 hours a week at his business. And PPY does okay as a business. We do not have any other income nor do we have outside funding to help us. My wife and I usually make enough to meet our expenses and those of the studio (something I’ve gone on about at length in another post) and feed our family. We do not live extravagantly. We’re fairly boring, in fact. In-bed-by-10PM boring.
At PPY we’ve always priced our classes and class packages to make yoga as affordable as possible while still being able to pay our bills. You are not being gouged when you pay to do yoga at Portland Power Yoga. In fact, our prices come out right about in the middle or lower when compared with other studios. In all honesty, our class packages really should be priced higher to meet our costs. But I cannot in good conscience charge a price for yoga at my own studio that I would balk at paying for in another.
PPY offers regular discounts on packages and the occasional sale to allow people to get into and maintain a regular yoga practice at PPY. We offer Community Classes for $7 and sevateering so people can work in exchange for yoga. And yet still some have accused us of being too expensive or “nickel and dime-ing customers.”
People are entitled to their opinions but I can say with 100% certainty that whenever someone asks me I have shown how our prices compare with and are generally lower than most of the other studios in town. Then together the customer and I find a way to make their yoga practice at PPY financially viable.
Honestly, I am less interested in squeezing the most money out of someone than in finding a way for them to develop a regular yoga practice at what we believe is the best Power Vinyasa yoga studio in Portland, Maine. Some have said to me that this is poor business practice (I’m a capitalist but not that much of a capitalist). To this I say anyone going into the yoga business to get rich has a long, hard road ahead of them. No one I know who owns their own studio from Florida to Maine is making big bucks. Small, independent yoga studio owners are generally not in the 1%.
But back to the daily deals.
I knew the risks going into a daily deal and saw some potential benefits as well. It gives you exposure and access to a large pool of potential clients. I read the horror stories and thought I noticed a few things from them that other businesses didn’t do. We even did a deal a couple years ago with less than desirable results. When we decided to do one again this past fall it was with a full plan of how not to repeat our previous mistakes or those of others.
So what was the result of our last daily deal offering?
It nearly killed us. Honestly.
Here’s a great quote from an Elephant Journal article written by Ira Israel:
Groupons for yoga studios are building neither community or loyalty—they’re just making teachers angry for having to teach students at $1 per head instead of $5 or $6.
I would not say we’re angry at people who got the deal. Not at all. In fact it’s what brought a lot of new people into our studio in the first place. Perhaps the better word for is it sad, in that we didn’t really have a chance to develop a relationship with them.
But the short story is this: since running that particular daily deal in December of 2012 we’ve lost roughly $35,000 in sales due to the last daily deal and its latent effects. It’s not like that money was going to take my family to Bermuda or buy me a fully loaded Audi. Really all of that money would have gone to meeting the expenses of running a business during challenging economic times (It’s expensive to run a yoga studio even in the best of times. And utilities rates are only rising).
This wasn’t money lost from a lack of business. Our attendance is climbing steadily, even in these times where there are sixteen to eighteen yoga studios in the greater Portland region, an area of about 65,000 people. I’m proud to say that people come and go but almost always end up coming back to PPY in the end.
But less so when there are so many deals being offered to go somewhere else.
Now, despite their assurances they wouldn’t do so, this daily deal outfit ran two deals with other studios right after ours. I don’t fault the other studios for doing these deals; I hold the selling company responsible for flat out lying to me. The result of this was that despite the fact that people got their yoga and more when they practiced at PPY, a daily deal is priced to be so irresistible that people jump for the next one. I’ve heard students tell me — heck, I’ve even seen them in their wallets and purses — about having Groupon’s, Mainely Mara’s and Living Social’s deals stockpiled so they can use them when their current one runs out.
Daily deals encourage a feeding frenzy in consumers where we chase the next deal to another business rather than stay and build a relationship with one. And who can blame you for wanting a great deal? I can’t. These are hard times we live in. I search for them constantly as a business owner and consumer. I’m always looking for ways to pay as little as possible for what I need.
The problem is that a studio — any business for that matter — cannot survive on these daily deals. I know for a fact that every studio is harmed by them. Some studios have offered so many that no one will actually buy the packages or class cards they sell themselves. How do they make up the shortfall from that? And just look at the above quote again and you’ll see it’s happening all over the country.
Just about any yogi, when presented with an offer of $59 for a month of yoga, will invariably go for it. Hey, I might if I didn’t own a studio and knew what that does to a business! But PPY — any yoga studio for that matter — is a business that relies on our customers practicing with us on a regular basis. Our customers have come to expect the consistent level professionalism, service and treatment that we offer when they come through our doors.
There’s another thing I can say with 100% certainty: At PPY no one gets better or worse yoga for the price they pay. Everyone gets the best possible experience we at PPY can provide for you no matter what you pay, be it $7 for a Community Class or $1,250 for a year of unlimited yoga.
In closing, think on this: A regular yoga practice on your mat rewards you with flexibility, strength, physical and mental health. At PPY, we will always reward regular practitioners with discounts for early renewal of packages as well as our own occasional sales run throughout the year.
Which we simply can’t do for the price of a daily deal on yoga.
Finally, I will promise you this: At PPY, no matter what price you pay you will always get the best possible experience in a Power Vinyasa Yoga class. We have good, clean facilities, friendly, educated and intelligent staff who only want you to feel your best when you come to our studio. No matter what you may think there is always a way to afford doing yoga at PPY. Always. Whether it’s a discounted package, our Community Classes or even sevateering (working in exchange for yoga classes) you can afford to do yoga at PPY.
Thank you very much for reading this. We look forward to seeing you on your mat in our studio very soon.
Charles R. Terhune, co-owner, Portland Power Yoga