Charnell Griffin expected “a couple hundred” customers when she offered a discount through Groupon.com for the services of her three-and-half year-old company, Clean Corp.
What she got was more than she bargained for and frankly, more than she could handle.
Nearly 3,800 people pounced on the $35 deal for two-hours of house cleaning. Griffin was — and still is — overwhelmed as she tries to honor the vouchers before they expire in a year. In this case, it really was too much of a good thing.
“You just take it one day at a time and try not to lose your mind,” she said.
Merchants providing services have a far more difficult time meeting the demands brought on by the influx of customers who discover them through deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial.com than those providing products.
Tracy Olson, owner of Helping Hands Massage Studio in Marietta, has had to hire another massage therapist, create a wait list and schedule weekend appointments three- to four weeks out since July when more than 1,800 bought discounted one-hour massages.
“After two days, we were booked for three weeks solid,” Olson said.
Her customers, she said, have been understanding. Only one has asked for a refund. Clean Corp has lost customers.
“It was my first time ever using Groupon,” said Kadesha Adelakan of Austell. “I had a year to use it, so I was trying to schedule a cleaning. But I couldn’t get in touch with anyone.”
Clean Corp has beefed up its staff to 23 cleaners and has a new answering service.
“We want to maintain the quality of our service and make sure we do things properly,” Griffin said. “We’ve hired more people, but that’s a process, too. We have to train them and match them up with veteran cleaners.”
North Georgia Canopy Tours stands as one of the greatest deal site success stories. Using three companies, almost 9,000 signed up. On their busiest days, about 25 people hook onto the zip lines and enjoy all the tours offer. Kirk and Leah Watkins, managing members, said they’ve had no problems scheduling the masses.
“We have not turned one person away,” Leah Watkins said.
To help manage, they hired more people to answer phones and keep a closer eye on email.
Olson is opening a new spa soon and will use Groupon to draw business. But this time, she’ll go about it differently.
“I’m putting a cap on it,” she said.
Question: What has been your experience when using a deal site for a service? Have you had to wait long periods to schedule appointments?
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