Gaining Through Groupon

When looking for new ways to generate installation sales leads, contractor Chris Greer of John’s Landscaping in San Antonio, TX, decided to use a marketing tool that often encourages him to make purchases: a coupon. In this case, Greer looked to the increasingly popular

“My brother John and I are fairly young guys who recognized the fact that we live in a society that is becoming more and more reliant on social media,” explains Greer. “While trying to think of new creative marketing strategies, I simply paid attention to what I find most enticing as a consumer. I had personally been a Groupon member for months and used them often, which is what led me to the idea of approaching Groupon for my own business opportunities.”

What is Groupon? is a deal-of-the-day website that offers businesses the chance to attract customers with online coupons for discounted products and services. Visitors to the Groupon site can sign up for daily deal alerts, and then pass word of the deals onto friends, family and colleagues. If a pre-determined minimum number of orders aren’t placed, the deal becomes void.

What service to sell and how to provide it

After approaching Groupon and discussing the opportunity to work with their site, Greer had to decide on a service to promote. Groupon splits the earnings from the site 50/50. Thus, the cost to provide the service was one of the major factors Greer had to consider.

“It was tricky thinking of what our first promotional feature should be,” says Greer. “Many variables had to be considered. We had overhead, fuel and inventory to consider when designing the promotion. Some of the costs can be considered absorbable, such as my consultation and design, but others are hard costs that had to be covered.”

While Greer didn’t want to lose money or merely break even, he wasn’t looking for a large profit either. The relationships he could develop with new customers was what he was really looking to accomplish.

“Once we settled on the promotion, it was time to get on the phone with vendors and look for the best deals in bulk,” says Greer. “However, we kept in mind that the object of our Groupon promotion was not to make enormous profit, but to create exposure.”

The company offered $249 for Personalized Lawn Design and Installation, which was valued at $873. It came with a few restrictions:

  • Limit one per person, per household
  • By appointment only with a 24-hour cancellation notice or Groupon is forfeited
  • Valid only for 5,000 square feet or less
  • Only for San Antonio residents with limited service in nearby cities

More than 100 of the Groupons were sold. Greer then focused on how to meet the demand.

“Once the promotion aired and we saw the attention it received, we knew we had to be able to handle the volume of work it generated,” says Greer, who quickly stepped into action. He made sure he had the materials and manpower to handle the workload.

Once the promotion was finished, they set up consultation appointments with each client. Most of the customers who purchased the Groupon had already expected some lag time and understood the two- to three-week wait the company presented them with.

Upselling on services purchased

Once he started sitting down with new clients to discuss their purchase, Greer saw the opportunity to upsell. “After I began visiting with clients to discuss their wants and needs, I realized the enormous potential to upsell other services,” says Greer, noting that the majority of customers did wind up adding something. One upsell included a 500-square-foot flagstone patio and outdoor kitchen.

Building loyalty throughout the year

Greer has decided to continue working with Groupon to offer additional services. As a “preferred merchant” with Groupon, John’s Landscaping can offer a sale item through the site up to four times a year.

“Since our (initial) December promotion, we've done one more which was just as successful,” says Greer. “We plan to do one every four to five months to offer our existing clients bargain prices for services and to establish new relationships with other clients.”

Chris Greer and brother John understand the importance of attracting and retaining customers in today’s competitive market. Taking care of their returning customers has always been a focus, and offering the Groupon deals has helped them continue to do so.

“The personal relationships you develop with each and every client are vital when operating in this industry,” says Greer. “I honestly feel that good customer service and a strong code of ethics are a lost art form when it comes to today's business practices. Offering the best deals, the best warranties and the best service are musts when trying to be a leader in this highly competitive industry.”