Scams, Shams & Just Plain Ol’ Bad Business Deals
In the last few months, I’ve had several hypnotherapist friends who have been taken in, or almost taken in by a scam, sham or just plain ol’ bad business deal. Most of us are pretty trusting and most people are pretty darned honest. Here are some tips to avoid running in to someone who’s not, and to avoid wasting money on bad advertising, business deals and scams.
Thought it might be useful for you all to know about these pitfalls of being in the hyp-biz.
The list includes…
- fake awards
- social deal sites
- outright fraud
- plain old bad ideas
Groupon, Dealfind, Livingsocial and AmazonLocal are all organizations that as a consumer, can help you find discounts on products and services. On the business side, used correctly, I believe these social deal clubs can be effective in building your practice. Used incorrectly, they could destroy your business.
Watch The Discount
The first thing to know is how these clubs work as a business deal. You offer them deeply discounted sessions, they sell them to their list and you split the money. In order to get more sales, they may encourage you to lower your prices 50% or more. So, if they take 50% (a typical % for them to ask for) and you cut your price by 50%, you’ll end up with 1/4 of your usual session fee.
Why would you do a session for 1/4 your session fee?
For the promise of return customers!
The salespeople will likely tell you that many of these discount clients will turn into regular clients.
Be aware that, even if you do a great job, the percentage of customers who will return and pay full price will probably be low. I’d be surprised if it hits 10%. One of the main reasons is that folks that buy hypnotherapy sessions from a deal find web site are bargain hunters. They may not be inclined to ever pay full price. So, you might get 50 new clients and have 5 returning customers. I’m not saying that’s a bad deal. If you’re just starting a practice and don’t have any clients, it’s a way to start getting them. And 5 clients who will return and pay our full session price is a start.
What I am saying is that you should be aware that, although these social deals can fill up your practice for a short time, your clients won’t all magically turn in to repeat customers. And, what happens if the deal is too successful?
Limit The Numbers
I had a friend who signed a contract with a social deal companies and the salespeople told her not to put a limit on how many sessions to sell. “It will sell better if there’s no limit,” they said. “Don’t worry. If it starts to get overwhelming, we can shut the deal off at any time. Just call or email us.” Guess what? When the deal ran and the numbers got too big, they were suddenly not in the office. My friend could not shut the deal off and was obligated to honor over 100 sessions bought at less than 25% of her normal session rate.
And guess what? The fine print in the contract said they could run the deal again. Which they did, without even telling her they were going to run it. Dozens more clients she may be contractually obligated to see. If you think for a moment about how much time she’s going to spend seeing that many clients for that little money, you’ll see how it could potentially overwhelm her. Not to mention she may have to push full paying clients out of her schedule to fit everyone in.
So, if you’re going to pursue this method, make sure you think about how many deeply discounted clients you’d be willing to see. My advice would be to put a hard limit on it.
You’ve Won The ‘Best Hypnotherapist Of The Year’ Award!
I assure you the award at the top of this post is a legitimate award by a real organization 🙂
A hypnotherapist I know, recently got an email saying she’d won an award for being the best local hypnotherapist. She asked me what I thought. I typed on the name of the official sounding organization that gives out the award and the word “scam” and came up with 269,000 results in a search engine. Does that mean they’re a scam? Not necessarily. But look at it this way…
How did they nominate you? Did you apply for an award? What were the criteria for deciding who was the best? How would they know you’re an outstanding hypnotherapist or businessperson without talking to your clients? And how would they get a list of your clients? Hmmmmm.
And here’s the kicker. They tell you, “Simply copy and paste this link into your browser to receive your award.” You can order an award plaque, a beautiful crystal award or both the plaque and the award for only $199.98!
They seem to me to be making money from selling awards by convincing people they’ve won something!
I’m not saying it would be bad for business to have a “Best Hypnotherapist of 2012” award in your office. But I wouldn’t feel good about it unless I was sure the organization it came from was for real.
Oops, I Overpaid For My Session
This is a common scam these days, unfortunately. It goes like this…
Someone contacts you and mentions they are coming in to town and have heard wonderful things about your work. They want to know how much a block of sessions are. Then they pay by money order or check but….
That’s the tip-off. They “accidentally wrote an extra zero on the check,” they’re traveling and nearly out of money so could you please “send the difference of the accidental over-payment back as soon as possible?” You pay (after all, their money already looks like it’s in your account) and it’s not until the bank tells you the money order is bad that you realize you’ve been duped.
Advertising That’s Pushed To You
Keep in mind that there are lots of advertising methods out there. Many of them work if you use them well. Many of them don’t. The problem is, you may be vulnerable. You might be sitting around thinking, “I’d like some new clients, I wonder where I should buy advertising” when the phone rings. It’s someone selling advertising and they have “just what you need.” But maybe it’s not.
My advice–be proactive.
- Choose advertising you think will work for you rather than waiting for a salesperson to make a decision for you. Do some homework. Once you’ve found an advertising method you think will work, look at others who are using it. Call up the business that’s most similar to yours but is a non-competitor and ask them how it’s working for them.
- If you see someone who’s using advertising over and over, it’s a good indication it’s working for them.
- Look at the most successful of your colleagues in your area. What are they doing for advertising?
Be safe, be smart. I want you to be successful!
Congratulations on the award. How did you end up in that category? 🙂
BTW, I have goofed up and accidentally wrote you a check for $100.00 over. Please just send me the difference and we will be square.
You’re already square, Geoff.
Hi Keith, your article is right about different types of frauds, but there is no such thing in Pakistan. Though, here some hypnotherapists use their fake PhD degrees in hypnosis or nlp and then dominate their skills falsely. This is the pattern of some of Pakistani hypnotherapists.
Thanks for the comment. I may do another piece on degrees but I’m carefully considering the impact of doing so. I’d make a lot of enemies!
Since I wrote this article, I’ve heard from other hypnotherapists who’ve ‘won’ the “Best Local Hypnotherapist” award, in Seattle!
How do you like that? Maybe there is more than one “best” hypnotherapist in Seattle.
Recently, had a salesperson introduce me to radio advertisement worth 10K with no up front money. They heavily discounted my sessions (65%) and of the remainder they kept (60%.) While wary, I took the deal and was surprised nurses, government workers, etc listen to the radio during the entire day. The ad was also placed on a local Perks.com website. Worked for me, but like Tom suggests, be very careful and do not do it unless you can hypnotize them into giving you the best deal.