Here’s an idea: Offer YOUR CUSTOMERS 50% off to bring in someone new (who will pay either full price or a slightly reduced price). This way you are rewarding your existing customers with a discount AND getting new business at full or nearly full price. They already come in, they already like you, why not use that to your advantage?
Here’s another idea: Why not build a strong Twitter and Facebook following of customers and people that already like you? That way if things are slow and you are considering offering a Groupon, you can save yourself the cut that you’d pay to Groupon and bring your customers back in. Reward your loyal fans and followers with 50% off, not just any stooge with an email address and a taste for daily deals. You might even find that your customers will tell their friends. And at the very least, you are saving yourself around 15%.