I did a review of BeFrugal three weeks ago and have had quite a few people join BeFrugal as a result of that review. I always like to know a little background on a cashback site before really getting active on it, and I had a bunch of questions for the folks behind the scenes there.
Jon Lal, the website’s founder, was kind enough to spend time answering all of my questions, and I was impressed with the thoroughness and the honesty of his responses. What follows is my interview of Mr. Lal.
1. First of all, please tell us a little about the background of BeFrugal. What made you decide to create a website about frugal living? When did the site go online? How has it evolved over time?
At BeFrugal.com, our mission is to help people save money. Since our February 2009 launch with online coupons, we have continued to innovate with new features in 2010 and 2011 such as printable coupons, weekly ads, and online calculators to help people do financial analysis for their largest purchases – home, cars, and travel.
Along the way, we have enjoyed tremendous growth, over 100% in 2010 compared to the equivalent period in 2009, and over 50% in 2011 and are proud recipients of recognition from popular media – such as Consumer Reports, New York Times, CNN and MSN Money as well as from the industry – VIP status at Google Affiliate Network, and Platinum Publisher status at Linkshare.
2. What made you decide to offer cash back shopping? Do you use cash back sites yourself?
In today’s economy, people are looking to stretch each dollar further and online cash back offers additional savings over just coupons. BeFrugal.com’s free membership saves shoppers an average of $27 per order with coupons, and grants an additional 5% savings via cash back on the average purchase.
To make the shopping experience better, we offer Guaranteed Savings™ for our members. The majority of our coupons are Guaranteed to Work™ and our cash back rates are Guaranteed Best Cash Back Rates™.
3. The cash back shopping market is pretty saturated, and some major players have a decade of experience in this business. What sets BeFrugal apart from the rest? Why should a consumer shop through your program rather than one they’ve used for years?
The cash back shopping space has not enjoyed the same degree of innovation as other online markets over the last 10 years. I think that there is an opportunity to provide shoppers a higher quality experience than what is currently available.
For example, here are some key differentiators that set BeFrugal apart:
- A $10 cash bonus for joining. There is also a $5 referral bonus for friends (plus, friends also enjoy the $10 sign up bonus).
- Excellent cash back rates. We offer up to 30% cash back and our average cash back rate is 5% at more than 2000 online stores. Our coupons offer an average savings of $27 per order. Shoppers can often “double-up” by combining our cash back with coupons for even more savings – by looking for the money bag symbol on our coupons. We offer 24 Hr. Flash Cash daily with higher than normal Cash Back rates at select stores.
- We offer customer service via live chat and email from our Boston office during our normal business hours, which are 9-5 EST Monday through Friday.
- Guaranteed Savings on coupons and guaranteed Cash Back rates.
- Coupon Alerts. Shoppers can choose to be notified via email whenever there is a new coupon for their favorite stores.
- Printable coupons for grocery stores, restaurants, and popular brands.
- Sunday or weekly flyers for popular national and regional chains.
- Tools and frugal resources: To provide more savings, we offer free online tools and calculators, such as our Amazon Discount Finder, our Fly or Drive Calculator, and offer many of our tools as widgets for bloggers.
4. With a relatively high ($25) minimum requirement for payment, and a 90 day waiting period between shopping and cash back availability, you’re really asking consumers to put a lot of faith in a new cash back program to stick around long enough for them to get paid. What can you tell prospective members to reassure them that you’re in this for the long term? How are you marketing BeFrugal? Do you have strong financial backers?
We offer the highest signup bonus of $10 for a free BeFrugal.com account, excellent coupons that are guaranteed to work, excellent cash back rates guaranteed to be the best, excellent selection of 2000+ online retailers such as Macy’s, Target, Walmart, etc.. as well as excellent customer service over live chat and email.
BeFrugal.com quality of offerings and our long term business orientation is supported by the $25 minimum. I think shoppers appreciate a quality shopping experience and understand that the minimum payment requirement is easily met.
At BeFrugal.com, our strong financial backing helps us treat both employees and customers right. For example, we offer free healthcare to every individual employee. For shoppers, our Guaranteed Savings promise ensures that they get the best cash back rates, and coupons that are guaranteed to work. We offer excellent service over live chat and email, and have an A+ rating with the BBB.
The founders of BeFrugal.com have been in the online space for 10 years each; BeFrugal.com is now 3 years old and well on its way to success with over $50 million in online retail sales in 2011, and 50% growth last year. We expect 2012 to be even better.
5. Is there anything else that you’d like to add about your company or the features of BeFrugal that you think would interest my readers?
We are always making improvements to BeFrugal to make it better for shoppers and retailers.
For example, we recently created a new, free resource to help small businesses and home offices achieve big savings on their business expense purchases. This new section of the BeFrugal.com site is now offered as a dedicated resource to help small business save money with a collection of advice, cash back deals and coupons for business expenses. There are articles, free tools and offers specific to their needs, from office supplies to computers to travel expenses.
At the moment, we are aggressively adding online retailers to our cash back program. This was launched in the fall of last year, and we already offer an average of 5% cash back on more than 2000 merchants including well known ones such as Sears, Apple, Macy’s, Target, and Dell. We expect to add another 1000+ merchants in the next 30 days and will be past the 3000 mark at that time.
I want to thank Jon Lal for taking the time to answer my questions and share with my readers these answers about how BeFrugal started, what makes it different, and where they’re hoping to take it in the future. Please consider joining BeFrugal with my referral link here, and if you have any other questions, leave them in a comment and I’ll get them answered!