If you are an owner of a fitness business, getting a negative review on Facebook or Google instantly makes you panic and leaves a pit in your stomach.  When talking about negative reviews, its important to know the different types of reviewers and the kinds of negative reviews that exist.  Also, let’s discuss how you can prevent them and how to properly responds and manage these should they come.

Benefits of responding to negative reviews

Potential members usually explore the internet for information and reviews about your gym as part of their decision process.  The worst possible impression that a gym owner can make to potential members is receiving numerous bad reviews and not responding to any of them.  A better situation would be for potential clients to see fewer bad reviews and a gym owner responding to these in an attempt to correct the situation.  Many studies find that this action is already sufficient for those thinking of joining your gym to actually decide to join your program if they see that your business cares.

An added benefit to responding to bad reviews is that you may actually have the opportunity to resolve your member’s concern.  As a result, they may be happy with the outcome and actually remove the bad review and possibly replace it with a raving one!  Also, by responding publicly, you get to earn SEO points which will be good for your online visibility.

Types of reviewers in a fitness studio

The first-time reviewer

If you receive a review from a newbie it means that you either did something really right or they experienced something really bad from your gym.  Any public response you make should be carefully crafted for other readers.  When doing this, explain how you have rectified the issue clearly in your reply and make an attempt to contact the person correct the action.

The chronic complainer

These types would have unrealistic expectations and voices these out through a number of negative reviews on different businesses they visit.  The best response to these types of reviews should be concise but apologetic.  There’s a big chance that you will not be able to make this client happy.  You also do not want to strike up an online war with these types of complainers so keep your responses short and sweet.

The storyteller

These reviewers would paint a picture of what happened from their perspective.  These reviews is actually very helpful for you and your team because it will show you details of how things played out from the view point of the consumer.  If the issue is sensitive, do not match their tone when responding.  Craft your response to address the concern and how you can rectify this for the next client.

The direct communicator

These types will send a message directly to you about their experience because they want to give you a chance to fix the situation.  Take this chance to reply and offer a remedy.  Always be polite and direct.

The perfect formula for responding to negative reviews

Apologize.  Put yourself in your client’s shoes and empathize.  Take ownership of what happened and offer an apology instead of an excuse.  Doing this will remind your client and other readers that you take value in your gym members.

Evaluate the level of concern.  Go above and beyond and offer to correct the situation.  If its something that can be immediately remedied, get to the bottom of the issue and let your gym member know that you are addressing the problem.

Be available.  Ask the person concerned to contact you, speak to them directly regarding the concern.  You have a good chance to win them over when you get them on the phone because it is much harder behind a keyboard or with direct human interaction.  Once you are able to speak with them, remember to be patient and listen.  Always remember that reviewers want to be heard.

Learn.  Learn from this review and make sure it makes you better.  This is the most important step and gives you the chance to improve.  Share both positive and negative reviews with your team and find ways to make things better around the gym based on these.

How to create a positive experience in your gym

Even the best business gets bad reviews sometimes.  What’s important is that you become proactive about it and use your energy towards creating as many raving fans as you can through providing your gym members with excellent experiences in your fitness studio.  More positive reviews will outshine a few bad ones.  When some bad reviews come in, address them the best way you can, make sure you learn from them and move on.