How to Handle Constant Complainers

25 Jan

We’ve all met a client or had a member who complained every day about something…

Complaints are great feedback. If a member has a legitimate problem then you do want to hear about it! Where do we draw the line? Over the years I’ve had issues regarding temperature, music and body odor. The truth is you cannot please everyone. Odds are you’ll only be able to please 8 out of 10 people. That’s a pretty good number! What about those people who constantly complain for the sake of complaining?

We do our best to remedy the situation and yet it’s still not enough. Is there a point where you just say, enough is enough? It’s a frustrating situation because nothing you do ever seems like it’s enough. Over the course of eighteen years in business we’ve had our share of different situations. It’s important to take steps to address any complaints and rectify them if possible. There’s also a point when I believe in parting ways.

Here’s my top list of common complaints:

  1. Music– It’s absolutely impossible to play music that everyone likes. I make a point of explaining that’s it’s very difficult to please everyone and encourage people to bring their own music instead. Give the person alternatives if you’re not able to change the music in the gym. In this situation I encourage people to bring their own set of headphones and listen to their own music. As well, I’d encourage someone to perhaps bring ear plugs instead.
  2. Volume– The gym is a noisy place! Between the level of background noise and music volume, it can get pretty loud. First and foremost you should make a point of regulating excess noise. For example: People dropping weights on the ground is excessive noise. This is an example of what shouldn’t be allowed. Members who are socializing is an example of acceptable noise. You need to make a point of what is and isn’t acceptable and address those issues.
  3. Other Members: The typical complaints such as, “I don’t like talking to this person.” Or “This person is too loud or too obnoxious.” There’s a difference between personal problems vs. gym etiquette. I just tell people if you really don’t like this person, keep your head down and don’t engage them. If the complaint is in regards to, “This person is too loud or obnoxious” that behavior will effect the gym environment as a whole. That needs to be addressed. 
  4. Temperature:  It’s very difficult to regulate the temperature of a facility to accommodate everyone. People are either too hot or too cold. We have made it a practice to keep the heat and air conditioning at a specific level that accommodates most people.  Unfortunately I cannot regulate someone’s body temperature. This is an easy fix because if someone is too cold, encourage them to wear a sweater. If they are too warm, suggest using a “cold towel” when they come to exercise.
  5. Body Odor: I’ve had complaints of either someone using way too much cologne or perfume. I’ve also had complaints about someone having very potent body odor. Although this situation is quite embarrassing, it does happen a lot. At our facility we discourage the use of strong fragrances. When I’ve had a complaint about body odor, I tend to approach it delicately. I do my best to discuss the matter with the person directly in order no to embarrass them. 

These are typical complaints that you’ll run in to day to day. When you make an effort to rectify them, your members will feel validated. If someone is simply looking for a reason to complain then nothing you do will ever be enough. You can fix every problem in the world and they’ll still find something wrong. To top it off this person will never say THANK YOU. As a manager you must do what is right for the majority. If one person is the source of issues or causing a disturbance in the facility, then you have every right to terminate their membership. If someone is THAT unhappy at your facility then perhaps they’d feel comfortable elsewhere.