Daniel Carlin Frey started his career in the restaurant industry but later moved to the fitness industry after helping his trainer build his business. Frey has several fitness certifications and is currently working on building a personal training business as well as looking for a fitness center to purchase. For more information, go to www.trainer4ufitness.com.

In our everyday operations, we will always come across members who are not entirely happy with our business. For some of these people, this is the chance they will take to explain their feelings about how we are operating as managers and owners—good or bad. You have the chance to either listen to them or ignore them.

However, there is a system that all managers, employees and owners should use when it comes to customer feedback. The system is known as LEAP, which stands for Listen, Empathize, Apologize and Problem solve. By using this system, whenever a member comes to us with an issue, we should be able to solve it to the member’s satisfaction.

Listen. When members come to discuss a situation with you, it is important that you clear the time to discuss it. By doing so you will let your members know that they are important to you and that their issues are important to your business. This also gives you the chance to have a discussion in a quiet area and get information that could help your business in the long run. Take the time to really listen to your members, find out everything that is bothering them, and then take the next step. Make sure you are not being defensive.

Empathize. When a complaint is brought to us as managers and employees, our first reaction is usually to be defensive. We try and explain the problem and why it happens. Instead of explaining the problems, try to empathize with your member. Put yourself in the members’ place and try to see the situation the way they see it. By doing so, you may find that the way your member sees this problem is different than the way you and your staff see it. Remember, they have a fresh set of eyes. Explain to them that you see their view of the situation and that you are glad they brought it to your attention. This will also give you the chance to become a person with whom this member will feel comfortable about airing their problems, which can help you make positive changes in your club and foster relationships with your members.

Apologize. This one is not always easy for managers. Whether we are right or wrong, we need to apologize to our members when something goes wrong. Make sure you are sincere when you apologize. A fake apology will upset the member even more than the problem.

Problem solve. In this final step, solve the problem for the member. Let them know what you will be doing to solve their problem and when it will be completed. This is your chance to make this member either a long-term member or someone who will leave your facility and try another gym. Be clear on what steps will be taken, keep the members in the loop and re-address the situation when the solution is complete to see if they are satisfied.

By LEAPing into member complaints and handling them well, we can continue to improve our business. This system gives your members a chance to share their feelings and provides a good way for managers and directors to continue to mold business to the needs of their guests.