Squeaky Wheels: When Should You Listen to Clients?

A closeup of a woman cupping her ear to listen on a yellow background.

Is the customer always right?


Is the customer always wrong?


Your clients want you to be successful. They feel very close to you, your staff and your brand. Sometimes, they’ll give you advice—and sometimes they’ll try to fix the problems they see in your business. This can sound like complaining at times—but usually you’ll consider a client’s ideas.

Should you?

Likewise, your staff members want to help. They want you to think they’re important. So sometimes they’ll approach you with ideas and hope you’ll listen. When that doesn’t work, they’ll bring you some “concerns.” And if they still don’t feel important, they might even amplify their fears by saying “a lot of customers are complaining about X” or “I think a bunch of clients are talking about quitting!”

As a leader, you must appear open to feedback. And the best ideas sometimes come from your clients or your team. But how do you tell the difference?

Here, I’m going to help you identify whose advice you should take. In Part 2 of this series, I’m going to tell you whose advice you should never take. And in Part 3, I’m going to tell you how to use precise questions to grow your business instead of using horrible “client surveys.”

Do This Quick Exercise

Today you’ll need:

  • A blank sheet of paper.
  • Your gym management software.
  • 20 minutes without distractions.

Divide the sheet into two halves.

Draw a vertical line down the middle.

At the top of the page, draw a smiley face on one side of the line. Draw a dollar sign on the other side.

A sheet with two columns: one for clients who make you happy and the other for those who pay the most.

Start with the left-brain exercise: Under the dollar sign, record the 10 clients who pay you the most money every month.

Now move to the right-brain exercise: Under the smile, record the 10 clients who make you the happiest. These are the people who light you up and give you energy, not just the 10 who are easiest to tolerate.

The names on each side of the line might be mostly different. But you should notice a few names that appear in both columns.

These are your Seed Clients—your best clients. They’re the people who bring in the most and bring out your best.

Most of your clients follow your lead. But you should follow these people. Book a coffee date with them. Then ask these three questions:

  1. What led you to my gym in the first place?
  2. What did you try in the past that you didn’t like?
  3. What’s your greatest challenge outside my gym?

The answers will tell you:

  1. What you should be saying or doing more to attract clients just like your Seed Clients. You’ll also know what you can say less (or just skip altogether).
  2. What turns potential Seed Clients away.
  3. How you can serve your Seed Clients more and create more value for them.

Learn From Your Best Clients

You have a client-centric business. Over time, your service will gradually shift as your client’s needs change. The key is to follow the lead of your best clients, adjust your service to give them what they need and allow the rest of your audience to change over time.


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.