Why Venice Doesn’t Want Your Gym’s Worst Clients, Either

A landscape shot of Venice, Italy, with a billboard that reads "no cheap people."

The city of Venice doesn’t want cheap tourists.

And if you sell coaching, you don’t want cheap clients.

How are the two related?

Read on.

A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

A recent Bloomberg article revealed that Venice is working hard to prevent day-tripping spendthrifts from jamming up the city and using its infrastructure without leaving a single Euro behind.

According to Bloomberg, Venice city councillor Simone Venturini is “leading an initiative to shift the city’s tourism industry to quality over quantity.”

The solution: a fee of 3 to 10 Euros (US$3.20-$10.60) to be charged to day trippers starting in January.

Let’s pass on the debate about whether this is good policy and focus only on how it relates to gym owners. Here’s the link:

Your coaching business doesn’t need cheap people, either. You know who I’m talking about. They’re the equivalent of the Venice day trippers who pack their lunches, use the city’s bridges and roads, use historic architecture as picnic tables and then vanish without contributing to the local economy.

In a gym, clients like this:

  • Grind you on price and continually question your value.
  • Ask for discounts (and refunds when they don’t “use all their classes”).
  • Demand vacation or illness holds—even for two days.
  • Ask for tailored services, open gym, schedule changes, new equipment, etc.
  • Don’t buy your T-shirts or retail items.
  • Don’t attend your special events.
  • Regularly hint that they’ll go to the gym down the street instead.
  • Complain about literally everything, including the music and programming.
  • Argue with your trainers and refuse to be coached.
  • Bolt when you increase rates to adjust for inflation and preserve profit margins; i.e., ensure your business stays viable.

Make Room for Perfect Clients

Some in the fitness world will say it’s wrong to screen out these clients: “They deserve fitness, too.” I agree. They should train somewhere—just not at your coaching gym. The 24-hour-access globo gym in the strip mall will be just fine.

Trust me: You don’t want bad clients. And Venice doesn’t want “bad tourists.”

Venice is actually waist deep in three Two-Brain exercises:

  • Client Avatars—Whom do you want to serve and how can you do it best?
  • Seeds and Weeds—How to identify and attract your ideal clients.
  • Raising Rates—How to charge fees that reflect your true value and attract the people you want to attract.

Venice’s leaders have identified the exact kind of tourist they want to visit their historic city. The right people will visit, appreciate and contribute to the local economy by supporting hotels, shops, restaurants, vendors, artisans, gondoliers and so on.

With those ideal tourists in mind, the wrong people can be screened out. Doing so will leave more room for the good tourists. Or, if the “bad tourists” still want to come, they’ll need to pay for their visit.

Again, I’m sure someone will want to joust on the morality of charging for access to “public spaces.” But if you’ve ever paid a toll on a road or bridge, you’ll dismiss the argument that Venice’s policy is unfair.

And if you don’t like it, go to Florence instead.

Besides, we’re just using Venice as an example. The great city represents your coaching business. You can fill that “city” with cheap people who make your life miserable or wonderful people who truly appreciate your business and want to engage with every part of it.

It’s your call.

Do you want coupon clippers who climb famous statues for selfies and leave behind a trail of gum wrappers, water bottles and cigarette butts?

Or do you want educated, appreciative visitors who want to stay the night, eat at local restaurants, buy handmade crafts from local artisans and experience every part of your rich culture?

Easy choice, right?


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.