After twenty years in business, we’ve had our share of negative press. In a small town it can be especially troublesome. We’ve been the victims of gossip. If you’re in any kind of business I’m sure you’re used to it. You’re going to get good reviews and bad reviews. It’s really nothing new and nothing we pay any mind to.
When we reopened earlier this year, I checked our business on Google. We moved to our new facility in September 2020. The google listing read, “Permanently closed”. I tried to update it along with other incorrect information. All Fit All Ages Gym was open at the time in our new location! When you’re in the midst of many life changes at once, the last thing you’re going to check is your Google listing. It wasn’t on our mind. I actually made a point to broadcast our move on Facebook, in our local newspaper and through phone calls. It’s astounding to me that people don’t know we’ve moved. Being that it is a small town, word tends to travel fast.
Much like good news, bad news also travels fast. I happened to read some of our online reviews and unfortunately people got their facts wrong. People can be harsh when they are behind a computer screen. For a moment it bothered me, but then I put it in perspective. In twenty years, it appears we have a handful of so called, “bad reviews”. I think that’s pretty darn good! Most of these people who posted a negative review were members who honestly didn’t get what they wanted. It is one side of the story. Alas, I knew who most of these people were. I am quite confident they wouldn’t have been happy no matter what we did. You really have to let these things go.
My mom always told me that you can’t let one negative comment get you down. It’s so true! Owning a business in a small town for twenty years, it’s not the first time we’ve been criticised. Our game plan is to ignore gossip and carry on. The proof is in the work we do. We’ve had people upset that we were selling our business. There were rumors we were shutting down many times. People thought we closed our old business down and were unaware we moved. With misinformation comes rumors and gossip. None of which is true. You can’t chase down everyone who says something bad about you.
The best saying I’ve heard is “Kill them with kindness”. This means don’t lower yourself by engaging in negative conversation. I find when I respond with kindness and consideration, it often diffuses the situation. People will try to bait you in to a confrontation. Don’t get angry and don’t take it personally. Even with online comments, the best response is often no response. Your energy is better spent doing your job well and helping people who really want it. Pay attention to people who want to see you succeed. Take feedback from people who are willing to talk to you personally.
Recently there was a rumor that another gym in town was closing. Being that All Fit Gym has been the subject of gossip, I paid it no mind. I don’t like spreading misinformation. The truth is it doesn’t make me happy to see a business shutting down. That means someone is losing their income. It means people have lost money on memberships. Gossip is something I don’t revel in. Even if it is about another facility, I make a point of not spreading negative rumors. We’ve had other facilities suggest that they wanted to see us shut down. Once again, we don’t play that game.
Anytime we have been confronted with misinformation, we take it up with our members. When it was rumoured we were closing down and selling the business, we told our members what was really going on. Our most loyal and dedicated members know who we are. Everyone else can say what they want.
I only take criticism from people who want to see our business succeed. Often people who are venting online simply are dissatisfied and want to see our business fail. These clients tend to be hard to please and really have nothing better to do than bring you down. If there’s something I can do to improve my business then I will take that feedback any day. If you’re giving a business a bad review because you want to be mean and say nasty things, then go right ahead. I can tell you from personal experience anyone worth my time will be honest enough to tell me to my face. People who want to see our business succeed will come talk to us. That’s the way we’ve done it for twenty years.
It’s easy to go online and say mean things. It’s easy to make up misinformation. After reading our reviews I had to laugh a bit. Most of what is said is one sided and completely and blatantly false. I should know, I’ve worked here my whole life and know every member personally. I encourage you to remember that if you have a bad experience with a business, go tell the owner. Have a conversation and let them know what’s going on and give them a chance to address it. If they don’t address it, then as far as I’m concerned they’ve earned a bad review.
At the end of the day, you can still do everything right and people may still be dissatisfied. You’re probably better off without these people as clients. Let them say what they will. I wish all our nay-sayers well. I hope you find a gym that works for you! When people have stuck with us for over twenty years, I think we’re doing something incredibly right.
Lauren is the former manager of All Fit All Ages Gym in Port Perry, Ontario and a personal trainer with over 20 years experience. She is also a freelance writer and contributor to The Scugog Standard with a featured column “Movement for Life”.