As consumers, we often have our "wishlists" from the companies we buy from. Maybe we want the product in a different color or to have new options; we wish the company's website was more user-friendly or their customer service was more helpful. These wishes may or may not greatly impact our buying habits with the company, but it definitely impacts our experience if we’re always left wanting more.

We often think we know what our clients want, but ultimately, people want to be heard and the only way to really get to the core of what would keep them loyal is to ask. A business tool imperative to our long-term success as fitness business entrepreneurs is the client survey.

A successful survey has two main benefits: it gives you the insight you need to make decisions in your business and secondly, it gains loyalty from your clients because it shows you value their opinion.

Below are six guidelines to set-up a successful survey. There are several user-friendly online, often free, survey platforms including www.SurveyMonkey.com.

1. Have a primary objective. Don't haphazardly ask questions. Tailor your questions with one or two primary objectives for which you will use and apply the information. For example, if you're looking for feedback on your membership programs don't spend a lot of time asking their opinions on your workouts.

2. Set-up your survey in a multiple choice-format with an option for commentary. There is nothing more obnoxious than a survey that requires all text comments. People are busy, and you're more likely to get a greater response if it is easy for the client to answer. Always give them the option to add a more detailed comment if they choose.

3. Ask no more than 10 questions. Again, your clients' time is limited. Short, succinct and easy-to-follow surveys will maximize your participation.

4. Don't over-survey. Once a quarter is generally often enough to make your clients feel heard, get consistent participation and give you the time to implement any changes based on feedback to show your clients that you're listening.

5. Keep it anonymous. Clients are more likely to leave more honest feedback if they know their name won't be attached to it.

6. Share the results and your follow-up actions. Following the survey, send an email to your members giving a summary of feedback and what you're doing in response. Send your email as a "You spoke... we listened!" theme. Your clients will greatly appreciate this!

The most effective surveys are those that are designed to elicit the answers you're seeking. Not always answers you want, but the honest feedback about your clients' experience. Be prepared to hear things you may not necessarily like or agree with; but this is often the feedback that is most valuable to your business. Other than the occasional outlier, if one person voices a negative opinion... chances are, there are a few others who are thinking it and not saying it. Your success hinges on your ability to listen and take action to make sure your clients' experience is second-to-none!