Template For Success: NCH Wellness Center

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This past week I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down and talking with Gio Piediscalzi, the Membership and Sales Manager at Northwest Community Healthcare Wellness Center. Gio also is the extremely successful App Manager in the facility who has guided this 5,000+ member multi - purpose facility to over 2,000 downloads in just under 4 months.

Northwest Community Healthcare Wellness Center is connected to NCH Hospital, which is a private non-profit hospital in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. It is an 84,000 square foot facility with a pool, spa, pilates, personal training, a cafe, a kids club (Included in membership), over 100 group classes a week, and brand new top of the line exercise equipment. Members enjoy all of the amenities of a traditional health club, plus additional therapeutic and rehabilitative services as well.

The demographic of the facility ranges from 16 years of age all the way up to 95 years old, and while Gio says people tend to believe they are catered towards the older population, they have a great deal of younger members that utilize all of the amazing features they have to offer.

Gio has been with the NCH Wellness Center for 3 years; 2 years as a trainer, and has spent the last year overseeing all of the sales of memberships of the facility. Gio attributes those 2 years as a trainer at NCH as a major key to his successful management of the app saying as a trainer “I used to engage with the members for hours at a time and you really get to hear feedback from them of what they like, what they don’t like, and what is going on in the club from another level.”

NCH made the decision to work with Netpulse to create an identity of their own as they are connected to the hospital. “We wanted something that was our own identity, which is our app.” Gio went on to talk about how they needed better communication with members. “We wanted to try and communicate more with our membership base. Emails just weren’t working, when we got back the data of who was actually opening our emails, it was extremely low, and with push notifications through the app, we’ve seen huge success.”

When it comes to a successful app launch, strategy and management, Gio is the guy to emulate.

In just under 4 months, the app has grown to over 2,000 downloads with a consistent engagement of over 50% of the population month over month. In that time, they’ve had 17,412 sessions in the app and the results of this have been phenomenal.

Gio and the NCH Wellness Center Team went all in on the app “strongly suggesting that members download and engage in the app.” Beyond the training that Netpulse provided the staff at NCH, Gio took it upon himself to train the staff and make sure that they were all fluent on the ins and outs of the NCH app.

Gio and his team have also integrated a “Starter Deal” for downloading the app. “When you download the app, it’s 50% off of any one time service, and we’re always sending them to a spot where they normally wouldn’t. We say, go try a pilates session, or go get a massage, something out of the ordinary and that has really helped.” Gio believes it’s all about going all in with the first deal. “I’m happy we went big with 50% off, because it’s so much better than offering a free water bottle or shirt. You have to go big with the first deal.”

The team has also integrated the front of the house by using the app themselves and putting an iPad at the front desk where members can swipe and see it right there as soon as they walk in. “Everybody gets the feel of the app, and we always show the deal section. Members will ask how they get access to that deal. Well the only way to get this deal is downloading the app.”

When it comes to members downloading the app, Gio attributes much of their success to their team integrating the app at the point of sale. “Initially at sign up, it is built in that when they join we will be taking their phone and helping them download the app. If they want to see our class schedule, I’m either pulling out my phone and showing them, or I’m downloading it on theirs and showing and walking through it with them.”

Beyond this, Gio and the NCH team have run multiple front desk app download campaigns with the staff. This is basically a month long challenge where the staff tracks the number of downloads they get, and whomever gets the most downloads wins a prize. Gio says “It gets the front desk staff involved in the process and anyone who looks at the iPad at the front, the staff will let them know that they can download the app, and offers to help.” Gio mentioned that his staff is very well trained at downloading the app on either iPhone or Android devices. “Staff is number one, they have the biggest impact.”

As for the members, in order to be successful, they have to enjoy it, and at NCH, enjoy it they certainly do. “They love the updated class schedules, people love knowing exactly what is going on in the club and in different areas through our deals section.” Recently NCH has added quite a few new offerings and specials and “the members know the app is the spot that they will get all the information.” Members are also enjoying the transparency of the club now with the push notifications. “If something is cancelled or if we have to close down the pool for a bit, or a locker room, we send it out to all of the members, and people appreciate that. Even if it’s bad news, they still like they we are letting them know what is going on in the club.”

One of the new offerings NCH is rolling out this month is a brand new partnership with PEScience, one of the top supplement companies in the nation. Gio expounded on their experience with offering free samples to members through the app. “I sent a push notification, and I had a guy come to me from the treadmill, a few other people came to me and said they were working out and saw the push notification.”

Sales in the club have gone up as well. Gio touted their monthly paid nutrition seminars which normally see about 5 people. This past month was the first time they used the app to promote the seminar and they saw over 40 people attend. “We sent out weekly push notifications letting people know, and the day before we sent one out letting people know they could still sign up for this seminar. It definitely got the word out better than any flyer at the front desk ever did. It’s definitely helping us generate more money.”

People have also been requesting trainers and fitness assessments on the app as well, which has increased personal training revenue, class attendance has gone up, and everyone is more engaged with the facility. “Engagement like I’ve never seen before.”

They’ve also found a novel way to use the deals tile to generate more revenue. “We don’t even use that just for deals. Even if it’s not cheaper anymore, we use that as our advertising base. Putting a picture up and letting members know what is available in the club, we use it in that section.” This has helped them keep members engaged in the app as this is the place they go to get any update on products, services or events.

After the initial and continued success of the NCH Wellness Center, I asked Gio for his best piece of advice for anyone looking into an app, or struggling to getting it off the ground.

“My biggest piece of advice for anyone who’s struggling with retention or engagement, is to run a few challenges and give away big prizes, which has shown the most success. Just get people involved and spread the word in the club.”

It absolutely takes work in order to make the app successful, and Gio and his team are doing the work necessary to do it daily, they’ve completely customized their app by adding tiles, integrating music into the app, and most recently, Gio and the team have started a blog that will be going directly onto the app for members to read and engage with.

The hardest work is over for NCH, they’ve successfully launched a club mobile app and continue to grow it. In fact, in the few days since our conversation, NCH is up 5 new downloads. It really takes a team in order to do what Gio and the staff at NCH are doing. Your staff needs to be proficient with the app, but most importantly excited about the possibilities of the platform. At NCH Wellness Center, it seems like they’re all excited and ready to keep growing!

“Everybody who talks to anybody is making sure they bring up the app”

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