Recently this question popped up on my phone:
It came from Dan Schmitz, a friend and colleague of mine in the private club industry who also sits on the membership committee at his local New Jersey club. He was heading to his committee meeting that evening to discuss strategy. I thought about it briefly and then typed the following reply:
Dan was clearly amused. He waited a few minutes for a follow up answer but I held off. He finally chimed back in.
Dan, like you, probably thought I was joking, but I wasn’t! And before you throw the book at me and start a boycott of me and the Private Club Radio Show, please allow me to explain.
Think about it. All things being equal, would you prefer to pull into one of those boring automatic washes where the gigantic brush swooshes over your car as you creep along at 1 mile per hour, or would you prefer some attractive co-eds in bathing suits dancing around in bubbles doing the same job? And ladies, if you’re reading this, we can simply substitute bikinis for some hunks in speedos. It works the same.
It’s my firm belief that if your club were to hold a daily bikini car wash, your members would have the cleanest cars in the county. Every day you would have a line of perfectly spotless cars backed up to the gate looking for yet another good wash down. Beyond that, you would have most of the community’s non-members doing anything they could to get inside and have their own peek at what was going on.
A bikini car wash works so well because it has these common elements:
- It demands your attention
- It’s out of your ordinary routine
- It’s exciting enough that you would want to come back
- It’s memorable enough that you would invite your friends
- It’s avante garde enough to attract community and even media attention
Do you see any similarities in that list with any programs or events that your club is doing? I do. I hear about them every week on my show. Guests come on all the time and talk to me about “bikini car washes” that their clubs are having. They are the remarkable things that clubs around the world are doing to stand out from the crowd and become the thing that everyone is talking about.
Here are some of the my favorites:
- Robert Sereci’s team at Medinah decided to erect a chicken coup
- The Club at Goodwood in the UK installed honey bee hives
- The Jonathan Club in California created a rooftop herb garden
- The Westmoor Club on Nantucket has a dog show
- The Union Club of New York has a sous vide kitchen
These are all “bikini carwashes”.They don’t need to be risqué. They are memorable experiences that DEMAND attention. They are a spectacle to behold. They keep members coming back and inviting their friends. They are the most talked about thing in their community.
Here’s my challenge to you: Find out what your club’s “bikini car wash” is?
If you think that you can rely on having, “the best maintained greens in the county” or, “the most elegant wedding venue in the city” you’re in for a rude awakening. Our culture today thrives on uniqueness and the extraordinary. This means you are going to have to get creative. You’re going to have to think bigger and bolder. You’re going to have to stretch yourself, your staff and your club’s membership to be more.
You need to offer something Instagram-worthy. Something someone could not help but take a picture of and want to share on their social media account. Whether that’s an amenity, or a dish in the dining room or an experience on the course or courts – it has got to be something that absolutely no one else is doing. It needs to be 100% your own.
Eventually, someone will come along and steal your “bikini car wash” idea. It will happen. I promise. That doesn’t mean it’s over. That’s when you need to be nimble enough to create new ones. Your club needs to constantly re-invent itself to stay relevant in today’s world.
The Last, Most Important Piece of the Puzzle
You can have the world’s greatest “bikini car wash”, but if no one knows about it, it’s a wasted effort. That’s where communications comes in. You have to have an organized communications plan to your members and to the community as a whole that creates a buzz.
Whether you’re a 501(c)(7) or a club that can do traditional advertising there are strategies I can help you implement that will get your community buzzing. If you’re having trouble finding your “bikini car wash” I can help give you some ideas there too. Simply fill out the form below to schedule a complimentary consultation.