A new year heralds the commencement of many things and at Cleankill this includes the start of the 2018 promotional diary. Last April I wrote about a few busy weeks in May when we attended a number of business exhibitions and award ceremonies.
To the outsider this may look like fun, an escape from normal work, but it really isn’t just a case of dressing up in black tie and eating a delicious meal. Exhibitions require planning and a sunny disposition – this is no environment for an introvert – and, you only get invited to business awards after hours of work writing, editing and submitting entries. In the case of some awards, like the Gatwick Diamond Business Awards, there is also an interview stage before the finalists are announced. All of this takes preparation and costs time and money, so why do we do it?
This is a question I’m often asked and one which I’ve asked myself as I read through yet another entry form. I’ve written before about the highs and lows of entering business awards and how you don’t always win. So, to the outsider, it might seem a waste of time but the reality is that, as a business, we gain a lot from entering awards and attending regional business expos.
Those who are tasked with running a business should never stop looking at their operations with a quizzical eye and entering business awards is a mechanism that forces you to constantly review your business. Going to business fairs, where you must present your business and your products to an often mildly disinterested potential customer, gives you an opportunity to see how your business is perceived by others. Looking into the eyes of a facilities manager as you intone what you can offer him will give you a good idea of how your ‘sell’ is coming across. It is not always about being flash or offering the biggest incentives, many service purchasers are simply looking for an economic, reliable and efficient service that will do the job they require. They have heard sales pitches many times and have ways to judge whether you can deliver what they need.
The second reason to jump onto this annual merry-go-round is that, of course, it is very nice when you win. It is nice for you personally because it shows that your business has been judged by your peers as being the best in a particular aspect of running business. This may be best customer service, best staff development, or best green business but, whatever the category, your win means you have convinced the judges that you are the best and that is being acknowledged in front of hundreds of other business people.
Winning a business award also has a trickle-down effect. Your staff gain the kudos of working for an award-winning company and your customers know that they are employing an award-winning business.
Finally, one other thing occurs to me and it is a particular bugbear of mine – the promoted award that is long out-of-date. There is a curry house in Purley that is still displaying “Croydon Curry Chef of the Year 1997”. Who is this aimed at? Does that chef still work at the restaurant? Has that chef retired? After all, that award was won over twenty years ago! The award had meaning in 1997 and 1998 but after that, the award becomes meaningless.
When you look at the awards page on our website, you will see that we list all our wins but only promote the most recent ones. This means we will promote the 2016 Croydon Business Excellence Awards for Best Green Business and Best Business for Staff Training and Development but only for a little longer and only because this award ceremony takes place at the end of the year. The rest of the awards we are actively promoting come from 2017:
- Green Business of the Year - Gatwick Diamond Awards
- Chris Davis (Outstanding Commitment & Performance in Training & Development) British Pest Management Awards
- Highly Commended - Best Customer Service & Best Environmental Business - Seahaven Business Awards
- Provider of the Year - ARMA Ace Awards
- Best Customer Service - Lewes District Business Awards
Winning awards and exhibiting at business expos are great ways to get your business noticed. Being judged by other local businesspeople as being exemplary in an aspect of business is great but it only matters if you can use the experience to improve your business and offer better service to your customers. Put simply, if you don’t win an award, you must ask yourself why you didn’t win and try to work out what you can improve to make sure you win the next year.
I write this as I have just finished a series of seven interviews for this year’s Gatwick Diamond Awards but I know, whatever the result, the process will have made me look with a critical eye at the business and this will help us to constantly improve what we do.