How award submissions can help your business grow

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Inside Franchise Business: John O'Brien, founder of Poolwerx, values the process of awards submissionsCould your business be an award-winning franchise?

Industry award season is upon us and while some business owners are wondering whether it’s all worth the effort, other seasoned nominees and winners are looking forward to the process, having experienced the benefits of winning (and losing) first hand.

For those businesses who are successful recipients of industry awards, the short and long-term benefits include increased brand recognition and credibility. Both of which, ultimately result in increased sales. The advantage for all nominees, winners or not, is the opportunity to review their business as part of the process.

The Poolwerx experience

John O’Brien, founder and CEO of Poolwerx, and winner of the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) 2016 Established Franchise of the Year, is an advocate for entering awards and believes it is part of maintaining a culture of excellence.

“We have entered our business into various awards both inside and outside of the franchise industry for over 20 years and each time it has been a valuable and insightful experience for the team, win or lose,” O’Brien says.

“It’s always a chance for us to review progress across a variety of key segments such as business planning, leadership, financial performance and corporate citizenship. The submission process can also highlight opportunities for improvement within the business by identifying business systems, practices or processes that could be tightened. Awards have certainly been a conduit of evolution within Poolwerx.”

Franchisees benefit too

Irene and Ian Hughes, Poolwerx Franchise partners and winners of the FCA 2015 Multi-Unit Franchisee of the Year National and WA Awards agree with O’Brien’s sentiment.

“When you are putting together a submission, you are looking at how you performed across every level of the business,” Irene Hughes says.

“Often during the review, you are pleasantly surprised at how well you performed in certain aspects and you can give yourself a pat on the back. By the same token, it also allows you to see the areas where there is room for improvement and makes you consider those areas that you would like to be performing better in.

“In our last nomination we identified some weaknesses in our staffing model, so we reviewed and modified some team roles to get the best out of them while also saving the business money.”

For the Hughes, the panel interviews that are part of the FCA Awards also provided an opportunity to learn from leaders in the business world.

“The panel interviews gave us great insight into what a good business looks like and an opportunity to learn from leaders outside of our direct franchise.”

While some franchise leaders see the process of submitting an award nomination as time consuming, it’s hard to argue that benefits are countless if leveraged appropriately.

“Winning awards has given our franchise and individual franchise partners an excellent opportunity to promote the brand at local and national levels,” John O’Brien says. “They have also been an effective lead generator tool for us.

“Winning the FCA Established Franchisor of the Year in 2016 was an opportunity for us to be recognised by our industry peers and the credibility that provides is very effective when speaking with potential new franchisees.

“Being named the best at anything is a strong drawcard and there are many different award programs for businesses to consider from general business, to local council, customer service, innovation and industry specific awards like the Franchise Excellence Awards. Platforms like awardshub.com can help you find ones suitable for your business.”

Winning Multi-Unit Franchisee of the Year paid off for Irene and Ian Hughes too, through increased brand recognition and acknowledgement as experts in their local community.

“When you first enter an award you don’t really think about the value that winning an award could have for your business directly, until you start leveraging it. We started promoting it locally in all our advertising and marketing activities and displayed the award in our store too.

“We also received quite a lot of recognition about the award in local media, which contributed to the community taking us more seriously, and helped attract new customers. It generated a lot of word-of-mouth marketing that has had a long-term impact on our business.

“It also gave us a great boost in confidence that we were on the right track, which helped refuel our ambition and passion for the business.”  

Three steps to getting awards submissions right

For franchisors or franchisees thinking about submitting a nomination for an industry award, there are a few key considerations that will help you get the most out of the process:

  1. Select awards that are appropriate to your business and that align with, or highlight your business goals. Nominating for an award is an opportunity to put your company’s success in the spotlight and communicate why your business systems are pioneering the industry, or explain the strategy underpinning your business success.
  2. Give yourself enough lead time to thoroughly review the criteria.
  3. Utilise the experience and insight of your core management team to best communicate your business performance. If you can’t provide an exact example for each requirement listed than this may show there is scope for improvement.

Finally, remember the process can be as valuable as the win itself because it’s an opportunity to step back and review your business, and ensure you are following best practice.

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