Entering your franchise for an award might be time-consuming but the rewards of winning will make it all seem worth it
Everyone likes to be told they are the best. Being handed a shiny gong and having your picture taken is a pleasurable experience, even if some of us pretend otherwise. But awards are about far more than having your ego massaged. They also serve a key purpose in improving a franchise’s brand identity and sales story, not to mention boosting morale across the company.
Consumers are understandably apprehensive when making buying decisions from businesses they know little about. Nowhere is this truer than in the care sector, where the welfare of elderly relatives is being entrusted to someone else. “Awards are a critical part of franchising in homecare where quality is crucial and trust is everything,” says Ruth Brown, head of franchise development at Home Instead Senior Care. “They add to the power of our brand and allow us to illustrate the fact that we are an ethical, respected, responsive and trustworthy franchisor.”
Home Instead has actively sought awards for the last ten years, accruing an impressive list of wins and nominations. The business won bfa Franchisor of the Year in 2013 and, last year, company founders Trevor and Sam Brocklebank were crowned Entrepreneurs of the Year in the Laing & Buisson Awards. The business also puts forward employees to ensure they share in the glory. Among them is Helen Potts, who won the 2015 Dementia Care Award. “We always focused on the franchise industry and care industry but have gone beyond in 2015 by entering customer experience awards,” says Brown.
Autosmart, the vehicle-cleaning product franchise, has also picked up a number of awards. It was named bfa Franchisor of the Year in 2014, which it also won in 2008 and 2012, and scooped the Franchisee Recruitment award the same year. For Sophie Atkinson, managing director of Autosmart, awards are a key part of team-building and help when it comes to recruiting new franchisees. She says that franchisors should support their franchisees as much as possible in their pursuit of awards and then use them to boost morale. “When a franchisee is shortlisted or wins their category, it creates huge excitement because it is public recognition of the franchise owner’s success,” says Atkinson. “The award is shown off in our and their offices for all to see and helps keep our motivation topped up every day.”
Growing franchises are always looking for talented people to help grow their businesses. Atkinson says awards act as a calling card for her company, adding that she has recruited franchisees off the back of them. “This strategy has been very successful,” she says. “Potential business owners often mention our awards were one of the main reasons they came to meet us to find out more.”
Impressing the judges
When entering awards, business owners should remember that a written application will be looked over by a panel of people who have never met you and possibly know little about your business. It’s important to present documents that quickly create a picture of what your business is all about and why you should be nominated. As Cathryn Hayes, chair of the judging panel for the 2015 bfa awards, explains, the worst mistake is to be boring. “Facts and figures are important but don’t make your presentation bland or dull,” she says. “If you love your business, make sure that comes across and let your passion for your franchise shine through. That makes all the difference.”
Hayes says a good story is important but this must also be backed up with hard facts. Instead of overstating their success, business owners should just accentuate the positives. “One of the key things I look for as a judge is evidence of success,” says Hayes. “For instance, if you are talking about a clever marketing campaign, provide the results so that the judges can clearly see that your actions have resulted in new business or leads.”
Finally, Hayes reminds franchisors that the key to every successful franchise is the relationship between the owner and the franchisee. This is also vital for success in franchise award schemes. “Occasionally, an awards entry will give details about the successful operation of the franchisor’s business without mentioning the people who have contributed to that success: the franchisees,” she says. “Make sure your entry talks about how your support or initiatives have benefited your franchisees and helped them build a strong business too.”
A fighting chance
Awards applications are time-consuming and require thought. Boost your chances of success with these top tips:
1 Tell a story: No one wants to read a bland, corporate script. Present a human face, describing who you are and why you run the business.
2 Admit your mistakes: Although success is key, stories of how problems were overcome are just as compelling.
3 Find key facts and figures: Allow the judges to quickly appreciate the scale and growth of your business by presenting turnover figures and highlighting milestones.
4 Research the awards: Some awards are more credible and more useful than others, so be selective in those that you enter.
5 It’s a team event: Speak about your franchisees and include them in the application and event itself. Awards are a chance for everyone to experience some glory.