Awards are a great way to show that you walk the talk. But it’s very easy to have your heart so set on the thrill of being shortlisted, that you look past the cold, hard fact that not all awards are relevant for your business. They’ve got to be chosen with precision and need to provide a benefit – whether that’s for the whole franchise or individual franchisees. It can be a complete waste of time if being shortlisted, or winning, doesn’t actually mean anything to your prospects or customers. Awards should be a real, tangible badge of honour, something that truly impresses, not just another trophy in the cabinet.
Before you apply for any award, as a franchisor, franchisee or any business owner, my advice is to have the end in mind. What exactly do you want to be getting out of this award? Is it to help recruit franchisees or help with the sales process? Will it showcase your virtues as an employer and attract the future superstars of your workforce? Does it demonstrate your value in the community and if so, is that one of your core values that is key to your brand and success?
As a franchisor, you should be looking for awards that will help you to fly the flag for your brand in all the right ways. Awards that highlight the fact that your franchise provides great initial and ongoing support, thorough training and encourages growth because these are the things that will inspire trust and confidence in your prospects and customers. If you can’t identify the value, it’s questionable whether you should be entering in the first place. Think about the audience of people that you’ll be showcasing the award to: why should they care about that information? Entering an award takes time, resource and, often, money and if it’s not going to bring your brand that added extra value then all those things can be put to better use elsewhere.
Before you make your final decision, pay special attention to the entry criteria. Quite often, the title of an award is a little obscure and it might not be a case of ‘does what it says on the tin’. Once you’ve decided that an award ticks all the boxes and you’re going to enter, you need to commit to it 100%. Plan a timeline for completion which includes information gathering, writing the entry and collating supporting evidence. Remember, you have to be able to back up any claim that you make with solid evidence if you’re going to be in with a chance of making the shortlist.
Now, that word ‘shortlist’ is important. Most people think that an award entry is only a success if it’s won but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Even a shortlisting is an incredible achievement. Being a finalist signals that, out of what was likely hundreds of entries, your business, your systems and processes and your commitment to your stakeholders stood out to the judges and set you apart from the competition. And that’s no mean feat. It’s a great achievement and you can maximise the potential for raising awareness to members of the public and your industry. Put the news everywhere! Issue a press release, plaster it on your social media, put it in your newsletters. Be proud of the recognition because your customers and prospects will respect it too.
Then, once the awards are presented, if you’ve won, that’s great! You can share that news everywhere once again. But you shouldn’t be disheartened if you’re not chosen. You’re able to request feedback and come back fighting the following year. You’ll quite often see brands being shortlisted for awards consecutively but that just shows their consistency. To them, it’s clear that it’s not just about the title, it’s the recognition that comes with it.
As you can tell, it’s important to study an award and realise the potential it can bring to your whole network. It’s got to add real value to the opportunity and be attractive to prospects but remember, you don’t actually have to win it… to win!