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Sales & Growth


Three ways entering business awards can give you a competitive edge 

The Cumbria Family Business Awards in 2019.

Entering business awards might not be at the top of your to-do list, but we think it could be once you find out how three family business leaders gained an upper hand by doing so.

We spoke with three award winners to see if this rings true, and whether there were any other unexpected gains along the way.

Celebrating achievements as a team

In a highly competitive sector with ever shrinking margins, Thomas Graham has pivoted where needed and won new contracts as a result. Engaging its 200-plus employees is crucial to delivering on these new contracts and getting involved in business awards has helped them to do just that. In 2019 Thomas Graham and Sons was crowned Outstanding Family Business of the Year at the Cumbria Family Business Awards.

Roger Smith, the third-generation owner and managing director, reflected: “Winning was a shock, but it became a real highlight for the whole team. Telling them that the judges think we are an outstanding choice was a massively proud moment for everyone. We so often concentrate on what we need to improve, rather than celebrating what we have achieved.”

Raising your profile

We held our own awards, Hospitality Hacks, in 2019

Vetsure is a small challenger brand in a sector dominated by corporate giants. The firm needed to find ways to stand out in the lucrative pet owner market.

Exposure gained through participating in business awards helped the business collect hundreds of positive customer reviews, a five-star Trustpilot rating and develop the presence and authority that more established competitors already had.

Manging director Ashley Gray said: “It can be hard to quantify the benefits of industry awards, but our customer research shows it’s a big reassurance factor when they’re comparing us to one of our well-known competitors.

“It’s essential to support industry accolades with testimonials and reviews from customers, as that’s what really matters,” he added.

Benchmarking for future innovation

Playdale Playgrounds is a third-generation family business, and despite criticism that family businesses are slow to change, this is not one of them. Constantly seeking improvements by disrupting its own business model, MD Barry Leahey has found that entering business awards helps with this process.

“Participating in awards has allowed us to benchmark against others and, while not always successful, by going through the application process and receiving feedback we can highlight opportunities for future improvements.”

But when they do win an award, there’s a huge boost to staff morale and engagement. In Barry’s own words: “Who doesn’t like being associated with success? With third party accreditation you gain PR opportunities that money can’t buy.”

So, whether you’re new to a sector, a challenger brand disrupting an industry, a multi-generation family firm innovating or one reshaping a USP, the stories above show that business awards can be much more than an opportunity to put on your best dress and mingle.

Entering your business for awards and need some suggestions for writing a winning submission?  Check out these 20 tips here.

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