You will no doubt have seen the adverts beginning to appear from various trade publications promoting their own industry award evenings that tend to take place towards the start of each year. As a long-time attendee at these events they are often a good way of catching up with old friends and colleagues and, some might say, a good way for the industry to promote and congratulate itself for a ‘job well done’.
Which is not to say that I am anti-awards; there are of course many who are cynical about them suggesting that those who spend the most, win the awards; however I don’t buy this, certainly not in those categories which seek to acknowledge the best advisory practices in the country. However, I do have a sense from many advisers I speak to that these big industry-wide awards are often seen as out of reach and that they end up in the hands of the same chosen few every single year.
This, despite the fact, that many categories do focus on the smaller operations – five employees or less, etc – and are relatively easy to apply for, although clearly they do require resource to be put behind entries – both in time and often in terms of an entry fee. I can therefore understand why some advisory firms will think their time (and money) can be better spent but I would also counter with the business and morale boost that can be provided not just from winning an award, but also from making the short-list.
In my view this is one way that a business is able to recognise the value of the work put in by its staff, and it is also recognition that the firm is on the right path and up there with the best of its peers. It might not sound much, but certainly for a new business like Fleet Mortgages there is always going to be a need to judge yourself against your peers, especially in a sometimes cut-throat, highly competitive space like the mortgage market. While this might not be such a driving factor for advisory firms there is still much to be gained, certainly from a local perspective, in being able to highlight your business against the competition.
This is why you might wish to look closer to home first when it comes to making a mark in awards. It’s an approach we have recently followed by entering our local ‘Inspire Awards’ in the ‘New Business’ category. The Inspire Business Awards are for local firms in our region – North Hampshire – and effectively are there to celebrate the successes within that part of the county. The awards are open to all and are, importantly, a way for the dedication and commitment of firms’ staff to be recognised.
We have recently found out that we are one of the three finalists in this ‘New Business’ category and again the boost this provides us all with cannot really be measured. For a business which has only really been up and running properly since the turn of the year, we are delighted to be in the running.
And this could be the same for advisory firms across the country. Try a Google search on local business awards in your area – I would be flabbergasted if there were not at least one, perhaps more, taking place throughout the year. Getting on an awards shortlist is going to provide at the very least external coverage for your business and, as stated above, the more of this you can generate, the more you will find that local customers come looking for your services rather than your nearest competitor. This can deliver both a marketing and PR boost for the business which is not necessarily predicated on you actually winning the award.
So, while it may take some time and effort to enter your local awards – or even the bigger industry ones – there is much to be taken from the experience. We believe it is good to let others know what you’re up to, be it in the local community or across a wider sector. It can certainly help you stand out in a crowded marketplace and can push you onto greater achievements and endeavours each year as you seek to establish and develop a business which is worthy of winning those awards every time they come up for grabs.
Keep your fingers crossed for us – the results come out soon.
Bob Young is chief executive officer of Fleet Mortgages