Business Advice

Our business won seven industry awards in two months: Here’s how we did it

Ashley Weekes /

Swimart Jindalee

The Swimart Jindalee team at the National SPASA Awards 2019.

My wife Heidi and I acquired Swimart Jindalee in May 2016, and to date, the business has experienced consistent growth and doubled its workforce.

Ensuring our business has the right people, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time, has been critical to our success.

This year, our business won seven industry awards within a space of two months — a feat we are very proud of. 

In my experience, I’ve found three key benefits of entering awards.

1. Benchmarking your business

When independent judges evaluate your business against other leading businesses, you can gain a real sense of how you rank in your industry.

It certainly takes a lot of effort to step up and out of the business and assess where you are truly at, but regardless of the judges’ final decision, the process of evaluating your business against key selection criteria is a very worthwhile activity.

Often in business, we get so caught up with our endless to-do list, that we forget to take stock of just how far we’ve come and to celebrate the achievements we’ve made along the way. Plus, the submission process can also highlight areas of your business that you may need to invest more time in developing further. 

Overall, it is great to look at your business from the perspective of a third party and to be a little critical.

2. Boosting team morale

Winning an award fosters a sense of pride and satisfaction among employees

But do awards attract more staff? 

We believe that our workplace culture that has evolved over time has definitely improved retention and attraction rates. To date, we’ve experienced marginal staff turnover — well below the industry average.

Plus, our recent summer recruitment campaign received an overwhelming response in candidate applications. The calibre of the candidates we’re seeing is also very impressive and we believe this is in part due to improved exposure of our business within our local community as a result of the awards we’ve achieved.   

3. Appealing marketing potential

To be able to promote ourselves as an ‘award-winning business’ and provide tangible evidence of this claim evokes a real sense of confidence for customers.

Similarly, these awards also strengthen our connection with our existing client base, who are proud to be loyal customers and to celebrate our success. It goes without saying it’s the support of customers that is ultimately the reason for award recognition.

Ten award submission tips

To be completely honest, it has been daunting at times ‘putting ourselves out there’ for others to judge, and entering awards is certainly a significant time commitment.

Many people find it difficult to talk about themselves, but there’s no doubt that awards and recognition are a valuable form of currency for small businesses.

And, while there are no hard-and-fast rules to preparing a winning award submission, here are 10 tips that have proved successful to our team.

  1. Read through the questions so that you have a clear understanding of what is being asked of you. Re-read throughout the process to make sure you’re not veering off-topic. And as tempting as it may be to add extra information, stick to the entry criteria, and the word limit.
  2. To make it less overwhelming and ensure you don’t miss crucial information, allocate plenty of time for the process. Doing a little bit every weekend or after the kids have gone to bed is more appealing than trying to finish it in one day.
  3. Your answers should be brief, well-written, honest and transparent. If writing doesn’t come easily to you, consider working with a professional (copywriter, marketing or public relations professional) who will get the job done quickly and efficiently.
  4. Demonstrate what systems you have implemented in your business that help to prove your answers.
  5. If you are permitted attachments, provide the maximum number allowed.
  6. While applying for awards is time-consuming, think of it as a mini internal audit. The process of self-reflection gives you valuable insight into where your business is at, and what you need to do to improve it.
  7. If you are part of a franchise network like we are, ask for advice and feedback from the relevant management team. You can also ask mentors and trusted colleagues for their advice.
  8. Don’t be late! Submit your entry before the due date to avoid missing the deadline.
  9. If you are fortunate to be nominated as a finalist, take as many of your team as possible to the big event to share in the recognition. It’s a great morale boost, even if you don’t win.
  10. Prepare a thank-you speech, just in case!

Finally, I suggest finding an awards program suited to the strengths of your particular business. It will allow you to take the opportunity to step back and assess where you are at, and to network with other progressive business owners who you may not get the opportunity to meet otherwise.

NOW READ: Drop the modesty and start telling the world about your wins

NOW READ: Dreaming big and pulling through: Here are all the winners of 2018’s Smart50 category awards

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Ashley Weekes

Ashley is the co-owner of Swimart Jindalee.