Are Awards Rewarding?
Spread the word about your achievements, says our expert industry awards judge panel Tina Boden, who explains how important it is to let the right channels know about any awards you may win
I was 21 when I bought my first business in Scarborough with my Mum, a small established property lettings and management agency that opened short hours and was run for the owner by two female members of staff. My parents had sold a hotel, the family business where I had worked both before and after completing my college qualification in hotel, catering and institutional operations. Our Country House Hotel was promoted in the sales blurb as an award winning one, it had won a number of awards. Mum and Dad had realised early in their business life shouting about the quality offer and service you gave was important.
I headed into a new industry ‘nowt but a lass’, where the long-established male estate agents of Scarborough and district sniggered and rolled their eyes whenever I came into contact with them: what on earth could I know? As we grew our business through a recession in the early 1990s, when interest rates, redundancies and repossession levels were high and house prices and property sales low, our policy only to let and manage property while never venturing into sales proved to be a good one.
An all women agency that prided itself on excellent, affordable customer service went from strength to strength, while the estate agents that refused to innovate or change business model floundered.
In 1998, the same year I bought Mum out of the business so she could return to the hospitality industry and also gave birth to my second son, I decided Rent Accom Agency was going to enter its first ever awards: the National Association of Estate Agents Office of The Year Award – Property Letting and Management section. It would have been so much easier to start small and local but anyone that knows me knows that is not my way! The team gently began to persuade every landlord and tenant to write a few lines about us to boost our chances, for there was no online voting with a click of a mouse back then.
In 1999, sleep deprived having managed only three weeks maternity leave, I found myself heading to The Lanesborough Hotel in London to learn our fate. I sat next to a pompous oversized estate agent from West Sussex on one side who was very derogatory about Scarborough, while on my other sat a journalist from the Daily Express, a Scarborough lover who sent me a note afterwards congratulating my staff and me on becoming National Runners Up in the National Association of Estate Agents Office of the Year Award – Property Letting & Management section.
What an achievement for our small property letting and management agency to come second in a UK competition! How proud was I, how proud were my staff and how proud were our clients, both landlords and tenants, for helping us to achieve it!
Spread the word
After winning the award, and in light of the ongoing attitude of some of my fellow property sector colleagues, I wanted to take an advert in the local paper that would have read something similar to this: ‘To All Those Who Think We Don’t Know What We Are Doing – Look What We Won!’
Of course, I did not do this, for two reasons:
- Such an advert would no doubt struggle to get editor approval.
- I would have been branded either a raging feminist or a hormone-riddled fruitcake. I was not, and still am not, either of those, although now I’m 50 years old I think Mr B might argue the latter.
These days you can spread the word in so many ways. Taking a newspaper or magazine advert is of course an option but let’s be fair: if you are running a B&B business, cashflow and marketing budgets can be tight, so you often look for effective free alternatives.
Whatever your achievement, however large or small, it is important that you spread the word across your networks and beyond to raise the profile of your business and let people know that you are there: without customers you have no business. Remember, however, that when you do promote anything, especially across social media, it is important you share a story not a selling pitch, people do not like being bombarded with sales hype.
Winning an award will raise your profile, make time to fill in the entry – or better still get someone else to do it for you, it is often difficult writing about the good and award-winning things you have done. Hard to believe, I know, but even I have problems with that.
Tina Boden is no stranger to running micro and small businesses, the importance of customer service or the hospitality industry. It has been part of her life since the age of two when her parents gave up the security of employed life and bought a pub in North Yorkshire that become their first of three hospitality renovation projects. Tina went on to study Hotel, Catering & Institutional Operations when she left school before joining the family business. At the age of 21 she bought her first business with her Mum, a property letting and management agency, that she owned for over a decade.
Working with micro businesses to guide them with development and growth is the key focus of Tina’s day to day life. Whether working one to one with the business owner, providing virtual assistance, offering marketing support or stepping in while they take a break, Tina Boden, The Tiny Troubleshooter and The B and B Keeper, ensures the wellbeing of the micro business, and it’s owner, is as good as it can be.