Is being an ‘Award Winning’ pet business a goal you’d like to achieve?
Have you seen your colleagues celebrating after winning and wonder how they go about it?
Or maybe you feel a bit weird nominating yourself for a gong?
If the answer’s yes then then you will love this interview with the Queen of Awards, Kirsty Skeates from Fit4Dogs Hydrotherapy centre in Beverley, Hull.
I first met Kirsty two years ago when she was on a mission to win Theo Paphitis’ Small Business Sunday – which she achieved.
Since then she’s gone on to win and be shortlisted for dozens of other awards, raising her profile as a small business.
In this episode she shares everything you need to know about awards and you can listen in on the player link below or carry on reading as a blog post.
About Kirsty Skeates and Fit4Dogs
Fit4Dogs was created by Kirsty and her husband Paul in 2018 and at the beginning she was keen to raise her profile locally.
Driving to work, she was inspired by a podcast by the late Entrepreneur Damian Lee who said if he had £100 to spend on marketing, he’d invest it in applying for awards.
“He explained that awards give you credibility, great opportunities and they position you above your competitors.
“So if you didn’t have much to spend on marketing, awards was a way to leverage your marketing spend,” said Kirsty.
“Winning awards has given me a lot of opportunities for free marketing.”
Kirsty and I have had several power hours where we’ve worked on her awards applications to showcase her business to the judges.
Kirsty’s strategy on using awards to get publicity
From the outset, Kirsty’s strategy was to use awards to get publicity, connect and build relationships with journalists and build backlinks.
And the more awards she won or was nominated for, the more she was able to nurture relationships with the media which led to her being contacted for all kinds of articles.
She explained: “When you win awards, you also get press releases, so I linked up with different newspapers, and journalists.
“We had a lot of featured articles about us winning awards, and it’s how we will be able to share and tell the stories of our business and how we were impacting our clients.”
Community awards and why these are important
Kirsty puts awards into different catagories and one of these is a ‘community award’ like Small Business Sunday, Small Business Saturday, and Queen Of.
With these, winners join a community of business owners and can call on them for support and receive mentoring from the founders.
Kirsty’s been able to connect with entrepreneurs and celebs like Theo Paphitis and Jacqueline Gold and says this is a huge bonus on top of the prestige of winning the award itself.
“Jacqueline Gold puts out a mentoring day with her winners and she is the 16th richest woman in UK,” says Kirsty.
“So to have a day with her is just an amazing opportunity.”
Applying for local and regional awards
This can help raise your profile with future clients and impress existing ones.
Kirsty looks at the different categories such as Women In Business and Small Business and applies for a variety.
Applying for industry awards
With industry awards, Kirsty is able to shine a light on the great work of her team so as well as the prestige of being shortlisted and winning, it’s a boost for staff morale too.
“Going to awards events is a great team building activity,” she says. “It just gives everybody in your team that little boost. And they’re a lot of fun.”
Kirsty’s advice is to keep trying when it comes to awards
She says: “It took me six months to get the Small Business Sunday award, applying every week. So it does take time to to build up the awards.
“It’s key to figure out what the judges want and, and how to get in front of the judges and really shine and showcase what you do. So don’t be deterred, keep going.”
Kirsty advises that people nominate themselves too
She said: “Don’t be afraid to nominate yourself because you know your business, and you know it inside and out.
“Sometimes, if other people put you forward, they might not choose the right category, but if you do it yourself, you know you will choose the most appropriate one.”
Once you start winning, it can have a snowball effect
Kirsty says she is often approached by organisations who have given her awards in the past, asking her to enter and attend events.
The more awards you win, the more likely you are to continue. She says: “Once you start going to the awards, and winning awards, then it just sort of snowballs.
“When your name comes up, the judges actually also look at your previous awards. Once you become a winner, you know, you can keep winning.”
Kirsty urges all businesses to use awards to their advantage
Kirsty now sets herself goals when it comes to awards and this year hopes to win a Petplan award and an Animal Star Award for the second time.
And she says pet businesses shouldn’t hold back on putting themselves in the spotlight.
She said: “You need to showcase your business, you are the most passionate person about your business and the person that can put that across.
“I was speaking to someone the other day about an award and I asked her, ‘Have you nominated yourself yet?’ And she said ‘No.’
“At the start, you have to nominate yourself as it is the only way you’re going get in front of the judges.
“And if we’re waiting for someone else to do it for us, it might never happen. So just go for it as it will really help you put your pet business on the map.”
Links mentioned in this episode:
Kirsty’s website: www.fit4dogsuk.com/
Kirsty’s SBS win: http://www.hu17.net/2019/05/10/canine-hydrotherapy-centre/
Kirsty’s nomination for Animal Star Awards: www.hu17.net/2021/03/05/vet-nurse-hydrotherapist-named-as-finalist-in-the-animal-start-awards/
Book in for a power hour for your awards application – I have five on half price at £97 but once they are gone they go up to the regular price of £197.