Past winners of the Forecourt Trader of the Year awards obviously know a thing or two about running a service station business. But they also know how to enter awards - and get themselves noticed.
If you’ve been a winner at the Forecourt Trader awards then you’ve obviously done the right things to make sure the judges don’t pass you by - not just because your forecourt is the best in its class, but because you’ve managed to communicate that by putting in a good entry.
There are probably many of you who think your site is as good as, if not better than, the forecourts that have won and yet didn’t get past the first hurdle. But how good was your entry? To give you a helping hand, we have compiled some tips to give you the best possible chance of winning.
You can be sure we go to great lengths to make sure the competition is as fair as possible. There is no favouritism - we just want the best sites and the best retailers in our industry to come to the fore. After all, they may have something to teach us all - advice that can be used to improve everyone’s business.
But we believe everyone should have an even chance of winning something in the Forecourt Trader awards, and if you think you’ve got something to shout about, we want your entry to be as good as you can make it.
CATEGORIES TO ENTER
Whether you’re a rural site providing an invaluable service to the local community, or a manager of a big oil company forecourt, we have a category for you. Groupings are by type of operation - Rural, Neighbourhood, Main Route and Motorway.
We also identify sites by ownership status to cover: oil company/supermarket-owned and managed; oil company-owned/franchisee; independent dealer with up to nine sites; and independent dealer with 10 sites or more.
If you think your site excels in a specific area, there are 11 specialist categories to enter as well. These are:
- Best Site with a Licence to Sell Alcohol
- Best Car Care & Lubricants Outlet
- Best Display of Chilled Food
- Best Confectionery Outlet
- Best Crisps & Snacks Outlet
- Best Customer Service
- Best Food-to-Go Outlet
- Best Forecourt Facilities
- Best Soft Drinks Outlet
- Best Use of Retail Technology
- Best Tobacco Merchandising
But first things first - get hold of an entry pack by either calling the awards hotline - 01293 867629 - or clicking on the link to download one. Once you have it, read it thoroughly and make sure you understand the rules and what’s expected of you.
The entry form includes a space to explain why you think your site should be a winner. This is your chance to highlight any big achievements, successes or elements of your business of which you are particularly proud.
The pack also includes the judging criteria for the specialist categories - use these as guidelines, not just for how to run that particular category of your business, but also as a BIG CLUE to what the judges will be looking for.
Make sure your entry form has been completed correctly, with the site’s full name, address and telephone details. And please make sure you tick the right ownership box for your site! You don’t want to be knocked out of the competition because the judges have visited your site and discovered you’ve entered the wrong category.
We can’t stress enough the importance of the photographs. The early rounds are judged anonymously - using only the pictures you’ve sent in. You can’t be judged on what we can’t see (so don’t just send in a picture of the front door - yes, it’s been done!) so the photographs should give a good impression of both the interior and exterior of your site. They need to be bright and clear, so try not to take the outside shots on a dull, rainy day - if at all possible. And if you’re entering a specialist category, make sure the photos show how you are meeting the judges’ criteria. If you have multiple displays for some products, for example, let’s see them.
Also, we have asked for digital photography, but if you are unable to comply with this and are sending in prints, please don’t mount them, and make sure they are clearly marked on the back so that we know who they belong to.
Three of the specialist categories require written entries - Best Use of Retail Technology, Best Customer Service and Best Food-to-Go Outlet. In around 300 words, bearing in mind the judging criteria detailed in the entry pack, you should clearly explain why your site should be a winner.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the biggest all-singing all-dancing site because the awards recognise the dedication, hard work and entrepreneurial skills of all petrol retailers, however large or small. So if you think you’ve got what it takes, pick up the phone and ask for an entry pack now, or download one from the website.
And last of all good luck.