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Turning happy customers into advocates for your business is one of the most powerful, and free, marketing tools available, but did you know that nearly eight in ten people who ask friends for restaurant recommendations will go on to conduct further research themselves?

Ensuring you always provide excellent customer service will certainly help spread your business name but whether you have a large marketing budget, or none at all, there are lots of other ways you can win the attention of potential customers.

The UK Barista Championships recently took place in Glasgow (March 4th and 5th).

Run by the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe, the championships test the creative coffee-making skills of the barista elite. The awards and contestants themselves all receive plenty of column inches of coverage online and in print, highlighting an alternative way to raise awareness of your business. Awards for those operating within the catering industry come in all shapes and sizes and run all year round, so if you missed out on entering this year’s Barista Championships, fear not, there are plenty of other awards to bring your business acclaim whether your talents lie in brewing, buns or bhunas…

Why enter awards?

In addition to creating some fantastic PR coverage for your business whether you make it through to the final stages or not, awards can be a great way to highlight the skills, talent and ideas of your team, helping them to feel appreciated. If you choose to enter awards that relate to a specific product or talent such as coffee making, entering awards can help you establish a particular speciality for your café or restaurant.

Awards run by local councils and tourism associations often lead to special mentions on their website, ensuring visitors to the area learn about your business. While some honours involve being judged retrospectively on the meeting of certain criterion throughout the year, others will see you and your staff assessed on your ability to produce goods under pressure. This may involve developing recipes, which can in turn add value to your existing menu, either as an award winner or purely in terms of driving menu innovation.

Which awards should you enter?

There are a plethora of accolades out there just waiting to be won, from restaurant design awards that recognise how aesthetically pleasing your premises are through to the national restaurant awards that pitch you against the best in Britain. Here is a snapshot of the awards you can enter in the UK; hopefully they will give you a flavour of the areas your business could compete in.

The National Cupcake Championships

These take place in September but you can register on the site now. We also covered the awards and the enduring popularity of the cupcake on our blog last year here.

National Chef of the Year

Hailed as the UK’s most prestigious annual chef competition, the National Chef of the Year 2016 is now open for entry. The competition was established in 1972 and winning has helped establish the careers of its winners which include Gordon Ramsay, David Everitt-Matthias, Mark Sargeant, Steve Love, Simon Hulstone and Hrishikesh Desai. Entrants have until Friday April 10 to submit their entry for paper judging from which a shortlist of 40 chefs will be selected to go through to the semi-finals in June. More details and an entry form can be found at www.craftguildofchefs.org.uk.

The Observer Monthly Awards

These awards are voted by the readers of the Observer Food Monthly and are well established, they’ve been running for eleven years. While you’ll need to be nominated by some satisfied customers to be in with a chance of making it to the finalist list, there are plenty of categories to target. You can view the list of last year’s categories here.

The British Curry Awards 

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the British Curry Awards, which has been dubbed the British Curry Oscars. Again you’ll need a nomination to take part. FYI, there’s also a Welsh Curry House of the year competition.

The Sustainable Restaurant Awards

As well as assessing businesses through their sustainability rating system, the Sustainable Restaurant Association recognises ethical commitment and creativity through the annual Sustainable Restaurant Awards. Raymond Blanc is head of the association and you can read an interview with Blanc about the recent awards, which took place last month, here.

There are lots of other arenas where you might find recognition for your culinary or customer service efforts – from local magazine awards through to less industry specific ceremonies such as the business startup awards, which has its own category for new restaurants. You may even want consider shooting for a Michelin star and if you do, you should check out our blog post on the topic.

Planning and executing food award entries

While you can enter many awards for free, those that require recipe development or involve heats will have an impact on staff time and availability and may involve some costs associated with ingredients and travel. With this in mind, you’ll need to carefully consider what you can commit to. Try searching for possible awards to enter and look at deadlines and criteria to use feasibility to narrow your focus, if you’re too late to enter this year you’ll be in the perfect position to formulate a plan of attack for 2016!

Do you know of any niche new industy awards we should be writing about? Get in touch and we might cover them in an upcoming post.


Lockhart Catering on 9 March 2015 3:22 AM

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