As Global Pet Expo (GPE) 2014 draws closer (it will take place March 12-14 in Orlando, Fla.), Pet Business has been getting a flurry of nominations for the third-annual Retailer Excellence Awards (REA). The awards, which Pet Business will present with the organizers of GPE at the Industry Breakfast on March 13, are designed to honor pet specialty retailers in a variety of categories, such as merchandising, customer service and community service.
While the nomination process isn’t exactly rocket science, it does require a bit more than simply submitting the name and location of a retail business. For example, for the customer service award, we ask that nominees submit customer testimonials, along with a written explanation of the business’s approach to this important element of specialty retailing. Similarly, for consideration in the merchandising category, we ask that a written explanation of the retailer’s strategy be complemented with photos illustrating their approach.
While retailers are ultimately judged on what goes on in their stores, it is important that these elements are conveyed clearly and professionally in the nomination submission. A poor presentation—while it will not disqualify a retailer from consideration—will surely impact the overall impression of the judging panel.
With this in mind, and as one of the members of the judging panel, I thought I would take a moment to offer a few tips for retailers who would like to be considered in what has become the premier awards program for pet retailers:
1. Focus—In years past, the REA judging panel found a number of stores nominating themselves in literally every award category. While it is great that these retailers felt strongly about every element of their operations—which was justified, in many cases—frankly, it made it somewhat difficult to evaluate those stores on any single aspect. This year, we are asking retailers to limit their nominations to just three categories, but focusing on just one or two might be a better strategy.
2. Don’t skimp—Regardless of which category retailers are nominating themselves in, they should be sure to include as much information/materials as possible to support their argument. If you’re wondering whether or not to include another customer testimonial, or merchandising picture or store flyer, you probably should. However, be sure that all of the materials submitted are well organized, so they are easy to browse and reference back to while the judging panel is evaluating the field of nominees.
3. Make it clear—While no points will be deducted from nominees that submit testimonials with poor grammar or photos that are dark or a bit out of focus, making sure that everything is as clear as possible can go a long way in demonstrating a retailer’s deservingness of an award. This is particularly important with pictures, as the judging panel will not be requesting better-quality photos, even if we cannot make out a retailer's beautiful merchandising scheme.
For more insight into what makes for an award-winning retail enterprise, check out this round-up of links to interviews Pet Business did with last year’s winners. More importantly, to nominate your store, download the submission form here.
Good luck to all the nominees! I look forward to seeing you at the awards ceremony at Global Pet Expo in March.