Beauty and Aesthetics Awards The Insync Insurance Podcast

Welcome Back!

Dawn: So welcome back to the podcast. Obviously, we had you on before talking about SOS Beauty, but now we’re going to buy the SOS Beauty for Beauty and Aesthetics award. Thank you for coming back.

Faye: No problem. Yes. So off the back of this successful launch of the SOS beauty mobile app, we had over 2000 businesses that joined the app within about a year. And I just felt once we could hit around the thousand mark, I was like, we’ve got so much talent that is coming into this network and also through our social groups as well.

We’ve got about 23,000 businesses now in our social groups and I felt it was a really good opportunity to celebrate some of that talent and also to help some of our businesses generate positive PR as well. So as well as using the app, how else could we get them out into the general public and give them exposure to raise the awareness of their businesses?

Dawn: No, it sounds absolutely amazing. So obviously you kind of came up with the idea because you wanted to highlight how amazing people are. Like, how has it gone so far? Because you had the official launch last year, I believe.

Faye: Yeah. So we had the official launch last year, and apart from a few hiccups, I’d say around just organizational hiccups that you get, I think when you organize in any national event, generally it went amazing. We had such positive feedback from everybody that attended the award ceremony, just saying how they enjoyed the atmosphere, that they found it to be really supportive and like a community environment.

We’ve got some great sponsors on board. So you were our headline sponsor last year in sync insurance, which was amazing. We also had qualify as one of our sponsors as well, who were back this year for a second year as a sponsor. And we’ve also got Francesca now from qualify, who’s on our judging panel as well, joining us. And that’s really the level of expertise we want from our judges to know that we’re getting a fair outcome for everybody that’s entering the award process.

What advice would you give to applicants?

Faye: Yeah. So I don’t actually get involved in the judging because somebody has to be completely impartial and also because so many people follow me on my own personal socials. I don’t want them to feel like that has an influence on the outcome of the awards at all. So I stay completely out of that and I just get involved in the organization. What I do do, though, is as the award applications are coming in, myself or part of my team will sit and process those applications, and we see some reoccurring issues kind of coming up. So I thought it’d be a good opportunity to talk about some of the things that we see today, like the good and the bad that we see, so that people know what makes a great application for an award ceremony.

So, first of all, I’d say whatever award ceremony is that you’re entering to read the rules before you enter. So each one is completely different. There’s the SOS Beauty Awards, HBA, there’s BTCT awards, professional beauty. Whoever you go into, it’s really important that you understand what the individual processes are because they’re not the same across the board. We’re all private organizations. We’re all working with our own set of guidelines. So for the SOS Beauty Awards, the requirement is that, first of all, you pay your entry fee. You’d be amazed how many people we get contacting us once they’ve paid their entropy to say, does that mean I’m a finalist, or does that mean I’ve won an award?

Faye: No, unfortunately, that’s just the very start of the process, and that means that you’ve just paid your entry fee at that point, which is the admin fee for us to process your application once you submit it. So once you pay that fee, you’ve received like an auto email that comes out with a form that you can download. If you’ve entered five categories, you’ll get five different downloads that are attached to that. And it’s really important, again, to complete each application form because they all have different questions. So it’s not a standard form. If you enter the signature treatment brow category, like if you enter Academy of the year, they have completely standalone questions that are relevant to the category that you’re entering in. So again, it’s really important to pay attention to the details when going through the application forms.

We get some people, like I say, that, just don’t even bother to return them, but they assume that they’re part of the process because they’ve paid the fee. We get others that literally complete them to the bare minimum. So they will put one sentence answers, why do you feel that you deserve to win an award? What training have you undergone. How do you maintain standards within the training that you deliver? If you put in a one sentence answer to that question, it doesn’t give our judges a lot to work with.

Faye: We don’t go to socials and things like that to look up your business. We won’t go out and search your website. We won’t go out and search your social media accounts. And the reason for that is not everybody has a website. Not everybody has social media or uses it for business purposes. And so the only fair way for us to assess how your business operates is by standardizing the forms and the application process and getting you to follow that. So it’s really important that when you’re filling out that application form, you’re giving us as much detail as possible. We want to know the insides out of your business. How many staff have you got? How do you monitor those staff? How many customers do you have coming through your door? What do you do with them to make sure that they’re happy? Do you follow up with them? Do you have customer feedback forms? How do you do your patch testing?

What are your processes for consultation with your clients? What your hygiene preps is? We literally want to know the inside out of it all so we can really paint a picture of how your business operates and what makes you stand apart from another organization.

Faye: One thing that I will say what has come up more recently is Chat GPT. I just want to touch on this because as you probably, it’s absolutely everywhere with chat GPT, and we understand about people using it, but you can imagine if you copy and paste the question off the application into chat GPT, it’s going to be exactly the same as another business that copies and pastes the same question into chat GPT. So it’s fine for you to use a tool like that as a guideline. I’ve had quite a few people that don’t speak English as their first language that have said they find it easier and helpful to translate or to help them write coherent sentences.

That’s great, but you need to personalize the results to your actual business. Chat GPT will tell you what the off the book standard is for hygiene within an aesthetics practice. What it won’t tell us is how your business actually does it. And that’s what we want to know. So we want to know, how does your business adapt? How do you make sure that your environment is clean and safe and complies with environmental health policies? We want to know how you’re specifically doing it. So chat GPT will give you a generic answer. It needs to be personalized to your actual organization for us to be able to consider that.

Faye: The other thing is that we ask entrants to upload photographs. So again, we have quite a few issues with this. Some people do put photographs in. Some just completely leave them out. So if you’re going for salon of the year, kind of need to know what your salon looks like. It’d be helpful to get an idea of the environment.

Some people have real clinical settings, other people have it quite homely. We want to see what makes your clinic special, what makes it stand out, makes it comfortable for people. And those photographs give you a chance to do that. If you’re going for something like beauty therapist of the year or you’re going for signature treatment for lips, we want to see photos of you actually doing treatments. We want to see before and afters of your customer.

Faye: So we give you the opportunity to upload three photographs of your work. And that could be three before and after. So we would count a before and after as one picture. What we don’t count, though, is where you get 20 pictures and you put it onto a collage and you stick that in one photo, because as you can imagine, dawn, it’s not fixed. Then you can end up with 60 images of someone’s work across three photos where someone else has just put in one photo for each one.

Dawn: Quite a lot.

Faye: Yeah, definitely. So then we also ask you to upload two testimonials. So the testimonials can either be screenshots of reviews from your Facebook page. It could be a trust pilot or a Google review, or it could even be a newspaper clip in. So, for example, if you’re going for like, community Champion award, you might want to put in an article where you’ve donated money to the local community and it’s been in the newspaper.

That’s just one example. But the idea is, between all of that information, then we can really, the application form, the photo and the testimonials, we can get a good picture of your business. And when it goes through to the judges, then they can actually go through and understand who you are and how you compare to other people in your category that have also then gone through this same process.

Dawn: Yeah, that sounds really interesting. And I think as well, at the end of the day, I think people need to understand that. They need to be able to prove what they’re going for is, yes, I am definitely the best salon of the year, or the best practitioner, or most helpful. Whatever it is, you need the details.

Faye: There needs some criteria to work towards. You can’t just get a label to say, I’m the best academy in the country without giving some evidence to support and back that up and something that we can compare against other people that are wanting to make that same claim. So you have to go through that process.

I think as well, it also is a testament to you can’t just win this award really easily. There is work that needs to be done and proven evidence that you are who you say you are and you operate the way you operate as well. And I think some people may have the imagery or the idea that maybe just the award is like, oh, you pay it and, yeah, you just kind of get it and you can just slap it on the website. The point is that you’re trying to reward people that do the hard work, put in the effort, make sure their clients are looked after from beginning to end and the most ethical practices in there possible, rather than it just being, oh, well, I’m great. And I think that’s what’s so great about award ceremonies. The idea is that it’s to be rewarding to the people that do the best that they can within the business and actually do everything right from beginning to end.

Dawn: Yeah. And I think, again, this comes back to as well, you’ve been quite critical about which awards you decide to enter because, as I mentioned, all award ceremonies have their own processes. There are some award ceremonies that you can literally pay an entry fee to become a finalist. We don’t operate that way because I don’t believe that’s ethical to do that. And that’s why we have quite a strict process that in order to become a finalist, you have to submit your application.

The application has to pass and make it into the top ten. Not everybody is just automatically a finalist. But different awards will have different standards and it’s really for you to find one that sits with your own ethics and where you feel you’re comfortable at. Some people might think that the SOS Beauty awards goes too into detail. That might not be for them, and that’s fine. Each to their own. Other people might say, no, actually, that’s what I want to go through. I want to feel like I’ve been vetted and I’ve actually gone through this process and if I win, then I win because I’ve won. And also they know then that if they’ve lost as well, they’ve lost fairly because they’ve gone through the same process as everybody else.

Why should practitioners consider entering awards?

Faye: I feel that those that go into awards, it makes you question your own practices. So when you receive that application form and it’s asking you certain questions about how you do certain things within your business, it’s making you actually reflect. And once you’re qualified within beauty, aesthetics or whatever, there is no ongoing assessment. Unless you decide to go into further training, which is completely optional, you’re not required to do that. You might never reflect on your practices. And actually practices are. We’ve got new treatments coming out all the time. We’ve got new regulation coming in all the time. So it’s really important that you’re keeping ahead of the game. And I feel like going through the awards process, it’s letting you know these are the things that you need to be looking into for your business.

This is the things that we are going to be monitoring your standards through about different parts of your business journey, and we want to know how you’re doing that. And it gives you a chance to look back and go, actually, I haven’t really looked at that process for three years, five years. Does it need changing? Does it need updating? Am I doing it in line with how other people are doing it? They start to look at their competitors and actually question, oh, my competitors are doing this or they won me this year. If I want to win them next year, I’ve then got to do what they’re doing or do it better than how they’re doing it.

Faye: So creating a little bit of competition in the industry also pushes standards because you’re then comparing yourself to other people that are doing what you’re doing. And as I mentioned right at the start as well, it’s great PR for your business. So imagine you live in the middle of a city. So I’m in Nottingham. I imagine there’s about 500 beauty salons across Nottingham. How do you make your salon the salon that people know about? Well, when you’re entering awards, you can put it out on your socials, you can put it out into the local newspaper. Some of our finalists have been on the radio this week talking about it on the radio. It’s an opportunity for you to go out to people to say, I have gone through this process where I’ve been required to have a certain set of standards and I have successfully shown that I’ve got those standards. That’s why I’ve made it as a finalist. And you can then shout about that, driving more customers to your business.

Dawn: No, it’s amazing as well, because on the customer side of things, they know that you strive to be the best. And it’s not just, oh, we’ve just got this sticker and it’s really awesome. It’s like, we are the best. And even if you’re just a finalist, it shows how dedicated and amazing you are because you are literally in the ramp ups of whether or not you do win or not. But it does show that your standards are very high and that you care about the customer journey, so to speak. Like if they go into the beauty salon or they go to get the hair done and everything else, they know that they’re going to get great service. And it’s almost like an industry review.

Thumbs up or whatever, instead of just getting the client review, it’s an industry review. Like, they are really good in the industry. We appreciate them, what they get up to and everything else. I think it’s really great to see on the consumer side as well. They’ll trust you more and more likely to go to you as well for treatments.

Faye: Yeah. And also even just on the networking side, as well as attending an award ceremony, you’re getting to meet other business owners.

You become part of a community of people that care about the standards of their business and you’re meeting like minded individuals. You’re also getting a chance to network with the sponsors. So you might meet wholesalers that are sponsoring the awards. You might meet like, say, people like yourselves or qualify or whoever is involved in that process. There are various organizations that it would be beneficial for you to be meeting at that award ceremony as well.

Faye: And it just gives you, like I say, just a chance to get a pat on the back. Sometimes it can be quite a thankless industry where people don’t generally tell you when you’re doing well, but they tell you when you’re not doing well. Where people are quick to complain, but they’re not always quick to give you the appreciation. And they don’t maybe thank their nail tech or their hairdresser as often as they should. So it’s just nice sometimes as well to get that recognition of the hard work that you’ve put in and the amount of training and that you’ve gone through and the talent that you’ve built up over the years. So, yeah, I think sometimes it’s just nice for that as well.

Is there anything else you’ll like to add?

Faye: No, I think that’s it, really. I just like to encourage people to take part in awards as well. One of the things that I get a lot from people is, oh, I don’t think I’m good enough. Well, you don’t know if you don’t try. And we’ve had some people really surprise themselves. So people that never would have dreamed they would have won last year, they did. And we had tears on stage, we had emotional speeches, and it was absolutely beautiful, to be honest, to give people a platform and a chance to get up and really, like I say, just show off the work that they’re doing. So never think that you’re not good enough if you don’t make it for.

It’s part of the learning curve and part of the process. And that’s why I wanted to put this video out here today, just to talk about what you can do to give yourself a really good chance. And you’re not really competing with everyone else. You’re competing with yourself. So if you don’t make it through this year, aim to get into the finals next year, to get into the top ten next year, then aim to win it the year after. And it’s about you continuously pushing your own standards, not necessarily about competing with everybody else.

Dawn: Yeah, and I think that’s really great as well, is sometimes you get so focused, you kind of get tunnel vision and you don’t self reflect. How is it all going? How could I be better? How can I be the best? And I think it’s really great just to promote growth in general, whether it’s just not be really great, let’s have music, some nice calming music playing in certain aspects of the salon. Or actually be really great if I just kind of reach out and be like, how are you doing? Since your treatment, is there any questions, concerns you have, like just adding a step in the customer process or something.

Faye: Using ethical product ranges. This year, we’ve decided go with a more ethical product range or whatever is just small changes that improve your business year and year. And I think that’s really the takeaway from this. It’s about raising your own standards and continuing to develop yourself and your own business. And that’s the takeaway from it.

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