Lifting The Lid On Awards Judging

I was thrilled by your response to last week’s newsletter about the benefits of entering the Professional Beauty Regional Awards. Amongst all the excitement though, there were one or two comments expressing concerns such as– “Am I giving away my business secrets to competitors and judges?” and “Aren’t the beauty awards rigged anyway?

Both valid questions. But, after nearly a decade as a judge, I want you to know just how hardworking and deserving the winners are year-after-year.

So, with the blessing of Eve Oxberry, Professional Beauty’s Head of Editorial, I’m here to lift the lid on the judging process and dispel any doubts about any underhand activities…

How the Judges are Chosen

Across all the awards categories there are about 60 judges, each handpicked by Professional Beauty. It’s completely voluntary and totally unpaid. Judges can’t get rich this way! They’re all passionate experts in the field, often with award-winning backgrounds. Crucially, every judge signs a confidentially agreement, keeping everything they read on an entry form Top Secret.

Professional Beauty gets the final word on who judges what, with around six experts per panel. No judge can assess any business they have a vested interest in, nor can they judge in their own region.

Initial Judging

You, the salon owner, submit the best entry form possible (with the help of my free ebook, of course). All entries are then distributed to the relevant judges who get a fixed time to review and electronically score out of 10 each contender against 10 criteria. There’s no conferring and, let me tell you, it can be a very solitary, weekend-killing task!

Making the Shortlist

As you’d expect, the finalists are those salons racking up the most points from the collected, confidential scores. What you may not realise is that the judges find out the shortlist exactly the same way as everybody else – by eagerly waiting for the Professional Beauty website announcement. It’s a great achievement to get this far, and Professional Beauty staff contact each salon to offer congratulations and explain what comes next…

Coming to Visit

And, for many people, what does come next is the scariest part of the process: a judge visiting your salon or spa. The announced judges, all industry experts, announce at the time of booking who they are and arrange a time to visit as a client to sample a range of treatments and learn a bit more about the business. You don’t have mystery shoppers at this stage.

The announced judge files a separate report on everything from pre- to post-visit care, but their real job is to check that your initial entry form is a fair reflection of day-to-day reality.

Delicate Deliberation

When the regional judging panel get together for final deliberation, usually by conference call, the announced judge feeds back all the info from the visits and the panel ask their own questions. Each judge separately re-scores the finalists across the criteria, in all ten critical areas, and submits their new scores electronically, ready for the big awards event in Manchester.

And the winner is…

It’s not just the nominees who get an adrenalin rush, it’s us  judges too. We’ve all formed personal attachments to outstanding businesses and we’re willing them to succeed. But, just like you, we don’t know the winner until that envelope opens:

“And the winner is…” I get goosebumps just thinking about it!

Are the Beauty Awards Rigged? No!!!

So please, trust that your entry is well looked after by people who care with no hidden agendas. There’s still just about time to rush in a last-minute entry by clicking here. Don’t forget to also download my ebook, How to Successfully Enter and Win Business Awards, here. Be quick – there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Here’s to your great business,

Susan x

Interview with Lesley Caster, Pro. Beauty Winner

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Lesley Caster of City Retreat, the 2017 Winner of Professional Beauty Salon AND Employer of the Year about her determination to make her salon stand out in a crowded marketplace, and also how it feels to win awards for your business.

The video is only 3 minutes long, so click below to be inspired!



Here’s to YOUR great (award-winning?) business,

Susan. x

Is Your Business Good Enough to Win Awards?

susan routledge business balance calculator

And the winner is… you?

Susan Routledge Winner 2013For the effort invested, the momentum you gain from winning an award is like nothing else. In that one, joy-filled moment you prove your expertise and professionalism to every existing and potential client.

You re-energise and reward your hard-working staff. You get free publicity from many different media sources. And you get the satisfaction of a job well done that reaps benefits months, even years, into the future.

Even if you don’t win, what have you lost? In fact, you might be surprised by how much you have to gain simply by entering. That’s why I strongly recommend you get your skates on and apply for the Professional Beauty Regional Awards 2017. Act quickly and decisively – the closing date is Thursday, May 11th.

Are you celebrating success or dwelling on difficulties?

We in the beauty industry don’t do nearly enough to celebrate our businesses. It’s so easy for us to get wrapped up in angst about upcoming challenges that we forget to pause and look back on all the amazing things we’ve achieved. I can’t tell you how important it is to reflect on your successes and to share them with your teams, clients, social media feeds and so on.

Think about it: do you give as much space to those champagne moments as you do to your potential setbacks?

Whether you enter or not, and I genuinely hope you do, take a look at the questions on the Professional Beauty Regional Awards entry form. Why not spend some time thinking how you might answer? Let all that passion you have, the passion that got you to start up your business in the first place, flood out as you do. Once you get going, you could be surprised to discover just what an incredible year you’ve had. Maybe you’ll even be proud enough to click that “Enter Now” button…

I’ve been lucky enough to experience awards ceremonies from both sides of the stage. As a successful entrant for many business awards, I know the satisfaction and elation of hearing your name read out from the front of a big hall. As a judge for prestigious events like the Professional Beauty Awards, I’ve also developed a keen eye for the sorts of applications that get judging panels excited. Unsurprisingly, I often get asked by salon and spa owners to spill the beans on how to complete entry forms as eye-catchingly as possible.

Award winning salonGet all my award-winning experience in my FREE eBook

As a result, I’ve compiled my advice into a helpful eBook, my , and, in recognition of Professional Beauty’s upcoming deadline, I’m making it available to you for FREE for a limited time.

Click here to download my Top 10 Tips to Successfully Enter and Win Business Awards

Remember, applications to the Regional Awards close on May 11th. Someone has to win, why not you?

Here’s to your great (award-winning?) business,

Susan. x

Stefania Rossi’s 7 Top Tips to Becoming a Top Employer

susan routledge business balance calculator

Susan Routledge, Stefania RossiI’m absolutely bursting with excitement this week because we not only have the following Top 7 Tips from recently awarded Professional Beauty Employer of the Year, Stefania Rossi, but we also have the full audio interview, which absolutely oozes Stefania’s passion and drive. This passion has helped her transform Utopia from a salon surviving solely on offers, to the prestigious quality salon it is today.

Stefania is a true pleasure to work with. She’s such an inspirational entrepreneur who constantly thinks outside of the box to inspire her team. You won’t believe what she did in January! Find out at the 25-minute mark in the interview produced for us by Pete Scott from Spa Beauty Success.

So here goes….

  1. Have a clear business plan and vision.

    If you want to inspire your team you must have a clear plan in place so the whole team can see the journey you are taking them on. You build immense loyalty when a team feels part of your journey, and they feel that they have an important role to play. Stef has retained and developed the full Utopia team through massive change and transformation while totally rebranding Utopia.

  2. Take time to Implement clear systems and processes.

    It takes time to systemise a business, but this is invaluable. Stef can easily step away from her business now, safe in the knowledge that everyone knows what is expected of them and how to manage each process. The business continues to strengthen day by day due to the detail Stef has put into even some of the simplest procedures.

  3. Set The Highest Standards

    Once you raise the bar, you have to keep those standards. You must keep your whole team accountable to work to the highest standard, and have a full training programme so clients consistently receive the expected level of service.

  4. Empower Your Team as Individuals

    Spend time with each member of the team to really find out what inspires them. Then you can help them to become their best version of themselves in the workplace. Encourage each individual to be open and honest with how they want to develop within the business.

  5. Have a continuous training and development programme

    A team needs to constantly stimulated with new knowledge and ideas. This can take lots of forms, from supplier training through to attending trade shows, reading trade magazines etc. Always have lots of ways to stimulate new learning within your team.

  6. Build trust with clients.

    Ask clients what they want, don’t just guess! Find out what your target market really wants, and then develop your brand and team so that it resonates perfectly with your client base.

  7. Share your Vision

    It was January 2014 when Stef took over Utopia in Hornchurch. From the very first meeting with the team, she has inspired them to think of the business as if it were their own, and to realise how important they are to the business. Stef and her team have grown and developed the business together. This has been so much more inspiring to the team than to simply follow the owner’s dream with no sense of purpose for themselves.

Enjoy the Full Interview by clicking here>>

Susan Routledge Wins National Award

Finishing Touch Award Winning SalonA BEAUTY salon in the North-East is celebrating after winning a national business award.

Susan Routledge of the Finishing Touch Clinic in Consett, County Durham, was named Employer of the Year 2013 at a ceremony on Sunday hosted by Professional Beauty.

The award was presented by Strictly Come Dancing’s Claudia Winkleman in front of 900 people at the Park Lane Hilton in London.

Owner Susan Routledge, who employs a team of nine staff, said: “This shows that local businesses can do well in this climate and that businesses don’t have to be in large cities to

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