On the back of winning Independent Opticians Of The Year 2019 we decided to enter into the national SFA awards. This is the highest accolade for small to medium businesses. So with our customer sentiment being as good as it has ever been it seemed like a good time to apply. The Small Firms Association hold a competition each year to acknowledge SMAs hard work through innovation, customer service, staff wellness and other categories. In total some 600 business applied to win this prestigious award but there can only be one winner chosen in each of the nine categories. The category that we were selected for was Outstanding Small Business Of The Year.
We were selected as a finalist after submitting documentation supporting why we felt we deserve to be in the running for the award. This was a great triumph in itself as hundreds did not make it to this point of the competition.
The following 6 months SFA program was an intense focusing of what Gill Opticians ‘Is’ and visualising where we are going to in the future. The SFA events we partook in included a weekend of conferences and lectures in a hotel, a conference in Dublin city and a showcase of Gill Opticians at the annual business connect conference in the Aviva Stadium.
After all the hard work finally the day of the awards was upon us. The Covid 19 virus had just arrived on the shores of Ireland and we knew the event may be cancelled if this kept escalating as it had in mainland Europe.
March 12th: The day of the Award ceremony
It is Thursday the 12th of March 2020. Jamie, Mary, Anna, Scott, Lisa and Marc all have their black tie suits and ball gowns pressed and ready for the awards ceremony gala night in the RDS. A black limousine has been booked to collect the Gill Opticians team at 5PM, we were aiming to make this evening as special as possible. Two of the team had big birthdays around this date and we were also celebrating 20 years of employment for Mary our longest serving employee. The emails were checked at 9AM, our hearts sank. Due to the Corona Virus all events containing groups of 100 or more people were to be cancelled with immediate effect. A very good decision by Leo Varadkar but a decision which meant cancelling a great night of celebration and fun.
The email also read – check tomorrows business section of the Irish Independent newspapers to see find out if you are a winner. The next morning 13th of March I ran around to Dalkey News Centre to gather the paper, I rifled through the pages until I saw the very familiar SFA LOGO and there underneath was the lists of the winners of the various categories. My eyes started filling with tears of joy, there etched in black ink on the national paper was the words I had believed we deserved but not in our wildest dreams thought we would actually read.
Watch the video below to see the award Outstanding Small Business Of The Year 2020
OUTSTANDING SMALL BUSINESS- WINNER: GILL OPTICIANS