Galvanising practice teams into a cohesive force to deliver the very best in patient care and business performance is all about teamwork and that is a recurring theme among Optician Award winners. Anyone who has entered the Optician Awards will understand the power the event has in not just bringing teams together, celebrating success but also getting a new perspective on your own business.

And it is not just practices. There are trophies across all aspects of the optical business. Alongside awards recognising excellence in different areas of practice are awards for individuals, company awards, product awards and, for the first time in 2017, an award for audiology.

As they say, you have to be in it to win it, and getting involved could not be easier. The process of entering the Awards is often cited by winners as one of the most rewarding elements. The best way to approach your entry is to gather your team together to understand where you as a group see your strengths. Use this as a starting point to choose the category best suited to those strengths.

Putting the entry together is another rewarding exercise and a great way of involving the whole team. Your entry can also provide a benchmark against your competitors, a regular observation made by of our award winners. Entrants often express their surprise at winning. ‘I didn’t think people like me won Optician Awards,’ people often say, but the Awards are designed for people exactly like you.

The 2017 Optician Awards website is now open at providing a comprehensive line up of categories available along with full details of how to enter, information on the sponsors plus news of the Audiology Award. A full line of up Awards and sponsors is printed in the box on the page opposite.

Those wishing to enter the Awards should look at the categories on offer before selecting the ones that suit them best. Be sure to study the entry criteria as this is what the judges will use when making their decisions. An article on how to win an Optician Award can also be found on our website.

Once you have decided on the categories you want to enter think about the information you want to provide for the judges. Remember each of the categories covering practices, people and teams is judged by separate panels of four experts. They may have a lot of submissions to read so keep your entries concise. Any additional materials should be within the limits laid down in the rules.

Do not be tempted to describe what your practice does on a day to day basis. By all means put your practice in context but use your entry to describe the different and excellent things about your practice and stick to the areas requested in the entry criteria.

Individuals should be sure to describe all of the activities they undertake so the judges understand how their time is spent. Perhaps consider detailing how much time is spent with patients, managing others, or with other care services?

Companies entering the product categories should make sure to provide the information or samples requested. If the Award is for an individual product be sure to specify an individual model. Do not enter a whole collection if an individual model is to be judged. Do not include general marketing materials unless they are relevant to your entry. Whichever category you choose if you are shortlisted you will be contacted for high resolution photographs to be used in the audiovisual show at the presentation evening.

Time is counting down, the deadline for entries is January 16 next year so use the time in the run up to Christmas to review your year and put your entry together. Judging will take place early next February and the shortlists announced in the middle of the same month.

For most people one of the most tangible elements of the Optician Awards is the presentation ceremony which takes place on April 1 during the Optrafair weekend.

Firstly check your diary, are you free on the evening of April 1, 2017? If you are then start you entry. Get some key team members involved and get them excited about entering the Awards. Think of the Awards presentation as a team bonding event, if you are successful in being shortlisted then it becomes a great celebration for the team. Even if you are not shortlisted you can still attend the Awards to see how it all works and get excited for 2018. It is one of the biggest nights of the optical calendar so you are sure to have a great night out with top notch entertainment.

The audiovisual show at the Optician Awards is legendary so make sure the images you supply reflect your values. These images will be part of the AV show in front of 600 of the optical profession’s great and good.

The black tie Awards ceremony will be held in the Monarch Suite of the Hilton, Birmingham, on the evening of April 1. The night will start with a drinks reception, entertainment, an A-list celebrity host and a stunning AV show. The presentation of the handmade art deco trophies will be professionally photographed and filmed with simultaneous projection onto giant screens in the room. The presentation is followed by dancing, a cash bar and a charity casino. There is also sure to be more fun as the evening gets under way.

After the event our winners will be interviewed for an article in Optician. Winners, and those shortlisted, are also encouraged to use the Awards logo to highlight their achievement.

Entering the Awards is a rewarding process whether you win or not. It raises your profile in the profession and locally, it enables you to reflect on what you do, it is also a great way of bringing your team together and allowing you to recognise their efforts.

The Optician Awards are designed to recognise practices like yours, so why not give it a go in 2017?

Optician Award categories

Technology Practice of the Year

The Family Optician of the Year, sponsored by Optical Consumer Complaints Service

Audiology Award

Multiple Practice of the Year

Independent Practice of the Year, sponsored by Hoya

Fashion Practice of the Year

Contact Lens Patient Engagement Award, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Companies

Lens Product of the Year

Frame of the Year

Contact Lens Product of the Year

Optical Supplier of the Year

Optical Assistant Team of the Year

Contact Lens Practitioner of the Year, sponsored by Alcon

Dispensing Optician of the Year

Optometrist of the Year

Enhanced Optical Service Award