In June 2016, as a member of the IW Chamber of Commerce I decided to go through the Quality in Business Accreditation. I was a new accreditation promoted by the chamber as ‘a business improvement tool to assist Island businesses to improve quality and standards’. It is a free process for chamber members, so it seemed like a logical thing to do.
So, in the first 12 months of being accredited, what has it meant to me as a small business?
Firstly, the process was more involved than I thought. You start with an online application process, which requires you to answer questions in 5 distinct categories;
- Customer Service
- Quality of Products & Services
- Business Environment
- Training and Development
- Community Standing
Each one of these categories contains several written response questions of a maximum 500 words, which are then scored out of 5. There are 110 points on offer, and you currently need a minimum score of 66 to proceed to the next stage.
One of the first hurdles I found was that as an individual, some of the questions weren’t totally relevant to me, and were quite difficult to answer. I took advice from Dale Howarth, who suggested that avoid ‘Not Applicable’ answers and use them as an opportunity explain more fully my reasoning and alternatives.
On submission of the application, the Chamber team contacted me to discuss the application and that perhaps some of the ‘Office’ related questions should guide me to view my website as my ‘shop front’. A re-submission of a few questions was in order!
The application was followed up by an interview at the Chamber office, although they will happily come to your offices. I was asked to bring along a hefty wad of 14 items of supporting documentation, which took a little putting together.
The interview was a hugely informative process for both parties, and was probably one of the most useful business orientated meetings I’ve had for a long time. It really picked apart what I was doing, how, why and why wasn’t I doing certain aspects. A real thinking process. That sounds quite intimidating, but it was an enjoyable process.
So, what has it meant to me?
Whilst I can’t say I’ve had direct business from the accreditation, it has been a talking point and has come up in many conversations and emails. In that respect, it’s been a useful. Its given me a reason to go out to my existing clients and tell them about it.
However, probably the more useful aspect was it made me take a step back and look at my business, to dust off the business plan and talk, in some depth, to people who aren't familiar with my line of business.
It really raised some interesting points, and ended up in a complete re-design of my website and offering … technically the same offering, but different proposition. I see it all the time where clients are so close to their business, they can’t see the opportunities. I had become that, and this helped to make me step back as re-assess.
Would I do it Again?
Whilst I haven't see a direct return on investment in terms of hard cash, I’d definitely do it again, and recommend other businesses to consider doing it. It’s not a five-minute process. All things considered it probably took a day's effort to achieve the accreditation.
It really helped me personally, I got to talk to some great people in the chamber, and have several conversations with businesses across the island. You never know, one day they may come calling for my services!