Winning practices collect their prizes in the 2011 awards for the design and appearance of the public areas of their premises

01 December 2010, at 12:00am

WILLIAMS Veterinary Surgeons in Tywyn, Gwynedd, and Cheadle Hulme Veterinary Hospital in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, have won the two categories in this year’s Front-of-House Awards, run by Veterinary Practice and sponsored by Royal Canin.

The purpose of these awards is to recognise excellence in front-of-house design, appearance and facilities.

Williams Veterinary Surgeons won the category for practices with no more than 10 full-time or FTE staff, for its recently opened new premises.

Sundean Veterinary Clinic in Lydney, Glos., was declared the runner-up with Zasman Veterinary Clinic in Islington, London, in third place.

Cheadle Hulme Veterinary Hospital won the category for practices with more than 10 full-time or FTE staff for its recent refurbishment and addition of on-site parking.

The de Montfort Veterinary Hospital in Evesham, Worcs., was named as runner-up with Cherrydown Vets in Basildon, Essex, third.

A bumper crop of entries came in from all over the UK, which a preliminary judging panel assessed under 10 different headings – from exterior appearance and signage to merchandising and noticeboards – after which a “mystery shopping” phone call was made to all those considered likely to make the final.

Not all the calls were answered in a manner likely to endear the practice to existing or potential clients and three entries were eliminated on this alone – even though the written entry and photographs looked highly promising.

Unannounced visits were subsequently made to each of the finalists for on-the-spot assessments.

Judges commented on the high standard of the entries overall and the tremendous improvements in recent years in the public areas of practices, though a number of faults were highlighted. These ranged from poor placement of signs and notices (including letters missing in some signs) to the cluttered and disjointed layouts in some waiting and merchandising areas.

What the judges looked for:

  • clear, attractive signage outside (and inside) the practice
  • adequate and well-marked parking bays
  • a smart, well-maintained exterior and gardens (if any) well-tended and tidy
  • a well-defined, easy to reach entrance with disabled access
  • a welcoming reception area for dealing smoothly and efficiently with clients and patients arriving and leaving
  • clean, comfortable waiting area(s) with informative noticeboards, etc.
  • well-laid-out merchandising area(s)

Any clinic/surgery/hospital built, renovated, refurbished, extended or moved since 1st January 2008 was eligible to enter.

The categories were:

  1. practices with no more than 10 full-time or FTE staff
  2. practices with more than 10 full-time of FTE staff

Practices were invited to submit statements of up to 200 words as to why they deserved to win the award, along with up to 10 photographs, from which judges selected the finalists.