This week 100 fantastic retailers have received notification that they have made the coveted Independent Achievers Academy UK Top 100 list. And it was no mean feat. The judging process is rigorous – an in-depth entry form and a mystery assessment are just two of the hurdles for retailers to get through before making the list.  And by all accounts, the retailers who made the list made a better job of Dai Greene (sorry Dai!) of clearing these hurdles. The average score achieved in the mystery shop visits by this year’s Top 100 are 3% higher than those achieved last year, which is a demonstration of the hard work of independent shop owners to continuously improve, giving their customers and their community the best possible service.

Aside from ensuring that only the best retailers make the shortlist, we believe that an in-depth entry process is a great way for retailers to assess their strengths and weaknesses. Walking round the shop completing the entry form is a good way to learn where you’re doing really well, and where more attention needs to be paid. Our performance measurement partners Field Sales Solutions provide in-depth feedback following the mystery shop visits, which allow entrants to see how they are doing compared to their peers across the UK and Ireland.  If I ran my own business, I would absolutely love this level of feedback – it is only when you can take a step back and view your business through someone else’s eyes (those of a customer, preferably) that you can really see how you’re doing. It seems obvious, but so many people don’t do it.  At the Academy, we believe not just in recognising success – but in helping retailers improve, through insight, advice, and the opportunity to build valuable relationships with leading suppliers as well as other great retailers.

But for today, it most certainly is about celebrating success, and we say congratulations to those 100 great retailers who’s names will appear in Retail Newsagent and Retail Express over the coming weeks, and who we hope will use the press release, window sticker and certificate to tell the world about how great they are.