Although the 2014 National Association of the Remodeling Industry Minnesota Contractor of the Year (COTY) Awards deadline is Sept. 25, remodelers should register and begin to prepare their project entries right now.
For the first time, NARI’s Minnesota members can register online rather than buy official 3-ring binders and burn files to CDs. That means no special trips to NARI’s International Market Square office. Best of all, contractors don’t pay anything until they click SUBMIT, even if they wait until September 24 to hit the button.
The new online COTY entry process is easier but different. Don’t wait to figure it out. The most important thing is to understand which entry component goes where. Everything gets uploaded to the OmniContests-powered site in two sections. First, create your presentation for the judges and upload the PDF file to the site’s Project Presentation section. Then upload the 9 to 10 additional documents for office and promotional use to the Project Images section. This is the stuff the staff needs to make sure your project fits the chosen category and that they are authorized to share photos with the media.
The presentation file should include a one-page design statement and as many photos and drawings as needed to tell the story (as long as the file does not exceed 15MB). Professionally photographed “after” photos are essential. But don’t short-change the before and in-process images that will enable judges to understand and appreciate the problem-solving and transformation.
Keep in mind that judges now will review entries on computers rather than in physical binders. So unless you want your Badger State brothers sprawled on conference tables, orient everything to be viewed in landscape/horizontal mode to match stationary wide-screen monitors.
Choose Right Category and Prepare to Capitalize on Win
To burnish a remodeler’s reputation for exceptional work, a COTY entry needs to fit within the winner’s overall marketing communications plan. Enter the category for the type and scope of project you most want to attract. And be prepared to leverage the Gala and the award a variety of ways.
- Invite contributing trade partners to join you at the Gala and have the MC mention them in his remarks to strengthen those important ties. Only the contractor who pulls the permit is allowed to enter the competition, but sharing the spotlight is good business.
- Feature the project on your website or blog and share the link with the homeowners and trade partners to encourage them to share the recognition on their own Facebook and Twitter networks.
- Upload photos of the winning project to your Houzz profile and label the album as a 2014 COTY Award Winner.
The new online COTY Award entry process has another huge advantage over the old binder-bound system. You can simultaneously enter the project in NARI North Central competition by checking the box and paying an additional fee. Projects that win at the regional level automatically advance to the national competition.