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The Best Rural Professional Services Business Award was created to celebrate any Professional Services business that either operates from a rural location or serves rural clients. These businesses are a hugely important part of the rural sector, and their hard-work and expertise deserves to be celebrated.

Jemma Clifford, RBA co-founder: “Often professional services businesses are the unsung heroes of the countryside – those businesses whose staff live and breathe the rural life and whose quiet skills provide the backbone on which so much of our countryside economy is based. Without rural expert lawyers, accountants, computer firms and other businesses like this, rural life would be severely impacted.”

But what does it take to win? In this article, we’ll break down the judging criteria, and examine how our finalists from 2017 embodied them. So, to win a Best Rural Professional Services Business Award, you must demonstrate:

 

1. How and why the business better serves rural clients than urban or city based businesses and how the approach differs.

Appetite Me is a consultancy firm based in Suffolk which works with farms, country estates, and land development companies to diversify assets such as no longer needed buildings into successful retail and hospitality businesses. Appetite Me also works with existing rural businesses such as farm shops, garden centres and other rural retailers to provide retail advice on everything from store layout, product ranging, and local sourcing to increasing margins, marketing, and maximising profits.

The issue of diversification is specific to the rural sector, and Appetite Me’s experience in this field places them in a unique position to serve rural businesses.

 

2. Excellent customer care – going the extra mile.

Roythornes Solicitors is a top 150 law firm with a strong focus on rural business, agriculture and rural estates, the food sector and commercial property. Employing nearly 200 people in the heart of rural Lincolnshire, Roythornes act as trusted advisors and recognised experts. Their rural location means that they are at the heart of the community they serve, and clients can be working the fields in the morning, and signing documents with them in the afternoon.

Roythornes recognize that in order to help rural businesses it is essential to develop longstanding relationships. Most rural businesses are family businesses and Roythornes staff get to know clients and their families literally around their kitchen table so that they can work with them on a solution that’s unique to their situation.

Julie Robinson: “For countryside firms, recognition from the Rural Business Awards is brilliant. It’s fantastic that the RBAs shine a light on the great work being done by firms outside of the bigger cities and proves that we, and the other RBA winners, are excellent enterprises offering real value to the UK economy.”

2. An understanding of the challenges of living, working or running a business in the rural marketplace.

Greenway Training is a professional training facility based on a working Wiltshire farm offering accredited courses and specializing in qualifications for those working in the agricultural, forestry, conservation and horticultural sectors. Greenway Training were the 2017 winners of the Best Rural Professional Services Award.

As a rural business themselves, they understand the challenges of running a business in the rural market place. Therefore, they not only offer accessible courses within a working farm environment but collaborate with local professional firms in the winter to offer free talks for farmers.

 

4. An understanding of the rural marketplace and how to address the communication challenges of keeping in touch with grass roots.

McCartneys LLP is an independent firm of rural professionals, auctioneers, estate agents, chartered surveyors and valuers in the Marches, mid-Wales and West Midlands. The firm has a large, dedicated team of professional experts specializing in all aspects of rural property, planning and business advice.

They take a personal approach to customer care, and understand the individual challenges of communicating with rural businesses. For example, some farms don’t have internet, so the team will call them on a regular basis instead. The staff are on call 24/7 and guarantee to have someone out to visit by the next day at the latest. McCartney’s text farmers the evening before the next livestock auction with the prices achieved that day, so farmers have the information to get the best price possible.

One of our judges described McCartneys asa “very capable rural business that understands its market and its value.”

5. Uniqueness in offering – what sets the business apart from the competition.

ET Landnet Ltd is a leading consultancy specialising in Rights of Way, advising and representing landowners throughout England and Wales. They understand that for rural landowners managing public access to their land is an important issue, and go the extra mile to ensure that they understand clients needs.

ET Landnet are an incredibly specialized and unique business. With a combined experience of more than 50 years, they are truly experts in their field. It is that expertise, and the strategic decision to concentrate on what they are good at, which really sets them apart from the competition.

Our judges said: “A lovely specialist rural business with great competence in their area.”

 

In summary, the Best Rural Professional Services Business will be rural to its core, understanding the unique challenges faced by its clients. It will prioritize its customers, always willing to go the extra mile to solve any issues they may have. It will stand out from the crowd, perhaps in its values, its customer service, or its business strategy. It could be large or small, a recent start up or with over a hundred years of heritage. Here at the RBAs we want to celebrate rural Professional Services businesses in all their forms, and we really hope you will join us!

 

If you think your business demonstrates some of these values, why not enter the 2018 Rural Business Awards by clicking here!

For more information on categories, ceremonies, and regions follow this link: https://www.ruralbusinessawards.co.uk/enter/

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