With the creation of a new Readers’ Choice contest in 2004, the Daily News found a way to showcase the best businesses in Durban.

One year later, the contest’s name was changed to Your Choice, and the competition uses readers’ votes to determine the best businesses and services in Durban.

The ballot covers virtually every category of business, and readers are asked to cast a vote for their favourite businesses based on their personal experience. From retailers to restaurants to home improvement, all types of businesses are included.

The categories are divided across two ballots — one for Services & Shopping, the other for Entertainment & Home Improvements. Ballots run in the Daily News for two weeks, and readers are asked to vote for their favourites in a minimum of 15 categories per ballot.

The ballots also are available online for the five-week period during which the contest runs, but readers can only vote once per ballot.

Since the ballot is unprompted, readers come up with the list of finalists in each category. At the end of the voting period, businesses that have received multiple votes are tallied, and the three businesses in each category that receive the most votes are named the winners.

Once the top three businesses in each category are determined, they are invited to advertise in a special “Your Choice” supplement. This allows them to reinforce the branding they have received and to advertise whatever products and/or services they desire.

Each advertiser gains additional publicity with a photograph of either their store or their management and staff, which runs in the editorial portion of the supplement. Running advertising at the same time helps reinforce the editorial message and also gives advertisers an opportunity to thank their patrons and supporters.

Each winner is presented with a certificate that indicates in which category they won, as well as the right to use the “Your Choice” logo in their correspondence and advertising materials.

Advertisers are proud of their achievement, and this contest has encouraged many of them to improve and maintain the quality of the products and services that they offer.