Should You Apply for a Better Business Bureau Rating?

Trust is a key part of building a successful business. It’s what gets new customers to try you and keeps current customers coming back. Today’s consumers use social media to find out how trustworthy your business is. They might look at reviews on Yelp, check their Facebook feed, or monitor Twitter. So do you still need the more traditional Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating to establish trust?

What Is the BBB Rating?

The Better Business Bureau is a collection of over 100 independently owned and governed, non-profit agencies throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. It is not affiliated with any government agency. An umbrella organization, the Council for Better Business Bureau, monitors their compliance to international standards. 

The BBB rates businesses on a 100-point scale comprised of 16 factors including number of years in operation, business licenses, as well as the number and response to any consumer complaints. The information is sourced directly from the business and public records. Customer reviews are not included in the rating. 

BBB’s final rating is expressed in a grade ranging from A+ to F and is published on their website for consumers to view. It represents the BBB’s opinion on how the business is likely to interact with its customers—a key component of trust. 

How Can It Help My Business?

The BBB rating offers a number of advantages to businesses including:

  • Credibility – The BBB reports consumers consulted their rating service over 154 million times in 2017. That’s a strong indication of the trust they put in this third-party rating—and by extension, your business. You can leverage their 100-year-old brand to establish trust, especially among prospective customers. 
  • Marketing opportunities – Visibility on the BBB website includes a link to your website, a map to your location, business images/videos and your contact information. Member businesses also have the right to use the BBB logo in their marketing materials. The podcast, Small Business Trends Radio, reports that the BBB seal substantially increased website conversions. You can also link to the BBB from your website so consumers can leave a review (and you can track/respond to each).   
  • Conflict resolution – The BBB offers mediation services and training to help resolve consumer disputes. That can include low- or no-cost arbitration. Depending on your area, you may not need to be a member to access this service. 
  • Value-added services – In addition to the rating, member businesses have access to workshops, webinars, a monthly newsletter and other useful resources. As a member of the BBB network, you can also network with other business owners to find solutions to common problems or make connections to new business opportunities.  

What Else Should I Know?

Each BBB organization has its own fee structure for businesses in their area. It can vary based on how many locations you operate or the number of employees you have. Here’s an example of potential fees in the St. Louis area. Consult your local BBB for more information.

There has also been reports criticizing irregularities in BBB rating practices. The organization indicates they have made subsequent efforts to provide more consistency and oversight. In 2017, the BBB reported denying accreditation to over 4,000 applicants and revoking ratings for over 1,400 businesses who no longer meet their standards. 

Applying for Membership

The process to apply for BBB accreditation starts by checking to see if your business meets the seven-point eligibility requirements. That includes being in business for at least six months and having no unresolved customer or government complaints. Assuming you meet the requirements, you can begin the application process. 

A Better Business Bureau rating can be a useful way for businesses to establish trust with consumers, especially when combined with social media sources. Consider whether this accreditation is right for your business.

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