Should Your Small Business Become BBB Accredited?

Should Your Small Business Become BBB Accredited?

A question many small companies ask is, is it worth the fee to join the Better Business Bureau and thus become accredited? Does it really give you an advantage? And if so, what's the best way to leverage your membership privileges? In this article, we take a look at the value of BBB accreditation and talk a little about the process itself.

The Better Business Bureau

This is an organization that has been around for decades actually. Initially, it was founded to serve as a sort of middleman between businesses and consumers. If problems arose, or disputes erupted, the BBB offered at least one way that consumers could potentially address the issue and the business owner could then respond. The BBB prides itself on reinforcing that sense of trust within the marketplace; such is accomplished by:

  • Setting standards
  • Educating both businesses and consumers
  • Heralding role models
  • Addressing negative behavior

Handling complaints is one of the main roles of the BBB. If a customer encounters a problem, they can write in a complaint, the BBB, in turn, will submit this to the business owner for a chance to address it. The key is to acknowledge the customer's concerns and come to a satisfactory resolution.

Another critical part of what the organization does is to hand out accreditation. There is a cost associated but there are benefits that do come with being accredited.

Understanding BBB Accreditation

The accreditation system is in place to try and help companies gain consumer trust. By ranking the businesses based on a number of criteria which we will go into in just a bit, the BBB lets customers know where a company stands, what sort of dependability factor they may have, and just in general how the business is perceived within the marketplace.

Because we live in a digital world in which fake reviews are unfortunately common, the BBB is really trying to create a rating/review system that has more meaning and is more credible. Consumers, after all, need a way of truly coming to understand the integrity of a company with which they're considering doing business.

Pros & Cons of BBB Accreditation

So the question is, should you pay the money to become accredited, and if so, what will this do for your business? Below we look at some of the pros and cons of joining this organization.

Pro: Trust

As mentioned, consumers put faith in reviews, they give credence to ratings. Here is one way, if you have a positive series of reviews and a high rating, to earn that customer trust. The BBB because it has been around for so long, has established itself as credible as far as its rating system, so people do tend to believe in what they have to say about a business.

Once accredited, you can put the BBB logo on your website—again, this is another layer of credibility and trustworthiness for your company, as people associate this label with a positive experience.

Con: Fees

The cost of joining the BBB isn't exactly cheap. Depending on the size of your business, it could be hundreds, or quite possibly in the thousands. The BBB is a nonprofit which means money from dues is primarily how they stay operational. With membership, you do have some preference in the event of disputes. It really is up to you to consider whether or not the cost of membership and accreditation is worth it.

Pro: Consumer Visibility

Another pro to consider is that you will gain some exposure by joining the BBB. As noted, you can use their logo—but not just on your site, you can also hang it in your brick and mortar shop. Not to mention, the BBB maintains a member database, so customers can search for you via their site as well. And this way, when they find you on the BBB website, your rating will be immediately visible to them.

Becoming BBB Accredited

So understanding a bit more about the organization, you hopefully can decide whether or not joining the BBB is a smart move for your small business. You definitely want to make sure that you fit within their list of standards before you go through the process of becoming accredited. They will then rate you based upon several predetermined factors which include:

  • The number of previous complaints; how did you respond and did you resolve them?
  • The length of time in business
  • Business type
  • Have you been honest with customers?
  • How do you handle consumer privacy issues?
  • Are you committed to integrity?
  • What is your code of ethics?

Upon applying for accreditation, you will fill out an application that offers some background on your company. They will then do some research on the company. Their evaluation could take as long as a few weeks to complete. Once finished, they will send you a letter informing you of your status—if they reject you, they will explain the reason for the rejection. They will also let you know when you might reapply.

Upon approval, you'll receive physical and digital versions of the BBB logo. Again, you can display these in your storefront, on your site, basically on anything where customers can see it and thus come to understand that your business is in fact accredited by the esteemed organization.

One thing you definitely want to do is stay timely as far as responding to BBB requests. If a complaint comes through, deal with it—don't ignore it. If you fail to handle consumer complaints in a swift and efficient manner, the BBB could revoke your accreditation status.

Even if you decide not to join, you still want to make sure to resolve consumer issues that do arise. People want to know that they can trust your business—too many negative reviews and/or experiences and you will lose potential customers. Keeping customers happy is always essential to any small business looking to grow and thrive!

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