For over 100 years, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been a resource for customers to determine the trustworthiness of a business. The BBB stamp of approval means a business has met their standards of business practices, but doesn’t necessarily mean the BBB has tested products or services directly. In the internet age where anyone can quickly search review sites like Google and Yelp for real time customer feedback, is applying for BBB accreditation even worth it?
Because the BBB’s purpose is to create a network of trustworthy businesses, not every business can become BBB accredited. In addition to filing an official application and paying membership fees ($469 - $11,000 annually, depending on the size of your business), each potential business has to meet minimum qualifications to even be considered.
- Must already have a “B” or better rating. Any business can be rated based on information gathered by the BBB from various sources such as customer complaints.
- Has been in business for over 1 year.
- Can provide trade references and pass a BBB evaluation.
- Must not have any outstanding BBB complaints.
- May have to undergo a meeting with a BBB representative.
- Must be willing and able to meet and uphold the eight principles in the BBB’s Code of Business Standards:
- Build Trust: Establish and maintain a positive track record in the marketplace.
- Advertise Honestly: Adhere to established standards of advertising and selling.
- Tell the Truth: Honestly represent products and services, including clear and adequate disclosures of all material terms.
- Be Transparent: Openly identify the nature, location, and ownership of the business, and clearly disclose all policies, guarantees and procedures that bear on a customer’s decision to buy.
- Honor Promises: Abide by all written agreements and verbal representations.
- Be Responsive: Address marketplace disputes quickly, professionally, and in good faith.
- Safeguard Privacy: Protect any data collected against mishandling and fraud, collect personal information only as needed, and respect the preferences of customers regarding the use of their information.
- Embody Integrity: Approach all business dealings, marketplace transactions and commitments with integrity.
The Accreditation Process
Meeting the BBB’s standards for accreditation is all it takes. First, you have to be invited by a BBB director. Though generally speaking, once your business meets the qualifications, you’ll receive an invitation to apply.
After completing the application, the information provided is reviewed and verified, the business is researched, and additional information and proof of provided information may be requested, making the process a bit more lengthy.
Following accreditation, you’ll be expected to pay fees to remain listed as an accredited business. Fees range from as low as $36/month to thousands of dollars a month, depending on the size of your business. Once you stop paying, you lose accreditation, however your rating remains the same.
BBB Accreditation lends a professional “stamp of approval” from a company who has stood for integrity and trust for over 100 years. When deciding what brand to choose when making a purchase, many consumers still search for that blue torch icon on the website of a business before making their choice. Having a third party like the BBB recommend your business for its honorability instantly boosts your brand’s credibility.
With most online businesses transitioning to digital marketing, anything that helps improve your brand’s position on the major search engines is vital to the success of your digital marketing campaign. Being on the BBB website actually increases your brand’s SEO, helping your business rank higher in searches on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, driving more traffic to your site in the process.
Perhaps the most obvious con is the potential cost to remain accredited. With fees reaching the thousands for medium sized businesses, you’ll need to weigh the likelihood of your target customer to prefer BBB accreditation over user review sites like Google and Yelp, which are free.
If your business isn’t already in good standing for something like excessive unanswered complaints, the accreditation process may consume more time than you’re able to dedicate. That said, it’s never a bad idea to reach out to unhappy customers and try to reconcile for the overall increase it can have on your brand’s reputation.
Even with the potential cost, you could still see a significant return on investment quickly from the impact to your brand’s SEO alone. Though accreditation may not be right for everyone, consumers still trust the BBB with 10-12 million visitors checking out their website every month.
“People need to know who they can trust, and BBB Accreditation helps a company stand out. If a business is accepted for accreditation, they become part of one of the most widely recognized benchmarks for trustworthy businesses.”