As a small business owner, you want to do all you can to help your entrepreneurial enterprise thrive. That means standing out from the crowd and beating the competition. Getting formally accredited by the Better Business Bureau®, BBB, is one way you can establish a trustworthy reputation that will increase customer confidence in your goods or services.
This guide explains just what BBB accreditation is and why it still matters now. It also provides a quick guide to how you can get your business BBB accredited.
What Is BBB Accreditation?
The Better Business Bureau is an independent organization that connects the public with trustworthy brands, businesses, and charities. Established in 1912, the BBB's been operational for over 100 years. It's a nonprofit entity with the goal of building a reliable, trust-based marketplace where consumers can confidently buy goods or services without stressing about scams.
When people see that a business carries the BBB seal, they know that it's been vetted by the BBB and selected because it has proven itself to engage in high-quality, reputable business practices. The BBB continually monitors accredited businesses and also accepts customer reviews and complaints to keep information up-to-date and hold companies accountable.
The BBB provides its rating based on the BBB Standards for Trust, which are to build trust; be transparent; honor promises; advertise honestly, tell the truth; be responsive; embody integrity; and safeguard privacy. Businesses are ranked with a rating from A+ to an F on these points.
Ratings are based on various factors, including:
- Complaint history.
- Type of business.
- How long the business has been operational.
- Adherence to BBB commitments. For example, if the BBB issues a mediation settlement or arbitration award, the business is expected to abide by these decisions.
- Advertising issues.
- Licensing and government activity.
The entire rating system is based on a 100-point scale. A score of 97 to 100 is an A+ while a 59.99 and below is an F. You can find out more about the BBB rating system on their website.
How BBB Accreditation Can Benefit Your Business
Business accreditation from the BBB can help support business success in a few ways. Here are some of the advantages you'll enjoy as a BBB accredited business:
- Foster trust: When consumers see you are BBB accredited, they know you have gone through a stringent process to attain that accreditation. You can post your BBB seal on your website, marketing materials, and physical business spaces.
- Boost your competitive edge: When customers look for a goods or services provider, they want to make their purchasing decisions confidently. A BBB seal can help convince people to choose you over a competitor.
- Enhance online visibility: The BBB has its own directory of accredited businesses that consumers can browse. You can claim your business profile and add useful information about your business. This can be a way for potential customers to discover your company.
- Resource access: The BBB provides resources to help your business thrive, covering everything from cybersecurity and data privacy to copyright law. For instance, if you want to play music in your business venue, check whether there are any copyright issues to consider. You can even find business spaces to rent via your local BBB office.
As you can see, taking the time to get BBB accredited can benefit you in various ways. The process for accreditation is relatively straightforward, making it well worth the effort required.
How to Get BBB Accredited: A Step-by-Step Guide
So, how do you get that valuable BBB seal alongside your business name? The accreditation process is fairly simple. The below steps will walk you through it and answer some common FAQs about getting accredited.
Confirm Your Eligibility
To be eligible for BBB accreditation, your business must meet a few basic guidelines. First, your company must:
- Have been actively operational for at least six months.
- Operate in line with contractual and governmental obligations and can't have any recorded ethics violations.
- Have any bonding, insurance, or licenses required for your field of work.
You can get in-depth details regarding the accreditation standards on the BBB website (bbb.org).
Prepare the Relevant Information
When you apply for BBB accreditation, you will be asked to provide certain information. You can ensure a more efficient application process by getting the info you need ready in advance. Key points you'll be asked about could include:
- A description of your business purpose/mission.
- Your business address.
- The type of legal business structure (e.g., limited liability company, corporation, etc.).
- The number of employees.
- Number of years in business.
Note that this isn't an exhaustive list and that you may be asked to provide additional information.
Start the Process
With the relevant information at hand, you can start a streamlined application process. Visit the BBB website to get started. Simply input your name, business name, email address, postal code, and phone number. You will subsequently be sent a link providing you with the complete application. Make sure you complete the entire application accurately.
Alternatively, you may be able to apply directly via your local BBB office. You can find your area's chapter online. Simply input your address into the indicated field to get information about the office in your vicinity. This can also be a valuable step if you have questions about the application process you want to be clarified.
Wait for the Board of Directors Review
Once you've submitted your application, you will have to wait while the BBB conducts a formal review. The local BBB board of directors will take care of the review process. They will look over the application information and do their own research into the business to verify that the details contained in the application are accurate.
They may also ask for additional details or clarification if needed or request proof of specific claims made in the application (e.g., proof of the type of business entity). Following the review process, the BBB team will determine if your business aligns with its accreditation standards. You will then hear whether your application was approved or rejected.
Expect this entire process to take at least three weeks. The exact timeframe will depend on factors like your location and how busy your area's BBB team currently is. High-volume application periods may mean a longer waiting time.
Maintain Your Accreditation
Remember, BBB accreditation isn't a one-time thing. The BBB constantly updates its ratings and directories based on factors like customer feedback and reviews. Therefore, it's up to you to maintain the high standards of ethics and professionalism that make for a top-rated BBB business. Without a doubt, you don't want to risk losing your accreditation or getting a bad rating, which could hurt your success.
For example, if you are the subject of a bad customer review or a complaint, take the time to address it. You want to show that you are attentive to your customers' needs and wants. Often, people can be appeased by a company's response to a negative review — because it shows that you actually care about your customers. It's usually better than saying nothing at all.
Maintain Trust With Organized Accounting
A well-organized accounting system can help support your business's reputation as a trustworthy and reliable provider. Everyday tasks like paying vendor invoices promptly and reimbursing customer returns on time help build an overall reputable brand that's worthy of the BBB seal — and the marketplace trust that it garners.
Skynova's accounting software can help you stay on top of your money management and avoid financial issues. Our system makes it easy to track invoices, expense notes, and more. We also provide business templates (invoices, estimates, etc.) that can help provide clarity in your business relationships, further fostering a positive reputation. Visit our website to find out more.
Notice to the Reader
This content is meant as a general guideline and may not apply to your specific situation. Visit bbb.org for the most up-to-date information on getting accredited. Further, when implementing any accounting or bookkeeping tools or methods, consult a certified accountant to ensure you are operating in line with any relevant laws and adhering to accounting best practices.