I Want To Become Accredited By The Better Business Bureau… Now What?
The Better Business Bureau is a business, plain and simple. Don’t get me wrong, the BBB helps thousands of consumers make more educated decisions with their money every day and has been an upstanding non-profit for over 100 years. But at the end of the day, they exchange a service for money, and it’s called “accreditation.” It’s essentially the same as paying monthly for an Enhanced Yelp Profile; the only thing different is the logo.
As your business grows, it becomes more likely that BBB accreditation can have benefits for you. But the price can you make you understandably hesitant. If at some point you decide that your business should be accredited by the BBB, you’ll have to go through their accreditation process. It’s not the most straightforward process in the world, but following the steps below should help you understand how accreditation works. Keep in mind that your business entity must be more than six months old in order to apply for a free listing or accreditation.
The BBB Accreditation Process
I do not use the word process lightly; that’s exactly what it is. The BBB justifies the amount of correspondence and paperwork as establishing “sound advertising, selling and customer service practices that enhance customer trust and confidence in business.” The absolute easiest way to get your business accredited is to do so on the BBB website.
Make Sure You To Start In The Right Place
Every area of the United States has a different BBB chapter, so it’s imperative that you start the process with the correct jurisdiction. If your web browser has location services enabled, it should automatically route you to the correct one. If not, you should enter your zip code into the location drop-down in the upper right. Some BBB chapters cover multiple states, while larger metropolitan areas have their own chapter.
Create An Online BBB Account
To become accredited and use the online features that the BBB offers, you will need to make an online account. You can do so by pressing “Create My BBB Login Account” from the BBB login menu. After that, it’s just like any other online account: name, email account, and email verification.
Check If The BBB Is Already One Step Ahead Of You
Next, check to see if someone has already added you to the BBB’s business directory. Some chapters have representatives that update the directory with all newly formed business entities. Or, it’s possible that an unhappy customer added your listing in order to lodge a complaint or a review. If you find your business already listed, choose the “Is this your business?” link to proceed. If they don’t have you listed already, you can use the box on the right side to enter your business info.
If you manually add your business to the directory, it should be verified within a week. Once your listing is up on the site, you can claim it by clicking “Is this your business?” Note your assigned BBB Business ID Number—you will need it in the next step.
Address Any Complaints Or Negative Reviews
If your business is already listed, you must check to see if you have any negative reviews or consumer complaints. If you have not responded to negative reviews, it will become a significant roadblock in the accreditation process. You can check to see if you have anything to reply to by logging into your BBB account, and clicking “Reply to Reviews.”
BBB Accreditation Application
Now that you’re listed, you will need to start your Accreditation Application and pay your BBB membership dues. It’s a pretty straightforward process for most retail business entities, but it can get a little trickier for service-based companies. You can start by pressing the “Apply/Join” link at the top of the page, and subsequently the “Apply Today” link. After that, you will need to supply the following information:
- Your email address
- The name of your business
- Your BBB ID number
- Your primary phone number
After you’ve supplied them with that information, it’s mostly out of your hands unless your local BBB chapter asks for additional information. Circumstances in which a BBB representative may contact you for additional information may include:
- Proof of licenses/bonds for the services you provide, i.e. electrical or medical services
- Proof of you rectifying any business practices that led to a government sanction or ethics violation
- Proof of how you’ve handled past consumer complaints on other platforms like Yelp!.
Since every area of the United States and Canada is divided into different BBB chapters, some chapters require significantly more documentation to become accredited. Because of those fluctuations between chapters, don’t be surprised if you are contacted to provide any of the following information as well:
- A more in-depth summary of the nature of your business
- Banking and business references
- Formation documents
- Additional contact information
BBB Accreditation At Last!
After you meet all the paperwork requirements, you will then have to wait for a bit to hear the verdict. Your finalized application is first sent to the local chapter’s screening department where they take the information you’ve given them and compare it to these principles within their mission statement:
1. Build trust
2. Advertise honestly
3. Tell the truth
4. Be transparent
5. Honor promises
6. Be responsive
7. Safeguard privacy
8. Embody integrity
If your application makes it past the screening department, your application will then be passed to the chapter’s board of directors. They will have the final say in whether you become accredited or not.
BBB Membership Dues
Once you’ve been accredited, it’s time to pay your dues. They can be pretty steep, and every chapter has different rates. However, all of the BBB chapters base your company’s dues on how many employees you have. You’ll be able to see how expensive it is before you are obligated to pay, but as long as you have fewer than 200 employees, you will being paying $400-$1200 per year.
Remember what I said about the BBB being a business? The dues can be very high depending on the size of your workforce, but it can be worth it in order to be a BBB accredited business. One hand washes the other. Rest assured, being accredited has huge advantages, and you can really make them work for you.