5. Pay the Fee Upon Approval
Once your application has passed the stringent approval process, you are required to agree to the BBB’s specified terms. This includes the payment of the fee, also referred to as Accreditation Dues.
It’s essential to remember that this fee doesn’t guarantee a certain rating; rather, it’s directed towards covering the BBB’s overhead expenses.
These costs encompass processing applications and sustaining day-to-day operations within the Better Business Bureau organizations. As an entrepreneur, you understand that running an organization involves many operational costs – staff compensation, rent for the business premises, utility costs, and more.
After your application has been approved, a comprehensive welcome packet will be dispatched to you. This kit includes a Membership Certificate, a wide array of marketing materials, and an assortment of other helpful resources.
In addition, an email containing your login information for your new online profile will be sent to you, marking the commencement of your BBB accreditation journey.
- Once accredited, your business must adhere to the BBB’s standards and guidelines. This ongoing commitment requires a proactive approach to customer service and ethical business practices.
- Renewing your accreditation annually reiterates your commitment to these standards, reinforcing customer trust over time.
How Much Is the BBB Accreditation Fee?
For most small businesses, the accreditation fee will be in the hundreds of dollars. However, the fees depend on two factors: (1) your number of employees, and (2) your local BBB office’s fee schedule.
Each local BBB office has its own fee schedule, and most seem to fall within a 10% range of other chapters. A few local chapters put their fees online. For instance, the St. Louis office publishes the following fees:
|Number of Employees
|Accreditation Annual Fees
|1 - 3
|4 - 7
|8 - 10
|11 - 49
|50 - 99
|100 - 200
Check with your local chapter for the actual fees you would be charged. Payment plans are available to let you spread out the cost monthly or quarterly.
The same fee is charged annually for renewal. BBB fees are a business expense that qualifies as a small business tax deduction.
Little known fact: some local business bureaus occasionally offer discounts. For example, at the time of this writing, the South East Florida BBB is offering a limited-time discount along with 90 days of free online advertising.
What Types of Businesses is BBB Accreditation Best For?
BBB Accreditation holds potential benefits for any enterprise that engages with the public, regardless of its size or industry. This makes a broad spectrum of organizations eligible.
Although small businesses often form a substantial portion of accredited entities, local branches of larger conglomerates, such as banks, are not uncommon.
Businesses across diverse industries can seek accreditation, with exceptions being industries that are either unlawful, such as online casinos, or flagged by the BBB as intrinsically problematic, for instance, payday lenders.
Based on data from the West Florida BBB, the most inquiries from the public involve businesses like roofing contractors, A/C contractors, insurance companies, home builders, used car dealerships, general contractors, plumbers, pool companies, and collection agencies.
While this list is subject to regional variations, it offers a glimpse into the types of businesses where BBB accreditation significantly influences consumer decisions.
These businesses, in particular, might reap substantial benefits from accreditation.
Can Online Businesses Get BBB Accredited?
Indeed, online businesses are eligible to apply for and receive BBB accreditation. One might question the necessity, but the rationale is straightforward. In the digital age, establishing trust online is more critical than ever.
A study by Nielsen, quoted by the BBB, revealed that 60% of consumers consult the BBB before making online purchases, underscoring the importance of BBB accreditation for e-commerce ventures.
How Do I Find Out if a Business is BBB Accredited?
There are two primary methods to ascertain a business’s BBB accreditation. The first approach is to look for the dynamic BBB Accredited Business Seal on the company’s website.
This interactive software version of the BBB logo allows consumers to verify a business’s credentials with a simple click.
Alternatively, you can visit the BBB.org website and conduct a search for the business. The business profile will indicate whether the business is accredited.
If you struggle to find the business, ensure the correct spelling of the name. If the business profile is still absent, it signifies a lack of BBB accreditation.
Why is a Business Not BBB Accredited?
There could be a number of reasons a business does not have accreditation — and those reasons are not necessarily negative:
- The business simply may have decided not to apply or chosen not to renew.
- The company may have relocated and temporarily has no accreditation. That was our case here at Small Business Trends Media after we relocated the business to another state.
- A business may not be accredited due to being in an industry the BBB considers a scam or problematic.
- Accreditation also can be revoked. MyPillow famously had its status revoked and its rating downgraded, in part due to violations of the BBB’s advertising code.
What Are the BBB Standards of Trust?
The Better Business Bureau continuously supervises accredited businesses to ensure sustained adherence to eight foundational principles, collectively termed the Standards of Marketplace Trust.
These standards provide a roadmap for businesses seeking to maintain good standing and cultivate a positive reputation. They are as follows:
- 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.
- Guard Privacy: Protect any data collected against mishandling and fraud, collect personal information only as needed, and respect the preferences of consumers regarding the use of their information.
- Embody Integrity: Approach all business dealings, marketplace transactions, and commitments with integrity.
Adhering to these standards not only assists in maintaining BBB accreditation but also, and perhaps more importantly, they serve as excellent guiding principles for running any business.
These standards encourage ethical business practices that can help build a strong reputation and a loyal customer base.
Should I Get My Business Accredited?
You might wonder: is the Better Business Bureau worth it? The BBB is not without controversy. Over a decade ago I wrote about it, and was surprised by the response. Also, a few years back CNN wrote a series of negative articles, after which the organization said it made changes.
Yet, accreditation has value and I recommend it, especially for local small businesses that serve consumers. I have no financial interest in whether you get accreditation — or not. But here’s why it is important: a large proportion of the public places trust in the BBB.
If potential customers think BBB accreditation has value, then it is worthwhile. Because in the end, the customer is what matters.
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