If you’ve been working in a home-services industry for any length of time, you’ve no doubt heard about the Better Business Bureau, or “the BBB” as it’s commonly called.
For some, this name represents a revered institution in the business world that stands for trust, value, and integrity. For other business owners, however, the BBB logo means little more than an unscrupulous ploy to separate entrepreneurs from their hard-earned cash.
So which is it? Is the BBB an age-old authority whose stamp of approval can catapult a business toward long-lasting success? Or is this organization a corrupt relic from an antiquated era that carries little weight in today’s tech-centric economy?
Find out the answers to these questions and many others in this exploration of Better Business Bureau’s accreditation process and what it could mean for your company.
What Is the BBB and What Does Accreditation Mean?
The Better Business Bureau is a private, nonprofit organization on a mission to advance trust in the business marketplace. Founded in 1912, the BBB is unaffiliated with any government agency, and it has offices in more than 108 markets across the United States and Canada. In its early days, the BBB made a name for itself by compiling directories of reputable businesses, though today it is perhaps best known for assigning grades to companies based on how well they abide by the BBB’s Standards for Trust — common-sense practices every enterprise should adopt.
In addition to the BBB’s A-to-F rating system, the organization also offers an accreditation program that requires a passing through a stricter vetting process than simply applying for a grade does.
Compared to an A+ rating from the BBB, an accreditation from the organization serves as an even stronger endorsement regarding the quality of a business’s practices.
Is BBB Accreditation Important?
In truth, the value of a BBB accreditation lies solely the eye of the beholder. For some customers, an BBB accreditation could be a make-or-break factor when choosing a company to work with. For other customers, however, a BBB accreditation might mean next to nothing.
To find out what today’s home-service businesses think about the BBB and its accreditation offering, a member of Housecall Pro’s Facebook Group queried community members about their thoughts and experiences.
The responses were eye-opening for many businesses, as those who replied didn’t appear to pull any punches when sharing their opinions.
Many commenters were concise in their remarks, calling the BBB and its accreditation process everything “worthless” to “garbage” to a straight-up “scam.” Other Pros had more insight to offer, though. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say.
“I canceled our membership. We got 71 hits last year. That’s about six per month. Not worth it for the $600 they were charging us. And it’s an extra $350 if you want to display their emblem on your website.”
“I’m A+ rated. Never get leads, but we let people know.”
“There’s a company in our town that is run by crooks, and they have an A+ rating. No thanks!”
“I think it is great if you utilize all the offering like free workshops, free networking, ability to claim BBB A+ status so that customers feel good about it. See, the thing is baby boomers still rely on BBB ratings. If your service caters to an older crowd, I would stick with BBB. Just sayin.”
“While it hasn’t been the biggest thing for us, it has been beneficial. We’ve had customers check our rating.”
“An antiquated organization in this day and age, but I pay their minimum every year as a contribution to what they’ve stood for.”
“We need it for government work. We get a few calls a year from people who saw us on there. That’s about it.”
“We signed up in February and have already gotten a couple of great jobs this year from BBB. It’s more than paid for itself.”
“Honestly it’s just another way for them to get you to spend your money. If you need it to promote your business — and that’s all it really does — beef up your social media, blog a lot for your website, make sure your keywords are in the right place. These will all bring volume to your business.”
“I still get asked if we are listed, and people comment on our rating.”
“They’re still a thing?”
“In the ‘80s maybe.”
“Been with them since last August. Had one person say they saw me on there. Not another mention. Will not be renewing.”
“In my opinion, BBB is like paid reviews. I have found more people pay attention to Google reviews than they do the BBB.”
“Waste of money! We’ve gotten like three leads in a year with them. Not worth the spend.”
“You can have an account without paying for it, and they will still mediate for you and allow you to respond. They only thing you don’t get is a rating, but it will still show reviews, complaints, and resolution. There is really no reason to pay for it.”
“That $35 makes me cringe each month.”
“We have been with them since 2007 and did not renew this year. It’s lost its value with all the other places customers look.”
“That’s the best place to find the worst customers!”
“I also don’t remember ever having a customer say that they heard of me via the BBB. However, when the BBB talks to you, they will tell you that they get like 150 inquiries in a month. Such a BS organization!”
“Might as well join Angie’s List. Same thing. Only people that use the BBB are 80 and over.”
“BBB will not make a difference as far as the phone ringing. If you are a bigger company and want to start purchasing awards for yourself, BBB is a great way to pat yourself on the back.”
What Does the BBB Accreditation Process Entail?
Applying for accreditation with the BBB is a relatively straightforward process. It begins with filling out a preliminary form on the BBB’s website. This includes basic information such as your business name, ZIP code, number of employees, etc.
Once the BBB reviews this information, a member of their local office will contact you about the next steps.
Continuing in the accreditation process involves providing the BBB with additional details about your business and its practices. Here are several items you’ll be asked to provide:
- Banking and business references
- Proof of licenses and bonds
- Evidence your business has not been sanctioned for ethics violations
- Any record of customer complaints
- Payment for the BBB’s accreditation fees
How much does BBB Accreditation Cost?
The cost of a BBB accreditation can vary based on several factors including the region in which your business operates. Additionally, the number of workers your business employs also plays a role when calculating your BBB accreditation costs.
For general purposes, here are the most recent accreditation fees as listed on the BBB’s website:
How BBB Accreditation Benefits Home Service Businesses?
Although the value of a BBB accreditation is questionable with regard to the cost, there are some benefits of an A+ rating that are hard to ignore. Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons.
Helps build trust with older customers
Can be a determining factor in certain situations
Accreditation includes access to classes, resources, and marketing materials
Accreditation is expensive for many SMBs
The BBB follows questionable business practices
The BBB can’t explicitly refer customers to your business
Alternatives to BBB Accreditation
If you decide against signing up for BBB accreditation, you might be wondering what other options you have as far as developing a reputation for trustworthiness is concerned.
Perhaps the best way to achieve the same level of trust that a BBB accreditation purports to provide is by building a collection of positive reviews across popular sites.
By earning an abundance of five-star reviews on Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Maps, and alternative small business review sites, your business can achieve the same kind of reputation that a BBB accreditation promises — but without the annual fee.
How Housecall Pro Can Help
Housecall Pro is an all-in-one app you can use to manage several aspects of your home-service business.
And in terms of reputation management, Housecall Pro can help by automating 5-star business reviews on your behalf.
Our app’s review generation tool can increase your Google My Business rating by tracking employee performance and generating authentic testimonials.
Asking for reviews is as simple as tapping a button upon completion of a job, and we make it easy to add new reviews to your website in seconds.
In the End, Is BBB Accreditation Worth It?
Although some businesses have found success with the BBB, for the majority of home-service companies, the costs are likely to outweigh the benefits.
There are a few exceptions, however. If, for instance, your business caters to an older clientele, a BBB accreditation could quickly pay for itself.
Or, if the annual dues won’t make a big dent in your bottom line and you want the BBB bragging rights, the accreditation is unlikely to ever harm your business.
If you’re interested in improving your business’s reputation on review sites, Housecall Pro can help you generate positive, authentic reviews that you can promote on your marketing channels to earn more customers.