FYI. ASAP. LOL. We live in a world full of acronyms, but there’s one in particular that small business owners should become better acquainted with: BBB, the Better Business Bureau.
Most of us are familiar with the BBB as a nonprofit dedicated to building marketplace trust by handling consumer complaints and notifying the public of potential scams. What many business owners don’t realize, though, is that the BBB offers much more than an outlet for consumer complaints — it also can be a valuable partner in building your business.
If It Sounds Too Good to Be True…
The National Vigilance Committee, which later became the BBB, was founded in 1912 in response to a growing call from consumers for more truthful advertising. Prior to then, advertisements were not subject to any standards of accuracy, leading companies to claim increasingly outlandish possibilities for their products.
More than 100 years later, the BBB has now grown to 112 independent offices across North America and nearly 200 national partners — including corporations, law firms, and associations — committed to the BBB’s standards of ethical business.
These companies and associations receive various benefits from their partnership with the BBB, including the opportunity to serve on BBB-led councils and committees and access to educational products through the organization.
The Benefits of Accreditation
Accreditation is one of the most visible methods for showing consumers that you conduct business in a transparent and honest way.
Businesses that qualify for BBB accreditation — as determined by their compliance with the BBB’s Standards for Trust and Code of Advertising, among other criteria — have the right to post the familiar blue BBB accreditation logo on their website.
They also are searchable in a location-specific directory on the BBB website. Your individual listing not only indicates your accredited status, but also provides reviews, location information, and a direct link to your website, potentially driving thousands of consumers to you.
For example, as an accredited business, Rewards Network received nearly 3,300 visits to its review on the BBB site in December 2014 alone, and nearly 990,000 views of the dynamic seal indicating our accreditation status in that same month.
These statistics, provided to accredited businesses every month by the BBB, also include Google Analytics data regarding the most popular searches used to find your business through the BBB, keywords used to find your business within your industry, and inquiries by location.
When combined with the Google Analytics data for your own website, this can give you a unique perspective on how potential consumers are finding you and what their primary concerns may be about businesses in your industry.
These notifications also allow you to track and manage any complaints that may be filed against your business, providing you an easy way to resolve them quickly and maintain your high BBB rating and accreditation status.
Accreditation does require an annual fee — determined by the number of employees you have — but according to the BBB, businesses with 10 or fewer staff members typically see a return on their accreditation investment within the first 12 months, as gauged by the business’s access to “BBB products, services, and marketing related to obtaining more customers.”
Larger businesses, according to the website, can see a return on their investment in as little as 4 months.
Much More than a Rating
Accreditation isn’t the only option for restaurateurs looking to build their business with the BBB, however. Even those businesses that aren’t accredited receive ratings.
The BBB rates on a scale from A+ to F, as determined by various factors including the individual business’s complaint history with the BBB, the type of business being rated, the perceived transparency of the business’s actions, and any advertising issues. You can find a full list of those factors here.
Unlike online consumer reviews, which often are only based on only a few experiences and have no standard criteria, BBB ratings provide a standardized — and ostensibly objective — system by which businesses in the same industry can be compared.
A high rating goes a long way toward establishing instant credibility. Although it may not speak to your food or ambience, it does let customers know that your business is committed to honesty, transparency, and good service.
The BBB doesn’t stop at just offering businesses instant credibility. There also are various resources available on the BBB website, including toolkits and guides on data security, tax resources, the dos and don’ts of advertising, and even more written specifically to benefit small businesses, ensuring you can maintain that A+ rating for years to come.
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