Not all small businesses, or medium and large-sized businesses for that matter, are reputable and credible. These days, customers approaching a new business with which they’ve never before interacted are fraught with skepticism. After all, no one wants to waste their hard-earned dollars on a lemon or feel as though a company ripped them off.
While it’s true that things like reviews and ratings can help to alleviate some of this pain, there is another way small businesses can inspire trust in new customers, even if they haven't been in business very long. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers accreditation to identify your business as reputable and trustworthy.
How the Better Business Bureau Helps Business and Customers
Most people tend to think that the BBB only exists to identify businesses who are misbehaving, scamming customers, or otherwise providing sub-par service. But the BBB actually does much more than that, and it helps your customers in a variety of ways.
First of all, note that a BBB listing gives customers the opportunity to research a business beforehand, so they can make better purchasing decisions. And it can even help resolve complaints against a business that would have otherwise progressed to a binding state of arbitration and legal matters that no small business owner would invite in their right mind.
Naturally, having accreditation from the BBB also helps your customers validate that you engage in ethical selling and advertising practices, as well as monitoring the current credibility of your business. And of course, the BBB provides media (newspapers, radio, television, print media, etc.) with information regarding consumer subjects.
As such, having a positive rapport with potential customers who research your business through the BBB is crucial to maintain the reputation of your business. But the BBB simply doesn’t have a listing for every business in the world. And if you don’t currently have a listing, you need to take steps to attain one.
Free Listings Versus Paid Listings
Do be aware that some listings with the BBB cost money, which may not be a feasible ongoing expensive for small businesses with a limited marketing budget. If that’s the case for your business, note that you can get a free listing. Naturally, the free listing has some serious drawbacks and limitations, however.
Firstly, note that the BBB website will not provide a link to your website. Not only is this flaw a missed opportunity for a backlink (which decreases SEO efficacy), it’s also a missed opportunity to channel traffic to your website. In addition, you cannot bolster your website’s credibility with the BBB’s badge emblem. Nevertheless, your business’s information will still appear on the BBB website and you still have the opportunity to rise in the BBB’s rankings until you get an A+.
Conversely, you can also opt for a paid listing, which has several advantages over the free listing alternative. The price of paid listings varies, though, depending on the size of your business and how many employees you have. Typically, for small businesses, a price point of $50 per month is reasonable. Also, note that a prerequisite for both free and paid listings is having a business open for 12 months as a bare minimum.
Small businesses with a paid listing can, however, use the BBB’s badge on their website to augment their reputation. Unlike free listings, the BBB will create a link to your website too. But note that the paid listing subjects your business to the BBB’s review process. Only after your review will the BBB instantiate your paid listing.
A small business pays around $400/yr to be listed.
Actions to Take to Get Listed
Fortunately, the process of seeking accreditation isn’t very long. In fact, it only consists of five simple steps. The first thing you need to do is to visit the BBB’s website. After pulling up the webpage, enter your current location to search businesses in your area. Likely, the BBB webpage already knows your current location based on your IP address.
Next, enter in the name of your small business to populate a search page of matching businesses in your area. If you don’t see your business listed and you have been in business for over 12 months, you will need to manually start the process of accreditation. To start the application process, the BBB needs information including the name of your business, your business’s zip code, the number of full-time employees, the day your business opened, first and last name, email address, and phone number.
Then you’ll have to wait no longer than a week before the BBB posts your listing. Once the listing is posted, you need to claim it to tie that listing to your business. The BBB will again ask for your email address for verification. Then, you simply need to jump through the remaining hoops to complete the registration process and claim the listing.
In summary, the following are the steps you can take to get listed with the Better Business Bureau:
- Visit the BBB’s website.
- Enter your zip code.
- Search to see if your business already has a listing.
- If you can’t find a listing for your business, seek accreditation.
- Fill out the form on the right-hand side of the webpage and click the “Get Started” button to get the ball rolling.
- Within the scope of a week, the BBB will post the listing for your business. Now you need to claim the listing.
- Finish jumping through hoops to complete registration.
People distrust news outlets, businesses, and claims on the Internet now than ever before. Fortunately, using a BBB listing (which can be free if you wish), you can allay suspicions and uncomfortable feelings new customers may have for your business.
Remember, you can also pay for accreditation to proudly display the BBB’s seal on your website, which will help more people stay on your website, and in turn, reduce your bounce rate, which is great for SEO. The process of getting a BBB listing is so short and simple, small business owners who forgo the process are missing an easy opportunity to improve their business.