How Do I...Get a Better Business Bureau Seal of Approval?
The Better Business Bureau, which promotes business ethics through self-regulation in the marketplace, cites a Gallup Poll that says three out of four consumers prefer to do business with a BBB member. But is it worth your while?
To be able to sport the seal, a business must become a member of the organization and meet a certain set of BBB standards. The average membership dues are about $400 annually, but according to the group's Web site, "in some cases it is less and depending on the size of the applicant firm, the dues structure may be higher."
The organization offers two main free services to the public - a complaint processing service and reliability reports. Both services are available for non-members too.
It also offers a for-fee arbitration service, which is a formal binding agreement that can be enforced by the courts. Feuding firms must agree to go into the BBB's arbitration process where an arbitrator will render a binding agreement. The arbitration service can be used when a business has a labor dispute or a dispute with a vendor, for example.
Great Scott Moving of Hyattsville, Md., has been a BBB member "of and on for 10 years or so," said Scott Gillis, the company's owner.
"In our line of business there are a lot of rogue movers out there," he said. "The BBB is a great way for consumers to find out about any business because if there's been a complaint about a business, the BBB has a record of it. It means a lot if you have a clean record."
The BBB approval also can act as an indicator of how well a company is operating.
The Internet-phone service provider SunRocket was kicked out of the BBB about a year ago after "we didn't like what we were seeing with their complaints and they had an unsatisfactory record," said Ed Johnson, the president and CEO of the BBB chapter overseeing the D.C. metro area. "Our reports are a good gage about a business - for both businesses and consumers." SunRocket of Vienna,Va., shuttered its doors last week, deeply in debt while leaving its customers with no service.
The BBB keeps complaint records on both member and non-member companies. The D.C. chapter, which also serves Northern Virginia and parts of West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, has about 9,000 members and 120,000 business records. Last year, it handled roughly 60,000 complaints and 2.1 million inquiries. On a quarterly basis, the D.C. metro chapter rejects and suspends roughly 40 firms, according to Johnson.
"The marketplace is very competitive, and a business can live or die by its reputation and how it treats is customers," he said. "For a small business to be associated with BBB, that stamp of approval sends significant message to its customers."
Small Business readers - are you a member of the BBB or is there another mark of approval out there that is more relevant to your industry?
By Sharon McLoone |
July 24, 2007; 6:00 AM ET
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