How to Become an Accredited BBB Business

Three Parts:Meeting BBB RequirementsBecoming BBB AccreditedUsing BBB Accreditation to Your Advantage

If your are a small business owner, you should consider applying to become an accredited Better Business Bureau (BBB) member. The BBB's stated mission is to foster honest dealings with customers and excellence in services and products. The BBB has had a reputation for fighting fraud and misleading advertising since 1912. Business owners who want to apply must adhere to the same standards the BBB requires of businesses already accredited. Use the following steps to achieve BBB accreditation.

Part 1
Meeting BBB Requirements

  1. Image titled Become an Accredited BBB Business Step 1
    Follow governmental and BBB laws and codes regulating advertising. Some business owners may not be aware that some advertising statements or practices are considered unethical. The BBB requires that businesses seeking accreditation do the following:
    • Represent products or services honestly. Remember that some misrepresentations are made by the omission of facts as well as by making false or misleading statements.
    • Be open and honest with customers about the nature of your business, where you conduct business and who the owners are. Disclose information about guarantees and other matters that may influence a customer.[1]
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    Fulfill contracts and promises made in the course of business. BBB accredited business have a record of keeping up their end of the deal in all business interactions with other businesses and customers. Make a point of paying your bills to suppliers on time and in full and always provide services or products as originally agreed with customers. Avoid using confusing contract language to take advantage of customers. In addition, make sure any advertised offers are really available to customers. Any misrepresented or misunderstood contract terms should be corrected quickly.[2][3]
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    Represent your offerings fairly. Be absolutely honest in representing any products or services offered by your business. Avoid misleading customers through the unscrupulous use of testimonials, endorsements, sponsorship, logos or pictures or giving false representations of trustworthiness, popularity, product quality, or business size. Make sure that all written and verbal descriptions of your products or services are clear and do not omit any key facts.[4]
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    Demonstrate responsiveness to customers. Respond quickly professionally to any complaints against the business, either through the BBB or otherwise. Try to either resolve these disputes or prove the base lessness of the dispute by providing information to support your side of the argument. If the complaint results in a judgment against your business, follow through with any settlement arrived at through the BBB dispute resolution process. If complaints turn into a pattern, work to correct these problems.[5]
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    Show that you carry out secure financial transactions. Have in place standards that assure customers of their privacy and protect against mishandling of customers' personal information. Accredited BBB businesses must disclose on their websites what information the business collects, how the information is secured, who the business will share the information with and how to address customers' concerns if data are mishandled.
    • Post information on your site that assures customers' transactions are secure. The BBB requires businesses to follow certain Internet commerce guidelines.[6]

Part 2
Becoming BBB Accredited

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    Identify your local BBB chapter. Search online for the nearest BBB chapter in your area. BBB chapters are parts of the overall BBB organization that are run by business leaders in a given area. You will have to contact this organization to apply for accreditation. They will then determine, using standard BBB criteria, your business's ability to adhere to BBB standards.[7]
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    Apply for accreditation. You can apply for accreditation to a local BBB chapter after you've been in business for 12 months. You may apply before 12 months pass if you've had a similar business that was eligible for BBB accreditation. Local BBB chapters list their phone numbers in phone books and online.[8]
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    Send over your information and references. Notify BBB of who owns the business and provide banking and business references, professional accreditation, and a description of the business. Clarify the business's name, address, and contact information.[9]
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    Show them that you are properly licensed. Obtain the licenses and bonding required in the jurisdictions where you do business and supply the BBB with proof you have them. You will have to provide proof of these licenses and bonds if the BBB requests for you to do so.[10]
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    Demonstrate to the BBB that your business has not been sanctioned by any government body for ethics violations. You may be required to prove how you've rectified practices that resulted in the sanction if a government agency has taken action against your business.[11]
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    Work with the BBB if your business has a record of consumer complaints. The BBB can help you improve your dealings with customers, including transactions. You will not be able to complete your application if you have open complaints against your business.[12]
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    Pay the required fees. BBB members pay an annual fee. The amount of this fee depends on your business's size and your local BBB chapter. Small businesses (under 500 employees) can expect to pay between $400 and $1200. There may also be an application fee assessed when you first apply to the BBB.[13]

Part 3
Using BBB Accreditation to Your Advantage

  1. Image titled Become an Accredited BBB Business Step 13
    Maintain a good rating. The BBB maintains ratings for every accredited business. These ratings range from A+ (the best) to F (the worst). Ratings are determined using the original selection criteria for becoming accredited and also the business's complaint record. Businesses that respond professionally and quickly to complaints and then work through those complaints to a successful resolution achieve the highest ratings. High ratings then draw in customers searching for businesses on the BBB's website.[14]
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    Use the BBB's dispute resolution service. The BBB provides a dispute resolution service to its members free of charge. This service makes sure that customers who file complaints are actual customers and then notifies the business of the complaint. The business then has a chance to handle the complaint directly with the customer. If the business fails to resolve the complaints on its own, the BBB can provide help through mediation or arbitration. This ensures that complaints are always handled in a matter that is fair to both the business and the customer.[15]
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    Place the BBB seal at your place of business. The BBB logo is frequently recognized and sought by consumers as a mark of integrity and honesty. Be sure to place a BBB sticker in your store's window and/or include the logo on your website homepage to let customers know that you are accredited.[16]
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    Mention your accreditation in job posts. BBB accreditation can also be a draw for top talent. It shows that your business is reputable and well-managed. Make sure to include the BBB seal or otherwise mention your accreditation when writing posts for open positions.[17]

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