For those of you considering registration with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), here are some tips. First of all, let’s cover the basics. The BBB is an organization focused on marketplace trust for over 100 years! Its independent from the government, acts in a sort of industry self-regulation and is active in the US and Canada. While the organization is not without its criticism a BBB Accreditation does provide extra assurance to consumers. Good conduct is established and maintained if you have no customer complaints against your business and by addressing or resolving complaints. The BBB provides a dispute resolution process for complaints. Ideally you’ll be a company that gets an A+ rating.

Process of BBB Accreditation

If you are interested in registering you can start by going to to find your local chapter.  Find the “BBB For Businesses” section and then find the article “Learn about Accreditation Standards”. This should link you to the application process, in my case it was an online form.

Business undergo an initial review to check the background of the company (basically they check if anyone filed complaints) adheres to  a level of standards of business conduct. After you fill out the online form an agent will call you after a couple days (e.g. 2 days) to discuss the membership. They will ask you some questions and prefill a more detailed application.

The agent will email a detailed application form, this time its an interactive PDF. Fill in your business identity (business legal name, address), 3 references (suppliers, partners, leaser etc), business history, officers / principles or partners, business classification. With a completed form you will need to send a copy of first pages of the Articles of Incorporation.

An application is sent the annual fee payment by credit card and takes 7 – 10 business days to process. One of the benefits is the annual fee is only if you gain accreditation – if you have no outstanding complaints.

What you get with BBB Accreditation

To be reviewed for accreditation you will be looking at $380 (+tax) in the first year. The agent I spoke to pointed out the fee is a tax deductible and goes down to $320 in the following years. This will get you:

  • Trust & goodwill of being accredited
  • You get an accreditation package
  • A BBB plaque for you place of business
  • License to use their logo on your website
  • A business rating, e.g. A+
  • Listing and business review in their directory that can link to your website (helps your Google, Yahoo, Bing search results)
  • Member review includes business background, government license, ratings, images and logos and other general information to showcase your company, e.g. video or promotions.
  • Main benefit they point out is that it drives business, your Google Rank will rise.
  • They get quite a few hits on the network of sites, so if people discover you on their site you will get some web traffic referrals.
    • The regional site here gets 65k hits weekly and their network 40 million page views.

My Observations

2 Tiered Directory Listing

One of my questions was about their directory having two levels of membership, accredited and non-accredited members. On the website they are clear to point you toward the application for Accreditation, however it is not clear how you can get listed in the non-accredited member list. When I asked them, they said its because those other companies were in the database from a past membership but haven’t renewed and thus lose their accreditation.

BBB Site Navigation

I find the navigation of the site is quite poor. Each BBB member organization has a similar look and feel to their pages, but the navigation is different for each and I’ve run into few dead links in other member sites. Therefore the process of finding the application for your BBB may differ from above.

Mark van Berkel is Founder and President of Hunch Manifest Inc. While managing business operations he also leads the team in designing semantic technology to provide personalized online presence and reputation management services. Prior to forming the company, he was consultant in enterprise software projects to companies including Panasonic, Shell, and General Electric and was an Architect for a world leading human capital management software-as-a-service. Mark holds a Bachelor of Information Systems from StFX University and did his graduate studies at University of Toronto, getting a MEng Industrial Information Engineering and an MBA, Strategy and Innovation from the Rotman School of Management. In 2006 he published a 170 page report as a researcher at the Semantic Technologies Lab at the University of Toronto and built a semantic technology prototype for SAP Research Labs. Connect with Mark on LinkedIn or Twitter. Mark is also certified in Google Analytics.