BBB Accreditation Still Has Value
In ACCA’s online Contractor Forum, there was recent conversation about whether accreditation with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has any value in this current era of doing business, which sparked this article. Opinions may vary on BBB accreditation for a variety of reasons, but I truly believe this accreditation has significant value, especially if you’re primarily a residential service provider and if you promote this accreditation. I’ll explain why.
The evolution of the BBB initiated over 100 years ago so the vast majority of consumers are familiar with the BBB. I’ll spare the BBB’s lengthy history, but their accreditation has been a helpful credibility tool in each of the (4) companies that I have been employed, owned and/or managed covering 40+ years. Every contractor’s desire is to create new customers and keep them as long as possible. In order to attract new customers and sales, contractors have relied on the golden word-of-mouth method, as well as various other forms of marketing. If you are familiar with the American Home Comfort Study by Decision Analyst, a major conclusion of this study’s data over 14 years is that consumers seek a company they can trust. Our BBB accreditation with an A+ rating is one link that aids in connecting the dots between a local homeowner, our company and our ‘trust’ factor.
Roussos Air Conditioning is primarily a residential service provider. However, despite our obvious contractor label, we are a retail service provider that’s in competition with 60+ air conditioning & heating companies plus retail giants such as Sears, Home Depot and Lowe’s…and Amazon, Uber and others that may enter. To remain a competitive entity, it’s important to differentiate our company from the competition so we stand out from the herd.
When I researched information for this article, I determined that less than a third of our local competitors are BBB accredited businesses and even less are ACCA members or have NATE-certified technicians on staff. Those are (3) differentiating factors in our favor that only 1-2 other local competitors can claim the same. However, simply paying ACCA or BBB annual dues or having NATE technicians isn’t enough. You have to consistently promote your unique qualities. With regards to our BBB validation, we have BBB decals on our front windows and vehicles, awards and plaques in our showroom, and logos on our sales proposals, stationery, business cards, email signatures, TV spots and print ads. We want everyone to know we are a BBB accredited business. Is this a marketing asset? I think so. Every month, we receive a consumer inquiry report stating how many consumers checked our BBB business profile. The number varies from month to month, but, in the 2 most recent months, there have been (80) and (65) inquiries respectively. I can’t say or trace with certainty that these inquiries translated into a call or contact, but chances are high that they did, which leads to new customers and new sales.
To clear up a possible misconception, BBB accreditation is not a membership per se as certain business standards must be met to be accredited. As a current board of director of The Better Business Bureau of Northwest Florida, I can assure you that accreditation is not guaranteed. At our quarterly board meetings, new business applications are reviewed and approved by 20+ business professionals. Unfortunately, we also vote to revoke business accreditations for not abiding by the BBB Standards of Trust, which typically involves not responding to a complaint. I certainly realize that BBB organizations in other parts of the country may operate somewhat differently than my board experience, but all of them fly the same flag.
If you presently are not a BBB accredited business, why not? The annual cost is very reasonable and the benefits can far outweigh the expense. For our region, check out some of our BBB benefits —
- Up to three (3) arbitrations per anniversary year
- Hyperlink from the BBB website to RoussosAC.com, which enhances search engine results and adds more value to our website
- BBB Accredited Business seal for use on your website and Facebook page that links to your BBB Business Review
- Ability to load photos and video to our interactive Business Review
At some point, every contractor has had to resolve a customer complaint. To my knowledge, any complaint filed is handled the same no matter if the company is BBB accredited or not. While most complaints are easily satisfied, the arbitration benefit may be a handy tool when appropriate to resolve a dispute without litigation and attorney fees.
Another important BBB offering is their annual Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics. It’s important to note that you do not have to be a BBB accredited business to apply for this prestigious recognition. Similar to ACCA’s Residential Excellence Award, received in 2005, this recognition definitely has marketing value and three of the companies that I’ve been associated with during my lengthy career have been the recipients of the Torch Award four times.
Before you allocate all of your 2017 membership subscription and/or marketing dollars, consider BBB accreditation and whether or not the additional ‘trust’ factor would be helpful to your business…and your sales!
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