Starting or maintaining a business can be challenging and trying to gain a positive reputation may take time. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is an organization that promotes the highest ideals in work ethics between businesses and the public; membership demonstrates an interest in good public relations.
Get to Know the BBB
The Better Business Bureau acts as an intermediary between customers and businesses. There are more than 270,000 businesses across the country that fund the not-for-profit BBB with their membership fees. The BBB notes that its mission is to promote and foster the ethical relationship between businesses and the public through voluntary self-regulation, consumer and business education, and excellence in service. The BBB is not a government agency and does not have any law enforcement powers.
There are 120 BBB independent offices across the country to help to serve the business community. As a business owner, the BBB can offer valuable benefits to your bottom line.
Joining the Bureau
To join the BBB, you should check your local directory for an office near you.
Because the BBB maintains high standards and the highest principles of business ethics, they also expect businesses that join to have the same philosophy.
BBB Code of Business Practices
To join, a business must pledge to have a positive track record in the market and must complete all necessary licensing and bonding procedures needed to operate. The business also must not have any active governmental actions pending that show that the company did not adhere to good BBB practices. The organization must also promise to advertise honestly, appropriately represent products and services, respond to questions and complaints, and safeguard consumers' privacy.
BBB Code of Advertising
The code of advertising outlines guidelines and principles for truth in advertising for member businesses. The basic instructions are posted online for businesses, ad agencies, and ad media. There is a self-regulatory arm, the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, which mediates disputes and reviews ad campaigns.
Advertising BBB Membership
Once you are accepted, your company has to sign a licensing agreement with the BBB. Your company can then advertise your membership in print and broadcast ads, on business cards, stationery and other business documents. You can also display decals on any business vehicles or offices.
More Membership Benefits
Being a member of the BBB can improve your standing in your community. There are other services that you may be able to take advantage of as a member.
National Partners of the BBB play a leadership role. Partners can serve on the Board of Directors and on the Leadership Council; both positions allow partners to contribute insight and ideas for the BBB as a whole. This membership also gives your company access to additional education, newsletters, and discounts for products and services to help you run your business better and more ethically.
BBB EU Safe Harbor
The European Union deals with privacy issues differently than the United States; the EU places limitations on the transfer of personal information from EU members and organizations to the US. This could make it difficult to do business in Europe. The US Department of Commerce has established a Safe Harbor program where companies can self-certify to ensure European customers that their information will be safe. The BBB Safe Harbor program allows the participants to offer an independent dispute resolution option to EU residents; this facilitates your company's ability to do business in the EU.
Sometimes a business may need to resolve a dispute with one or more consumers; the BBB offers dispute resolution services for small claims as well as larger government and class action settlements. The BBB has specific programs designed to settle disputes in automotive cases, and in moving and storage cases. You can also undergo dispute resolution training to help you in your day-to-day business.
If you do business online, you can also expand your BBB membership into online accreditation. By getting online acceptance, you are added to the BBB safe shopping mall which is a listing of trusted businesses. With this membership, you also can get dispute resolution services as well.
Free Information and Advice
The Better Business Bureau is also known for its advice via articles, pamphlets, brochures, and publications. The website contains numerous articles from A to Z for businesses of all sizes and situations.
Besides the specific services that you can use once you become a member of the bureau, there are some national events that may benefit your business as well:
- International Torch Award: Each year the BBB gives away the International Torch Award to businesses and individuals that have shown high ethics in the business world. Nominees can be named by others or can self-nominate. The BBB International holds a huge gala to celebrate the winners each year.
- Shop Small: The Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday when people are encouraged to patronize small neighborhood businesses. The BBB is a partner in this effort along with American Express. If you want to get your business involved in this movement, visit this website or contact your local BBB for more information.
- Secure Your ID Day: At this event, participating offices allow you to dispose of old cell phones; they will also shred unwanted sensitive documents for free. Check your local chapter's schedule to find out dates and times.
- Ethics Business Summit: This was first held in 2012 as a part of the BBB's centennial celebration. However, it was so successful that the bureau plans to have it annually. Attending this meeting may bring opportunities for education along with networking with other business owners.
Utilizing the Benefits of the BBB
The BBB is one of the best ways to promote your credibility in the local and national markets. By becoming a member, you can reap all the benefits of belonging to a prestigious and worthwhile organization, as well as contribute to the integrity of business ethics on the local and national levels.