I've noticed that like most other businesses, contractors on this site and others often use their Better Business Bureau rating as a selling tool to build trust and credibility with consumers or suggest they use the BBB as a research tool. However, through my own research I believe it was designed more for the BBB's interest in collecting membership fees than it is helping consumer weed out the bad businesses and help build the reputation of the ones that truly deserve it.
CBC News did a story about the BBB and through their investigation found that any one of the Better Business Bureau's accredited members (paid members) never had a rating below an A-minus and none of the non-paid members had a rating higher than a B. The investigation was done for the BC BBB and didn't mention anything about Ontario's BBB or the other provinces but I would assume that they all operate under the same guidelines...no?
What are your opinions on the BBB? Are they really a trustworthy source to help consumer properly research businesses?
I became a member of the BBB for one reason, to try and reassure customer that I'm not one of the many bad contractors out there. It's also why I give out my home address and phone number.
While no system is perfect, the BBB is way more reliable than others, including this web site. Being accredited, means that they have done the checks on my buisness. If I don't maintain a satisfactory record, I loose that accreditation, that's why you won't see members with a low score, like a B.
You use the BBB and others to help you make the best informed decision you can. As I always say, the best tool is your gut, if you don't get a good feeling from a contractor, don't hire him.
We used to be members of BBB. Yes it is true that some people believe in it and that is great. In this day and age with fly by night companies, you need some reassurance. My understanding was that even if you are not a member, they do to a degree keep a little of a file on you if there are some complaints.
We came across a company that was hiring trades, collecting money from customers for the jobs and not paying their sub trades. In my opinion, if I was a customer looking for a general contractor, I would like to have one that would look after my interests and not their own. The customer ended up with numerous liens on their home, because the general contractor kept the money. When I contacted BBB to either investigate it, or to flag the company, BBB in Manitoba advised me that they don't do that. If they don't do that then what do they do.
If you pay them, you will get a good rating. So in January, we pulled our membership because we lost all trust. The bottom line is that if you do good work, word of mouth is still the best advertising.
For my business i don't use anything but social media. I believe that if a contractor is willing to show his full information to the world and not just to his clients he has a better chance of landing jobs because he hides nothing, People can reply to his pictures, comments and even threads posted about there company. Social media is a large tool for every business.
We have been an "accredited" BBB business for almost eight years. Our experience has been a difficult journey at times. After encountering difficult client situations and taking our lumps, we began to better understand the risks, we were taking and slowly realized that their was always potential for trouble if we made haste business decisions based on price and on relationships. In short we've realized we do not mesh well with certain types of situations or clients. In hindsight, poorly thought out decisions lead to 95% of our problems. Over time we've learned it's best to move on, rather then take the risk of damaging our hard earned reputation, by forgoing critical relationship building steps. We've worked extremely hard to earn and then maintain our rating. We have finally been recognized for our efforts by being honoured by the BBB with an award for a complaint free status for all of 2011. For our type of business that's' nearly impossible to do. For us we've learned that business is much more comprehensive and complex, then just doing the work, and receiving payment.
The BBB assessment is a superior methodology because it's always impartial (done at arm's length based on the BBB's published, BBB's choice of fifteen (15) areas of assessment. It's totally objective and it's based on their way of viewing business after 100 years working with business. It's up-to-date, it's thorough, and it tells you and everybody else where a business is at now, not where it would like you to believe it at. The BBB's method of accreditation encourages business to strive to improve, using "best practices", "six sigma" or other ways to measure performance. It's an impartial method to help business owners view their own company through the eyes of an objective detached mirror. It separates the wheat from the chaff and gets down to where the rubber meets the client. Many business owners feel uncomfortable supporting a organization with this power or point of view over them. The company owners who have chosen to support the BBB by maintaining their membership feel otherwise.
The decision is yours which view reflects your values and philosophy.
Very well said Norman! Valid points by all...thanks!
We at Arbutus Sundecks enjoy being a member of the bbb, in the decking industry there are so many fly by night companies out there, at least with being a member the client can be assured that the contractor has liability insurance and is current with WBC
Mark, unless they're checking your credentials every week how can we, the consumer be assured you have liability insurance and your WBC/WSIB is current just because you're a member of the BBB?
Unless I'm missing something, the only way that i know of is for me to do my own research and call your insurance company and WSIB to ensure it's up to date.
If I'm wrong and the BBB does keeps a very active record of your insurance and WSIB I'd like to hear more about it.
I do not trust the BBB ratings at all. Better to do additional research including Google searches and asking for references. One particular experience I had was with a handyman who had a good BBB rating, but he turned out to be incredibly incompetent and dishonest. I learned my lesson the hard way.
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