When I was brainstorming what to write about for my first Medium post, I found myself hesitating to write about UX directly. I felt like I didn’t know enough about UX to speak on it. I imagine this…
Local businesses depend on trust. While online reviews and positive customer interactions help build a small business’s reputation in their community, there’s one gold standard of an ethical business — accreditation by the Better Business Bureau.
Establishing a new business can be challenging, but receiving BBB accreditation assures customers that you hold yourself and your team to a high ethical standard. These 10 local businesses share their stories of success — and how the accreditation from the Better Business Bureau helped launch their reputation and enhance their client experience.
Some industries have a negative reputation. The advertising industry, especially digital advertising, has a less-than-stellar reputation, and many business owners are left unsure if their small marketing budget is well-spent. Professional, ethical advertisers can show a quantifiable return on investment (ROI) for their clients.
Says Weinhouse, “There are a lot of competitors in our industry, and a lot of them don’t necessarily have the client’s best interest in mind as much as I feel like we do. So, I think it’s important using BBB to differentiate ourselves from competitors and to establish trust.”
The BBB accreditation demonstrates to clients that your business holds itself to a higher standard than others in the industry. In industries that don’t always have client needs at the forefront, it’s easy for a newly launched business to be lumped in with others. A strong company culture of taking care of employees and a passion for customer service helps small businesses earn trust.
“We value the BBB brand immensely. We feel it portrays trust,” Washko said.
This paid off, as Washko has since opened new stores in Washington and enjoys a stellar reputation in the community. These new stores are welcomed with open arms, thanks to the customer first business practices endorsed by the BBB. “There’s nothing else we’d rather display on the front door than the BBB seal, and we’re proud to be accredited,” Washko said.
Many people remember the banking crisis of 2008 and question whether even the biggest banks will fail. When a large financial institution can’t be relied on to secure your financial needs, where can a regular worker turn? Local credit unions, made up of hardworking members and providing the same financial services as banks, often provide the answer. However, it can be difficult to simply hand over your finances to a newly launched credit union — and that’s where the Better Business Bureau accreditation becomes so important.
Reliable financial practices are the cornerstone of BBB values, and only businesses that hold these values equally receive this important designation. Icon Federal Credit Union understands that sometimes members get into financial situations that they can’t handle on their own — and that’s where reliable financial practices are so important. “We’ve always had a great relationship with the BBB. They uphold the same values as we do, “said Connie Miller, President and CEO of Icon Credit Union. Workers know that they can trust Icon Credit Union to offer loans with reasonable interest and protect their hard-earned dollars.
Another business where financial trust is essential is in a surrogacy family planning practice. Choosing this expensive option for adding children to your family is an enormous emotional investment, but All Families Surrogacy founder Carey Flamer-Powell understood the importance of aligning her financial values with the BBB immediately. “I absolutely would say that anyone who wants to start a small business, you contact the Better Business Bureau — seek accreditation — seek all the resources you can in your community,” Carey reasons. “And the Better Business Bureau is definitely a huge resource for small businesses.”
Few industries rely more on a reputation for safety and conscientious practice than the construction industry. This covers not just buildings, but foundations, plumbers, and electricians as well. Mainstream Electric and Plumbing’s husband and wife team understand all too well how daunting the search for a reliable plumber or electrician can be. Their philosophy centers around professional, reliable, safe, and convenient services for every customer. Repeat business and an excellent word-of-mouth reputation show that this focus pays off. Shortly after their founding 16 years ago, Mainstream Electric aligned with the Better Business Bureau and has continued the relationship ever since.
“The symbol of the Better Business Bureau on the front door is super important because it is a symbol of integrity,” said Elaine Damschen, Mainstream owner. “To us, what integrity means is that we do what we say we are going to do when we say we’re going to do it.”
Mainstream Electric isn’t the only building partner who understands just how much of a difference reliability makes in this industry. TerraFirma owner Ryan Beckley realized that reputable foundation contractors in his Oregon community were few and far between. He credits his shared values with the BBB for much of his positive reputation in the community for quality work. “The fact that we’ve been a member of the Better Business Bureau — basically from the beginning — I think sets us apart from some of the other businesses that maybe haven’t been around as long and don’t quite have as good a reputation,” Beckley said.
Investing back into the community takes many forms. One way is creating a business to help the overall economy of a community thrive. The phrase “A rising tide lifts all boats” applies well to Mauna Loa Helicopter Academy founder Ben Fouts of Hawaii. He understood that tourism is a dominant industry in his island state, but the lack of professional training was causing many people to miss out on offering exciting helicopter tours of the islands to tourists.
His Better Business Bureau accreditation is based on the organized and reputable practices of his school, founded with an open-door policy. The proof is in the pudding — “We have a job placement rate right now of 96 percent,” Fouts explains. And while obtaining a helicopter license is costly, not every training academy provides the safety and expertise that pilots need.
“When people look to invest that kind of money, they’ve got to have something — sort of a guarantee or something, that tells them this business is legitimate, abides by business ethics, and the BBB gives us that,” Fouts says, “We can show them their investment is secure.”
Helping a community reinvest in small businesses isn’t the only way that a BBB accreditation shows value. Building the community, starting with DIY projects, helps each resident feel more of a sense of pride and care for their town. Portland’s Chown Hardware understands the importance of community pride. With a reputation for consistency and customer service, this family-owned hardware store has been able to hold its own against big box home improvement stores for nearly four decades.
Chown’s commitment to delivering the highest quality materials at affordable prices is just the beginning. Offering customer service and knowledgeable guidance is the trademark of each member of his staff. Says owner Kyle Chown, “It’s a validation of what you say you’re going to do — you actually do,” Chown emphasizes. “To us, that seal of approval — that stamp from the BBB — is important to who we are from the customer service side of our business.”
The Better Business Bureau has a reputation for integrity and honesty, which many local businesses appreciate. These values also tie into stellar customer service, as respecting each customer that walks in is key to operating with responsibility. Hawaii’s HPM Building Supply credits its success to fully appreciating this important value. In an industry that’s been overtaken by larger, national companies and big-box retailers, this 90+-year-old local business has been consistent with customer care and stellar service, separating themselves from their competition through a company culture that focuses on the needs of the individual.
The deep roots of HPM Building Supply show in the expert knowledge management and staff have for Hawaii residents and businesses. “There’s a perception that we can’t compete, and we can,” said James Goodrich, HPM Building Supply General Manager. “We’re seeing the progress. Our business continues to grow.”
The business isn’t just a local institution — it’s employee-owned, giving workers pride of ownership in their job. In addition, part of HPM employee training emphasizes placing themselves in the customer’s shoes and determining which products will work best for their needs, instead of focusing on making the sale.
CM Heating in Washington understands that speedy service and detail-oriented work are important in the HVAC industry. These pieces of machinery are expensive and can be complex for the regular layperson to understand. That’s why owner James Garner chose to align himself and his business with the BBB. Stellar customer service also means that their equipment, home, or business is treated with respect.
“Having trust is a key factor,” Garner said. “To have the BBB seal, it means this is a company that has been checked out and vetted and has earned that reputation to have an A+ rating. People recognize that it means something.”
The Better Business Bureau exemplifies the core concepts of honesty, ethical business practices, customer value, and trustworthiness. To receive a BBB accreditation, a business must demonstrate practices that adhere to these sterling values and place themselves to a higher standard than others in their industry.
The accreditation immediately establishes your local business with a nationwide symbol of trust and transparency in business. As the economy grows, many small businesses are popping up in your community and within your industry. Setting yourself apart involves dedication to your clients and a passion for your industry. While online reviews and positive word of mouth can enhance your company’s reputation, there is one symbol of trust that customers see right when they walk through the door or log on to your website — the seal of accreditation from the Better Business Bureau.
The BBB, as a non-profit industry, provides reputable reviews of member businesses on their website. Best of all, as an accredited member, you can link your site directly to the BBB’s, allowing your customers to see reliable, unsolicited reviews of your company, staff, and their overall experience. This type of exposure pays unlimited dividends in the form of preeminence in your local industry.
Having the accreditation guarantees customers that you adhere to ethical business practices, and keeping that accreditation is excellent motivation for ensuring that each customer interaction is in accordance with the values your business shares with the Better Business Bureau.
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