By Bill Smith, BBB Reporter
To astute consumers, Better Business Bureau’s logo is more than a symbol. The simple, stylized flame has become the single best way to identify businesses and charities that have demonstrated commitments to a fair and ethical marketplace.
Consumers who search for BBB Accredited Business seals on shop windows, in advertisements and on company websites recognize it as the gold standard for business integrity.
No seal? How do I know I can trust them to sell me a car, repair my leaky roof or use my charitable donation wisely? How do I know they will do what they promise?
Across the St. Louis region, more than 7,300 businesses and charities – from small storefront retailers to corporate giants – have made the decision to join BBB in a partnership with like-minded organizations, customers and donors. It’s a relationship that has endured nearly a century.
Travis Pazurek, owner and president of Niche Marketing Concepts, operates ShedsForLessDirect.com, KitSuperStore.com and other websites from its O’Fallon, Mo., office. Pazurek said the BBB Accreditation Seal shows prospective customers that the firm is serious about living up to high business standards.
“When customers arrive at our websites, it can be a little intimidating to buy from a store they’ve never heard of before,” Pazurek said. “BBB’s seal gives them confidence quickly that we are in fact a legitimate business that provides outstanding service to our customers.”
Pazurek said it can be very difficult to compete with big box stores with high name recognition that sell similar products. “BBB gives us the edge we need to get sales.” He said he would recommend any small business to seek accreditation. “The return on your investment keeps paying year after year.”
At Clayton Valet, a Clayton, Mo.-based business that offers valet services to restaurants and businesses throughout the area, Chris Rodriguez says its BBB Accreditation Seal “solidifies our reputation, exhibits our accountability and shows our customers that we are a reliable, respectful and responsibility company.” In our technology-driven era, he said, “Consumers are more and more likely to educate themselves prior to making a purchase.”
When they see BBB’s seal, Rodriguez said, they feel more secure. “The fact that we exhibit our association with BBB on our marketing pieces, website and email signatures, instills a level of trust that most companies in our industry cannot match.”
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, says there is a sense of pride – but also responsibility – in being a seal holder.
At Ballwin Dental Care, an Accredited Business since 2011, marketing director Bill Kratz said the office’s ability to display the BBB seal is something “we never take for granted.” Katz called BBB accreditation “a valuable asset in my marketing toolbox.”
Chuck Price, owner of BBB-accredited Black and Gold Auctions of Columbia, Mo., called his business’ reputation “our number one concern and the greatest selling point for our services.” BBB, he said, “allows us to spread our good standing with the community to those who are not yet familiar with our business, and shows the integrity with which we operate.”
Patrick Mooney of Collinsville, Ill., operates the website ElegantHorsePictures.com, a web-based business that sells a wide variety of largely horse and western-related artwork. Accredited for more than 10 years, Mooney called BBB’s seal “essential for any e-commerce business where trust is paramount.” It is invaluable, he said, for new customers to click on the site’s interactive seal and immediately view the company’s BBB Business Review.
Frederic Roofing of Brentwood celebrated 58 years as an Accredited Business this month. In November, the contractor was the recipient of a 2015 BBB Torch Award for outstanding customer service. Even after nearly six decades, the company continues to find value in its affiliation with BBB.
“We always tell potential customers to go on the BBB website and compare us with our competition,” said Gene Frederic. Accreditation and maintaining a high BBB rating makes customers feel they are selecting the right contractor for their job.
“We love our relationship with BBB,” Frederic said.
Integrity Home Solutions of St. Peters, another BBB Accredited Business, recognizes the inherent problem of gaining consumers’ trust. Joshua R. Lawson, the company’s senior project manager, says word of mouth can only do so much. An organization like BBB, he said is both an outstanding resource for fraud prevention and an unbiased source of information on businesses.
“BBB’s reports on a company carry more weight than an average review site,” Lawson said. The company’s BBB seal offers real proof “that the majority of our customers have a positive experience with our company.”
For charities across the St. Louis area, the BBB seal is a symbol to donors that their organizations have met BBB’s 20 Standards of Accountability – a set of standards ranging from good governance to fiscal responsibility to transparency.
Bess Wilfong, founder and executive director of Angels’ Arms, a charity that works with families and foster children, said the seal is like a “green light for potential donors, giving them assurance that their donations will be put to good use.
“People are always impressed when they see the BBB seal,” she said. “It’s a wonderful tool to enhance our relationships with existing and potential donors.”
“We are so proud to be able to display the BBB Accredited Charity seal,” says Susan Kidder, executive director of Safe Connections. “BBB is such a respected leader in community accountability that knowing we have earned this distinction inspires great consumer confidence in our organization. Our donors know that we will use their contributions responsibly, and our clients know we will treat them with respect. We are honored to have earned the trust of those we serve—and of the Better Business Bureau.”
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Torchlight, BBB’s magazine for Accredited Businesses and Accredited Charities.