March 08, 2018

How to Improve Your Better Business Bureau Rating

In this post, we’ll explain the most important parts of the BBB business grading system.

What Does the BBB's Mission Tell Us?

The BBB was started in 1912 as an answer to false and misleading advertising claims about businesses that weren’t confirmed.  Their primary approach to handling bad advertising was to create a policy of ethics education, so that businesses can resolve issues. Ultimately, the BBB investigates the resolution of complaints, rather than the complaint itself. The BBB rewards businesses who have gone through their accreditation program, comply with their ethical business practices, and respond to complaints in a timely manner.  In addition, you can optionally pay for education and accreditation to improve your score.

First Steps

If you want to raise your BBB rating, you’ll first need to claim your business on There is no fee to do this. If the BBB receives a complaint about your business, the best way to ensure you can resolve it quickly is to claim your business on their website.  During the registration process, the BBB will ask you some questions that have a minor impact on your score that should only matter once, like business type and years in business.

What are the Most Important Aspects of a Grade?

The BBB uses an A-F grading system, like a traditional school grading scale.  Anything below a 60 is an F, and it takes a perfect score of 100 to get an A+.  In the scoring system, points can be earned or deducted based on the specific category type. The BBB explains the 13 things that go into their business grading points system on their website. We’ll focus on the big items in order from largest to smallest, so that you can determine if there are areas that you need to improve.

Type of Business: 0 to -41 points

If the BBB thinks you operate an illegal business, they'll dock your points.  Make sure you claim your business and prove that you own a legally registered business to resolve this type of issue.

Failure to Honor Mediation/Arbitration: 0 to -41 points

One of the features of the BBB is that they offer mediation and arbitration between consumers and businesses.  If your business has failed to honor the judgement of the BBB’s arbitration, they'll deduct points. To avoid this, follow the steps that they suggest in future mediations.

Competency Licensing: 0 to -41 points

If the BBB has knowledge of failures or revocation of licenses from governing bodies for your industry, they'll indicate so by lowering your score.  In addition, if you had a previous issue and have resolved it, you may need to submit paperwork to the BBB that proves you have regained compliance or licensing.

Advertising Review: 0 to -41 points per incident

The BBB takes false and deceptive advertising claims seriously; combating dishonest advertising was one of the main reasons that the BBB was started in 1912. In the BBB’s Code of Advertising, they outline what they consider to be deceptive advertising. Review this thoroughly, so that you can be confident that your business’s advertisements are forthcoming. The BBB encourages consumers to report misleading advertising to them.  If you’re reported, there is a dispute process that allows you to review these claims, and revise content if your ads are considered untruthful.

BBB Trademark Infringement: 0 to -41 points

If your business is marked as committing BBB Trademark Infringement, this means you’re falsely claiming that your business is BBB accredited, when you’re not actually registered. Avoiding this is simple; ensure that you have claimed your business through the BBB website and are fully registered!

Unanswered Complaint: 40 to 0 points

If there’s a complaint about your business that has gone unanswered, you will likely lose points.  The most common reason for this is if the BBB can't get reach you, so make sure you register your business and provide multiple forms of contact information The BBB expects businesses to respond to customer complaints, so make this is priority going forward.

Failure to Address Complaint Pattern: 0 to -31 points

In the case that you answer complaints quickly, but seem to continually receive the same grievances, the BBB will lower your score for having a reoccurring issue. This type of pattern is an indicator of more serious problems that you should try to address, so that your business doesn’t receive a low score, or start to lose customers.

Unresolved Complaints: 30 to 0 points

If the BBB believes that you haven’t made a good faith effort to resolve complaints that they have contacted you about, they may reduce points. Make it a habit to strive to resolve all customer complaints, no matter how small they are. By doing this, you’ll protect your BBB score, and retain loyal customers.

Government Action: 0 to -25 points per action

If there has been a government judgement or actions related to the status of your business practices that cause the BBB to question the ethical performance of your business, your score may be docked.

Other Low Impact Scoring Inputs: 35 to 0 points

The BBB lists four other categories with smaller scoring impacts: Complaint Volume, Delays in Complaint resolution, non-transparent business practices, and time in business. If none of these issues are driving a lower score, then visit your BBB profile page directly to understand other possible impacts.

Conclusion: Focus on Ethical Practices

It’s important to remember that the BBB is focused on arbitration of complaints and allowing a business to show good faith and improvement towards ethical standards.  Going forward, follow our guide to responding to online customer complaints, so that your BBB rating and page can attract new customers, instead of alienating them.