Many people know that the BBB, or Better Business Bureau, is an advocate for the consumer. It’s the organization that lets you know when a business is not to be trusted with your hard earned dollars. Most businesses that are worth their salt have a listing on the BBB. It helps build credibility with consumers, as well as letting a business know what kind of ranking it has compared to other companies. The rankings are certainly a good tool to use when evaluating whether or not to do business with a company, but there is more to know about using the Better Business Bureau, and these three insights will help you save time and avoid frustration.

1. eQuotes One function of your local Better Business Bureau is to provide a quote for service from a BBB member that fits your qualifications. This can be a helpful service since all the vendors in the BBB are legitimate. However, be prepared to get dozens (in some cases many more) vendors calling you in response to the email blast that goes out upon your eQuote request. Do you want to deal with all of the calls you’ll get? Do you have time to address each vendor’s request to meet and discuss a proposal? Although the intent is good, there are easier ways to go about requesting a quote.

2. Business Profiles Once you get inside a business profile, you’ll have plenty of information to look at. This information should give you an idea whether or not you’d like a quote from that vendor. You can look at the number of complaints a business has had in the past 36 months, how long a company has been in business, who the officers of the company are, and much more. Multiple complaints, even if they have been handled, can definitely be a red flag. You see, when you have over 5-6 complaints in 36 months it shows a pattern of doing business. Maybe there are some employees that have not quite figured out the trade, maybe they have had a high volume of calls, or maybe the owner or manager just doesn’t really care. This is where you can get some good insight on whether to get a quote or not. Also, if their time in business is less than 2 years, you may be looking at a young, inexperienced contractor.

3. Holes in the BBB For all the good that the Better Business Bureau does, there are still some holes that you need to be aware of. Just because a business is listed doesn’t mean that is the only listing they have for that business. There have been cases where companies have gone out and trashed their reputation, then when they realized they had ruined any shot at a legitimate business reputation, they changed their name and began another business. When in doubt go to your local searches to double check (Citysearch.com, Kudzu.com, Yelp.com, AngiesList.com). The old saying holds true here that all that glitters is not gold.

At the end of the day you have to be careful who you hire, after all in some cases these people are in your homes and around your most prized possessions. Do your homework and once you know how to best navigate the BBB it can be a valuable source of information. Happy hunting.