Hiring a Landscape Company and the Better Business Bureau.

To be honest, I’m a little hesitant about writing this post due to the possible repercussions with the business I’m about to write about so I will document that after 36 years in business, as of 2/4/2018, we have no negative complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

The Better Business Bureau is the place to go when you’re looking for a quality business. There, I said it! A lot of people start their search for a home improvement contractor or landscaper with the Better Business Bureau. If I had to guess, it’s because consumers are afraid of entering into a relationship with a bad contractor. For that reason, a lot of consumers have come to trust the BBB for a company recommendation. You have to admit, they do have a very convincing name.

Unfortunately, the Better Business Bureau is not what consumers think it is. It is not a government agency and it’s not a consumer watchdog.

I looked into the organization years ago when I received my first sales call from them. Full disclosure, I receive 1-2 calls a year, every year from the Better Business Bureau. They want Designing Eden llc to become a ‘member’. I was a little shocked at the time as I too, thought that the BBB was some consumer watchdog.

This is what I learned from my research at that time. The BBB is funded by the annual dues paid by the businesses that are members of the BBB. That seems hardly fair and transparent. It’s also a conflict of interest. The company’s profits are directly related to the amount of companies they recruit as members. In return, the BBB will paint there members in the best possible light. What? Yes, it’s true.

Another secret, a member company can have a ton of complaints and still have an rating. How you ask? As long as a company responds to customer complaints, they can maintain a high rating. Crazy right? Yes, as long as the company responds to the complaint, everything is good in the eyes of the BBB. Mind you, I didn’t say fix the problem, just respond to the complaint. What is really strange is if a company has a complaint and the company responds directly to the client to make things right, yet they didn’t respond to the complaint through the BBB website, their rating will go down. So a company can do the right thing after a complaint is received outside of BBB and their ratings go down and if a company does nothing else besides respond to a complaint through the BBB website and has thousands of complaints, all unresolved, all is good.

Their verification or accreditation process is not what you’d think it is based on conversations from companies I know that are members of the BBB. As long as you pay your money and have a high rating, you’re accredited.

Now that you know that the BBB isn’t what you thought it was, where should you go for recommendations? Obviously, friends, family and neighbor recommendations is a good place to start. If you’re looking for reviews, for a Home improvement Contractor, Google or Houzz wouldn’t be a bad place to look. The scary thing with the BBB is there is no verification process with complaints. It’s super easy for a total stranger to trash a company. This is why I have always been apprehensive about writing anything negative about the BBB. At least with Google, they do their best to verify reviews. Not sure how they do it but I’ve had at least two legitimate reviews from clients declined from Google because they thought they were fake.

As a business owner, it’s really hard to get happy clients to write a review but I think it’s human nature to complain to whoever will listen when someone is unhappy so another strategy would be to look to see how long a company has been in business. If you can’t find anything negative about a company, they are probably a pretty good bet.

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Richard Schipul
Richard Schipul

For the last 30 years, I have owned the landscape company Designing Eden LLC based in New Milford, CT. We offer landscape designs, landscape installations and garden maintenance services in Fairfield and Litchfield County Connecticut. I am currently the only Nationally Certified Landscape Designer in Litchfield County and sit on the board of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and Mad Gardeners.


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