Using the Better Business Bureau as a resource when searching for a franchise loan

Jessica SarterFranchise Finance

The search for the ideal business loan to finance your franchise business' operations can be a difficult endeavor. With that in mind, you'll obviously want to take advantage of every resource you can possibly muster, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The basics of the BBB for novices
If you've never had reason to utilize the BBB's resources, it's important to have a basic understanding of its background. It is based in the United States and Canada, and has regional offices in all states and provinces. 

The bureau acts as a combined information source, consumer watchdog and barometer of businesses' reputations, by providing information for consumers on companies' backgrounds, reputation for above-board dealings and, to some extent, quality – the latter through accreditation ratings (more on those later).

Using the BBB to research banks and financial institutions providing franchise lending
Finding lenders in your area through the BBB is an almost instantaneous process on their website. If you have one in mind, search by the business' name, otherwise use your city and state.

Once you've found institutions you're interested in, look on their individual pages to see if they are accredited by the BBB. If so, they will have received an accreditation rating from A+ through F, based on their adherence to the organization's standards, which require them to commit to resolving complaints filed by consumers and pay a fee to be regularly monitored.

If any complaints or legal actions have been filed against a given franchise business start-up loan provider, you can learn more about these matters on their BBB page and read reviews by customers. Some lenders will also have a link allowing you to request a quote directly from them.

Dealing with a problematic or unscrupulous franchise lender through the BBB
The BBB can also be a useful resource if you manage to find a lender and run into problems that stem from either inefficient business practices or corrupt and unscrupulous actions.

Any lending institution listed by the BBB – including those with accreditation ratings – will feature a link marked "File a Complaint" on its page. Clicking the link will first lead you to a series of questions involving complaints it cannot handle – including criminal matters, complaints involving litigation, discrimination or bankrupt companies – and then proceed to the complaint form.

You'll submit general personal information, and then describe the specifics of your complaint in detail. Such complaints can also be filed in person at your regional BBB office, and this may be a better choice if you have any comprehensive documentation you want to ensure reaches an official's hands.