The president of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Salt Lake wants to see a BBB branch office revived in Utah County but said only time will tell if the necessary local financial support exists.
While there is renewed interest among some Utah County businesses in opening a local office, the BBB's membership in the area would have to double before even a part-time branch could be established, Bill Beadle said."We periodically have marketing drives in Utah County, and now is a time of heightened interest in the area," Beadle said. "We'll have to see if our marketing can generate enough support for a self-sustaining branch."
The Salt Lake bureau has been providing services to Utah County since a Provo BBB office closed for lack of support in 1984. There are about 60 BBB members in the area, but around 125 are needed to support an office staffed part time. About 200 are needed for a full-time branch.
"We have a branch in Ogden that's self-supporting and provides local services to that area," Beadle said. "We'd like to do the same thing in Provo, but we need the financial support. I hope we can open a part-time office and build a base from that for a full-time branch."
BBB annual memberships cost an average of $180, but can be more or less than that depending on the size of the business. Normally a full-time branch office can be opened on a $36,000 annual budget, the average amount provided by dues from 200 member businesses.
Utah County has a greater percentage of small businesses, so the average membership may be less. Beadle said a full-time Provo branch probably could open with a $28,000 annual budget, enough to fund 1.5 employees and overhead costs.
"In Ogden we have one full-time operations person, one part-time employee who's on call and one sales representative," he said. "By contrast, in Salt Lake we have seven operations people and four sales reps."
Building a membership base sufficient to establish a branch office is something of a Catch-22, Beadle said. Usually the more local services a BBB office provides the more members it attracts.
And the more members that join, the more services can be provided because of increased funding from additional membership dues. But in an area without a local office to provide services, building the necessary momentum can take time.
Many consumers think of the BBB first as a place to take complaints about unsatisfactory products or poor service from dealers. But those who use the bureau as a resource to check the references of companies they may do business with outnumber those who lodge complaints, Beadle said.
The Salt Lake BBB has information on 6,000 companies in its computer data bank and last year took 60,000 phone calls from consumers with inquiries about specific companies.