Certification and Accreditation
Reviews and testimonials from previous customers are a good way to find out more about a business and how it interacts with customers. Unfortunately, they aren't always reliable and only include the input of the individual writing the review. Certifications and accreditations from businesses and third parties, however, are impartial and are based on evidence from reliable sources such as testing and the government.
Here are two different certifications and accreditations from different organizations that are common in the HVAC industry and for businesses in general.
NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence. It is a certification organization and is the industry standard for HVAC professionals. Certifications from NATE assure customers that the technicians are well-qualified to work on their HVAC systems.
In order to be certified by NATE, technicians are tested on their basic knowledge of HVAC for entry-level testing and on their knowledge of more specific areas for professional level certifications. Certifications typically last for 2 years and in order to maintain certification, technicians are required to participate in 16 hours of specialty-related continuing education within those 2 years.
The BBB is an organization with the mission of "advancing marketplace trust" (BBB) between businesses and consumers. Similar to certification from NATE, accreditation from the BBB is a standard for businesses and an assurance to customers about the business they are working with.
The BBB's accreditation is given to businesses which operate honestly and reliably in their interactions with customers. The BBB looks at 8 different categories with different specific criteria, including transparency and honest advertising, when considering accreditation. More information on all of the criteria for accreditation can be found here.
In order to become accredited, businesses must submit an application for review by their local BBB. It should be noted that accreditation is separate from a business' rating from the BBB and is based on different criteria.
Any business, whether accredited or not, can receive a rating from the BBB. A business' rating represents "...the BBB's opinion of how the business is likely to interact with its customers" (BBB) and ranges from A+ to F. These ratings are based on information from public sources as well as from the business itself. The BBB reviews this information and looks for indications of good and bad business practices, including any prior complaints and licensing / government actions filed against the business. More information about the specific criteria for the BBB's ratings can be found here.