The US Cities and States Home to the Most Trusted Businesses
In today’s marketplace, where access to information – and misinformation – is ever-increasing, the trust between a company and a customer has become a bedrock of brand equity.
According to the Better Business Bureau, 82% of consumers in the United States believe that trust sets the foundation for the purchase of goods and services. Trust drives growth, with 77% of survey respondents reporting that they buy the products of businesses they trust, and 67% reporting that they would recommend a trusted business to family and friends.
Economies with more trusted businesses have better company-consumer relationships and may be more resilient in the face of an economic crisis. And like any economic indicator, public trust in local business varies widely throughout the country.
In our latest study, ZenBusiness analyzed data from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to uncover which US cities and states have the highest proportion of businesses that people trust so that you have a better idea of where and when to invest your time and money.
The BBB is a nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust. They assign a letter rating to companies based on their opinion on the relationship between a business and its customers. A number of factors are taken into consideration, including complaint volume, responsiveness to complaints, and time in business. We ranked states and cities based on the number of businesses with an A or A+ rating on BBB as a percentage of all businesses listed on BBB.
Less populated states with smaller companies that have been in business longer have a greater percentage of trusted businesses overall. This includes North Dakota, Minnesota, Maine, Alaska and Massachusetts, who all score in the top 10. Within these states, the average company has been in business longer than the 15.4-year national standard. By contrast, in seven of the 10 states with the smallest share of trusted businesses, the average company has been in business for less time than the national average.
Explore the map below to see which states have the most trusted businesses and which industries in each state are the most trustworthy.
Customers often trust smaller businesses that have been around a while. This could be because smaller businesses may dedicate more time to customer service, so customers might feel a sense of community with them.
Similarly, in eight of the 10 states with the most trusted businesses, there are fewer employees per firm than the 25-employee national figure – indicating that consumers may be more likely to trust small businesses. Many of the economies with the fewest trusted businesses are fast-growing states in the Sun Belt, where the relationship of trust between new residents and young businesses may need time to mature.
From the bustling neighborhoods of New York City to the shores of San Diego, Chicago with its interesting architecture to Seattle, home to the headquarters of both Amazon and Microsoft – American cities, big and small, have a lot to offer. But which cities are home to the most trusted businesses in the US?
In Texas we trust. We analyzed trust scale scores determined by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and they revealed that Texas is home to four of the top 10 major cities home to the most credible companies – including San Antonio, Fort Worth, Dallas and Austin.
Discover the complete top 10 list below, in order of descending from the highest percentage of trustworthy businesses to the lowest.
Residing in South Central Texas,San Antonio is one of the top ten largest cities in America known for a number of accolades relating to economic development. Since 1990, the city has been hailed as one of the “fastest-growing” largest cities in the US, according to the Census Bureau.
As of 2020, it is home to the headquarters of four Fortune 500 companies, including iHeartMedia, NuStar Energy, USAA and Valero Energy. It’s also one of the top ten major cities for trusted businesses, with 96.57%of businesses scoring an A grade or above on the BBB trust scale.
Placing second in our top 10 list is Fort Worth, located in North Central Texas – a city that once found itself at the center of the Texas Longhorn cattle trade. Since then, Fort Worth has excelled in trading, drawing in a number of big business names over the years and becoming an HQ for the Bank of America and GE Transportation.
Among the city’s list of achievements are ranking 15th on Forbes’ list of the “Best Places for Business and Careers” in 2013, ranking 18th on Fortune’s list of “Best Cities for Hispanic Entrepreneurs” in 2018, and – with a score of 96.39%- being home to the second-highest number of trusted businesses of any major city in America.
Dallas was an American primetime television show that first aired on CBS in 1978. The series revolves around an affluent Texan family who owned an independent oil company and cattle-ranching land. Although the soap opera detailed fantastical storylines and family feuds, it did hold some credit when it came to capturing the working life of people in the city.
A leading business and financial center in the Southwest, the city is home to nine Fortune 500 companies, and 94.91% of all businesses are deemed trustworthy, scoring of A or above on the BBB’s trust scale.
Known all over the world as the “home of country music,” Nashville has become a major center for music recording and production. But the city isn’t just a hit with music; it’s great for business too.
In addition to appearing in a number of Forbes’ articles – including the “Best Places for Business and Careers” list and “The Cities Creating The Most High-Wage Jobs” – Nashville also features a number of offices of Fortune 500 companies. One of the most notable, thanks to its social media presence, is SmileDirectClub, which is headquartered in the city. And according to our research, 94.71% of all businesses in Nashville are considered trustworthy, which is really something to smile about.
Memphis is a city that has been well documented over the years for its rich music scene. The home of Blues and the birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll has appeared on screen, too, in several films, including Elvis and Me (1988) and Walk the Line (2005). But the city is known for far more than its music business.
Business, in general, thrives here, thanks to its central location, which makes the city well-positioned for commerce in the transportation and shipping industry. In fact, Memphis serves as a primary hub for FedEx Express shipping, a major American cargo airline. Of all the businesses based in the city, 94.71% are considered trustworthy.
A thriving center of scientific research, a world leader in higher education and a global pioneer in innovation and entrepreneurship – the Greater Boston metropolitan area has the sixth-largest economy in the country and 12th-largest in the world, encompassing $363 billion.
The capital of Massachusetts, this global city places fifth with 94.64% of all companies rating A or above on the BBB trust scale. It is the only city in the Northeast to rank among the top 10 for the most trusted businesses.
Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico, well known for its contribution to tech and engineering. It lies at the center of a concentration of high-tech private companies and government institutions along the Rio Grande, collectively known as the New Mexico Technology Corridor. In 2014, the city was recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of America’s Engineering Capitals. The businesses in the city are some of the most trusted in the US, as 94.10% of all companies have a rating of A or above on the BBB’s trust scale.
The largest city in Washington state, Seattle’s economy is made up of a blend of older industrial companies and “new economy” companies, centered around technology, service and design.
In 2010, the city’s gross metropolitan product (GMP) was $231 billion, making it the 11th largest metropolitan economy in the country. Its thriving business sector is backed by the likes of Amazon and Microsoft, which are headquartered in the city.
92.17% of all businesses in Seattle are trustworthy, achieving a rating of A or above according to the BBB’s trust scale.
Austin is the capital city of the Lone Star State and is the fourth city from Texas to make the top 10 list, with 91.86% of all companies earning a rating of A or above on the BBB’s trust scale.
The city has a strong economic focus on government and education, but since the 1990s, it has become a major center for business and technology. A testament to those focuses, thousands graduate from the University of Texas with degrees in engineering and computer science each year.
A number of Fortune 500 companies have headquarters or regional offices in Austin. As in several other cities within the top 10, Austin was included in Forbes’ list of the “Best Places for Business and Careers” in 2014.
Denver’s economy partly has its geographical location and its connection to some of the country’s major transportation systems to thank. In 2010, the metropolitan area had a gross metropolitan product of $157.6 billion, making it the 18th largest metro economy in the US.
From one success to another, with a rating of 91.22%, Denver is one of the top cities for trusted businesses.
Interestingly, while the 10 cities with the most trusted businesses generally have a high degree of trust across all sectors, there are some industries that stand out as negative outliers. In San Antonio, for example, just 69.0% of car dealers have an A or A+ rating on BBB, one of the smallest shares of any city. In Seattle, just 61.8% of car dealers – already a low-trust industry – and 13.2% of restaurants have an A rating or better, each among the smallest such shares of any city.
Data on BBB ratings can reveal which parts of the country have the most trustworthy businesses and the industries that comprise them. In North Carolina – America’s most trusted business state overall – the high degree of trust is due in large part to the restaurant industry. While food service is one of the lowest-trust industries, in North Carolina 99.8% of restaurants have an A or A+ rating on BBB, the largest share of the state.
The data can also show standout industries in areas with otherwise poor trust ratings. In Arkansas, for example – the states with the smallest share of trusted businesses overall – 100% of travel agencies listed on BBB have an A or A+ rating – the largest share of any state.
As the economy continues its shift into the digital space and the average consumer’s access to the global marketplace increases, businesses must make an additional effort to establish an interpersonal connection with their customers. Trust in business will continue to be a crucial element in growth, and economies with more trusted businesses may be better positioned for economic prosperity. How does your city stack up?
All data on businesses in each US city and state was taken from Better Business Bureau (BBB).
The BBB devised a trust scale that grades businesses from A+ through to F based on a number of factors to determine how trustworthy the company is.
% of Trusted Businesses = % of businesses with A or Above ratings
For each city and business type, the number of most trusted businesses was taken as a percentage of all businesses serving that area, which had received a rating on the BBB website. This figure was only computed for cities with 20 or more businesses in each category. The overall percentage of most trusted businesses is a weighted average of percentages across business types.
Separate searches were carried out for each state to determine the number of all rated businesses and those rated A or above in each state.
A list of cities and their population were taken from the US Census Bureau.
The data was collected in Dec 2021.