Show of hands. Who owns their own business and knows what their Dunn & Bradstreet score is?
I’m going to bet only a few of the readers of this article do. I know I didn’t up until a few months ago when I was applying for a business loan to replace an ailing copier. My thoughts were that our business was strong enough to make the purchase without a personal guarantee, but D&B said otherwise. As a matter of fact, they said ‘No’ many times! My research into why we were being rejected has led to quite an education. I’m sharing my learning with you in the hopes of keeping you from going through the pain I endured.
1. D&B has a great gig going!
Banks regard your D&B score as truth. In actuality, it is only a list of a very few of your trade references who have chosen to take the time to send in data (usually negative). To update the data, a business owner has two options. Update basic information through their free services or, if you want to see your score change quickly, purchase an annual subscription to update trade references and request accurate information. So to make a change quickly, you must PAY for it!
2. Don’t jump too quickly on the subscription.
In the matter of a 10 minute phone conversation, I saved myself over $500 in the annual subscription rate. My stubbornness was urging me to commit to the subscription immediately, but I knew I really needed to see a fast change in our score. By continuing to hesitate, my rate just kept getting better and better. So hold out, and don’t jump too quickly.
3. Don’t be afraid to dispute old information.
One of the reasons our score was poor was from a report made by a previous vendor that we were slow to pay. Problem was, it was accurate. A vendor had pushed us out due to their crazy new minimum guidelines, so they were at the bottom of the pile when paying bills each month. We were slow to pay that vendor so I was hesitant to dispute the claim. But it appears “dispute” has wide meaning. The claim was removed quickly because it no longer applied to the current time, which made a huge difference in our score.
4. Don’t share too much.
I was very hesitant to upload our Profit and Loss Statement and Balance Sheet at the detailed level we keep them in QuickBooks. This becomes public information that is accessible to your competitors. Obviously, it’s info no one outside of your organization needs to know. Instead, I reported very general categories of information. It took a few weeks longer, but eventually the data reflected positively in our score. As much as we needed that new printer, I wasn’t about to give away the farm!
5. Pay attention to your score before you need it!
Just because you aren’t currently trying to obtain a loan, doesn’t mean you should wait to update your D&B information. The biggest lesson I learned is that your D&B number matters to banks and needs to be monitored BEFORE you actually need it.
Jan Allison is President and Partner at Nu expression. She was awarded a Make Mine a Million $ Business Award in 2008 by Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence. This award has inspired her to be an advocate for growing Woman Owned Businesses.