We’re 6th in the Tech Track 100 awards!

We’re starting the week off with some good news!  

Thanks to your continued support, we’re thrilled to announce that with your help, we’ve ranked 6th in the Tech Track 100 awards.

The annual Tech Track 100 is a prestigious league table, ranking 100 of the fastest-growing tech companies, and we’re so happy to make our debut in the top 10. We’re in great company too, appearing alongside some of the most disruptive and innovative leaders in the tech sector. You can check out the full list of all featured companies here 

To top it off, we’ve also been named in the Startups 100 awards, the renowned annual league table of new businesses to watch in 2020.

We truly appreciate having you as a partner and we’re looking forward to helping you grow your business even further in the future. 

Thanks again,

Team Bark

 

 

 

Leeds tops the list of best places to start a business in the UK

For millions of business owners around the world, deciding where to set up shop is a vital decision, and one that could shape the future of their business for years to come. However, when making this decision there are numerous factors to consider, and choosing the right place can be difficult.

At Bark.com we have access to hundreds of thousands of price points from numerous business services across the UK, so decided to put our data to good use to find out where in the UK is the best place to start a business. 

We analysed location price data from the last three years across accounting, recruitment, IT support, website creation and management, marketing, SEO, internet and phone providers to find out the average start-up cost per city in the UK. 

We also took into account talent pool size, broadband quality and rent costs because some cities are incredibly cheap but wouldn’t be a viable home for most businesses. For example, Wells is cheap in terms of rent and business services, however is poor in terms of talent and broadband service.

Here is the full list of the ten best places to start a business in the UK, as well as each city’s average annual business launch cost:

1) Leeds – £15,550

2) Cardiff – £15,725

3) Liverpool – £15,744

4) Bristol – £16,013

5) Swansea – £16,082

6) Newcastle – £16,150        

7) Birmingham – £16,368

8) Manchester – £17,129

9) Edinburgh – £17,174

10) London – £75,990

And here is the full list of the ten ‘worst’ places to start a business in the UK, as well as each city’s average annual business launch cost:

1) Truro – £22,306

2) St.Davids – £8,511

3) Bangor – £8,930

4) Wells – £15,299

5) Stirling – £15,482

6) Ripon – £7,989

7) Lichfield – £11,083

8) Perth – £9,007

9) Preston – £20,162

10) Salisbury – £19,405

The above cities have made the top ten ‘worst’ list because of either a very poor talent pool size, high rent and service provider costs or poor broadband, or a combination of these factors.

These average annual costs consider office rental, the cost of hiring a marketing, IT support, recruitment, accountancy, website and SEO agency, as well as the cost of internet and phone providers. It does not consider employee wages or corporation tax. 

Kai Feller, co-founder of Bark.com said,

“When it comes to starting a business, choosing where to set up shop is always one of your first decisions. For decades, London has been the obvious choice for new businesses, however, we’re seeing that more and more people are opting to start their enterprise outside of the capital. 

“Like Manchester and Birmingham, Leeds is fast becoming recognised as a business hotspot, so it’s not a surprise that it tops our list. It’s great to see the North of England getting the business accolade it deserves.”

Shortlisted for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards

I was recently lucky enough to be shortlisted in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in the Young Entrepreneur of the Year category. But what this really does is shine a light on what the whole team at Bark has achieved over the last four years.

When we started in 2015, our mission was simple; we wanted to make finding and hiring the perfect local service professional as quick and easy as buying something from eBay or Amazon.  We knew we had to have a platform that worked for buyers and sellers, and in achieving that, we’ve helped more than 500,000 small businesses and sole traders register their services and win business.

One thing is for sure, and that is that we wouldn’t have grown as we have without hiring amazing and talented people. In the last few years, we’ve built a great team that all pull together to drive the company forward. And that’s the best reason to enter awards – to celebrate the hard work and the achievements of the team.

6 new features to help you get better leads on Bark

At Bark, it’s our mission to get you the most relevant leads possible to help you succeed in business. We know how frustrating it can be reviewing requests which don’t quite match what you do and where you work. So, we’ve been listening to your feedback and developing innovative new features to enhance your experience on Bark.

Jump to a new feature

Service Areas
– Draw Your Own Area
– Travel Time
Question Filtering
Bark Match
Submit Details
New Messenger
Refer a Friend

1. Improve your leads with our new Service Area tools

No one knows your business better than you. That’s why the some of the most popular features we’ve developed this year are self-service tools. They’ve been designed to help you define your Service Areas more precisely, and automatically filter out Barks which don’t meet your criteria. Why not take a few minutes to try out these features for yourself?

Draw Your Own Area

With just a few clicks, you can draw the area you service on a map – all done in a matter of seconds. You’ll then receive Barks from buyers who are local to that area, and automatically filter out those who are too far away.

Bark sellers can draw their service area on a map in a few easy clicks

Draw Your Own Area

Travel Time

Travel Time is another great tool for filtering out those (hopefully rare) leads that come from far distant lands.

Simply set the area you cover based on your preferred travel method and the maximum time you’re willing to spend travelling to a job.

We’ll send you leads based on the time it takes to walk, drive or take public transport from your location.

Set your Travel Time

2. Question Filtering

As you know, when a buyer places a Bark we ask them questions to find out precisely what kind of service they’re after. We then match the request with a relevant service provider and send a lead.

But it gets tricky to make an exact match when professionals in a given category offer similar but slightly different services to one another. Now, with Question Filtering, you can manage questions at a granular level to ensure leads correspond exactly with the services you provide.

For example, if you only have availability on certain days of the week, you can filter out leads requesting pros on your day off.

We can even get more granular than that. If, for example, you’re a male personal trainer, you can filter out leads which specifically request a female personal trainer.

Set your Question Filtering so you’re only alerted when we have a perfect match.
Screenshot of Bark Question Filtering feature - for photographerSet up Question Filtering

3. Be discovered by more buyers with Bark Match

With our new Seller Suggest feature, it’s easier for buyers to discover sellers on Bark, and easier for you to get new customers.

From time to time, we’ll suggest your business to customers looking for your services, for free. If the customer is interested, you’ll be notified and invited to respond – and then it’s up to you if you’d like to pay to be introduced.

Of course, in the meantime, you’ll still receive the leads that match your service areas, as usual.

In order to ensure your business is suggested to Buyers as much as possible, you can:

      • Make sure your profile is up to date – sellers with more information on their profile get much more interest
      • Update your service areas to ensure we’re sending you the most relevant leads for your business
      • Get more reviews – a strong rating supported by positive reviews shows potential customers you’re brilliant at what you do

Screenshot of Bark feature called Seller Suggest

4. Submit Details and reply to leads with one click

There is a significant ‘first mover advantage’ on Bark. Our data shows that you are 48% more likely to get hired if you’re first to respond to the buyer.

We know every second counts when responding to hot leads, so we’ve made it quicker and easier than ever to secure new business with Bark.  Following your feedback, we’ve created a simple one-click feature, so you can respond to a great lead within seconds.

Simply click ‘submit your details’ to jobs you’re interested in – we then instantly send your details to the client and release both their phone number and email address to you. You can still send a personalised follow up message and quote when you’re ready.

Don’t forget to top up your credits – the next introduction you make could land you a new customer!

Screenshot of Bark feature Submit Details

Check out credit packs

5. New Messenger look and feel

We’ve redesigned the messenger feature on Bark. The new look and feel will help you manage leads, conversations, briefs and quotes with buyers more easily.Screenshot of Bark messenger feature

6. Refer a friend and earn Bark credits

If you’ve loved using Bark, why not give your friends the opportunity to enjoy the same success? Simply refer a friend, and you’ll be rewarded with credits to spend on high quality leads to grow your business too.

There’s no limit to the number of credits you can earn, and you’ll be rewarded each time someone you refer signs up and purchases our starter pack.

If that’s not enough, we’ll also give anyone you refer a massive 40% discount to help them get started.

We’re confident Bark will be a great help to any seller who tries it. We cover over 2,000 categories and deliver leads from interested customers to thousands of businesses every day. You can refer anyone you like from any industry, from babysitters to plumbers, web designers to bookkeepers.

It’s so easy – you can invite people directly from your address book, or use the unique personal link we’ve created for you, which you can share on Facebook, in email or anywhere you choose.

What do you think of our new features? Share your thoughts in the comments.

How to find the best customers for your business with our new ‘dashboard search’ tool

Professionals covering large service areas – or providing many different services – often receive a high number of requests through Bark. So we created a brand new tool to make sure finding the jobs you want to pitch for is always easy.

It’s called “dashboard search” and it lets you quickly filter the requests in your Bark dashboard to find the jobs you want to do the most.

Simply use the brand new search bar at the top of the page in your Requests tab to specify exactly what you’re looking for and find the best customers for your business.

Our new dashboard search tool
The ‘dashboard search’ tool lets you filter your matching Barks to find the best customers for your business

This new search bar lets you filter your matching Barks by: 1) when they were submitted, 2) what they cost to respond to, 3) which category they were placed in and 4) where the job needs doing.

This last feature will be especially useful if you cover a large service area but are most interested in jobs from a specific location, such as your home town.

You can even filter your matching Barks by specific keywords customers use when placing their requests. (For example, customers looking for personal trainers often ask for either “daily” or “weekly” training sessions.)

Try spending an “evening in with Bark” today

‘Dashboard search’ lets you pick out all kinds of customers with the click of a button, from massage clients looking for a male masseur to wedding photography clients within three miles of your home and more.

That’s why we believe it will turn your Bark dashboard into a tool you can use whenever you like to find the best customers for you – whether you’re out on a job, or relaxing at home in front of the TV.

So spend some time today getting to know your new dashboard and using it to find the best customers on Bark.

Search for the best customers for your business now

Here’s what makes Bark customers the best leads for your business

With many of our pros generating thousands of pounds a month using our platform, it’s easy to see why Bark is fast becoming the UK’s favourite lead generation service.

Professionals throughout the country use us on a regular basis to find new customers and grow their business – from wedding photographers in Birmingham to magicians in Canterbury.

To show you why more businesses join our platform every day, here’s a closer look at what makes Bark customers the best leads for your business.

Customers on Bark are actively searching for your services

As a professional on Bark, every potential customer we alert you to is actively seeking the services you provide.

We invest heavily in online campaigns to find people looking to hire everything from balloon twisters to criminal lawyers, and then use ‘service areas‘ to match them with skilled professionals in their area.

For example, we find people looking to hire interior designers in Liverpool by running targeted PPC ads like this one for people who search “Liverpool interior design” on Google:

We find people looking for services online using PPC ads like this one

But if you’ve ever run your own PPC campaigns, you’ll know most people who click these ads aren’t serious about buying your product or service.

So the first thing Bark does is filter out everyone who’s not really serious about paying for your services. If they click our ads but don’t finish placing their Bark, you’ll never hear about them.

See exactly what each customer needs doing for FREE

When we find a customer who needs a service you provide, we then ask them a series of questions about the job they need doing.

At this stage, we also run a series of checks to ensure that they’re serious about hiring someone – such as checking their contact details are valid and ensuring they’ve filled out our questionnaire correctly.

Once we’ve verified that the Bark is genuine, we’ll send you the details free of charge, so you can see if it’s something you’d like to pitch for:

When someone places a Bark, we’ll then email you the details of the job they need doing so you can decide if it’s for you

With other marketing methods, you’ll often end up paying to receive enquiries that aren’t right for your business, but Bark is different.

If you’re busy on the dates the customer needs the work done – or if you just feel the job isn’t something you’re interested in – you can simply ignore the request and wait for something else to come along.

When you see a job you’d like to pitch for on Bark, click the “CONTACT” button next to their request to send the customer a tailored message and access their personal phone number.

No commission, no monthly fees

With thousands of people using Bark every day to find everything from plumbers to web designers, event performers and more – there’s never been a better time to join our service.

You don’t have to pay subscription fees and we don’t take any commission on work you secure through our platform. So, once you’ve responded to a Bark, everything you make from the business is yours to keep.

So why not join the thousands of small businesses who are already profiting with Bark today? Claim your FREE account now and start hearing about customers in your area right away.

Start receiving the best leads for your business today

Our new-and-improved trades categories make it even easier to secure new business with Bark!

We launched 300 new-and-improved trades categories this week, to make it even easier to find great leads for your business with Bark.

As well as many services that are brand new to our platform, we’ve divided general categories (e.g. plumbing) into specific job types (e.g. bathroom repair, or leaking and burst pipes).

We believe this approach will make it even easier to find new customers with Bark – and today we’ll look at what these changes mean for your business.

Know exactly what customers are looking for

By making our general trades categories more specific, we hope to give you a much clearer idea of what each customer is looking for before you respond to their Barks.

Where previously someone might have placed a Bark for a builder, they can now specify exactly what type of work they need doing – whether that’s concrete levelling, block paving installation or anything else.

This will make it much easier for you to decide if a job request is something you want to help with before you respond to it.

Cheaper to pitch for smaller jobs

Splitting the requests placed on our site up in this way also helps us ensure the price of responding to a Bark reflects the value of the job the customer needs doing.

For example, we know a pipe repair job is worth less than a full bathroom remodel – so these new categories will help us make sure smaller jobs are cheaper to pitch for than big ones.

Easier to choose which leads you hear about

Last, but not least, these new categories will help us make sure we only alert you to the best leads for your business.

Imagine your company offers wallpapering services, but not shelf installation. In the past, these jobs would have both come under ‘handyman services‘ – but now you can use our new trades categories to specify that you’d like to hear about one and not the other.

Start hearing about customers completely FREE

Our registered pros are already signed up to hear about relevant Barks in our brand new trades categories. If you’re new to Bark, you can join them today and start hearing about potential customers in your area completely free.

Click the link below now to claim your free Bark account and start growing your business with our service right away.

Get the best leads for your business now.

Top Pro Interview: “Bark has added another string to my bow”

Ask any professional magician where they find new customers and, until recently, they’d have told you all their work comes through word of mouth. But that’s rapidly changing, thanks to online marketplaces like Bark.

It’s Magic Time‘s Tony Charles is one of thousands of UK magicians who are transforming their businesses with Bark. He joined our platform in July this year, and has been using it to find new customers ever since.

“I get about 200 bookings a year, and so far in 2-3 months I have got seven from Bark – which should extrapolate to about 28 for the year,” he explains. “Not bad as this is work I probably would not have received.”

Why magicians all over the UK are growing their businesses with Bark

Tony says his first seven bookings with Bark are worth more than £1,000 on paper. But, as he explains, the value of a booking through our platform goes far beyond the fee for the job itself.

“60% of my clients rebook,” he says. “Many refer and every booking is a showcase and generates further bookings. So that initial £1,000 of income will grow, even without further bookings from Bark.”

Tony Charles made around £1,000 in his first 2-3 months with Bark
Tony Charles made over £1,000 in his first 2-3 months with Bark

Now he’s got to grips with the Bark platform, Tony says he’s finding it easy to find new clients.

In fact, he’s already secured another three jobs through Bark since we interviewed him.

“I would say it is less time consuming than many other [marketing] methods and that is of great value,” he says. “To generate new clients with little effort is a great bonus.”

When asked what advice he had for other magicians thinking about giving Bark a try, he said the best thing would be to certainly give it a try.

“Give yourself a budget and a time limit to try it out and get the profile built up,” he says. “Also, experiment with your responses and definitely put the Bark Reviews badge on your own website. That is brilliant as all your clients can post – and all prospective clients can see – testimonials.”

He adds: “The clients I have received through Bark so far include adult birthday parties, children’s birthday parties and a school prom.”

Claim your FREE Bark account and start growing your business today

Bark is fast becoming the UK’s leading platform for businesses seeking new clients in a wide range of industries – from entertainers to tradespeople, business professionals and more.

With over 600 different categories to choose from, businesses of all shapes and sizes can find new customers quickly and easily with our service.

Join our network of 80,000+ registered businesses today and we’ll start alerting you to new customers completely free of charge – so you can see how easy it can be to secure new business with Bark.

Click the link below now to claim your free Bark account and start hearing about customers in your area right away.

Start growing your business with Bark today

Ask the Expert: How to get more customers and grow your business with Bark

Thousands of people throughout the UK use Bark every single day to find new customers and grow their businesses.

Some use our service here and there to fill the gaps in their diaries. Others use us to generate thousands of pounds a month, often using Bark as their sole source of qualified leads for their business.

But, in our experience, there’s one thing that all our best pros have in common, no matter how frequently they use Bark. They know how to make their businesses stand out by presenting clients with a great sales pitch.

To help you get the most out of our service, we spoke to some of our most successful professionals to discover their biggest pitching secrets.

“We’ve made some great contacts and
generated £10,000 in business”

“I made a 30x Return On Investment on my second Bark response,” says Very Clever Marketing’s Dom Murphy. “We’ve made some great contacts and several loyal customers, and generated approximately £10,000 in business.”

Dom initially joined Bark because, unlike other lead generation services, it doesn’t cost a penny to open an account – and you can hear about customers in your area completely free of charge.

Since then, he’s generated roughly £10,000 using our service, and says the key to his success is his ability to quickly form relationships with customers.

“Focus on building relationships,” he says. “Offer the customer something for free – tell them about a special offer you have on. Encourage them to call you or perhaps even call them yourself and say you’re calling in response to their Bark listing.”

“Explain to the customer that you’d like to meet with them or talk on the phone,” he adds. “This will allow you to build a relationship with them, instead of just throwing the book at them and quoting.”

“Realise that there are several others responding too. It’s not a ‘solus’ lead just for you,” he concludes. “Make yourself stand out from the get-go and avoid using terminology or jargon.”

“I recommend Bark to all my friends
with small businesses”

Having been in business for 11 years, Janet Gow has historically been wary of lead generation companies – but after a great experience with Bark, she’s now changed her tune.

“In the six months I have been listed with Bark I have already secured £7,000 worth of business,” she explains. “I now recommend Bark to all my other friends with small businesses.”

John Austen from Marvel Booths agrees Bark has the potential to help small businesses grow exponentially.

“Bark has helped us grow the photo booth side of our business exponentially,” he says. “We have already invested in a magic mirror and second photo booth, four months ahead of schedule.”

“You need to have great marketing material, and you really need to think about how you’re going to stand out from other competitors,” he adds. “You can only be the cheapest for so long.”

He says the best advice he can give to someone who’s thinking about signing up to Bark is to just give it a go – so long as you remember to treat it the same as you would any other part of your marketing strategy.

“I’d say put aside some budget and give it a go. Perhaps enough for 100-odd credits, which is around £115,” he explains. “If the client doesn’t read your response [and their phone number doesn’t work], you get a refund anyway.”

“If you get even two bookings it’s probably been worth your while,” he adds. “And you’ll get direct contact with around 20 potential clients for that fee. In theory, that’s probably better value than advertising on AdWords and Bing.”

He concludes: “Think about your USP and make sure your customer service is exceptional. Who knows where it might take you!”

Join today and start hearing about potential
customers completely FREE

We hope this article has given you some fresh insights into how our most successful pros pitch for business on Bark.

Put their advice into action today and soon you too could be growing your business online with our qualified lead generation service – just like Dom, Janet and John.

If you’re new to Bark, you can start hearing about customers in your area completely free, so you can get a feel for just how easy it can be to secure new business with Bark.

Simply click the link below now and claim your free Bark account to start growing your business with Bark right away.

Click here now to start growing your business with Bark.

‘Modern day word of mouth’: how to promote your business online with Bark reviews

Word of mouth has always been a powerful tool for promoting your services to new customers – and it’s only getting more important as the services industry moves increasingly online.

A full 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to SEO experts BrightLocal. They’re the first thing customers look for when hiring professionals online, and having great customers reviews can give you a real edge over the competition when pitching for new business.

Today, we’ll show you why collecting reviews on Bark is an integral part of promoting your business online – and look at how you can start collecting great feedback on our site right away.

How Bark reviews improve your online presence

The moment you start collecting great reviews on Bark, you’ll be awarded a Bark star rating. Not only will this appear on your Bark profile and in our pro directory, but it will also show when people search for you in Google.

LexisTech five stars
Collect Bark reviews to earn a 5-star rating on Google

As digital advertising company WordStream notes, this boosts your online presence by making your profile distinct from the search results around it.

That means, when people see your Bark star rating, they’re much more likely to click through to your business page. Better yet, they’re also much more likely to hire you when they do.

Convert more business with Bark reviews

Online reviews are critically important to the vast majority of online shoppers. For example, diners regularly check reviews sites like Yelp to inform their decisions when choosing somewhere to eat.

Entrepreneur Magazine reports that more than 35% of shoppers say they’d never eat at a restaurant that had a 3-star review. What’s more, this Harvard study found that a 1-star improvement on Yelp can translate to a 5%-9% increase in revenue.

That’s a big difference, and we’re already seeing exactly the same thing happening in the services industry as more and more people use Bark to hire great local tradespeople online.

That’s why we believe collecting great reviews on Bark is an integral part of promoting your business online – and why we make requesting reviews from your customers as easy as possible.

Asking for reviews is easy with our ‘reviews tool’

The more great reviews on your profile, the more confident our users will be that you can provide them with a top quality service –  and the more business you’ll be able to secure using our service.

We recommend asking each of your customers to review your services within 14 days of completing a job for them to ensure you’re still fresh in their memory.

To do this, simply log into your Bark profile and visit the ‘Reviews’ tab in your dashboard. Once there, enter your customer’s email address into the reviews tool and click ‘invite’ to ask them to review your services.

You can test it out right now by visiting your ‘Reviews’ tab and entering your own email address into the box provided.

Start collecting great reviews today
with the Bark Reviews badge

You can also start collecting great reviews today using the Bark Reviews badge. It makes collecting feedback easy by reminding everyone who visits your website to review you on Bark.

Absolutely anyone who clicks your badge can leave a review on your Bark profile, even if they didn’t originally find you through us.

Simply copy the code from the ‘Badges’ tab in your Bark profile into your website wherever you like – and we’ll do the rest:

Collecting great reviews is easy with the Bark Reviews badge

It looks at all the most popular website building platforms used by Bark pros like yourself – including WordPress.org, Squarespace, GoDaddy and more.

Click here to log into your Bark profile and visit the ‘Badges’ tab in your dashboard and follow the simple steps provided to claim your new Bark Reviews badge right away.

If you’d like any further help getting great reviews on your Bark profile, send us an email at team@bark.com or leave a comment in the space below!