Lead selling is a dirty business that might just be the second oldest profession.
In the good old days, someone looking to buy something might ask a friend for a recommendation. The friend would recommend a supplier he knows and would get something back in return – maybe a reciprocal recommendation to another customer or at least a pint of ale down the pub. The friend making the recommendation would not make it lightly and would consider it a matter of personal honour that his recommendation must do a good job and he’d feel responsible if he didn’t.
Fast forward to today and we have ‘trusted’ marketplaces popping up all over the place. Someone looking to buy put’s their requirement on the marketplace and the marketplace finds someone to do the job.
But there’s a problem.
Unlike the personal nature of recommendations, these marketplaces send the leads only to those suppliers that pay. It doesn’t matter how amazing a supplier might be – if they don’t pay they get introduced to the buyer.
I think that’s a terrible proposition for the buyer. That’s why at Bark we don’t charge suppliers to talk to our buyers. We let them do it for free.
So how do we make money? Well, Bark might be the first marketplace to utilize a Freemium business model. Suppliers can get involved for free but we’ve got a menu of things that suppliers can pay for. For example, a seller can get verified so that we can confirm to buyers that we know they are who they say they are. They can get early bird access to leads – to give them more time to respond. And they can chose to ‘go pro’ which means their pitches to the buyer and highlighted.
They key thing is that this is all transparent to the buyer. The buyer can see who’s paid and who hasn’t but he can consider the responses from everyone. In this way Bark is a truly open system for introducing buyers and sellers without the major conflict of interests suffered by trusted marketplaces.
Andy Irvine from Plumb It! runs a successful plumbing company in Cheltenham, UK and gets most of his business from word of mouth. However, when Bark emailed him with a customer requirement from someone just down the road he decided to give it a try and has since got 12 jobs using Bark. Kai gave him a call to see if he had any tips for other Pros on Bark.
So, how did you get started on Bark?
I randomly got an e-mail from Bark.com saying that someone in Cheltenham was looking to have a bath tub removed and replaced with a shower. To be honest as I hadn’t heard of Bark before I thought it might be dodgy but I decided to give it a go anyway and wrote a reply to them asking for some more detail about exactly what they wanted. They actually replied straight away and it turns out they lived 5 doors down from me and we’ve got friends in common! I went round and did a quotation for them and installed their new shower the following week.
That’s a great start! So did you subscribe to Bark at that point?
Haha I probably should have but no I thought I’d see what else would come in first! I got a about 5 more leads over the next month and was successful with one of them and that point I decided to subscribe to get more leads.
And what happened next?
After subscribing I started getting leads every day and I also found buyers responded more quickly. Having the Verified Pro badge next to my name seems to make buyers a lot more trusting and I guess it makes you stand out amongst the crowd. I’ve been getting about one in 3 jobs I reply to which the Bark customer service team told me is pretty good going!
Why do you think you get a good response?
I’ve always put a fair bit of time into writing proper emails and detailed quotations. I’ve found with Bark that you have to spend the time to write a good pitch – or at least ask intelligent questions so that the buyer realizes I know what I’m doing and I’m worth talking to further. I know a lot of people just type one-liners and don’t even check their spelling and grammar!
Any other tips?
What’s good about Bark is that I get out what I put in. Sometimes I’m just too busy to reply quickly if I’m on a job and in those cases either I’ll just leave it or I’ll reply that evening if the job looks good enough. I think it’s important to either give the client a good experience or not at all – so I don’t reply to everything just to see what happens, I only reply to jobs I know I can deliver on.
Bark is today proud to announce the acquisition of Dublin based Skillpages.com – the online network where small businesses meet new customers. Skillpages has over 20 million people seeking and selling services, operates worldwide in 30 countries and had raised over 40m Euros to build a superb technology platform whereby buyer’s needs can be matched to skilled individuals. Bark has begun migrating Skillpages users onto Bark.com and this process will continue over the following months.
Andrew Michael, Bark CEO, commented: ‘We are very excited to welcome users from Skillpages to Bark.com and look forward to building on the success Skillpages has had’.
I’m really pleased to say we’ve hit 10,000 suppliers today registered on Bark!
That’s a great achievement for us and we are proud to be helping some many small companies get more business – without charging them a penny! Bark is working and working well – we are starting to make a real difference to how people find local service providers and are looking forward to continuing on our mission to take the pain out of getting quotes and finding skilled professionals online. list of domains .
They say eat your own toffee…and that’s exactly what we did when I decided, on the morning of December 31st that it would be nice to hold a new year’s party for the Bark crew. Those who know me will know that I take my parties very seriously and whilst I’m always last minute I had some doubt that this could be pulled off in time – especially considering I had a full day’s work planned.
I needed: a catering company to do a buffet dinner and serve drinks, a DJ to light up the room and get the party going and a comedian to entertain everyone. I started with the catering a called a couple of people I found on Google but the only available one was a company specialising in Jamaican cuisine and the woman I spoke to barely spoke English – accept to keep saying ‘Jerk Chicken any way you want’.
I was about to give up especially when my ever sensible co-founder Kai got the hump and said don’t you dare spend all day organizing a party, we can just go to the pub. But then one of our engineers said ‘Why don’t you just Bark it’ – and I had a why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moment – a bit like when you spend half an hour looking for your wallet only to find it in your pocket. Of course that’s exactly what Bark is for – so I did 3 Barks – for a DJ, caterer and comedian and marked them all as URGENT – FOR TONIGHT, and then got on with my meetings.
A couple of hours later – and we’d got a better response than we’d ever hoped for. I had 5 pitches for each job – many of them from quality suppliers who had had last minute cancellations and most of them from the principal of the company concerned. We got a super cool DJ from Capital DJ Services, amazing food from the team at Chef in my Kitchen and a brilliant comedian who made everyone laugh all night.
Needless to say the team has the worst hangover the next day and we loved the fact that our whole party was organised on Bark – even more so given that we probably wouldn’t have had time to organise it otherwise!