Now you can show off how many times you’ve been hired on Bark!

You can now display how many of our users have hired you prominently on your Bark profile.

Whenever someone hires you, simply click the new ‘I was hired‘ button next to their Bark in the My Responses section of your dashboard and we’ll automatically add them to your total.

Then, when new customers view your profile, they’ll be able to see you have a proven track record of helping other Bark users with their projects – like It’s Magic Time here:

It's Magic Time I was hired
Tony Charles has been hired seven times since he joined Bark in June.

Buyers can also let us know when they’ve hired you using the new ‘I’ve hired someone‘ button in their dashboard – and we’ll ask them who they’ve hired when they close their Bark.

You can see all the Barks you’ve responded to in the My Responses section of your dashboard, so be sure to go back and click ‘I was hired‘ for all the jobs you’ve secured through Bark to date.

Who hired you button

We’ll also now show you your average response time if you get back to customers quickly Bark Messenger. So be sure to respond to customers as quickly as possible to maximise your chances of success!

King Pest Control response time
King Pest Control responds to pest control Barks in four minutes flat, on average!

This feature should prove especially useful if you work in an industry like pest control or boiler repair, where  customers are often looking for someone who can help them right away.

Combined with the customer reviews you collect on your profile, these new features will give you a real edge over the competition when pitching for business on Bark.

We hope you find them useful, and look forward to helping you secure even more business in the coming weeks and months.

If you have any further thoughts or ideas about how we can help you promote your business one Bark, send us an email at team@bark.com, or leave a comment in the space below!

Why our “per response” system is the best of all possible worlds

One of the most frequently asked questions in our recent Seller Feedback Survey was why we don’t operate on a subscription or commission basis.

It’s a good question…

And we agree that, superficially, those options might seem appealing.

But, as you’ll see here, they lead to a rigid service that’s unfair to you, your customers and your fellow Bark pros.

That’s why we believe our “per response” model provides the best of all possible worlds for everyone involved. It helps us provide our buyers with a great service, and it makes it easier for you to close the deal!

Plus, it lets us guarantee you’ll only pay for a lead when the buyer has read your response to their Bark and seen what you have to offer.

Here’s why we believe this is the right model for you:

What’s wrong with a subscription model?

Under a subscription approach, you’d pay a fixed monthly fee to use our service – something we’ve experimented with in the past.

The main advantage of this kind of model is that you know in advance how much you’ll be spending on leads each month, and are able to plan your budget accordingly.

But sadly, this leads to some nasty unforeseen consequences.

  1. | Bad for magicians, blacksmiths and chimney sweeps

First up, the subscription model unfairly penalizes pros working in niche categories. It means pros in popular niches tend to do well at the expense of other businesses.

We get many more GardeningPhotographyDJ and House Cleaning Barks than we do for AcupunctureMagicians and Mechanical Bull Rental, for example.

Since the idea of Bark.com is to provide buyers with a “search engine for everything”, this goes against what we stand for.

We need people to feel they can turn to us for anything in order to promote repeat business. So we needed to create a service that works for the pros in all of our categories.

In this way, we believe we can generate more leads for everyone – including the pros in our most popular categories.

  1. | No good if you work out in the sticks

Similar problems arise for businesses based in rural areas.

If you cover a densely populated area – such as London, Manchester or Birmingham – your service area covers more people, which means more Barks for you.

But we offer a nationwide service that helps people find the pros they need no matter where they live in the UK.

And that means a subscription model is generally poorer value if you’re in the Highlands, Devon or anywhere with clean air and grassy fields.

Again, this would limit the growth of our service outside of major cities.

  1. | But also rubbish if you work in the city!

So, the only people who win under a subscription model are those of use who live and work in the city, right?

Not quite. These people receive loads of Barks for not much money, but that creates its own problem: competition.

Imagine for a moment you have a friend named Jeff.

Jeff is a photographer based in London. He’s paid his subscription for the month, so it’s now in his interests to respond to as many of the Barks that come his way as possible.

He finds he’s getting quite a lot, so he puts together a generic response, which he copies and pastes into every response to save time.

Now imagine every photographer in London is doing the same thing – what does that mean for our buyers?

To begin with they’d get bombarded with way more quotes than they wanted. At most they might choose one, and then they probably won’t use us again – bad for everyone.

To combat this, we could introduce a cap on the number of responses each buyer receives to five, or so. But how would that work?

If it’s “first come, first served” there’s no way to guarantee we’re sending our buyers the best possible pros. Sending them the five cheapest quotes would encourage a race to the bottom, limiting your potential profits. Giving priority to our seasoned pros would put off our newer ones.

In short, capping the total responses any one Bark can receive under the subscription model seems unfair to you and your fellow pros – but unless we did something like that, it would mean far too much competition in urban areas.

So, the subscription model doesn’t work for any of us…

But what about a
commission model?

As far as we’re aware, absolutely no one in this industry operates like this. It just doesn’t work very well.

It would be great if you could simply take commission based on the confirmed work you you secure through our site.

But there isn’t any reliable way to do this without making it much harder for you to secure the business in the first place, which is something we absolutely want to avoid.

It should be easy for you to grow your customer base using the leads we send you from the Bark website.

But keeping track of the commission we’re owed would lead to draconian measures that would be unpleasant for everyone involved.

  1. | Pricing becomes a right pain

First, the process of closing a sale would likely get longer and more drawn out.

It would require more back-and-forth between you and all your potential clients. We’d need to know what commission to charge, so you’d need to agree all your prices up front in our Bark Messenger.

This also creates an incentive for pros to “lowball” their quote on Bark, to pay less commission, and then add on extras direct with the buyer at a later date.

All this has the potential to be off-putting for our buyers – especially, for Barks where you need more information from the buyer before you can provide them with an accurate quote.

Some jobs are tricky to explain unless you do it in person or over the phone, which brings me to our next problem.

  1. | Dodgy dealers ruin things for everyone

Our current business model is designed to make it as easy as possible for you to contact your potential clients. You can send them absolutely any contact information you like to help them get in touch.

If the best way to win their custom is by phone, that’s fine by us. If you prefer to interact by email or text, that’s fine too. And, of course, our Bark Messenger is tailor made to help you connect with potential customers.

But the commission model presents us with a problem:

Some sellers might simply ask their customers to call them for a quote and try to keep all the commission for themselves.

Now, we’re certainly not saying you’d do a thing like that. In fact, we’re sure you wouldn’t – but I hope you can appreciate the problem.

The upshot is that we’d need to redact your contact information from all the posts you send in the Bark messenger.

It would mean blocking out any phone numbers, email addresses, and website links you tried to include in messages to potential customers – something we absolutely don’t want to do.

We’d look bad, and it would be harder for you to convert the business.

And that’s not the only problem…

  1. | We don’t want to be chasing you

Imagine that Bark is operating on a commission basis and you’ve just closed a huge deal.

Let’s say you do loft conversions and you’ve just landed £30,000. Even if we only charged 3% commission, you’re looking at a £900 cut for us.

When would you like to send it over?

The simplest answer is for you to send it as soon as the deal is agreed. But then you could be out of pocket for days until the customer sends you their payment – maybe even weeks.

If the sale falls through for whatever reason, suddenly you’re £900 out of pocket. You might reasonably expect a refund, so we’d need to hire a team to handle these claims – adding to our overheads and driving up the commission we’d need to charge in the first place.

There’s a similar problem with sending the payment after you received your fee from the customer.

We’d need to hire a team to follow-up on all deals and make sure pros don’t forget to send it over. That would be expensive, thus driving up the commission we charge, and lots of hassle for you.

Besides all else, it’s not really what any of us here at Bark HQ signed up for – we want to help you grow your business, not chase you for money!

And that’s really the crux of the issue: the commission model is incompatible with what we’re trying to do here at Bark.

Remember, we are a search engine for everything – from lawn mowing to legal advice – and different pros generate differently sized commissions for their services.

We don’t want to chase thousands of London photographers to make sure they don’t forget to send the odd £10 here and there.

And we don’t want to focus our efforts on promoting big ticket items like construction work, when most of the people visiting our site are looking for things like Gardening, DJs and House Cleaning.

We want Bark to work for everyone who uses us…

And that’s why we decided to make using our site a simple as possible.

Why “keeping it simple” is best for everyone

We settled on our current “per response” model because we feel it strikes the best balance for everyone who uses Bark.

Buyers who use our site get a manageable number of responses to their Barks, and they can contain everything they need to hire the pro that’s reached out to them.

It helps us cover the entire country, without unfairly penalizing pros in rural areas or operating in ultra-niche businesses.

And it means you can use our service hassle-free, while still having a really strong chance of winning the business of the buyers you reply to.

  • You can use Bark on an ad hoc basis to fill any holes that crop up in your schedule without worrying about whether you’re using it enough to justify the subscription
  • If you use us more regularly, you can still benefit from a cheaper service by taking advantage of the discounts we offer on larger packs of Bark credits
  • And, best of all, it lets us ensure we can cover 1000s of different categories, in 1000s of locations across the country and ensure that our Sellers only pay for what they use.

Decisions on pricing strategy are the subject of much debate at Bark HQ and are not taken lightly. We’ve considered every angle on this, and we hope you can see how we arrived at the business model we use today.

As far as we can see, this provides the best value for buyers and pros alike, while at the same time keeping the service quick and simple to use.

That said, we will only be successful if it works for everyone who uses Bark.com – so please feel free to share any feedback with our Customer Service Team by emailing team@bark.com.

We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Nick Hewer Twitter Q&A – The Answers!

Nick Hewer Twitter q&A

On 6th October 2015, we hosted an engaging Twitter Q&A with the highly successful businessman, Nick Hewer. Nick gave us an insight into the business world and offered advice for budding entrepreneurs on the hashtag, #AskNick.

Nick Hewer is well known as the host of Channel 4’s Countdown, and from 2005 to 2014 he appeared as Lord Sugar’s adviser on the British television series, The Apprentice. Nick has been working with Bark.com since our inception, so we were delighted to have him take over our Twitter feed, offering valuable business advice and providing career inspiration along the way. If you haven’t yet seen it, here’s Nick explaining how Bark.com works earlier this year.

Missed out on the Q&A? Don’t worry, because we have compiled Nick’s answers for you to digest below!

Nick Hewer Opening Q&A

Question 1: 

Question 1

Question 2:

Question 2

Question 3: 

Question 3

Question 4:

Question 4

Question 5: 

Question 5

Question 6: 

Question 6

Question 7: 

Question 7

Question 8:

Question 8

Question 9:

Question 9

Question 10:

Question 10

Question 11:

Question 11

Question 12:

Question 12

Question 13:

Question 13

Question 14:

Question 14

Question 15:

Question 15

Question 16:

Question 16

Question 17:

Question 17

After a fantastic Q&A, Nick signed off…

Nick Hewer end of Q&A

Thanks to everyone who got involved in the Q&A! Was your question answered? Is there anything else you would like to #AskNick? Let us know in the comments below!

And while you’re at it, make sure you follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page or visit our blog to keep up to date with Bark news, tips and advice!

  automatic translations .

You’re hired! Join Nick Hewer and Bark.com for a day of SME insight

We’re delighted to announce that Nick Hewer, former right-hand man to Alan Sugar and highly successful businessman is set to join Bark.com on Tuesday, October 6th, for a day of expert advice and insight into SME success.

Nick Hewer, Kai Feller and Andrew Michael
Nick and Bark.com’s founders

After 10 years on The Apprentice, Nick retired from the show at the end of the last season, and is now working as a consultant for a number of small businesses as he continues to make his mark on the UK’s entrepreneurial scene (as well as, of course, presenting Countdown!).

He’s been working with Bark.com since our inception (here’s him explaining how Bark works back in March) and as part of our partnership, next Tuesday, Nick will be taking part in a live Q&A session on via the @barkteam twitter page, giving budding entrepreneurs and small business owners the chance to have their business queries answered by the man himself.

Kai Feller and Nick Hewer shake hands
The start of a great partnership!

Have a burning question? Let us know using the #AskNick hashtag and we’ll do our best to go through as many as we can. Or, if you just happy to sit back and absorb the insights, tune in from 1-2pm.

If you can’t make it though, not to worry – we’ll also be sharing Nick’s top tips for SMEs on our YouTube channel and via our blog, so watch this space. 

An easy guide: How to build an online presence for your small business

We are surrounded by media. From when we sit at the bus stop in the morning to when we chill out in front of the TV in the evening, we are constantly targeted by large companies and brands who are desperate to gain our attention. This has become increasingly prevalent in the age of social media, which has provided another avenue from which brands can target us, even drilling down into our demographics and interests. With that in mind, small business owners now need to make sure that they are developing an online presence, to make them stand out in industries that are already heavily saturated.

It’s common knowledge that online presence means brand awareness. Nowadays, how you present your brand online is similar to meeting a customer for the first time. Your online brand is essentially what people think of you when you are not available. Online presence is often a test of credibility for many technologically savvy consumers, who would rather connect with businesses online first before making a purchasing decision. This poses an opportunity to impress and capture the attention of potential customers. These days the first port of call when looking for information about a product or a service is to ‘Google’ it, meaning online presence is crucial if you want to make your business a successful one.

So how can you become a major player in this competitive age? Here are 5 ways to effectively maximise your online presence:

Branding 

No matter how big or small your company is – branding matters. From word go a clear and consistent branding strategy should be developed, which can be pumped across all online channels to create brand recognition. According to the founder of The NY Brand Lb, Mary Van de Wiel, “without a brand you ultimately lack an identity, a presence – and a purpose.” You should think about your tone of voice and your values, as well as your visual aesthetic. Not particularly creative? Don’t know where to start? Then maybe you should find a graphic designer who can help you pinpoint what your business is about in a visually appealing way.

Communicate your brand
Shout loud about your brand

Website Design and Development 

You never know who will be knocking on your virtual door at any time of the day or night – so make sure your home on the Internet is kitted out for new visitors! Creating and more importantly maintaining a website is a useful tool for every business. Here, you can shout loud about your portfolio of work and maybe even offer your tuppence-worth via a company blog. Your website needs to be functional and user friendly, and this is where a professional with experience in website design and development may come in handy! Once you find the right web developer, start thinking about optimising your website. This will make sure that your website performs well on search engines – just like the aforementioned Google! Be front and centre of the online world, and drive traffic to your website with the help of an SEO professional.

Web Site Design
Build a user-friendly website!

Social Media

You’ve developed your brand, and mastered your website. But how can you enhance the visibility of your brand even further? The key is to make sure you are on social media – which is both effective and cost effective. Social media not only helps you to grow your customer base by reaching a wider audience, it also helps you to promote brand recognition and loyalty. Find a social media marketer who can help you maximise channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Although not the most widely used social network, G+ should also be maximised. Effective use of G+ can determine your inclusion and ranking in the carousel of businesses that appear at the top of the Google search results. As well as aiding your SEO, there are also advanced features available to businesses using G+. Check out G+ for yourself and add Bark.com to your circles!

If you’re feeling particularly competitive, you might want to also get set up on new and emerging social networks like Snapchat and Periscope. The opportunities are endless!

Be active on social media
Engage with your customers via social media

Email Marketing

In this day and age, almost everyone has an online presence in some form, even if it is just an email address. Email marketing is a sure way to stay on the radar of potential customers, and it can definitely allow you to establish profitable relationships in the long term. This is to be used wisely, and should not be spam abuse. Instead your emails should offer something to the consumer – be it special offers, industry news or company updates. Feeling a little confused? Then find an email marketer to help you get the job done.

Build a customer database
Build a targeted email marketing campaign

Online Directories

Regardless of how strong your online presence is, you won’t be able to sit back, relax and let the cash flow in. You need to get ahead of your competitors, who are battling against you with extensive advertising budgets. If a customer can’t find you when they are searching for a product or a service, then you simply won’t get the business. Joining an online directory like our very own Bark.com ensures that you are placed directly in front of the right people, often for a very minimal spend. No matter what service you provide, learn more about joining Bark by visiting our Pro-Centre.

Incorporating a targeted email marketing campaign with your slick new branding, user-friendly website and engaging social media strategy will set your small business on a path to success, all with the added help from an online directory like Bark.com!

Do you have any other tips for small business owners? Let us know!

For more Bark.com tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?

 

Five Features of Windows 10 You Need To Know

Microsoft Windows 10 start sceen
Windows 10 sees the return of the Start menu

After close to a year-long wait from beta to launch, Windows 10 was released to the public last week amid much anticipation. Three years on from Windows’ last major operating system launch, Windows 8 in 2012 that received mixed reviews at best, Windows 10 has so far been praised for its more familiar interface and ease of use.

If you’re a devout Windows user, an upgrade is probably a no-brainer; it’s free to download, as long as you do so within the first year of its launch. For non-Windows users, the new operating system is due out at the end of August,  and an as-yet-confirmed price will be attached.

So, if you’re still undecided about whether or not to take the plunge and upgrade, here’s five features that may help you make up your mind:

1. Gain the Edge

Being frank, it’s about time Microsoft decided to ditch Internet Explorer and adopt a new web browser. Having once enjoyed a virtual monopoly when it came to web browsing, the rise of the likes of Google Chrome, Firefox and Mozilla left Explorer looking like that annoying person who refuses to leave the party.

Edge is Microsoft’s fresh attempt to take on the might of Chrome and Firefox, and so far, things are looking positive. With the help of Cortana, your own virtual personal assistant (we explain further down), Edge allows us to ‘ditch the distractions’ and ‘do-more faster’.

A new rendering engine means Edge is much faster and more responsive than its predecessor and in terms of security, Microsoft has pulled out all the stops to ensure we don’t fall victim to hackers and other nefarious cyber-threats.

What does this all mean in comparison to Chrome, Firefox et al? It seems to be a case of ‘close, but no cigar’ for Edge. Yes, it’s a massive improvement on the dinosaur that is Internet Explorer, but it still lags somewhat behind the leading browsing stalwarts; Chrome is still probably the best performing browser currently out there.

Microsoft Windows 10 Edge web browser
Trying to gain an Edge on Chrome and Firefox.

2. ‘Appy Days

One of the major selling points of Windows 10 is the universal app feature. Put simply, Windows Apps will now work on any Windows 10-supported platform, be it your PC, tablet, smartphone or even your Xbox One. This could be a major pull for developers, who can know create a one-size fits all app any machine, as opposed to having to re-write them for each platform, like the bad old days.

The hope for Microsoft is that this move will help to close the app-gap on Google Play and the Apple Store, the mammoths of the industry. For the typical user, convenience is the keyword here. That one change you forgot to make to that presentation on your PC earlier this morning can now be made from your phone on the way to the meeting, or that photo you took with your mates earlier today will be waiting for you on your Microsoft Surface tablet when you get home. Yes, Google Documents and Apple Continuity offers the same service, but Microsoft may have stolen a march with its ease of use.

Windows Apps will now work on any Windows 10-supported platform.
Windows Apps will now work on any Windows 10-supported platform.

3. Hey Cortana

How rude of us; here we are explaining the features of Windows 10 and we haven’t even introduced you to Cortana yet… Your own personal assistant, Cortana will never leave your side for as long as you use Windows 10. Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri and Google Now, may be familiar to Windows Phone users, but this marks her debut on PCs and tablets. Simply stating: ‘Hey Cortana’ will awaken your digital assistant, and she will provide you with anything from leading news stories to weather updates. Just don’t expect her to make the coffee…

The more you use Microsoft 10, the better Cortana gets to know you and the more refined and personal information she can offer you. This can be very beneficial on Edge, as Cortana will monitor your browsing habits to make researching quicker and seamless. Want directions to that new restaurant in town? Just ask Cortana. Writing a university essay and struggling to comprehend that ridiculous-sounding term? Don’t fret, Cortana will explain all.

She’ll even tell you a joke, if you ask her nicely. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

Cortana Micrsoft Windows 10
Cortana: your trusty personal assistant

4. A Fresh Start

A major reason for the launch of Windows 8 falling like a lead balloon back in 2012 was the dismantling of the Start screen. Instead, Microsoft opted to ‘modernise’ and use tiles instead, which only served to bamboozle its audience. Windows 10 sees the return of the popular start menu.

Tiles still exist in Windows 10, but they’re more of an accompaniment rather than the main event. Tiles can be organised into different groups, so your business-related folders and programs can sit together, or all of your gaming features can be found in one neat place. Put short, it’s a world away from the headache of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 and a successful attempt at going back to basics.

As simple as it sounds, the return of the Start button might just be the clincher to you deciding to download Windows 10.

Microsoft Windows 10 start screen
Windows 10 sees the return of the Start menu

5. Down to Business

Microsoft has seemingly gone to great lengths to win over businesses who were left disappointed with the complicated Windows 8. One failure of that operating system was the lack of businesses that made the switch; most were more inclined to stick with Windows 7.

Should your business make the switch to Windows 10? Early signs suggest you should. Windows 10 is smarter and safer than its predecessors. As we mentioned earlier, the new operating system is hot on making the service as secure as possible. Feature such as Microsoft Hello will require fingerprint readers and infrared cameras in order to authenticate devices. In terms of productivity, Universal Apps encourages businesses to store apps of interest in one area, allowing easy access for your employees, whilst work-mates can share content with each other through peer-to-peer delivery.

What’s more, gone are the days of waiting years for upgrades to your system. Instead, Windows 10 will offer regular updates to ensure your system is working at full capacity.

If all of this has gone over your head, why not grab some advice from an expert? Even better, knowledge is power

For more Bark.com tips and insight, why not check out our other blogs?

Is Windows 10 a new dawn for Microsoft, or is it a case of more of the same? Let us know