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 penalises pros working in niche categories. It means pros in popular niches tend to do well at the expense of other businesses.
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.
2. | 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.
3. | 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 anyone 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…