[Customer Story] Barkly Pets Unleashes Growth With On-Demand Dog Walking
Chris Gonzalez, Dave Comiskey, and Jim Camut had a problem: Every dog walking service they tried was unreliable. Walkers would bail at the last minute and leave the friends troubling each other for help. It ruined their schedules, so they decided to find out what was going on.
“We discovered that many local dog walking businesses underpay, under-prepare, and undervalue their walkers, which leads to missed appointments, high turnover, and other problems that characterize the industry,” said Dave, a co-founder at Barkly pets.
With little financing, anyone can start a dog walking business. You don't need a license, and most companies offer the same services. Intense competition created a race to the bottom for wages. That’s a big reason why the pet-care industry struggles attracting and retaining a motivated workforce.
While unreliable walkers are inconvenient for owners, they’re traumatic for dogs, who need stable relationships.
Now There’s An App For That
Once the friends figured out the source of the problem, they saw an opportunity. Technology would let a company get big without much overhead, making it possible to invest in walkers and offer real benefits like medical coverage. And that would make life better for workers, pet owners, and their dogs.
The friends developed a mobile app with features they’d use themselves, including the path your dog walked and even photos of the experience. The software automates scheduling to handle last minute bookings and keep dogs with their favorite walkers.
Dog walker ratings boost confidence in the system and incentivize walkers to grow their skills.
Yet the trio knew it’d be hard to get pet owners to trust their prized pooches to strangers they hired online. In 2015, on-demand companies were still unusual, and dog walkers would need access to customers’ homes.
That’s why the founders sought out an employment background check service before they hired their first walker.
Growing With GoodHire
“Trust is the single greatest factor pet owners consider when they choose their pet care provider. Properly vetting our dog walkers is the first of many steps in forming that trust, and selecting a background check provider that equally values and honors that trust is important,” Dave said.
Though he knew the company needed background checks, Dave says he worried the checks would slow down the nimble business they were building. To make their plan work they’d need a service that would help them grow fast.
They found their solution in GoodHire. As Dave puts it, “GoodHire’s simple UI, multiple options for candidate consent, and their API have been a huge timesaver for us as we’ve grown.”
At first, they were running only a handful of checks. Now they run more than a hundred each quarter. Even so, they still spend less than an hour a week on GoodHire.
This efficiency also helps Barkly hire great walkers: "We’re fiercely passionate about finding, recruiting, and retaining only the best pet professionals, which requires an onboarding and orientation that emulates our passion,” Dave said. “Having a simple, non-obtrusive, onboarding process is critical to bringing on and retaining top talent."
As a bonus, GoodHire helped the company learn about the FCRA and hiring laws. “GoodHire got us up to speed and has helped us stay in compliance,” he added.
Coming To A Block Near You
Barkly Pets started in the founders’ Capitol Hill neighborhood in Washington, D.C., and expanded to New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Demand for their services indicates growth for years to come. As one delighted customer said, “I cannot say enough about this service. The dog walkers are super friendly, courteous, accommodating, and everything in between.”
It seems the friends succeeded in building the trust they need.
You can find the Barkly Pets app in the iTunes store.