Booker Reviews

Updated March 25, 2015
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3.7
57 Reviews
Rating Trends
Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Booker CEO Josh McCarter
Josh McCarter
48 Ratings

Pros
  • Work environment: casual but professional (in 8 reviews)

  • Management is open to time off and promote a healthy work life balance (in 4 reviews)

Cons
  • Sales Managers in the middle levels are somewhat inexperienced, but are extremely driven and trying their best to build the sales team (in 5 reviews)

  • We're a start-up, so we are all hands on deck most of the time (in 2 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

Employee Reviews

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  1. Booker is full of nice, fun people, and provides its employees with opportunities for growth and skill-building.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Booker full-time

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    - Unbelievable work/life balance
    - Room for growth
    - Nice, young, fun core of people
    - Opportunity to learn/develop skills
    - CEO is the man
    - Open communication - everyone is approachable from the CEO and down
    - Fun work outings are a plus
    - Fast-growing startup with lots of VC backing including Bain Capital
    - Amazing locations in NYC and California

    Cons

    - Communication between teams needs to be improved
    - Product is improving but should be better
    - Lots of young people = lots of immaturity — you have to deal with it
    - Don't pay particularly well, although there is room for growth both in title and salary

    Advice to Management

    - Matching 401k program
    - More cohesive vision for company future (across departments)
    - Put more money into the actual product/software

  2. Good performance recognized

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I have been working at Booker full-time (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Life at Booker is fun, challenging and rewarding. I have been here for almost a year and have really enjoyed my time. I work alongside very talented and friendly staff. If you work hard and are a team player it will get noticed and management does a great job of rewarding good performance. Booker's Fun committee puts together some really enjoyable events. It's an amazing company to work for.

    Cons

    At time communication between teams could be better. I have seen some improvement in this area since I've been at the company but there is room for more.

    Advice to Management

    Benefits package is good but I would like to see a matching 401K plan. Continue to foster communication and collaboration between different teams and departments.

  3. Booker is a great place to work and provides me everything I need to succeed!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Finance
    Current Employee - Finance

    I have been working at Booker

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    The best thing about working at Booker is the company culture - the tone is set from the HR department all the way up to the CEO himself. People are always happy, smiling and seem like they love what they are doing. Booker does a great job in providing an atmosphere of work hard and you will get rewarded. Training is given from your superiors in a calm, meaningful way, and they are there to help you every step of the way. Perks include 401K plans, company outings (which are awesome!!!) and lots of team building activities.

    Cons

    The only benefit I would like Booker to add is a 401K matching program.

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  5. Great people

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Booker

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Super positive, energetic environment with lots of young, cool people. Lots of fun events outside of work and there is a real feeling of camraderie.

    Cons

    Some competition and animosity amongst departments.

  6. Helpful (1)

    Booker is a good balance of good people, a good place, and is not short of interesting and challenging problems to solve

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Booker in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Booker in New York, NY

    I have been working at Booker

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    No matter how deep or wide your history, you will learn a lot at Booker.

    Cons

    Not a Con, but a challenge is that the platform is massive and has a huge customer base so ideas are welcome but change might take longer than other smaller and younger companies. Still mad parsecs ahead of your typical investment bank in terms of innovation and turnaround of ideas.

    Advice to Management

    Don't stand for status quo. If we came to kick butt and chew bubble gum, we're all out of bubble gum. Disrupt all the things!

  7. Interesting/Good Place to Work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Developer in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Developer in New York, NY

    I have been working at Booker

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Interesting projects and some good people make this generally a great place to work

    Cons

    Booker is still trying to figure out what it's future is... which can be painful and has some management issues.

  8. Great place to get your foot in the door!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Implementation in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Implementation in New York, NY

    I have been working at Booker full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The culture is a very fun, up-beat. HR likes to plan quarterly outings. There is a Keg and ping pong table. There is a lot of room for growth if you work hard.

    Cons

    High turnover. Communication and employee training could be better. Leadership could be more transparent. Some department employees don't believe in the product which leads to not so proactive conversations among colleagues. Overall, the people are great, the product needs some work, but it's getting there.

    Advice to Management

    Let your employees be more creative with their schedule or how they do their jobs. Be more flexible to change. Each department should feel just as valued as the next.

  9. Helpful (5)

    Booker is like working at your dream job, except they don't pay well, the code is a nightmare and no one is happy

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - QA Analyst in New York, NY
    Current Employee - QA Analyst in New York, NY

    I have been working at Booker full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Located near the subway
    Half days on Fridays in the summer
    the office has a great view and we can play ping pong during lunch

    Cons

    -Below average pay
    -The code base was poorly designed by contractors
    -Every release is painful. Code is changed at the last moment and QA is expected to work crazy hours

    Advice to Management

    Give us our 2014 for bonuses.. Why? You know it's 2015 already...
    I'd rather play foosball during lunch, can we swap the ping pong table out?

  10. Helpful (20)

    Good place to socialize, not a good place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I worked at Booker full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Booker has many employees in their 20s and early 30s, leading to great socializing and networking opportunities. Agile methodology was implemented for the Tech, Product, and QA teams, leading to more open communication between departments, though still not up the ranks. Booker has two comfortable lunch areas, with games and cable TV, making for a pleasant break. Fruit, like bananas and apples, are delivered once a week. The office is centrally located near the Fulton station in downtown and has great views of the WTC and the Hudson river.

    Cons

    UNCOMPETITIVE COMPENSATION
    Uncompetitive compensation is the number one problem at Booker. When compared on Glassdoor to average salaries for similar positions at similar companies in the same area, Booker pays anywhere from 25-50% less. This discrepancy in pay even occurs within Booker between employees in the same or similar roles. Specific examples include an employee who took over the position of a leaving employee with the same title, responsibilities, and experience, but made $20,000 less (~30% less); an employee who had been promoted multiple times and had been in their current role for a year was earning about $45,000 less (~50% less) than what a new employee in the same role received; a person was hired at $25,000 less (~35% less) than the average for the role based on Glassdoor; people hired into the Customer Experience department make less than people hired into the same roles one or two years ago.

    For two years in a row, annual performance reviews have come with no opportunity of an increase in compensation. In 2014 for the 2013 year, many managers did not conduct reviews unless approached by their employees even though HR had a clear performance review policy. In 2015, for the 2014 year, HR stated that reviews would come with no compensation increase; this would be discussed at a later time in 2015.

    An increase in compensation only happens when people are promoted or they offer their resignation. When promoted, the increase does not match the fair market compensation for that role.

    INSIGNIFICANT BENEFITS
    PTO is constantly being reduced for new employees. Over 20 days used to be offered a few years ago, then was reduced to around 15, and now it's down to 10. Sick days are included in PTO so that means even fewer vacation days.

    Health, dental, and vision insurance are offered along with other supplemental things like life and disability. However, the health insurance is extremely expensive, around $175 a month for an individual on the lowest plan and the company doesn't cover costs on a tiered basis, so entry level employees pay the same price for insurance as do executives.

    A 401(k) plan is offered but with no company match nor one being implemented in the foreseeable future. Options are offered but in a very limited amount and how many a person receives varies based on when they joined and whether they were promoted from within to their current position or were hired into that position (promoted employees have fewer options because they received fewer upon hire and are not given an amount equivalent to their new position).

    NO CAREER GROWTH / LACK MEANINGFUL PROMOTIONS
    Booker is a company where experienced people can go to work on a complex product, not a place for entry level people looking to learn or grow within the company. With little training, it is hard to attain the skills required to move up or to a different department. And even when employees have the skills for an open position, an outside person is brought in to fill the role. This happens for almost all management level roles and above. Instead, useless titles like Senior and Lead are given to employees to keep them “happy” for another year. Additionally, with these titles comes almost full management responsibilities but very little pay increase, the justification from executives being that these are not management positions.

    Specific goals for teams and individuals are not set by management, nor are performance requirements, so come annual reviews, management can give out any grade and not have to justify their decision. In the Customer Experience department, the VP was able to promote specific people the VP liked without a transparent process for doing so. In Product, people were passed up for promotions for reasons including that they “looked too young” and that they didn’t come in early enough, even though they often stayed late into the night to meet unrealistic deadlines. In Tech, the Director of Back End “conducted” reviews by sending an email with the HR review document filled out; employees had to seek out the Director to get a meeting to discuss the “review”.

    NO TRAINING / NO DOCUMENTATION
    Booker was built with contractors from day one and that continues today, with a large part of the tech team, from developers to QA, working remotely as part of outsourcing companies. This setup has led to pockets of knowledge and poor documentation of code. Very few people understand the platform well and there is no established way of documenting how new features work and how they integrate into the overall system.

    Onboarding of new employees is almost non-existent except in the sales and customer experience departments. In the tech department, no training on the software is provided, no development environment and other starting tools are provided, and management provides very little in the way of guidance and training and instead relies on teammates to do management’s job.

    Booker has held Lunch & Learns to help promote people sharing knowledge but the environment has become so non-collegial that people don’t want to invest in sharing because there is no reward and they don’t feel they are part of a team.

    POOR MANAGEMENT / LEADERSHIP
    Besides a hard-to-use and complex product, management is the second most likely reason for Booker to fail. They are inexperienced leaders and come from backgrounds unrelated to business-management software development. They believe that hiring more and more people is the solution to Booker’s problems and state that “we need to hire for this role so that the new person can figure out what we should do.” Ironically, hiring people is not a budget problem, but paying current employees fair market value is a problem.

    Management has very unrealistic growth expectations that they sell to employees and investors to encourage them to stay and invest, respectively. Sales projections are based on hoped-for partnerships that require a great deal of software development and run time, neither of which Booker has.

    Unless certain executives are replaced and a different strategy for the company is implemented, Booker is not likely to survive and not a place to bet a startup career on.

    HIGH EMPLOYEE TURNOVER
    Employee turnover is a serious problem at Booker. For over a year, Booker's maintained about a 25% per year turnover, meaning that with around 200-250 employees, one person a week, on average, leaves the company. While there are employees who have been there longer, including a co-founder, the average employee tenure is about 1-2 years even though the company is over 7 years old. A majority of employees who have been with the company for more than six months express their desire to leave the company or their unhappiness with the company.

    Management has conducted numerous surveys to determine why employees are unhappy and are leaving, but few meaningful changes have been made. The biggest complaint of employees is compensation.

    QUESTIONABLE ETHICS
    The ethics at Booker is particularly troubling with some stand-out examples.

    Booker will do many things to market itself to potential customers, including paying employees to direct only satisfied customers who are willing to give a 5 star rating to a software review website and encouraging employees to vote on the best spa software in the American Spas’ 2014 Professional's Choice Awards. In regards to the latter, an email from the Director of Brand and Reputation at Booker was sent to all employees stating to vote for Booker but “When asked for your contact information, provide your personal email and telephone number NOT your Booker email.” This was followed up with an email stating “PLEASE NOTE: Do not do this from your work IP — you have to enter from your personal account.” Based on this email, having employees vote for Booker was not only unethical but also not allowed by the awards organization.

    Booker from time to time will offer an award to people who help out with large projects. Such an award was given out in 2014 to the group that worked on implementing a new enterprise client, working long hours with a very tight deadline. One of the employees working on this project found another job towards the completion of the project and gave his customary two week notice. The award was a baseball game for the team but this employee was not allowed to attend because his last day of employment was the day before the game. Even though he had put in months of hard work on the project and left on good terms, he was not allowed to attend the game.

    A similar thing happened to an employee who had been with the company for a year and a half and resigned in November of 2014. The employee wanted to attend the holiday party held the first week of December and was allowed to do so but was mandated to pay $80, even though the employee had RSVPed to the event while employed so the headcount was accounted for and the employee had worked there the entire year. The reason for the required payment was because “that’s the policy”.

    Another instance of poor ethics and possibly illegal discrimination came during reviews from a manager who told an employee that the employee couldn’t receive a senior title because the employee “looked too young” and “how would that title be perceived by others”.

    A final troubling development is the opening of an office in Philadelphia. The stated rationale behind this was cheaper office space. Philadelphia is not a tech hub, certainly nothing like San Francisco, Austin, Boston, or other cities with available talent. When asked if other cities were considered, the answer was no. This leads one to believe that “cheaper office space” was not a deciding factor. Given that the executive had already hired two friends into VP and Director level positions, providing jobs for friends was a probable reason. Coincidentally, they all live in Philadelphia and commute to New York for Booker. It wouldn’t be surprising if in a few months, these executives permanently work from the Philadelphia office. This would not be far-fetched because two VPs already work remotely, in addition to a large part of tech that is outsourced abroad.

    Advice to Management

    Pay fair market salaries and pay consistently among employees with the same or similar roles. This has happened in the QA department but needs to be across the whole company.

    Provide cheaper healthcare options for entry-level employees and start matching 401(k) contributions.

    Focus on training employees, whether through online videos like Lynda.com, through continuing education classes, or by hiring managers who are experts in their field and are willing to train their employees. Promote from within for management positions and mentor new managers so they can succeed.

    Have a focused strategy for the product as it’s too complex as it is and isn't sellable without massive amounts of expensive training for new clients. Choose a market segment and don’t try to please every new enterprise client, especially when it leads to added features to the product that are only relevant to that client. Work on long-term, scalable solutions that are automated instead of short-term patches that require multiple departments spending time away from their jobs to resolve.

    Stop hiring indiscriminately. It’s a waste of money and not the appropriate solution for the existing problems. Venture capitalists would be happier with a successful company than with a large company.

    Bring contract developers and QA jobs in-house. It will lead to better knowledge of the product and better communication among employees. Implement documentation requirements so that knowledge isn't lost when an employee leaves.

  11. Helpful (1)

    Fast-growing startup, terrific culture, exciting growth prospects

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Booker

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Booker has a terrific culture that starts with its senior leadership. Smart people work here and they work hard, but maintain a solid work-life balance. It is an exciting time to be at Booker, given its strong growth prospects in the short and long run. Also, Booker is making a huge impact on small businesses and the product is great - it is rewarding to be a part of that impact and create something that actually helps people. Lastly, Booker is a nice combination of a startup environment/culture with a growing/maturing company that is on its way to becoming a mid-sized company. So you get the best of all worlds - growth, culture, opportunity and stability.

    Cons

    Sales management seems inexperienced and could use training or need to be revisited. Company and senior leadership needs to revisit their core values. Also, more accountability is needed across all levels when it comes to goals.

    Advice to Management

    Take the time to truly define what Booker's core values are, as this needs to resonate within the company. Also, be more transparent when it comes to company goals - for example, Sales goals, Product goals, Marketing goals...

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