Following the heels of well-established home contractor sites, such as HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List, next generation startups with similar business models have been focusing on lawn care and outdoor services.
Though you can find lawn care professionals on broader, more established sites, newer sites have been inspired and motivated by the success of Uber’s easy-to-use app. We suspect that more than a few entrepreneurial founders of these apps have frustratingly asked themselves: “Why can’t I get someone to mow my lawn as easy as I can take an Uber?” or “How come I can’t book any of these snow plows that keep passing by my snow-drenched home?”.
While getting users to adopt new service apps is the top priority for these evolving apps, recruiting service providers and keeping them happy are just as crucial. In order for any service marketplace to flourish, this type of app needs to keep both the end clients and quality service partners happy.
The primary reason that these startups are going narrow is simply that they have identified a combination of unmet market needs and inefficiencies. The best providers will intuitively understand the core needs and frustrations of both the end-users (typically homeowners) and their service providers (lawn care professionals). Plus, “narrow” is not as inconsequential as you may believe:
- The current annual US Market for Landscaping Services is $99.7B
- The Residential sector is approximately 30% of all Landscaping Services: $30B
- The North American Residential Snow Removal industry is approximately $7.6B
Benefits to Homeowners
The primary benefits to homeowners of these apps are: vetted service providers (insurance, background checks, licensing, availability, service offerings); vendor ratings; competitive pricing; free quotes; timely availability; ease-of-selection; ease-of-scheduling and ease-of-payment.
Quality marketplaces should always provide at least the following minimum benefits to homeowners:
- Free, timely quotes for a requested service from professionally vetted service providers
- Reviews and ratings of service providers
- Ability to ask questions and confirm details PRIOR to hiring the contractor
- Access to customer service to resolve any issues that may arise
- No payment required until AFTER confirming the service is completed to satisfaction
Benefits to Service Providers
These types of marketplaces also need to serve as a valuable resource for vendors, as well, in order to attract and retain high quality service partners. Referral marketplaces can serve as highly efficient marketing channels for busy vendors, such that they have more availability for work by reducing inefficient use of time returning calls, emails and texts that do not lead to booked jobs.
For example, some of these sites can help contractors grow a recurring customer base, while others make it convenient to pick up nearby, ad hoc projects that would otherwise be impractical to take on. The more contractors benefit from these marketplace apps, the better the experience for end users.
Given that these apps and marketplaces are still nascent in their evolution, we strongly recommend checking reviews to judge the experience across these variables: the app itself (ease-of-use & reliability); quality of available vendors per service type; and reviews of the specific service you plan to request (e.g. lawn mowing, snow removal).
Keep in mind that certain review sites may attract a larger percentage of negative reviews, whereas reviews on app download pages (e.g. Google Play & App Store) tend to have a higher percentage of positive reviews.
When and why should you use this type of app?
No matter how you find, vet and hire a contractor, there may always be a risk that you will be dissatisfied with the service rendered, e.g.: poor workmanship; higher than expected pricing; disagreement over the scope of work; and timeliness of availability and completion. However, by using a marketplace intermediary you have someone who can remedy issues and provide mediation between you and the service contractor.
That said, these apps are especially well suited to help you when you are in a bind, necessitating time-sensitive, urgent help, such as snow removal, tree and brush removal after a storm, or prepping your home for sale.
For example, we are especially intrigued with snow removal services, as a compelling driver of adoption, as apprehensions are considerably lower than when selecting contractors for more costly and complex projects. In short, you just need snow removed expediently at a fair price. Similar to an Uber experience, nothing compares with the convenience of getting quick, real-time bids within an on-demand, GPS-enabled app.
Here are several service apps to consider for your next outdoor project or chore.
GreenPal is a marketplace (website and app) for hiring recurring lawn maintenance services at affordable prices. Users can receive up to 5 bids for their listed property and service request. The company confidently states that it is possible for impatient homeowners to book either same day or next day lawn services. Once you have signed up for a recurring service (either once per week or once per 2-weeks) you can easily add ad hoc service requests on an as-needed basis. If you are unhappy with the first contractor hired, you can cancel and hire a different lawn service provider.
GreenPal’s vetting of service providers include: bank checks; pictures of past work; professional references; verification of equipment and experience; and acceptance of the GreenPal quality of standards. Once accepted into the platform, vendors must maintain an acceptable level of service and reputation. GreenPal’s geographic reach is extensive, with presence in over 80 markets throughout the United States.
Unique to GreenPal’s approach, is their focus and success at helping their service partners grow their lawn care businesses by streamlining marketing, scheduling, bidding and invoicing. The elimination of wasted time and unnecessary expenses will likely further strengthen the quality of their service partners. Additionally, these streamlined benefits are motivating their most successful lawn care providers to onboard ALL of their recurring customers to GreenPal’s system, which will drive more user adoption.
LawnStarter, based in Austin, Texas, is a lawn care marketplace that helps homeowners hire professional landscapers for recurring maintenance and various types of projects involving: grass, weeds, pests, and flowerbeds. This marketplace is also primarily for recurring services and is not conducive for on demand projects. Their basic maintenance package includes: mowing, edging, and blowing. They use public real estate data to calculate the size of your lawn, which is then used to generate a personalized quote.
Once signed up for a recurring service, you can also order specialty one-time services like fertilization, aeration, overseeding, and leaf removal, for an add-on fee. Their lawn care providers are all licensed (as required by the state where applicable), insured, personally vetted by LawnStarter, and have on average of 12 years of experience in the industry. The company also requires that vendors maintain a minimum quality rating of at least 4.75 out of 5 stars to remain on their platform.
To get a sense for their customer service, we recommend browsing the reviews on Google Play to see how they have handled various issues encountered by their customers.
Plowz and Mowz
Plowz and Mowz’s app caters to outdoor home services, including: snow plowing; lawn mowing; leaf removal; gardening; gutter clean up; yard clean up; mulch delivery; aeration & overseeding; grass fertilization; tree & shrub trimming; driveway sealing; haul away; power washing; pet waste removal; firewood delivery; sprinkler blowout; and aerial photography.
Plowz & Mowz services are currently available in over 30 markets (55 cities) across the U.S, with plans to continue expansion. Users can set up recurring services after receiving free price quotes prior to choosing a contractor through the company’s app.
LawnGuru is a referral marketplace for both recurring and on-demand lawn care services and snow plowing. Specific types of services offered include: lawn mowing; yard cleanup; seeding aeration; hedge trimming; mulch; weeding; tree work; pressure washing; sprinkler winterization; sprinkler start-up; gutter cleaning; junk removal; and snow clearing. They are currently in eight metro areas, including: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.
Of the apps listed in this article, we view Shovler as exhibiting the spirit closest to that of Uber. Per their name, their services provide affordable, on-demand snow shoveling services nationwide and in parts of Canada. This service focuses on homes (driveways, sidewalks, and walkways) and cars (parked anywhere), and caters to remote ordering. The car service is especially important for city dwellers in order to avoid costly fines.
One common benefit that many lovers of this app share is that they no longer have to wait at home, hoping for an enterprising young person to knock on their door to offer to shovel their property. Similar to Uber, Shovler provides flexible and convenient earning opportunities for persons wanting to sign up as a “shovler”. Owning a shovel is yet another way to participate in the gig economy. Some “shovlers” even take a “healthy” perspective of getting paid in exchange for a great workout!
Though currently only serving markets within Michigan, QuikPlow’s narrow focus may prove to be a big local hit. The app can be used to order snow plowing service for friends and family who might be in need. Services include: driveway clearing, side walk shoveling, and salting. Confirming how “big” snow is in Michigan, as of January 16, 2021, they had over 450 contractors signed up for their app. Markets stated to be “coming soon” include: Buffalo, Rochester, Newark and Chicago.
The Current State of Landscaping Technology for Your Home
9 Helpful Gardening Apps to Augment Your Green Thumb
7 Ingenious Tech Products for Weed and Pest Control
Improve Your Landscaping with a Smart Irrigation System
Are You Ready for a Robotic Lawn Mower?
Why Prescriptive Maintenance is the Cure for Homeowner Headaches
15 Imaginative Home Products from CES 2021
What Homeowners Should Know About Proptech
|Purgula is reader-supported. When you click on links to other sites from our website, we may earn affiliate commissions, at no cost to you. If you find our content to be helpful, this is an easy way for you to support our mission. Thanks! Learn more.|