Find Hampton Roads mowers to cut your grass with Mowz smartphone app [Daily Press (Newport News, Va.) :: ]
(Daily Press (Newport News, VA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 25--Want to push a button on your smartphone to get your grass cut? You can when the Mowz app launches in Hampton Roads on Monday.
After downloading the free application and answering a few questions about your yard, Mowz quotes a price and allows you to schedule a mow with a local lawn care provider participating with the platform. A customer then receives a photo in the app or via email when the job is done and can rate the provider's work, said Plowz & Mowz co-founder Wills Mahoney, 31.
Plowz & Mowz, an offshoot of Caribou Apps LLC in Syracuse, N.Y., started about eight months ago with on-demand ordering app for snow removal. Mahoney's mother needed her driveway cleared but the plow companies weren't answering their phones, he said.
"It had never been done before," Mahoney said. "It ended up being incredibly successful."
By May, the company launched the Mowz app, which is now in 30 markets across the country with more than 700 participating providers, he said. Mowz moved into Virginia with a recent launch in Fredericksburg and is planning to hit Richmond next.
The company eyed Hampton Roads because smartphone users with local ZIP codes had been downloading the app and about five different local landscape companies reached out to the company wanting to participate, Mahoney said.
"It stuck out and so did Fredericksburg," he said.
Providers are independent contractors that are required to have commercial-grade equipment and general liability insurance. The average one has been in business seven years, he said. When customers are ordering, nearby providers tracked by real-time GPS are alerted and can accept a job through their version of the app. The provider that the ordering customer rates highly gets first dibs, he explained.
Plowz & Mowz handles payments through the app and sends a daily deposit to the provider. Users can also call the 24-hour customer service center, particularly for specific requests, like mowing behind the garage.
The firm takes a maximum of 30 percent of the payment, which is used for customer service, merchant fees and marketing, Mahoney said. The company has been heavily advertising on Facebook for the Hampton Roads market. Mahoney said the service could help small landscaping companies who'd like to outsource billing. Providers are paid within 24 hours of completing the job.
"We're getting them jobs that they wouldn't have gotten," Mahoney said.
The company also plans to bring the Plowz app and a leaf removal add-on for Mowz to Hampton Roads, Mahoney said. Customers can also order from a desktop computer.
What do lawn care and landscape companies on the Peninsula think of it?
Ryan Tuttle, owner of The Lawn Barber based in Hampton, doesn't view it as competition.
"It's just an avenue for getting more customers," Tuttle said. "I view it as a possibility to grow."
The Lawn Barber has been using Angie's List, where customers can find vetted reviews of companies and discounts, to promote its business, Tuttle said. While he'd pay 30 percent to get a new customer, Tuttle said he couldn't envision continuing to pay that regularly.
Scott Marlowe of Marlowe's We Care Co. in Newport News agreed that paying 30 percent would be a good chunk of the profit when residential grass cutting comes with plenty of expenses. Even so, he said it could be an option for newer firms and that he'd have to learn more about the platform. Neither Tuttle nor Marlowe had heard of Mowz before being asked questions.
For more information and to download the free app, visit http://plowzandmowz.com. Customers can also order mowing from the website.
Bozick can be reached by phone at 757-247-4741. Sign up for a free weekday business news email at TidewaterBiz.com.
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