Marketplace: Lawnly aims to be the Uber for lawn care
October 14, 2016
Andrew Motter is well aware that the declaration has become trite: (New company) is the Uber for (insert service here).
But in this case, Motter is perfectly content to chase a cliché. In the same way Uber transformed the transportation industry, dragging it into the 21st Century by allowing users to hail rides from an app, he is aiming to revolutionize lawn care.
"It feels like an industry that is ready for some technology to help disrupt it," said Motter, who got his first taste of the lawn care industry while mowing neighbors' lawns for spare cash as a teenager.
Motter, a Park City resident, is the founder of Lawnly, a business that links licensed lawn care professionals with property owners looking for yard maintenance. Like with Uber, the key feature is convenience.
Customers simply fill out an order online, specifying a date and the exact services they want, which can include lawn mowing, weed treatment, fertilization, leaf removal, gutter cleaning and snow removal. Then, once the work is completed, Lawnly sends photos of the finished job to clients, who barely have to lift a finger throughout.
"You can go this whole process without ever having to pick up a phone," he said. "You don't even have to know that there's another human being even in existence."
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Motter shared a story to illustrate how easy it can be. The company recently served a client who normally mows their own lawn but couldn't for a few months after breaking their ribs mountain biking. Instead of wading through Craigslist or Angie's List to try to find a reputable company, calling to schedule the work, then waiting around to pay afterwards, the customer used Lawnly to take care of it all within minutes.
Customers particularly enjoy not having to worry about payment, which is only processed once customers approve of the work, Motter said.
"I don't know how many times we've had customers say 'Thank you because I don't have to run to the ATM, I don't have to leave money under my mats or write a check,'" he said. "It's all ready to go. That's a big time-saver."
Currently, Motter utilizes only licensed, insured professionals who sign up with Lawnly to perform the work. That means mowing prices typically range from $30 to $54, depending on the size of a yard, but it also ensures a high level of quality. Motter said the company may eventually also contract with normal citizens in the same way regular people can become Uber drivers, but for now he is focused only on providing top-notch service.
"A lot of our competition is trying to race to the lowest dollar, which ultimately hurts service," he said. "We're not focused on being the absolute cheapest option, but what we're trying to do is create a really niche experience that's a great experience. That's a rarity in lawn care."
Motter got the idea for Lawnly in Arkansas while helping a friend build a website for a Sam's Club-type bulk store for lawn care-companies. He saw that other small businesses around the country were offering similar services, but none were dominating the market and none were going as far to create the convenience for customers as Lawnly.
Months later, his wife got a job with Backcountry.com, and he moved to Park City, bringing the company with him. He sees Park City, a resort town where people are accustomed to high-level service, as the perfect place to help build Lawnly into a national brand.
"I feel like Park City is a market where our company makes a lot of sense," he said.
So far, Lawnly has serviced clients in five states. But Motter said what the company offers appeals to people around the country. He is hoping to open other markets quickly, but that's contingent upon getting enough licensed providers in an area to sign up.
"Where we want to be long-term is the place you go when you need work done outside your home," he said. "We'd like to be able to offer everything from roofing services to fences to everything that's involved outside. We just found that lawn care is the need that most people connected with."
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