Uber didn’t just disrupt the taxi industry. It set a bar companies could aspire to. Startups across multiple sectors have their sights set on being the next Uber of their respective industries.
The landscape industry isn’t immune from the encroaching reach of the gig economy, and various apps have sprung up to connect consumers with people who can mow their lawns or grow their vegetables.
Lawn Love is an online platform and mobile app that connects lawn care professionals with consumers. It has technicians in 40 states and Washington, D.C., with professionals in Colorado covering Colorado Springs and Denver.
The platform goes far beyond a simple job listing site, though. Founder and CEO Jeremy Yamaguchi sees his company as democratizing software and tools that have historically only been available to incumbents like TruGreen and BrightView.
Most of the professionals using Lawn Love are individual contractors or small teams, Yamaguchi told Colorado Lawn & Landscape. “Our sweet spot is the one- to five-person shop where they aren’t already going to have a dedicated in-house customer support team, or payments and billing or accounting team. That’s where we can really provide value for them.”
The platform connects professionals with prospects so that “they’re spending a lot less time driving around town, hanging door hangers, hiring SEOs,” Yamaguchi said. Instead of “trying to drum up new business,” professionals can spend more time “actually on site, mowing lawns and getting paid each week.”
“You focus on doing the actual work. We’ll do all the marketing,” he said.
Lawn Love also takes care of a lot of the back-office work that could overwhelm a small outfit, like customer service, accounting, bookkeeping and tax documentation.
The software collects and generates all the relevant tax documentation professionals need and provides instructions on how to file at the end of the year.
“They’re not having to do a lot tabulation on their own,” he said. “That dramatically streamlines the year-end accounting and ultimately works toward the primary goal here, which is how do we make these guys more efficient, how do we make their lives easier and how do we help them grow their businesses.”
Lawn Love has an extensive liability insurance policy that is extended to pros who use the platform. “This is a distinct advantage to us versus some of our competitors. Most of them require [professionals] to buy their own insurance and submit it as a qualification to work with them.”
[Related: Is your landscaping business properly insured?]
The underlying technology has another benefit. “Once we get to enough density in a given city, we can do things like job routing and job clustering optimization,” Yamaguchi explained. “We can create dramatically denser routes for these guys so they’re doing two to three times as many jobs per day, spending way less time driving around town burning fuel.”
How it works
Professionals who use the platform are independent contractors, and need to have their own equipment and appropriate licenses for the work they want to do. Lawn Love accepts pros who have at least three years experience. When they sign up, they can set what kind of job they will accept, and the platform will only send them jobs that are relevant to them.
One drawback to the platform is lack of control over job prices. The platform is free for landscapers, but the prices paid by the customer are set by Lawn Love. Landscapers can see how much will come back to them before they take a job, and turnaround for payments is typically two days, Yamaguchi noted.
“We take a percentage on top of the job that is charged to the customer,” Yamaguchi explained. “The pros see exactly what the payout is for every job, and they pick up whatever job they want and build their routes that way.”
Though there are a number of similar platforms popping up around the country, Yamaguchi says Lawn Love is the biggest. It’s available in 120 cities across the country, with over 3,500 lawn and landscape companies on the platform.
Other companies are “vanishingly small” in term of the size of their businesses, Yamaguchi said, for a very simple reason.
“We are actually building products that help these folks scale their businesses in a real way. We spend very little time talking about it and a lot of time actually working on solving for these issues and delivering value to these guys.”
Yamaguchi said homeowners and professionals are using his platform at a “pretty aggressive and growing rate.” He expects to continue to expand in Colorado, noting Boulder could be added as a new service area within the year.
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Danielle Andrus was previously the managing editor for Colorado Builder, and is currently Editor for the Journal of Financial Planning.