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VOL. 38 | NO. 49 | Friday, December 5, 2014

Yard work waiting? Hit Mowz app and take a nap

By Joe Morris

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It’s hard to decide what’s less fun, mowing the lawn or raking leaves. If you loathe both in equal measure, however, help may be just a few clicks away.

Mowz, an app-based service offering a mobile way to book multiple landscaping services, has made its way to Nashville. It’s the latest offshoot from Plowz, which began as a snowplowing-assistance app in upstate New York last winter and has since migrated to more than 20 cities.

With Mowz, the service now offers non-winter landscaping services such as mowing, leaf raking and removal, says William Mahoney, who co-founded Plowz with Andrew Englander.

“Plowing [snow] made sense, given the area where we started, but soon we had a lot of other cities on our radar, and they didn’t have the winter snows and needs that the Northeast does,” Mahoney says. “So we began to think about other services we could offer during the rest of the year, and began reaching out to other providers.”

Local landscaping companies in a targeted market either contact Mowz or are contacted by the Mowz team via social media, and once a vetting process has occurred, are signed up as vendors. Then, when a user requests services via the app, he or she is matched with the closest and best-qualified provider to do the work.

“It’s not like we’re connecting you with some guy off the street with a lawnmower,” Mahoney explains. “All the providers are landscaping companies, and have at least $500,000 in general liability insurance.

“Our providers have an average of seven years in business; this is their living, and this is what they do.”

Plowz grew by strong word of mouth and positive social-media reviews, Mahoney says, and he expects Mowz to the same thing. Nashville got onto his radar thanks to his sister’s relocation here, and her difficulty in finding a good landscaping provider.

“We had it on our list of cities, but that helped identify it as a good market to enter with the new service,” he says. “It’s an up and coming city in a lot of ways, and the kind of connection our app makes do well in that environment.”

Providers are pursued with three incentives: fast pay, free sign-up to be listed and the ability to always turn down a job.

For the Nashville launch, Mowz began with social-media advertising to gauge interest.

Once consumers signed on and listed their needs, a geographic database was pulled together and vendors were sought to fill those market areas.

One of those was Chris Mattison of Mattison Land and Lawn in Nashville.

“They contacted me, and I liked what I heard so I did some research,” Mattison says. “I thought the optics of us partnering up and helping each other out made sense.”

In particular, Mattison says he liked the referral aspect of the app, because there’s a lot of competition in town and this way, he gets a customer who’s already learned a bit about his business, and he knows what to expect with the job.

“We’ve been around for eight years and cover Murfreesboro to Mt. Juliet to Nashville, doing mostly full-service maintenance,” he says. “Yard cleaning and cutting, detail work, mulching, irrigation and landscape, so when someone has a specific need, they’ll be able to find us on Mowz and specify what they want.

“We think it’ll be a prosperous venture.”

One thing service providers like is the customer-retention rate, which has been high thus far, Mahoney says.

“If someone is going out of town and needs their yard mowed, they spend 30 seconds to sign up with us and that’s done,” he explains. “They like that, and so we find the majority of customers place a reorder with us.

“We also have made sure that quality control is in place, so customers can put a rating in for providers. If we get someone who doesn’t meet our standards, then we can drop them. That’s good for the providers as well, because it shows that they are meeting strong standards.”

Another plus for the landscapers is a 24-hour pay window, vs. having to bill and collect clients. And because Mowz is filling in some coverage areas, the provider is able to get more work within the coverage area specified as his or her territory.

“If they do a good job, they keep that customer,” Mahoney says. “If that person wants more services, then that vendor has first dibs on the job.”

Because Mowz tracks vendors by GPS, it is able to assign one to a new job that’s no more than 15 miles away, so clients get fast service, he adds.

The leaf-removal aspect of the business is new, but Mahoney says he sees great things for it in Nashville, as well as other tree-heavy environments.

“From the signups and feedback we’ve gotten, it’s going to be very successful,” he predicts. “We were in Minneapolis and Raleigh all summer long with landscaping and were very successful.

“Asheville continues to climb in terms of weekly order rates. The demographics of Nashville are a lot like those, and se we see great things ahead.”

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