I was talking with Plowz & Mowz Co-founder Wills Mahoney the other day and he says his on-demand service company is looking to make the leap to link snow contractors with commercial clients. In fact, work on the app platform is underway and he anticipates an announcement in the near future.
Snow is what got Mahoney into this business back in late 2013. The Syracuse native was looking for an easier way to get his driveway plowed when he hit upon the idea of on-demand snowplowing. And thus, Plowz & Mowz was born. The app-based service, which he started with business partner Andrew Englander, is very similar to other popular app-based services. So much so it’s been nicknamed “the Uber of landscaping.”
For snow, pricing is based on property size, snowfall amount, and the geographic market. The contractor gets paid within 24 hours and Plowz & Mowz takes a small percentage for its fee.
The snow plowing and lawn mowing on-demand concept has proven successful, and Plowz & Mowz has expanded to provided 10 services in 55 markets.
While the Plowz & Mowz concept makes a lot of sense for the residential market, is an on-demand business model right for the commercial side of the professional snow and ice management industry?
Mahoney believes companies that own or manage between ten and 100 properties are eager for an alternative to dealing with multiple snow management companies to find a single winter service provider and seasonal contracts. “We’re just trying to simplify the process and put everything under one dashboard,” he says.
“When we first started a lot of people questioned (the business model),” he says. “The fact is, we’re introducing snow contractors to a whole new customer base.”
Plowz & Mowz is not a lead-generation business, Mahoney says, and they don’t charge contractors for leads. Rather, the snow contractor decides whether they want to commit to any of the jobs available to them in their market.
“One of the cool things we implemented this year for snow plowing is auto-route,” he says. “Let’s say the [snow contractor] is done with their book of business and wants to earn more money. They turn on auto-route, which optimizes their route
“So, the contractor chooses where they want to work and as the work comes in they can choose and accept the jobs,” he adds. “We continue to optimize their queue so they have the highest density of jobs possible, making them more efficient and more profitable.”
While Mahoney believes an on-demand service could be the answer to season contracts in some markets, he hasn’t worked out yet whether these agreements will act like traditional per-push or per-event service agreements.
While he’s aware some detractors will point to the on-demand model as a catalyst for low-ball contractors, Mahoney says Plowz and Mowz has never focused on cut-rate pricing. “Our prices have never been on the lower end,” he says. “We believe our prices are very fair … I see our product as more of a premium product, and we’re not the lowest price option out there in the industry, but we are competitive.”
Likewise, Mahoney says they’re looking to partner with plow professionals, not plow jockeys.
“We want contractors who have commercial-grade equipment,” he says. “We don’t want someone who’s pulling a snowblower out of their car. We’re looking for professional contractors who have been in this industry for a while and know what they’re doing. That’s our primary focus.”
What should be attractive about their service to snow contractors is that Plowz & Mowz take job prospecting out of the equation. “Contractors are not paying for any customer service, they don’t have to deal with the billing and the financial,” Mahoney says. “We tell contractors to do what they do best and we’ll handle the rest.”
Mike Zawacki is editor of Snow Magazine.