You can now mow your lawn without lifting a finger — or shaming your spouse or child.
Plowz & Mowz, the app-based service that can send a mowing service to your home with the press of a button on a smartphone, is now synced with Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated assistant.
A simple, “Alexa, send someone to mow my yard tomorrow” will get the job done, assuming you have already signed up online or by phone with your address, specifics about the size of the job and a credit card.
Plowz co-founder Wills Mahoney originally brought the app service to the Twin Cities in 2015 after launching it in 2014. Similar to Uber, app firms hire local contractors to do the work, but each service call is a one-time expense without a contract.
The new Alexa-enabled service is for “people who want to get their lawn done or their driveway plowed in the easiest way possible,” Mahoney said. “If you wake up at 5 a.m. and look out the window and see that it’s snowing, now you don’t even have to turn on your phone.” Users can also ask Alexa for status updates.
The service is expected to appeal to Plowz & Mowz power users, who are often early adopters, but it was the company itself that came up with the idea, not its consumers. Nearly 36 million Americans are expected to use voice-activated assistant devices like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home products, according to eMarketer.
One of Plowz & Mowz competitors, Eden Lawn & Snow, also started to build in voice-activated assistance with its service but later canceled it. “We actually built out the initial steps for Alexa but then we started doing focus groups and saw no actual cases of people who would use it,” said Ben Zlotnick, chief executive of Toronto-based Eden.
Zlotnick said he found Eden was losing business by being too app-focused and added services to the company’s website. “We’ve seen an upswing in orders from seniors since we launched a web-based app,” he said. “We have to look at it from a practical standpoint. How are they going to order it?”
Both companies continue to refine and expand their services.
Initially, the app service was limited mostly to driveway snow removal and lawn mowing, services often performed by the same landscaping company.
Over time the number of services has expanded to sidewalks and steps shoveled and salted, leaf raking with compostable bags, shrub trimming and removal, garden bed mulching and cleanup.
Mahoney said his company now allows a customer to keep using the same contractor for services if it was given a five-star review by the customer. Eden still operates on a first-come, first-served basis so whichever contractor is in the area and has availability is given the job.
John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633