Shoveling via smartphone: Omahans can use Uber-like services for snow removal

Posted in Omaha World-Herald

Next time it snows, a pair of national technology companies want people in Nebraska’s
largest city to save their backs and grab a smartphone.
Two apps offering residential snow removal via Android and Apple phones, Lawn
Love and  SnoHub , are expanding now into the Omaha market. A third app,  Shovler ,
serves the area already with individual snow shovelers.
This app-rising means more help for local customers and new jobs and competition for
local snow removal contractors is just a few clicks away.
Here’s how it works: Download the app. Enter your address. Get a quote. Hire help. Get
the job done within a day or two. And leave a review.
The apps give folks who want their driveways and sidewalks cleared for a decent price
quick estimates without hosting a service provider for an in-person visit, instead
using satellite mapping software.

And local snow removal providers could get easier access to clusters of residential snow
removal jobs that boost the bottom line.
This change could be a boon to small- and medium-sized local businesses that embrace
it, experts say. Many pay the winter bills with snow removal.
Both apps help contractors organize jobs to minimize how much time they spend in
their trucks and maximize how often they work.
The CEOs of Lawn Love and SnoHub told The World-Herald their apps aim to relieve
contractors of this back office work, down to collecting payment.
The companies do this for a cut of each job taken from the service provider — with
SnoHub taking 30 percent and Lawn Love saying their fee varies by market but typically
lands between 5 and 15 percent. Both companies say customers can still expect to pay
about the same as they would using a traditional snow removal service.
“That is possible because of all the efficiencies we see,” said Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of
San Diego-based Lawn Love.
“We are a completely turn-key, integrated solution,” said James Albis, CEO of New
York-based SnoHub. “We make it easy.”
Both online snow removal services are expanding rapidly. Lawn Love offers snow
removal in 24 markets. SnoHub serves more than 30.
Lawn Love says it has already signed up about 20 Omaha-area snow removal
contractors and is adding more. SnoHub says it is just spooling up locally and has signed
up about 25 contractors, hoping to add hundreds.
Pros can take as many or as few jobs as they want with both services.
A handful of snow removal contractors interviewed locally, including many who said
they had not yet heard of the apps, said they might explore them.
That makes good financial sense, said Phani Tej Adidam, a professor of marketing and
entrepreneurship at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Established players in snow removal, like those in other businesses, make a mistake
when they ignore the arrival of such on-demand providers, he said.
Their greatest advantage over on-demand apps is relationships with customers, Adidam
said, and what better way to meet new customers.
“If they’re smart, they should be a part of this on-demand or access-based economy,” he
said. “Don’t be like Sears and Kmart and then die one day.”
Keith Ruml, who runs A Ruml Service, an Omaha-area painting and home repair
business that does snow removal in the winter, signed up with SnoHub.
He says he ran across the app when he was reading a news story in Connecticut and
reached out to say he’d be interested if they came west.

He hopes he might be able to add some quick residential work between clearing parking
lots and apartment complexes.
“I look at it as a way to see if I’m down near Bellevue, I can hit a couple houses on my
way back home,” Ruml said.
The good for customers is plain, Adidam said. They get a service they want without
making 15 calls to different providers.
The on-demand economy is here to stay, he said, and will keep expanding into services
you haven’t yet imagined.
“Anywhere you have a customer seeking something that is fast and efficient, there will
be demand for this,” he said.

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