Posted in NJ.com by Jessica Remo
It’s not the shoveling I mind, it’s the single-digit temps and jacket-piercing wind.
So in the wake of Thursday’s snow bomb, it seemed the perfect time to review SnoHub, the latest merger of tech and laziness — I mean, convenience — to rid my corner property (twice the sidewalks!) of the fluffy white stuff.
The idea is simple: Like Uber, the app employs contractors to accept a job, all with the push of a few buttons, and presto!, there’s a much-more-eager-than-you snow remover at your door in minutes.
SnoHub hit the market in Connecticut last winter and this year expanded to Jersey, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Albany, Providence and Rochester, with plans to go nationwide.
Will the new tech put the kids going door-to-door out of business?
“What we’ve found is nowadays a lot of homeowners don’t have cash on hand, especially during a snowstorm,” says Ashley Read, a public relations rep for SnoHub.
SnoHub to the rescue. Here’s how it went.
First, you’ll have to download the app (it’s available on Google Play and the App Store) and sign up with an email address. I also added a payment method at this point — credit card is the only option available currently.
The main screen is very Uber-like, with a GPS map showing your location and a button to “Request Service.” Once you click it, you’ll get a new menu with a prompt to enter your driveway length. You’ll also choose whether your driveway is asphalt or gravel, and what areas you want cleared.
I chose “clear front walk way” and “clear side walk way,” though I was a bit perplexed as to whether “side walk way” meant my sidewalks or the walk leading to the side of my home.
Other choices: “clear back walk way, clear front of garage doors, salt driveway, salt walk ways” and a button that said “driveway marked.”
If you don’t check “driveway marked,” you’ll get a prompt when you hit next, warning you that “unmarked driveways increase risk” and that SnoHub isn’t responsible for any damage.
Daredevil that I am, I proceeded, unmarked and all.
Pricing starts at $59 to remove snow from your driveway for a base of six inches of snow, $10 per inch thereafter, plus 6.625 percent tax here in Jersey. Longer driveways cost more. Salting the driveway costs $20 for a standard driveway and goes up to $50 for a giant one.
I added “clear front walk way” and “clear side walk way,” which cost an extra $50 ($25 each). The app also automatically added “salt walk ways,” with no additional charge. The total came to $116.22.
I’ve twice paid the door-knocking teens about $50 total, so I found this to be a pretty hefty price. I can’t speak for what it would cost to use a professional service, as I’ve never gone that route.
SnoHub says once a job is registered, the client and contractor will be connected in under 10 minutes. That was true for me.
Seven minutes after placing my order, at 4:08 p.m., I received an email and a phone notification telling me my job had been accepted by Brian McAndrews, who would arrive at “15:08:00 EST.” That was a bit of a head-scratcher, since 3:08 p.m. had passed an hour ago.
I gave it about 20 minutes, before checking the app again, and there I could track a little plow logo headed my way on the map. Cute.
At 4:50 p.m., McAndrews and his assistant Vinnie Koster arrived, big smiles on their faces, even though this was their seventh house that day and it was beginning to get dark. They graciously submitted to my interrogation about their experience on the other end of SnoHub.
McAndrews’ day job is his contracting business, but during snow, he used to go door-to-door with his snowblower. He saw a news report about SnoHub last year and downloaded the app before they had even opened up in New Jersey.
Read says SnoHub now has 50 contractors confirmed in the state and more than 200 homeowners registered. The company makes sure contractors have a current license and insurance and checks the condition of their equipment, she says.
“It’s great — people don’t even have to leave the comforts of their home. They get to stay warm,” McAndrews said. “We show up, take a picture when we start, take a picture when we end, and you guys pay us all right online. It’s easy for you.”
McAndrews said he drove from about 25 minutes away and my house was the farthest he had ventured for a job that day. He received a Google Maps image of my home before accepting the job so he was sure he could handle it with his equipment, he said. A bigger property might have necessitated a plow.
With that, the duo unloaded a snowblower and a shovel and got to work. I asked about moving our cars from the driveway, but they said they would happily work around them. They even dusted them off.
An hour later the job was complete and looked a helluva lot better than what I (or the neighborhood teens) usually pull off. Here’s how it looked in the morning.
I rated McAndrews on the app — so far there are only options for thumbs up or down, though a rating/comment system is planned. (He’d get all five stars if I could give them.)
The app also showed the job was completed, and as promised, had before and after photos.
So what’s the price split between McAndrews and SnoHub? Read says SnoHub is upfront about that and had no issue divulging: Contractors keep 70 percent and SnoHub takes 30, which she says they’ve found is in line with other sharing-economy apps and services.
But that also means I’ll probably try to call McAndrews on my own next time I don’t feel like shoveling and save myself some cash. Sorry, SnoHub.
Still, I’m grateful to the app for the introduction, and I would totally use it again in a pinch.
I especially like that you can also order a snow removal for someone else. A nice surprise for Mom and Dad, grandparents, your boss…
And if you’re on vacation, this is a win: You can request removal from afar, without worrying about having someone home to pay the contractor.
I only felt a little guilty watching my neighbors and their kids schlepping around shovels on a chilly night. What’s a girl to do with all the free time? And an unused shovel? Well, we survived just fine…
Have you used SnoHub? Tell us in the comments.