Can Lawn Pros Switch To a Robotic Lawn Mower System?
Can Pros cash in on the robotic lawn mower movement? It’s an interesting idea that has its pros and cons. The short answer is that there are some situations and areas of the country where it makes sense.
- No need to task a crewman to a mower
- Gives the client a fresh cut look every day
- Mows when it’s convenient
- No emissions or fuel costs
- Low noise during operation
- May allow you to take on more clients
- High initial cost for the mower and installation
- You may need to arrange to off-season storage
Robotic Lawn Mowing for Commercial Pros
The basic idea is that you’ll lease each mower to your client and let it cut the lawn at a time that’s convenient for them so they have a fresh cut look every day. Since the mowing is complete, all you have to do is cover the trimming and edging.
It sounds like a win/win sort of arrangement – you save some manual labor and a whole lot of time, and the consumer has a lawn that always looks freshly cut. In fact, it’s possible you can take on more clients.
With a robotic lawn mower doing the heavy lifting, you don’t need to pay as many crewmembers. You’ll save on taxes and insurance, and cut some of the other costs that employees come with.
A Big Investment
However, there are a few facts about a robotic lawn mower that explain why the idea might not take off as quickly as some OPE manufacturers would like. For one thing, the initial investment of a well-built robotic lawn mower is pricey.
Take Stihl, for instance. The iMow starts at around $1300, and that’s before the $700 installation fee they highly recommend you use. If you have a larger property, you might need to fork over $2000 for the more robust, longer running model.
Husqvarna’s line of Automowers start in the same range and top out around $3500. There’s also an installation fee if you use their services.
A Few Considerations
The way you offset the cost of owning so many robotic lawn mowers is to charge a premium to your clients that want the convenience and look. Your high net worth clients are the best place to start since they have more disposable income.
Converting 50 clients to robotic lawn mowers will put your initial cost at more than $100,000. How much extra you charge depends on what you want for your ROI. An extra $100 per month will give take 2 to 3 years to make back for each lawn you task a mower to.
Then there’s the cost of off-season storage for parts of the country that don’t mow all year like we do in Florida.
It’s intimidating at first glance, but understanding how to pitch the benefits will help you sell it. Keep in mind:
- Fresh cut look every day
- No tire ruts during wet seasons
- Customized mowing times when it’s convenient for your client
- Zero gas emissions
- Near-zero mower noise
- Less time and fewer people on their property on trimming and edging days
A Working Business Model
There are Pros out there building a business model around robotic lawn mowers, though.
The founders of Robin, a new startup located in the Dallas area, buy consumer grade robotic lawn mowers in bulk (by the looks of it, they’re using the Worx Landroid). They install the mowers themselves at their various accounts.
Part of their appeal is that they can charge less than what a typical lawn service would charge – the opposite of what we expect. They’ve also found some creative ways to work on trickier lawns with fences.
Starting a robotic lawn mower business or converting part of your client base will put you ahead of the game. As we see Europe set the stage for sweeping regulation in noise and emissions for outdoor power equipment, robotic lawn mowers will play a large role if the United States follows suit.
Innovative lawn care Pros that are willing to work through some of the quirks now and set a firm foundation will be in high demand as others scramble to get set up.