Looking for a way to get your driveway cleared that doesn’t wreck your back? There’s an app for that.
With winter storm Juno slamming the city over the past 24 hours, the Syracuse-based startup Plowz and Mowz has been put to the test. The on-demand plowing service has been dubbed the “Uber of snowplows,” and launched in Boston this fall (the also offer lawn mowing in the warmer months). Co-founder William Mahoney said that this bout of weather has been their biggest effort yet, and he expects to service over 2,500 customers over the course of the storm.
“We knew very quickly that there was going to be a huge amount of orders,” he said this afternoon from Syracuse, where they only saw five inches of snow. “This Boston storm will be a record for our company.”
In preparation, Plowz and Mowz spent about $10,000 on a localized social media campaign starting Monday morning. And it paid off: Mahoney said the company had “orders coming in nonstop” and at some times during the day were booking every 15 seconds.
To use the app, a client must plug in their address and some details about the width and length of their driveway. The company’s algorithm uses that information, along with the amount of snowfall in the region, to determine an estimate of the cost. It has a GPS system that sends a driver to a location in a similar fashion to how an Uber driver can pick up a rider nearby.
The idea for Plowz and Mowz came to Mahoney after his mother called him in the midst of a snowstorm, frantic that she couldn’t shovel her car out of her driveway. Mahoney said that as he called around looking for a private service that would help his mom out, he watched as dozens of plows pass his house.
“I thought it was a missed opportunity,” he said. He and co-founder Andrew Englander, who are both Syracuse University grads, decided to create an app that would let users book private plow drivers. The duo partnered with two high school friends who were web developers at Lamplighter Labs, a design outfit in New York City, and decided to incorporate lawn mowing services to give it year-round appeal.
Plowz and Mowz launched around this time last year, and the company is currently in 34 markets nationwide. Because landscaping companies often provide plowing services in the off-season, he said his team is actively recruiting drivers at trade shows (and yes, that can also mean his team makes numerous rounds of “cold calls,” he jokes).
Right now, Mahoney said Plowz and Mowz has 225 trucks spread out over a 50-mile radius of Boston, and the average rate for plowing a driveway in the region is about $49. Plow drivers take home 70 percent of the fee, with Plowz taking the rest.
Mahoney claims the service is a win-win for home-owners and drivers.
“One of the big problems in the business for these guys is chasing down money after the storm,” he said. His plow drivers, he said, are “going to see the money in their bank accounts tomorrow.”