industry outlook series: mobile development for landscaping

To continue our market assessment series of seemingly tech-neglected industries, we’ve decided to share with you one we’re all too familiar with: landscaping.

TLDR: Landscaping is a highly competitive and highly fragmented industry. With >100,000 firms (most with less than 4 employees) in the US generating, and each generating, on average, <$1MM in annual revenue, lawn care and lawn design is quite the niche for the motivated indie developer. The key development principles should be: low-cost, standard-setting, and social.

Landscaping… huh?

We get it. In many cases, landscaping is hardly noticeable. Good landscaping is, more often than not, over-looked and taken for granted. In fact, we admit wholeheartedly that we typically only notice extreme cases on either end of the spectrum. Eccentric, extravagant, or neglected landscaping is typically the few times we appreciate the importance of lawn care. We find this pretty surprising, however, given that the superficial nature of lawn care is nothing less than marketing. And marketing is everything.

The sexy in the not so sexy industry

Unlike our previous assessments of oil and gas and trucking, the barrier to entry to landscaping is low. Any high school kid with lawnmower can (and has) become a successful lawn magnate. In fact, there are are over 100,000 lawn care companies reporting over $100B in revenue in 2020. Even more, of these 100,000 firms, roughly 70% are run by 1-4 employees.

The unique structure of the landscape business presents an incredibly attractive opportunity for the mobile app developer, and more specifically, the indie app developer. We’d go as far as to say that during the COVID-19 pandemic, landscaping has more than likely been spared (or at least much less impacted than other service providers). It’s our opinion that this is due, in large part, to the socially distant nature of the business and the fresh air of the outdoors.

Decentralization is the name of the game

How do you capitalize on a highly competitive and highly fragmented industry? Given most of the >100,000 firms in business generate <$1MM in annual revenue, how do you go about even wrangling such a decentralized industry? Our assessment is as follows:

  • Focus on low-cost: These firms are price sensitive. When framing your product, keep in mind that while these firms are less willing to spend money, they WILL spend on products that provide a visible return.
  • Standard-setting: Given the highly fragmented market, don’t over design for a given niche. Design for common issues of lawn care professionals.
  • Social: Any application should consider a social aspect. The industry is highly decentralized and an attempt to provide connections between disperse nodes (i.e. firms) is paramount.

Brainstorm with us

Now that we’ve set the stage for developing for this industry, let’s discuss some example app ideas (take them and run with them, please!).

  • Workforce planning – job board for allocating resources. Think gig-economy for landscaping companies and customers alike.
  • Equipment sharing – how can I lend idle equipment or trailers to other firms?
  • Crowd-sourced design – landscaping is highly creative; how do we leverage the collective designer brain to drive new industry trends?
  • AR plant prototype – leverage augmented reality to preview interior or exterior designs.
  • Sustainability – Public green house inventory to move product and reduce waste. Allow nurseries to publish inventory in real-time.
  • Sun exposure – Reminders for sun safety. Skin cancer is a threat to those who spend most of their time outside. Prioritize safety.

Wrap-up

To wrap things up, we’re excited about landscaping. The highly competitive and highly fragmented industry is perfect for an indie developer looking to jump into something new. We’ll leave you with one last opinion – focus on green technology. The industry appears to be trending toward more eco-friendly and less water-intensive alternatives. How can your application satisfy the increasing hunger for sustainability?

Let us know how we’re doing. Contact us or comment below with anything you’d like to see. We’re all ears!