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!

industry outlook series: mobile development for trucking

Lifeblood of the economy

It’s arguably indisputable that the trucking industry serves an invaluable purpose in our modern economy. In fact, the old adage, “if you bought it, a truck brought it”, underscores the ubiquity of the industry. Agriculture, food, crude, and retail (among countless other sectors) rely extensively on the vast network of our trucking-supported supply chains.

More than 3.5 million drivers are currently in service (not to mention the countless support staff involved in maintenance, logistics, and rest stops). And of these, a significant portion are owner-operators, meaning these drivers are small business entrepreneurs. What we’re getting at is the employment block is massive and ripe with opportunity.

Significant industry issues lead to mobile app opportunity

It’s been our experience that truckers are one of the most tech-savvy and well-read groups. The industry demands it. Obviously, these men and women spend a significant portion of their lives on the road. This time spent driving is typically spent listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and, more often than not, self-reflection.

How many of us non-truck drivers look forward to taking long road trips as an opportunity to get away and think? We definitely do. Given this aspect of trucking culture, we can envision a number of opportunities to develop meaningful applications to not only solve non-trivial industry issues, but to also enable the sharing of these insights with the general population.

Before jumping into mobile app opportunities, we want to bring to light a few problems facing the industry as a whole:

  • Safety
  • Low driver retention due to wages, lack of ownership, and disruptive regulation
  • Time away from family and friends
  • Uncertainty in the future

These issues (and more) contribute to an industry wrought with a significant labor shortage (even pre-COVID).

Ideas for mobile applications

While trucking might not be the most sexy industry for which to develop mobile applications, the potential prize makes it one worth considering. Even more, the apparent lack of focus enables a less-competitive landscape with respect to software development.

Example applications to spark your innovation (take these and run with them):

  • Safe driving – connect truckers with regular drivers; truck traffic, stalled vehicles, alternative routes
  • Augmented reality field and service manuals
  • Social network of road reflections – the general public would benefit from driver thoughtfulness
  • Truck stop reviews and facilities reservations
  • Podcast, audiobook, and radio sharing
  • Gig-style job locator for owner-operators
  • Crowd-funding for driver-led projects (increase ownership and leverage entrepreneurial spirit)

We believe that developers are vastly underestimating the potential for virality. The >3.5 million drivers (and countless support staff) are bound by a common culture. Successful ventures will undoubtedly spread quickly, and the culture of loyalty will increase switching costs to competitors.

About the industry outlook series

We’re always sharing freely the ways in which you can get involved in industries that are typically neglected by trending social media. These ideas are distributed as a way to spark innovation and potentially fill technology gaps. If you’d like us to explore another industry, please reach out to us at social@noworrieslifestylebrand.com (or comment below).

If you enjoyed this read, check out our industry outlook of the oilfield.