Death, taxes and robots. These days, it truly seems like every industry is being turned upside down by the new, automated technology. Lawn care is no different.
While technological innovation in the landscaping industry is affecting areas beyond lawn care, like patio, pool and outdoor kitchen installation, mower automation has clearly been a major game-changer over the last few years. The possible impact on lawn care professionals may be mixed. Automation could result in fewer jobs overall, but an increase in more skilled jobs. New technology is also changing the way that lawn care professionals handle client communication. While adding in these features may seemingly remove a human touch, it can also open up more time to be outside, working on clients’ lawns.
Robotic mowing machines, while still largely niche, continue to be a growing force in the lawn care industry. A robotic mower is typically a smaller size than a push or riding mower, coming in at between 20 and 50 pounds. Most models are electric-powered and can be plugged into a charging station. The machines use sensors to avoid obstacles and recognize issues such as too much rainfall, although some can mow in the rain. They can be set to run on a regular cycle that varies based on the type of grass and the size of the lawn.
Though robotic mowing machines may seemingly take away possible employment opportunities, they also address the current labor shortage in landscaping. Additionally, robotic mowers may increase the quality of jobs being offered by employers. Using a robotic mower for basic jobs is allowing lawn care professionals to spend more time doing skilled work that requires a human touch and excellent hand-eye coordination. Some examples of these kinds of jobs include trimming, edging and bed maintenance.
In addition to increasing efficiency by opening more time to do more challenging jobs, robotic mowers are allowing landscapers to take jobs that may have been unlikely only a few years ago. In places like hospitals, where keeping down noise is paramount, scheduling a mowing job would come with a distinct set of challenges. However, since robotic mowers are nearly silent, this issue can be negated for contractors who offer it as an option.
Perhaps somewhat problematically for landscaping contractors, many of the robotic mowing machines that are on the market are being purchased by individual property owners, rather than companies. Still, these machines currently represent only a small share of the market and, as described above, lawn care professionals are also finding innovative ways to incorporate them into their jobs. In some cases, lawn care companies are transitioning in these machines and offering them on lease to clients, just as they would a more traditional service.
Automation isn’t just altering the way that lawn care professionals do their job out in the field. Automated replies and other forms of digital communication are transforming the way that contractors reach out to new clients and maintain continued relationships with them. Examples of client communication that can be automated include calendar management and scheduling appointments and payments.
Ultimately, automated communication gives contractors more time to be out mowing lawns and less time in the office managing their schedule. It increases efficiency and creates profits.
The continued automation of many of the jobs that lay the foundation for the lawn care industry may seem scary to some. Landscapers may worry that having robots take over basic tasks like mowing and some forms of client communication will lead to fewer jobs. This doesn’t have to be the case. Not only can automation make the job of the landscaper easier, but it can also allow them to focus on some of the more technical aspects of their work, and perform more of it than ever. Automation should be viewed as a tool, not a replacement. The human element is still a very important part of the experience that lawn care professionals offer to their clients.