Next time it snows, a pair of national technology companies want people in Nebraska’s largest city to save their backs and grab a smartphone.
Two apps offering residential snow removal via Android and Apple phones, Lawn Love and SnoHub, are expanding into the Omaha market. A third app, Shovler, serves the area already with individual snow shovelers.
This app-rising means that more help for local customers and new jobs and competition for local snow removal contractors are just a few clicks away.
Here’s how it works: Download the app. Enter your address. Get a quote. Hire help. Get the job done within a day or two. And leave a review.
The apps give folks who want their driveways and sidewalks cleared for a decent price quick estimates without hosting a service provider for an in-person visit, instead using satellite mapping software.
And local snow removal providers could get easier access to clusters of residential snow removal jobs that boost the bottom line.
This change could be a boon to small- and medium-sized local businesses that embrace it, experts say. Many pay the winter bills with snow removal.
Both apps help contractors organize jobs to minimize how much time they spend in their trucks and maximize how often they work.
The CEOs of Lawn Love and SnoHub told The World-Herald that their apps aim to relieve contractors of this back-office work, down to collecting payment.
The companies do this for a cut of each job taken from the service provider — with SnoHub taking 30 percent and Lawn Love saying their fee varies by market but typically lands between 5 and 15 percent. Both companies say customers can still expect to pay about the same as they would using a traditional snow removal service.
“That is possible because of all the efficiencies we see,” said Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of San Diego-based Lawn Love.
“We are a completely turn-key, integrated solution,” said James Albis, CEO of New York-based SnoHub. “We make it easy.”
Both online snow removal services are expanding rapidly. Lawn Love offers snow removal in 24 markets. SnoHub serves more than 30.
Lawn Love says it has already signed up about 20 Omaha-area snow removal contractors and is adding more. SnoHub says it is just spooling up locally and has signed up about 25 contractors, hoping to add hundreds.
Pros can take as many or as few jobs as they want with both services.
A handful of snow removal contractors interviewed locally, including many who said they had not yet heard of the apps, said they might explore them.
That makes good financial sense, said Phani Tej Adidam, a professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Established players in snow removal, like those in other businesses, make a mistake when they ignore the arrival of such on-demand providers, he said.
Their greatest advantage over on-demand apps is relationships with customers, Adidam said, and what better way to meet new customers.
“If they’re smart, they should be a part of this on-demand or access-based economy,” he said. “Don’t be like Sears and Kmart and then die one day.”
Keith Ruml, who runs A Ruml Service, an Omaha-area painting and home repair business that does snow removal in the winter, signed up with SnoHub.
He says he ran across the app when he was reading a news story in Connecticut and reached out to say he’d be interested if they came west.
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He hopes he might be able to add some quick residential work between clearing parking lots and apartment complexes.
“I look at it as a way to see if I’m down near Bellevue, I can hit a couple houses on my way back home,” Ruml said.
The good news for customers is plain, Adidam said. They get a service they want without making 15 calls to different providers.
The on-demand economy is here to stay, he said, and will keep expanding into services you haven’t yet imagined.
“Anywhere you have a customer seeking something that is fast and efficient, there will be demand for this,” he said.
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This snow house was a neighborhood project in the yard of Gerald A. Lawver Sr. at 4124 R Street. Left to right are: Michael Rok, 9; Jimmy Krzemein, 9; Gerald Lawver Jr; and Clare Ann Buscher, 6. Taken Jan. 28, 1956.
David Prost, 13 and his sister Susan, 10 sculpted a 15-foot-high tribute to the space age at 9306 Blondo, on March 9, 1959.
Dinner party in snowhouse, dessert off the ceiling. Four adventerous couples ate steak in a snowhouse they carved in the middle of a giant drift on Feb. 18, 1960. They refused to give their names as they dined on charcoal broiled steak, salad, and several vegetables. Mulled wine and a lantern provided warmth. Dessert was blueberry sauce poured over snow squares cut from the ceiling. The "dining room" was dug out of a snowdrift along Highway 36 about a mile east of Bennington.
A stunning snowlady in formal dress engages the attention of Jerry Jancik, 316 S. 68th St., on Jan. 6, 1960. The sculptor was Jerry's sister Judy, 16, assisted by her friend Joyce Anderson.
John Dalton, 11 and his sister Mary, 12 made snow sculptures of Mr. & Mrs. Abraham Lincoln to celebrate Lincoln's birthday on Feb. 11, 1961 at their home at 2615. S. 32nd Ave.
Michelle Hess, whose hobby is sketching horses and collecting horse figurines sculpted these snow ponies in her West Point back yard on Jan. 23, 1964.
Jeff Mittermeier thanks sister Lolly for making a valentine box out of snow in their yard at 191 S. 17th St. in 1965.
Laura and Daryl Penning used this abandoned tub in their back yard to form one wall of a snow fort on Dec. 9, 1971. No enemy snowballs penetrated the wall. Laura, 5, peeks from the tub as Daryl, 6, left, and Danny Sullivan, 6, prepare to fire.
The Richard Kofoed family had a 12 foot armless guest on their lawn at 8205 Bowie Drive on Dec. 29, 1974. Mike Kofoed had to stand on a ladder to add the finishing touches. Other sculptors are: Aline Gamanche, left, Bart Kofoed, Jim Jackson, Rick Gamache and Rich Smith.
Marsha Mulligan of 10325 Wright St. sits atop her 8-foot elephant built during a weekend of melting snow with the help of friends Joe and David Podrazo and Rich Michelson. A sombrero will add a touch of the absurd. Photo taken Dec. 30, 1974.
Holly Rothschild and Lisa Stastney, both 12, tunnel through the snow after the January 1975 blizzard. The girls lived near 116th & Dodge.
A snow Snoopy and Woodstock on top of the doghouse at the Thomas Marshall home at 2229 S. 138th Street. Taken Jan. 8, 1975.
Dickie and Tami Surber of 324 N. 41st St., put together their very own Puff the Magic Dragon on Jan. 23, 1976. They may have had a little help from their mother, Joan Sturber.
Randy Keeler, 15, of 10204 O St. stands on a ladder to attach the ear of a giant snow rabbit he and his friends built on March 21, 1977. The snow sculpture took three hours to create.
Two of the coolest cowgirls in the west are Deana Biocourt, 2 and her sister Michelle, 3. They're riding the trail in front of their house at 6611 S. 48th St. on March 8, 1978. Looks like they're in for some company. Out ahead of them is a happy looking snow hombre. On down the trail a piece is a good ol' snow bear.
Chuckie and Robert Dellutri were counting their blessings a little early on Nov. 18, 1978. Chuckie, 10, on the left and Robbie, 12, were thankful the snow didn't melt before they had a chance to build what they're counting on eating later that week — turkey. The boys even used brown food coloring and feathers to make the sculpture more realistic. But the boys thoughts weren't just on food. They also created a 7 foot snowman and colored him - you guessed it - Big Red.
These seven Omaha snow sculptors used the remnants of a March 1980 blizzard to create a giant frog. Seated is Lisa Flaitz, 9, while in the rear, from left, are Billy Flaitz, 5, Chad Allison, 4, Shelly Flaitz, 11, and the frog's creator Dave McLoed, a self-employed artist, holding his children Alex, 2 and Briana, 4. The figure originally was a bear, but melted down and was remade into a frog.
A baseball hard hat tops a snowman in Hanscom Park on Dec. 1, 1983. Neil Corcoran, 13 admires his handiwork.