Yesterday, we talked about what sets Lambert Landscape Company apart from the other landscaping companies in the area.
One aspect in particular that we didn’t touch on was the company’s use of the Husqvarna Automower and how these machines have helped Lambert’s take a step into the future.
Brian Chapman, director of fleet and facilities, started with Lambert’s in January, and since then, the company has created its own branch specifically for robotic mowers. Having these mowers present, Chapman says, fits in well with the company’s goal of being organic and environmentally friendly.
“Robotic mowers really interested me, and I saw them as a way into the future,” Chapman says. “I started researching them and thought that the technology was there and thought that this could work. I started testing them and demoing any robotic mower I could get my hands on.”
Before making his way to Lambert’s, Chapman says he began testing the mowers to find their limitations and capabilities, and around this time he took a trip to another landscaping company out of state to see what they were doing with their fleet of robotic mowers.
“They were doing the exact same thing I was, so that kind of gave me a little bit of validation on what I was doing and where it was going,” he says.
Once he came on board with Lambert’s, he pitched them the idea of incorporating robotic mowers into their fleet, and the idea caught on quickly.
Chapman says the company then partnered with Husqvarna throughout all the testing of the machines and Lambert’s soon became a full-service Husqvarna Automower dealership, as well as a preferred installer for Automowers sold through Lowe’s.
So far, Chapman says the customers with these Automowers on their property have had nothing but good to say, and he says they have actually helped act as a supplement for the labor that’s, unfortunately, not there.
“We are in the middle of a massive labor shortage in the landscaping industry, nationwide,” he says. “Automowers are there to, kind of, bridge the gap. Our philosophy is that it gives us more time to focus on the detail work and really just put the finishing, beautiful touch on somebody’s yard instead of having to spend an extra 30 minutes mowing the yard.”
Chapman says two of the biggest concerns he hears when talking to customers initially about Automowers are theft and safety. To put it simply, Chapman says the mowers would be useless to a thief and are “unbelievably safe” to customers.
While it’s possible that the mower could be stolen, Chapman says the thief won’t get very far with it due to the GPS tracking. They also won’t be able to use it thanks to the serial and PIN numbers required for operation.
If the mowers are picked up, Chapman says that the mowers sound an alarm, and he adds that if the machine is picked up and carried over the boundary wires, users will be able to see a record of precisely what time and where it was picked up.
According to Chapman, Lambert’s is the only company in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area that utilizes Automowers on select properties, and he notes that they have also partnered with L3 Designs in Houston to get them involved in using robotic mowers as well.
Through this partnership, Chapman says Lambert’s has decided to set up a peer/focus group with Husqvarna and other non-competing landscape groups throughout the nation to share information, insights and help grow the program into something big.
To date, Chapman says implementing the robotic mowers into a few properties has yielded a good return on investment for the company, but he does say that many companies get hung up on the initial upfront investment cost when looking to bring these machines into their fleet.
Chapman says that if your company has an interest in moving into this market and has the customer interest, he highly recommends pursuing it.
“Most companies that are looking at this have the financial ability to do it,” says Chapman. “The return is so much more than the size of the investment, which is roughly $13,000 to buy your initial order of mowers and installation equipment. For anyone out there considering it, I encourage them to.”
Check back tomorrow for part 3 of this series, where we’ll take a look at the company’s atmosphere, pain points it’s seen through the years, as well as where they hope to go in the future.