Kareem Brumfield has been running his Southside Lawn Care business in Jacksonville for about eight years, but he recently found what he believes to be one of the best means to expand and develop his clientele.

 

Brumfield is now a vendor for GreenPal, a new internet and mobile application that hooks up lawn care services with customers who need yard work. The concept is similar to the Uber personal ride service.

“The app pings you or sends you text messages … . It gives you an aerial view of the property and the front and a Google map view of the property so you can get an idea of what you’re dealing with: if you got hedges or trees or the general size of the property,” Brumfield said.

But he’s not the only lawn care pro being sent the request for service. Usually several lawn care businesses are offered the job, they bid to get the gig and the customer settles on the company. There are 20 vendors who are part of the GreenPal network in Jacksonville so far.

When he had been a vendor with GreenPal for only six weeks, Brumfield picked up about 10 leads and three “clients.” He’s not new to internet commerce such as HomeAdviser.com, which charges between $15 to $24 per lead, or Thumbtack, which charges the retailer $3 to $8 per lead.

“Most of the other ones, you have to pay just to even have the customer contact you,” Brumfield said. “I’m pretty satisfied [with GreenPal].”

All those charges with leads from other services can be costly. GreenPal eliminates most of those fees, Brumfield said.

GreenPal co-founder Gene Caballero said the competitive bidding along with background information on the potential lawn care maintenance professional with reviews from customers eliminates many of those lead fees and provides more immediate interaction with the customer.

“It does give the homeowner the ability to select who they want to work with based on what their expectations are,” Caballero said.

GreenPal is headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., and has operations in 15 markets in eight states. Jacksonville is the third Florida city to get the GreenPal service and joins Orlando and Tampa on the list.

After the job is complete, the lawn maintenance company gets paid through a credit or debit card and GreenPal gets 5 percent commission, Cabellaro said.

In that sense, it’s similar to the Uber ride share service where the contracted driver gets paid through an app and then the company gets a cut.

Angela Mattia, chairwoman of the Information Management Department at Jacksonville University, said she was unaware of the GreenPal business in Jacksonville. But she’s not surprised the Uber paradigm has spread to other industries.

“It’s definitely where the trend is going,” Mattia said. “It’s kind of along the lines of what Angie’s List was a few years ago.”

Mattia said there are many other services already operating on the mobile application paradigm. As those apps are getting more sophisticated, Mattia said it’s likely going to be common for those kind of apps to be available for many kinds of manual labor work.

“I think you would see it especially useful and people more interested in it for any kind of service that is difficult to get quality people,” Mattia said. “I think it’s changed things. It’s been really good for the consumer.”

There are still outstanding issues, Mattia said, such as Uber’s growing list of some of service’s drivers who have committed violent crime and drawn negative national publicity for the company.

Caballero said he’s fully aware of those issues and GreenPal has established a standards policy that includes background checks.

“That includes ensuring that they have commercial grade equipment, references, pictures of past work, and we also do a phone interview to make sure they are who they say they are,” Caballero said.

Drew Dixon: (904) 359-4098