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GreenPal app lets people hire lawn services

Published Sep. 16, 2014

Bryan Clayton knows not everyone likes to mow their lawn. But they also don't know who to hire and don't have the time to gather bids.

That's where his service comes in.

GreenPal connects homeowners with lawn care companies using a smartphone or desktop computer. Clayton cites Uber, a car service app, as its inspiration.

GreenPal works like this. A homeowner posts his lawn job and companies vetted by GreenPal bid for the work. The customer chooses one and reserves with a credit card. Once the job is done, the company uploads a photo of the finished product and the customer approves the payment.

In theory, it's possible to bid a job in the morning and have the grass cut before you get home from work. You can also schedule visits days and weeks in advance.

GreenPal started recently in Nashville and, on Monday, went live in the core areas of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Brandon, Pinellas Park and Plant City. Homeowners trying it in the next few weeks may get only one or two bids, but should draw more once GreenPal registers more companies and the concept catches on, Clayton said.

Clayton, 34, started a lawn mowing business in high school and got the idea for GreenPal while running Peach Tree Inc., a large commercial mowing service he sold in 2013. He chose to expand in the Tampa Bay area because of its year-round lawn care needs and high density of homes.

"I saw that it was hard for people to connect with lawn services,'' he said. "With this, you get access to the guy around the corner who wants to mow your yard.''

GreenPal was designed to eliminate the time-consuming task of calling around to companies and meeting with landscapers to get quotes. With the app, the companies can look up the yard on Google Earth and give a price quickly.

GreenPal is free to customers and vendors, and makes its money by taking 5 percent of transaction costs. To ensure safety, the company runs criminal background checks on the grass cutters and calls references. Once the app gets more traction, homeowners will be able to see examples of past lawns mowed and ratings from other GreenPal users before choosing a company.

Clayton says soliciting bids helps boost efficiency and lower prices. A company that mows multiple yards in one neighborhood would be able to charge less to add one house than a company that would have to travel miles to get there.

GreenPal is doing about 200 jobs a week in Nashville and believes it can reach that number quickly in the Tampa Bay area as it looks to move into Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami.

Chalk it up to something else you can order with just a few taps.

Wow, that was quick

In two years, Wawa has opened 50 stores in the Tampa Bay and Orlando markets, making it one of the fastest-growing retailers in the state.

On Thursday, the chain celebrates its newest location at 4100 E Colonial Drive in Orlando, with a big party featuring Wawa president and CEO Chris Gheysens and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who must really like the hoagies.

Orlando commissioner Tony Ortiz will declare Sept. 18 official Wawa Day. Every store statewide will offer free coffee.

The Pennsylvania-based chain has been on a building boom in Florida, opening stores wherever they can find real estate on busy streets. Since July 2012, Wawa has opened 19 stores in the Tampa Bay area and 31 in Orlando.

And that's just the beginning. Another 50 are planned for the next two years, good news for fans of the Wawa way.

Contact Susan Thurston at sthurston@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3110 Follow @susan_thurston.