Sneak Preview: Robotics and Your Dealership

Our April issue of OPE Business features a special report on robotic mowers, here’s a sneak peek at just a few of the comments from our panel participants:

On the top likely prospects/customers for robotic mowers: …The sales demonstration process is also quite different; typically, these aren’t pieces of equipment you can trailer to a site to show features and benefits. The benefit of mowing automation really needs to be visualized over time, so some creativity in this effort needs to be used. Things like identifying a user who is an influencer in the area and installing on property to show others will need to be used for the marketing effort. As far as specific markets for automation success, look for any labor-strapped industry that could benefit from automating some of the mundane mowing activity in favor of more important activity.” Jake Vollbeer, Echo Robotics

On the power and capabilities of robotic mowers: “We need a bit of a retraining here. Can one robot cover the same amount of ground in an hour? No. But can it run all night while you’re dreaming about your next vacation? Absolutely. Can you sit on a mower and keep your center of gravity 6 inches from the dirt while you climb a hill? Mow through mud without leaving tracks? Operate 100 feet from your hammock? One thing they can’t do is handle leaves like a traditional mower. But they also don’t get bogged down….” — Jeff Lattimer, Autmow Robotics

On how dealerships should address the questions of safety and theft when selling robotic mowers:

“Theft is an issue that’s often brought up as a concern with new owners. Built-in tracking devices make it very easy to locate a robot should someone decide they’d like to take it home for an “unscheduled demo.” While these events are extremely rare, we have never had any difficulty assisting an owner in locating their missing robot – and sending the local authorities to the robot’s location for retrieval.” — Jerry Fife, Ambrogio

On the growing market share of robotic mowers now and in the future: “We believe robotic mowing is the future of both residential and commercial lawn care. Robotic mowing has gained widespread acceptance and market volume in many markets around the globe. and we expect these trends to continue in North America as well.” — Chad Fuhrman, Husqvarna Group

On the mass adoption of robotic mowers: “…We’ll continue to see this category grow. We will see several companies commercialize fully autonomous commercial mowers in 2022 and 2023 – meaning, customer have purchased the product; these are not trials or tests. I believe we will go through two to four years of low adoption. After this period, we’ll see mass adoption.” — Tim Kubista, RC Mowers

On robots and lawn maintenance: “Robotic mowers are ideal for lawn maintenance, so yards always look as if they have just been cut. Further, frequent mowing is healthy for your lawn – the blade tips cut only the top part of the grass, keeping it green. Conventional mowers are typically used less frequently and are prone to cutting deeper down to grass stems, which isn’t ideal for a healthy lawn.” — Adam Ference, Robomow

On the advantages offered by robotic mowers and robotic mowing: Autonomous lawn mowing allows you to have a perfectly manicured lawn with minimal effort, so users can enjoy the lawn without all the work. Robotic mowers are extremely quiet, so you can mow at any time of day without disturbing neighbors or surrounding areas. For pros, in a time when finding skilled labor is tough, these mowers could supplement landscapers’ existing teams, allowing their employees to focus on trimming, blowing and other tasks. It gives landscapers more bandwidth to expand their business.” — Brian Manke, Stihl

On embracing technology: “It’s clear that landscape contractors are ready to embrace technology to help drive productivity in their everyday maintenance schedules, as well as to attract different employee audiences to the industry. The use of robotics and electric equipment helps to reinforce the vital role contractors play in sustainably caring for the environment through the properties they maintain.” –– Billy Otteman, Scythe

On breaking down robotic benefits to customers: When it comes to assessing the value and worth of autonomous and semi-autonomous commercial mowers, the process is no different than any other piece of equipment. Beyond the novelty of the technology, dealers must be able to clearly break down the benefits and considerations of the product to ultimately determine whether it’s a good fit for their customers’ business. This involves being familiar with the units and giving customers ample opportunities to demo the new technology.” — Jack Sooy, Cub Cadet

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