During the last 12 months we worked on projects involving robot lawn mowers. Because that was a new area for us, we ended up doing quite some research. The results were interesting enough to make me personally consider getting one for my house.
I will provide you with some of the highlights in this post, but the key take-away is that these robots are here to stay and their numbers will grow significantly.
While there are hundreds of models and brand-names in the market, 80+ percent of the units come from five different companies:
While both Toro and John Deere are dabbling in this market, there are no American manufacturers in the Top 5 as of the current year.
Data and Graphics: MarketsandMarkets.com
Robot Lawnmowers are the fastest growing segment of the lawn and garden industry with unit sales growing from almost 105,000 in 2016 to more than 224,000 in 2021 worldwide. In the US, the estimate is that in 2022 there will be sales of 68,000 units.
However, with over 40 million acres of lawn in the United States, there remains room for growth.
The current strategy for the manufacturers appears to be covering all possible angles. They will import and sell to dealers, they will make deals with Big Box Stores, they will private label and they will sell via E-Commerce directly to the final customer.
What is new is a model that a manufacturer will partner with a company that becomes a Master Franchiser for a region or a country. The manufacturer provides the equipment and financing and the Franchiser attempts to create as many dealership franchises as is possible. The two current American examples are : Robin Autopilot which is working with different manufacturers. It has designed a subscription model that their franchisees use with the homeowner. The other is Mowbot which works exclusively with Husqvarna.
The problem with franchises is that there is a substantial investment up-front and an on-going expense of royalties on income. This is compounded by the fact that all manufacturers will also be available through other channels.
Ambrogio has used the classic model for a European manufacturer trying to get established in the United States. They import themselves and then appoint a distributor in a specific geographic territory. The distributor then appoints and services dealers in its territory. One of their biggest distributors is Paradise Robotics in Illinois. They have a wonderful blog called “The Robot Lady’s Blog” that is full of good information if you want to set-up a robot lawnmower dealership or have issues with your present lawn-robot.
If you are already in the lawn care business we see a definite profit opportunity in adding robot lawnmowers to your present operation. They also make a great addition for any small equipment dealer. While the robot eliminates some labor, it also creates opportunities ranging from finance to guide wire installation and maintenance.
What we do not recommend is purchasing a franchise. At this time the franchise costs are not warranted since the franchise companies are relatively young. There are still questions about the financing models for robot lawnmowers and operating models. It’s far better if you are an independent and ride the wave of increasing demand that is organically generated.
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