Entrepreneur opens up about his rapid success with the revolutionary lawn care franchise
Newman Aguiar didn’t expect to be overwhelmed with phone calls by customers so soon after launching his Mowbot franchise. Right after opening in the fall of 2018, Aguiar set up a robotic lawn mower on the big green lawn of the Durham Performing Arts Center and the media had a field day. In no time, television cameras and journalists were on the scene, eager to find out more about the robots and the business behind them — and then the calls started.
“We had so many calls that it was almost overwhelming,” Aguiar says. “We thought that October would be the off-season for lawn care services, but after we put the demo on the DPAC lawn, our business really took off. Our local news station, WRAL, came and did a segment on us, and the calls didn’t stop. We rushed to install as many robots as we could before the weather got really cold.”
Aguiar has owned a technology consulting company in the Raleigh-Durham-area for the past 30 years, and as any successful entrepreneur, Aguiar places special importance on networking in his community. As an active member of his local Rotary Club, where he served as district governor, Aguiar met Tony Hoop, CEO of Mowbot, and became interested in the concept after doing significant research on the technology, the business model and the size of the market.
“Naturally, as someone in the tech-field, the robotic technology behind the Mowbot franchise really appealed to me,” Aguiar says. “The robots are manufactured by Husqvarna and have been used in Europe for over two decades — and it’s easy to see why. They produce a better quality lawn for the customer and make lawn care far more convenient and environmentally responsible than ever before. However, it was the business model that really made me excited about the opportunity, and the more research I did, the more ready I felt to take on something new.”
The Mowbot business model is turn-key and straightforward, which helps franchise owners get started in business quickly. Mowbot offers industry-leading training and ongoing support, including a 24/7 call-center, which serves to answer customer calls, schedule appointments and manage the customer relationships that are vital to the success of any business.
“By the end of the weeklong training, I was so excited — I really was chomping at the bit to get started,” Aguiar says. “The beauty of the business model is that you can start off by yourself; you don’t have to hire staff, which also means that you have to wear many hats as your business grows. The call-center helps immensely, after we were featured on the news and were inundated with calls, it allowed me to focus on growing the business in my community, installing the robots on my customers’ properties and going on sales calls. Mowbot franchise owners also participate in a weekly webinar, which allows us to connect and share best practices, which has been a terrific help to me.”
Despite having no experience in lawn care, Aguiar recognized that the opportunity to capitalize on the growing demand for Mowbot’s services extended far beyond his own reach. He bought an existing lawn care business with more than 50 customers and formed a partnership with another lawn care business that services over 1,000 lawns. This new reach has Aguiar changing his goals for 2019:
“At first I thought we would have 50 customers in 2019,” he says. “Now our goal is to have 1,000 customers. It’s growing at a rate that I didn’t expect but am very grateful for.”
As Aguiar prepares for his first full year in business, he has some advice for entrepreneurs who are interested in the Mowbot franchise:
“We’re in the age of robots now,” he says. “This is a great time to get into this business, as while the novelty of the robotic lawnmowers might wear off, I truly believe that robotic lawn mowers are going to be the way that the majority of Americans are going to be cutting their lawns in the near future. The fact that we don’t sell robots but focus on the service of lawn care is a tremendous advantage, as we can adapt to the new technology as it comes along. It doesn’t require a huge investment and you can get started very quickly with the full support of a proven franchisor behind you.
“The other benefit is that this business will grow in equity,” Aguiar continues. “My consulting business is based on my personal reputation, whereas my Mowbot business doesn’t necessarily need me to run it. It’s a good investment opportunity because it will grow in worth the more that you build it up. We’re on the leading edge of a new technology that people find really exciting – when people hear about it, they all say, ‘Wow, what a great idea!’ The interest has been wonderful, and it’s only going to continue to grow well into the future.”