About The Lawn Blog Author...
This article is going to dig a little deeper on the person who is writing almost all of the blog entries on the Kingsbury Lawn Care site - and that person is founder Jack Chapman! With being surrounded by a fantastic team in recent times he doesn't like to take the limelight, but our blog posts are his own doing
Jack - How did you get into providing a lawn service?
As a sport-loving youngster, I enjoyed being outdoors to the point that mowing the lawns at home was my pocket money job from the age of 12. This progressed to mowing the lawn of a friend of my Mum's, and a friend of my Grandparents. At 16 I remember not getting a seasonal summer job at local theme park Drayton Manor, and my Mum putting together a black and white flyer, and I got to work posting these around my home village of Kingsbury, North Warwickshire in 2009.
Soon enough I had around a dozen lawn mowing customers that I would each walk to after school pushing a manual mower with an extension cable in the mower box, with an electric strimmer under my arm. I soon bought a petrol mower from a customer for the cost of a few cuts which make things easier!
As a 17 year old, I had my driving licence which gave me freedom to serve the next village of Dosthill also, with around 20 customers. I can think of 3 for sure that we still have to this day 12 years later as a lawn treatment service, and one longer still in Kingsbury!
University and Lawn Services
I studied Sport Management and Loughborough University. Not wanting to let my customers down, I would travel back on weekends, or a day in which I had no lectures to cut lawns with home only 40 minutes away. Part of my degree was a placement year, of which I applied for many, many marketing roles. It just wasn't working out.
I approached the placements office to see if being self-employed was viable for my placement. With (in hindsight) a dreadful business plan on my laptop, the placements tutor was excited to see where this could go. As soon as the university term was complete, I set about going from 20 to 60 regular customers to make this a full-time business.
My placement had gone too well, and I couldn't return to Loughborough and abandon my business which had become my future. I set about gaining some extra help, building a team far sooner than I would recommend now so I could return to finish my studies.
Customer list 2012 solely serving lawns in and around Kingsbury / Tamworth
In the meantime, my home cricket club before it was forced to fold, North Warwickshire CC was in need of help with their pitches. The club offered to place me on a one-day course to cover basic spring and summer tasks. This was my first experience of scarifying and use of fertilisers - services that had become add-ons to the basic lawn service for the 'business'. It became a premium lawn mowing service from this point I guess with these other options in the mix for customers.
With this, I picked up some more lawn care work from customers who were using a franchised service, and my knowledge of the industry and an exciting future direction was starting to form.
Further learning and study with the then Institute of Groundsmanship
As I became accustomed to cricket pitch preparation and renovation in 2014 / 2015, it was opening my eyes to the world of both lawn care and sports turf. I attended the UK Lawn Care Network Conference in January 2015 at Shrewsbury Town FC, blindly assuming that many would offer a mowing service. It was the reverse, with the majority of the room providing only a lawn treatment service.
I knew it would take many more customers to make this work and that it would need a few years to achieve this. I know that through a lawn treatment service the business could work year-round, and could help people through delivering the specialist skills that I was learning through the cricket club.
England vs Pakistan, Day 5, Edgbaston
When I did return to Loughborough I was also studying for a Diploma in Turf Surface Management with the IOG - now Grounds Managers Association. It was some workload with the Sport Management degree at the business with just short of 100 customers.
I finally wrapped up the degree scraping a 2:1 and a 'Distinction' with my Diploma, only dropping a handful of marks. The following year (2018) I was nominated for the IOG 'Sports Turf Student of the Year'.
Being within the cricket world too I reached out to Gary Barwell, head of grounds at Edgbaston where I did a week of work experience, and later invited back for some test match experience between England and Pakistan.
Above: Fillongley Cricket Club, near Coventry during and after end of season renovation in 2018
Below: Weoley Hill Cricket Club, Birmingham during and after end of season renovation in 2019
Kingsbury Lawn Care - The Lawn Care Company
I traded as Kingsbury Lawn Care from 2015, forming a limited company in late 2017. I knew from 2017 / 2018 with the previous experiences I'd harvested that I was now in a place where I was confident to scale Kingsbury Lawn Care as true lawn care service rather than a lawn gardener of sorts.
2018 was a brutal year with the drought that we had seriously disrupting income from lawn mowing. It was a great thing in many ways as it was being made clear to me that providing lawn services in this way wasn't going to work. We were carrying out end of season renovations for local cricket and bowling clubs - specialist work while struggling to compete on price for a lawn mowing service, all the more so with VAT registration. It wasn't going to be our future.
I had been gathering industry marketing know-how through the now UK Lawn Care Association so in 2019 onwards (10 years from that push mower!) our service really started to take shape with new lawn care customers, and increasingly fewer mowing customers after 2018 where we had a peak of 160 mowing accounts.
We were fortunate enough to win 'Trades Business of the Year' at the Tamworth Business and Community Awards in 2018 and 2019. We were had been running two vans for a few years now and on the right track.
Recent years as a lawn care company
2020 became a bit of a mess for everyone didn't it(!) but we weren't completely exempt even as outdoor, largely solo workers. The pandemic forced the company to raise it's game in terms of recruiting a high class team and forming a company culture that could stand the test of time. As a people-facing service, we needed to invest in the right people for success.
With that, and lots of tried and failed marketing before that, we were able to grow as a lawn care company and as people. We started to gain outstanding feedback from customers along with a great deal of new business coming to us via referral.
2022 was outstanding to have been nominated for the Federation of Small Businesses West Midlands 'Micro Business of the Year' but to win this award and reach the UK finals was incredible. We grew to a team of 4 with customers gaining more value still with experienced technicians, and office support as they required.
We've a team now that I couldn't have dreamt of three years ago and with exciting future plans. 2023 is going to see our team grow to a minimum of 6 with office space, additional vans and machinery required along with covering additional areas such as Rugby and Burton for lawn care services. Serving over 1000 customers now has got quite expensive!
Away from lawns - what don't we know about Jack?
- Still loves cricket and all manner of sports
- Has lived with long-term partner Rachael for the last three and a half years near Tamworth
- A keen runner having ran two half marathons and the London Marathon in 2022, raising £5,500 for Cancer Research UK in memory of his grandad's who helped in getting Kingsbury Lawn Care off the ground
- Two more half marathons completed already in 2023 with one more planned for this year!
Favourite part of your role?
The variability of it. From lawns, I've grown to love everything business development.
Both blogging and our customer newsletters allow me to reach our entire customer base given I'm able to while on the tools. We want to be known as the best at what we do in the area and we can't command that without putting ourselves out there.
I've climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and I struggle to touch my own shoulders. Toes are no problem mind!
Can we help?
Thanks for making it to the end - 14 years of enthusiastically serving customers and lawns is a lot to fit in! It means a lot to us.
If we can help with your lawn this year, then please feel free to get in touch via the contact form below, or you can call us on 01827 826123.