Giving back is an annual tradition at KJK LawnCare. Each year, the company provides free lawn maintenance services from April to October to five families in the Omaha, Nebraska, area.
Much of this generosity stems from owner Josiah Cherry’s upbringing.
“My mom was always giving back when I was growing up,” he says. “She instilled that passion in me. So, I wanted to give homage to my mom and also to the community that’s helping me to develop my company.”
Cherry has worked in the landscaping industry for four to five years. He started KJK LawnCare about three years ago after getting some landscape industry experience at another company.
In Cherry’s first year as a business owner, he decided to pick five residential customers to receive six months of free lawn maintenance services as a way to give back and help people in need. He promoted the charity by word-of-mouth and sharing about it on social media.
Initially, he only selected families who had loved ones deployed in the military. He spent time in January during off-season selecting families who were in need.
“There’s a big military base in Bellevue, just outside Omaha,” he says. “Also, a small engine vendor reached out to us asking to help this way.”
Although servicing a few families for free throughout the season can be time consuming, Cherry says each year he finds a way to mix the free accounts in with the company’s regular service schedule.
“Give back projects can be easily looped into our regular schedules,” he says. “Yes, it takes time and space from other clients we could take in and bill for. However, as a company, we feel it’s just as important to give back to the community that supports us. So, we take care of these clients during regular hours.”
This year, Cherry extended the charity to people who are experiencing health issues, as well. Part of that is a tribute to his mom, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. “She sparked my idea to expand the free service offering to individuals who wouldn’t be getting help otherwise while battling severe illnesses,” he says. “So, we want to take that burden off them and help them focus on getting better health.”
For 2018, he partnered with the American Cancer Society to find some families to help locally. He also connected with local media to reach a broader spectrum. Because of the publicity, he says he received about 50 nominations for the service this year while he normally only receives 10. Cherry says his team spent extra time reading nominations for the service this year to determine who would benefit most from the services.
“There was a lot more this year, which made the selection process a little harder,” Cherry says.
Because of the increase in nominations, he decided to help six families for the 2018 season as well.
While Cherry can only help five or six families on KJK LawnCare’s dime, he says he has encouraged others in the community to “sponsor” potential families he can help and pay for their lawn maintenance needs. Cherry then offers a discount for those individuals sponsoring a family in need.
“We wish to help everyone, but as a small business we can only help so many people in a year,” he says. “So, that’s one way we can help more families. We reached out to people asking them to adopt families this way. So, if you have a family who didn’t receive our free service, but you want them to have that service, instead of paying $30 a week to have a lawn maintained, we give it to you for $25 or a reduced rate.”
He also encourages other small business owners in the landscape industry to find ways they can give back to their communities.
“The biggest piece of advice I would have for any lawn care company is to think about your community as a whole,” Cherry says. “Our communities are what drive our business. If there’s any way you can help someone out, be it a one-time project or like us taking five or six families a year, every little bit helps.”