Tragedy inspires blooming gardening business
A personal tragedy inspired a young man from Zeekoevlei to start his own business. When his path crossed with the Cape Town-based social enterprise Salesian Life Choices, his dream of establishing a thriving gardening service, Lawn in Order, has now become a reality.
After his father’s sudden death in 2010, Nick Adriaans (26) had to literally fill his shoes. “My mom and dad were robbed one morning and that afternoon he died from a heart attack. We were devastated,” he says. Nick took over his dad’s responsibilities around the house and that meant keeping up the garden and mowing the lawn.
He confesses gardening was an acquired taste and not exactly a childhood passion. “As a child I didn’t enjoy gardening. When my dad was mowing the lawn, my duty was to hold on to the electric cable to prevent the lawnmower from running over it. I always hoped the lawnmower would break so that I could use the wheels to make a go-cart,” he jokes. But by taking over from his dad Nick discovered his passion for nature and the satisfaction of getting his hands dirty. “I realised it’s fun and relaxing and it’s very satisfying to see the results at the end of the day. It made me smile each day.”
As the youngest of five siblings, Nick took a job at a casino to be able to support his family financially, but the idea for his own gardening service had already taken root. He saw a gap in the market when people on his neighbourhood Whatsapp group complained about unreliable gardeners and gardening equipment disappearing. “I started to advertise my services on the Whatsapp group and many people were interested. It’s a comfort to the community to know that a familiar face is doing the work and not some stranger on a bicycle,” Nick says.
He worked hard to save enough money to start his own business and he did a lot of research to learn about the dos and don’ts of gardening. In 2014 he invested his savings of R70 000 in buying gardening tools and a second-hand truck. Nick was constantly on the lookout for workshops to attend and advice from experts, and in 2015 he saw an ad for Life Choices’ New Ventures entrepreneurial programme. “I took a leap of faith and applied to enter the programme. It was life changing because it took my business to a whole new level. I realised how little I knew about customer care and market research.” The New Ventures intensive eight–week entrepreneurship course and incubation phase have helped Nick to register his company, develop a corporate identity, design marketing tools and a website.
With the help of experts Nick developed a business plan and he has reached new customers. “The support I received, and still receive, has been great. I have grown both professionally and personally. Throughout the different course modules I have learned about how I can grow my business while also learning more about myself,” Nick says.
He was inspired to not only see his business, aptly named Lawn in Order, as an opportunity for himself, but as a way to empower and educate other people. “We are an eco-friendly garden service, so we share tips for responsible gardening with clients and we train our staff to be knowledgeable about environmental issues.” He is very proud of the team of gardeners he employs and the amazing job creation opportunities his business offers.
Nick now has enough experience and confidence to make suggestions to clients about garden features and to offer creative solutions to problem areas. Each gardening session also includes a special “gift” from Lawn in Order – a complimentary extra that could be anything from cleaning out rubbish bins to pruning trees or deadheading flowers.
After starting small, Nick’s services now include lawn care, tree felling, eco-friendly weed control, clean ups, planting, irrigation, organic compost and fertilizing, reed removal, pruning, high pressure cleaning and gutter cleaning. He has also developed an interest in garden landscaping and how it impacts on the value of a property.
Lawn in Order currently operates mainly in the Southern suburbs of Cape Town, but Nick is keen to expand his business to other areas. “We have positioned ourselves as a reasonably priced alternative to high-end gardening services and at R170 per hour we can deliver quality services that can compare with the best,” he explains.
Nick aims to be perceived by customers as a member of their family tree. “As someone who knows them, addresses their needs and gives them the acknowledgement they deserve through caring and reliable service.”
Visit www.lawninorder.co.za to make contact with Nick Adriaans (074 748 9608).