Where is the Quality?? November 25, 2015

What?.. if anything…is any good anymore?

When I was a child my mother used to take me to Buxton for a day out. This ‘spa-town’ was considered a ‘posh place’ and I was forced into my best trousers and my shoes were shined and buffed. If you visit Buxton nowadays, the town is now a cess pit of drug dealers and underage pregnancies. There appears to be a lot of ‘in-breading’… and the faces of those residing in the area show the deep lines of worry about how things have got so bad…. so quickly.

Marks and Spencer’s used to be the ultimate destination for any person aspiring to be that little bit better than any of their neighbours. If you bought a Marks and Spencer prawn sandwich…it used to be sublime….have you had one recently?? They taste like the prawns have been feeding on sewage. The clothes are crap… and a T shirt or vest might as well be thrown away after washing… as all the shape and structure will have been lost…crap.crap,crap.

Porsche, for so long the aspirational car lovers dream…naaah…might as well buy a Ford Escort. The last Porsche I had went rusty in three months – when I complained they said… ‘it still works Mr Clough…please bring it back when it ceases to function’ …

Traffic and congestion – almost hilarious. I travel to work every day on something that calls itself a ‘smart motorway’…’smart’ …ha …if it’s so bloody ‘smart’… why is it like a bloody great traffic jam from 7.30 till 9.30.

London? Have you driven in London recently?? Whatever minimal movement you used to get …has now completely ceased due to new works to improve cycling in the city.

Mobile reception? What’s going on there? My phone updates all the time, yet every time it updates… the reception seems to get worse.

National Health Service….have you tried to get a doctor’s appointment recently? The practice that I am registered with will not let you make an appointment in advance – you have to ring on the day at 8am…but…at 8am you can NEVER get through due to the volume of calls…useless.

Television shows? What a load of horse manure….they advertise the latest drama and suggest fantastic plot and brilliant cinematography …but it’s all old hat …been there and done better before.

Simon Cowell. Enough said. Crap, crap, crap.

Take away food? Rubbish. I used to look forward to the odd pizza or curry as a treat – nowadays if you were to shut your eyes and eat some of this crap you would not be able to differentiate between dog food and the garbage they serve up.

Taxis? It used to be that you got in a black cab and you could relax – the guy knew what he was doing. Nowadays they all have mobile apps – which seem to remove the need for ‘thinking’. The clever short cuts and money saving routes that the older cabbies used to have  – are all now replaced with technology that suggests that any idiot can do the job …and hence most cabs are driven by any idiot….

Re-makes of old films…why bother? The originals are nearly always better….

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Keanu Reeves, latest films …crap,crap,crap


….the only place I ever see any ‘quality’…is at my own office…or on sites that Japanese Knotweed Solutions have remediated. Yet I feel that this ‘quality’ is only held together by my sheer force of will…if ever I were to relax …everything would fall apart due to the pressures of the outside world and its insistence on mediocrity.

Why for god’s sake is everyone trying to do everything cheaper?

I don’t want cheap…I want expensive…I want things done properly ….BY A CRAFTSMAN… not in some half assed way by some idiot with an i-phone app.


Mike C

JKSL on BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire November 19, 2015

JKSL’s Mike Clough speaks on BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire about Japanese Knotweed.

PCCB Approved November 18, 2015

Japanese Knotweed Solutions (and our sister company Invasive Weed Solutions are proud to announce that following the introduction of the INNS Code, covering the provision of services for invasive non-native species, that we are the first code subscribers to be formally approved by the Property Codes Compliance Board.

This represents a quantum leap in the levels of peace of mind and security available to clients purchasing Japanese knotweed remediation and invasive weed services – and, as usual, you should soon see more companies following in our footsteps.

The Property Codes Compliance Board (PCCB) is an independent compliance body, which maintains a register of firms who subscribe to one (or more) of their Codes of Practice. The PCCB independently monitor member firms’ compliance in line with these codes.

What does this mean in practice?

Well, behind the scenes, it means that JKSL’s high standards have been externally audited to make sure that they meet all the requirements of the INNS Code. This will be regularly monitored by the PCCB through further audits and inspections.

It also means that JKSL customers are now protected by the Property Ombudsman Service, which will review any complaints in the event that they cannot be satisfactorily resolved through JKSL’s own stringent complaints procedure.

When you combine this with Japanese Knotweed Solutions’ unmatched experience in the remediation of invasive plant species and our provision of Insurance Backed Guarantees (including IBGs as standard for all residential projects) it is clear to see that the best choice in the invasive species industry is a PCCB-approved INNSA Member with a proven track record of successfully delivering complete eradication for over a decade.

That’s why JKSL continues to grow and expand its workforce and to deliver ever more successful remediation projects, standing tall like a proud oak tree while inexperienced and ineffective competitors spring up around us like weeds.

If you want a company to carry out a five year spray program – even though they’ve only been trading for six months; if you want a “£5 million Collateral Warranty” that will never pay out (ever – because it might as well be written on a napkin for all it’s worth); if you want someone to take your money and disappoint you at every turn (if they ever bother to come back), then there are plenty of places to find them.

If you want a company that is verified by the PCCB, INNSA, BASIS, Amenity Assured, CHAS, SMAS, SafeContractor, ConstructionLine, CDM UK and licensed by the Environment Agency, then our number’s at the top of this page, and we’ll always be willing to help – even if it’s picking up the pieces after you went with the wrong company in the first place.


Chris Oliver, Operations Manager, Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd

What’s an IBG? November 18, 2015

Now, for those of you with long-standing relationships with Japanese Knotweed Solutions; for those of you who are familiar with INNSA or for those of you who dabble in English, this probably seems a redundant question, but I am constantly surprised by the confusion that this issue causes.

The simple answer is that an Insurance-Backed Guarantee (or IBG) is a guarantee, which is backed by insurance. The term “insurance-backed warranty” is also used.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Japanese Knotweed Solutions’ invasive plant remediation programs, here’s a quick summary of the terminology that we use:

Japanese Knotweed Solutions have offered insurance backing for both our Warranties and Guarantees for over ten years.

Now here is the first significant question: What does the insurance cover?

Put simply, this kind of insurance is in place to cover the eventuality that a company goes into administration, bankruptcy or ceases trading and is unable to fulfil its obligations to its clients. So if you get unexpected re-growth, you call your provider and you find that they don’t exist anymore, then you can claim on your insurance, and pay another company to complete the works.

I am unaware of any policy that will pay you if you get re-growth, or if there is damage to your property due to Japanese knotweed (unless it is caused by the contractor’s incompetence). You’re better off buying a lottery ticket,

Insurance backing must be issued by an external insurer to be reliable, and under UK law, this company must be registered with the FCA (the Financial Conduct Authority). While I am aware of contractors in any number of trades who moonlight as Japanese knotweed “specialists”, I am unaware of any invasive weeds contractor who doubles up as an FCA-approved insurer.

So what you need, in order to have a meaningful IBG, is some form of certification from an external company (who will be registered here).

I have seen more than one company offering “£5 Million Insurance-Backed Guarantees”. The giveaway here is the preposterous sum quoted. When you ask questions of this type of “cover”, you will almost invariably find that the company is telling you that their Professional Indemnity insurance will pay out if you have a problem. If they’re insured, this is the case whether they give you a guarantee or not.

This is only the case where the company has been negligent – and there are many problems with this: firstly, you have to sue the company, and prove in court that the re-growth was due to the contractor’s negligence, which will be a lengthy, expensive and difficult process. Secondly, it is unlikely that the PI policy will cover you for consequential losses – such as loss of value on a property. Thirdly, this cover offers absolutely no recourse whatsoever if the company goes bust, because once the company stops paying the premiums, the insurance ceases to be valid.

Let’s be clear – no matter how many seals, or frills, or gold brocade the certificate has, or how many millions of pounds the “guarantee” claims to be worth, the fact is this: unless it’s backed by an external insurer, it’s worth nothing, and it will not protect you.

Once a company goes bump, there is no more money in the pot to continue the works on your property, or to carry out treatment of any re-growth which occurs after the treatment is complete. Only an external insurer can provide protection against this.

This is why mortgage lenders ask for insurance-backed guarantees. This is why all INNSA members issue IBGs as standard for all residential herbicide treatment projects. This is why JKSL have been issuing these types of products for over ten years (and were the first in our industry to do so).

Japanese Knotweed Solutions herbicide treatment plans have over 99% success rate, based on almost 15 years of data, and a sample size running into the thousands of client sites – so you can be confident that you won’t need to claim on your guarantee – but nevertheless, we offer peace of mind and insurance backing as standard for all residential herbicide treatment projects, and we can offer the same as part of our works package for commercial clients too.

So don’t be misled or confused about what you need – come to us, and we will offer it as standard.

Chris Oliver, Operations Manager, Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd

North Coast 500 November 18, 2015

I have had a ‘bucket list’ going for some time with a list of various things I would like to do before I die. High on the list was driving along the coast of Scotland following the clockwise route starting and finishing in Inverness*. The idea had been floating around in my head for several years but rapidly came into focus when reading the Sunday Times one morning and seeing an article titled ‘Northcoast 500’ – this being the name of a ‘new route’ which had been detailed in Scotland to rival Route 66 in America.

(*NB – The bucket  list also included going along the coast of Scarlett Johansen following the anti-clockwise route starting and finishing in Scarlett Johansen…on discussing these options with my wife she decided that the Scottish road trip was far more likely to be ‘do-able’…. and wouldn’t result in any major let downs on Scarlett Johansen’s behalf.)

So the journey was planned, route fixed, hotels booked, car serviced and my wardrobe distilled into one small suitcase with walking boots and waterproofs thrown on top.

The first stage of the journey involved driving to Glasgow and an overnight stay at the Hotel du Vin at Number 1 Devonshire Terrace, great place to stay, good food and a great night’s sleep. Next day I drove to Inverness with a room booked at the Culloden Hotel which was the complete opposite of the Hotel du Vin – horrible place, nasty staff ….and needless to say – I walked out without staying…

I managed to get two nights at the Torridon Hotel and had a fantastic journey along the start of the North Coast 500.

I won’t bore you with all the details – suffice to say – fantastic scenery, amazing coastal views, great hotels…a truly epic journey filled with roads built for driving, lovely food and great hospitality from everyone I met (apart from Culloden House)…total mileage 1780

What I think I really wanted to do was … ‘get away from it all’ – no mobile reception, no wi-fi and no constant battles with cash flow and the epic struggle of one small business in a world that mitigates against the smaller companies thriving.

I have cleared my head and clarified where we need to be changing things at JKSL and hope that we can bring one or two new ideas to the table.

I had also been having a bit of a ‘wobble’ with INNSA (THE Invasive Non Native Specialists Association) of which I am chairman. Much time has been spent trying to get the Trade Body off the ground with little or no thanks from anyone. I had been wondering if I was getting caught up in my own PR and reading my own blogs….but…having cleared my head I am back on track and realise that much of what I do is thankless and will only ever be realised when results show in the financial statistics of members.

I think everyone needs to ‘get away’ from the pressures of modern life every once in a while? Mobile phones and i-pads are great, remote access is remarkable…but all of these innovations mean that we don’t ever get to just … ‘stop and smell the roses’. I get between 20 and 30 e-mails just on my drive home .…and the bleedin’ thing just doesn’t stop pinging and farting all night long (I have a few contacts in the US)…

I am forever checking my e-mails as well as reading ‘Linked in’ and ‘Twitter’ and ‘Facebook’….none of it is ground breaking….. yet I get shaky when I’m not 100% up to speed. This CANNOT BE GOOD for you…so I am now going to restrict myself to twice a day….rather than twice an hour.

So I’ve started my bucket list, sorted my finances out, got back on track with INNSA and resolved my social media strategy…

Now …where did I leave Scarlett Johansen’s number???


Mike C

Ego… November 4, 2015

What’s it all about?

What is… ‘it’… anyway…? Life’s rich pageant…what are we actually trying to achieve? What is the secret of life…hmmm

A few years ago I thought I had the answer, l then I woke up and it was all a dream.

I come across all sorts of people in my role as a company owner ….some people are real stress heads and work every hour that god sends…others just float along enjoying every day and just being chilled out about everything.

Take my Father in Law for example. Everybody loves Ben. Everybody.

I have never met anybody that didn’t like him – he is the most likeable, funny, interesting bloke you would ever want to spend time with. He worked for me for over five years and I didn’t ever hear a word said against him by anybody.

Yet…. he has no drive, no ambition, no lust for material things, he’s not bothered about having a new car, not bothered about a new watch, doesn’t want a new house….nothing gets him fired up….ever. If he has enough money to go for a pint occasionally he’s happy. And even if he doesn’t have enough money for a pint he isn’t too bothered because he knows somebody will buy him one because he’s so well liked.

Now if you take me as an alternative example. Nobody likes me. Nobody.

I’ve never met anybody that liked me – I am a most unlikeable character. I think I’m funny (apparently I’m not) – and most people don’t really want to spend any time with me. I’ve never worked for anybody other than myself ….probably due to me thinking I’m cleverer than everybody else.

Yet…I am driven, I want the best of everything that the world has to offer…I lust after every new gadget that comes on the market …yet by the time I buy anything I’ve already moved on to the next ‘thing’ that I want. I never have less than £500 in my wallet and never allow anybody to buy me a drink.

But dear reader, who is right?

Ben – I am sure will live to a ripe old age cossetted by everybody who loves and cares about him.

I – will probably die from stress related illness or will simply explode in a fit of rage when some new accessory to the i-phone is unavailable…

Much of what I have done with my life has been about ‘ego’ – some sort of testosterone fuelled assault on everybody I’ve come across – men have been either ‘competition’ or ‘useful contact’…. and women have been objectified or boxed into neat packages of ‘wife, work colleague, accountant, sister in law, mother in law ..’

But….things are changing as I age.

The testosterone levels are falling into a manageable category, I haven’t hit anyone in ages, I let people over take me on roads …and I even have some male and  female friends…. that are just ‘friends’.

The ego has deflated and I now consider myself to be a normal bloke …not a god.

Not sure anybody likes me…but …maybe there time to apologise to a few people and build some bridges?


Mike C