Once again, it’s JKSL’s Operations Manager with the answer to a question nobody asked: ‘How are the revisits going?’
For many people, particularly clients of ours who are housebuilders, or private residents selling their own properties, our revisits are the forgotten part of Japanese knotweed treatment – but it’s something that Japanese Knotweed Solutions pride ourselves on being good at.
Even digging out and removing Japanese knotweed from a site is not 100% effective unless you remove every bit of the plant – literally down to the last gram. So, it’s best practice that a company carrying out Japanese knotweed works should come back to check the site, even if it’s just to check that the works have been a success. Where there is re-growth on site, as there will be at the early stages of a chemical herbicide treatment program, then this means you can carry out further treatment quickly and effectively.
So, it’s clear that site revisits are an important part of any Japanese knotweed treatment – and the same is true for many other invasive weeds, including Himalayan balsam and Giant hogweed. These hardy invaders keep coming back, sometimes because they lay down banks of seeds which can keep sending up new plants for many years. In the case of Japanese knotweed, which doesn’t produce viable seeds in the UK, revisits are required because the plant’s hardy rhizome (root system) can keep providing the plant with energy to grow, even when the application of herbicides like glyphosate prevent the plant from storing energy reserves.
This year, JKSL have well over 700 active sites UK-wide, and we have carried out in excess of 1,000 revisits (and that doesn’t include all of the initial works that we have carried out this year as well)! This represents a significant challenge for a small business with less than a dozen teams working on the road, and ends up with our dedicated Revisit Teams doing an average of around four visits across the UK every single working day for six months!
Such an achievement comes with its challenges – JKSL are working on sites over a period of up to five years (sometimes more), and these sites can change hands; land managers come and go, and sometimes we even find ourselves reminding our clients that they have paid for our services!
Many of these sites are also developed during this period, which means that our teams need to provide advice, feedback, and very occasionally to tell our clients’ contractors to stop what they are doing before they cross-contaminate the whole site!
So, it’s really important that we have knowledgeable, experienced, reliable staff, and at Japanese Knotweed Solutions, we have a great team of people managing the revisits, and some fantastic staff who work as full-time, dedicated Revisit Teams.
We have had great continuity over the years with our Revisit Teams, and the people doing most of this year’s final revisits are the same people who visited the sites when we were starting treatment off five years ago; this experience of the sites and our clients is invaluable in offering a premium service.
Another great thing about this continuity is that the team have developed strategies over the years to manage the issues that we run in to along the way (I do sometimes feel like referring to them as “coping mechanisms” during the busiest part of the year). The way we communicate with our clients and their tenants and neighbours, the way that we manage our site information and the high levels of training that our teams achieve means that we can be effective in treating invasive species in almost all circumstances.
There are odd bumps in the road, but managing these is another part of being good at what we do, and by resolving issues quickly and effectively, we build up trust and understanding with our clients.
This expertise is being passed on to newer members of the team, including our third dedicated Revisit Team and our current Operations Assistant, who is the “voice behind the curtain”, doing the significant job of calling, writing to and emailing our clients to book in all of our visits as well as sending out reports on every single visit.
I would be very surprised if any other company in the industry is carrying out such a high volume of visits throughout the year, with such a high level of customer service to their clients and I am really proud of the team that I work with to get these results year on year for our clients, and which make Japanese Knotweed Solutions so successful in the long run.
Chris Oliver, Operations Manager, Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd