5 Questions: Jennifer Chaplin

Jennifer Chaplin (Photo: Cynthia Jasperson)
Jennifer Chaplin (Photo: Cynthia Jasperson)
Jennifer Chaplin (Photo: Cynthia Jasperson)
Jennifer Chaplin (Photo: Cynthia Jasperson)

Jennifer Chaplin

CEO, Botanica Landscapes, Yuba City, Calif.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you got started with Botanica Landscapes.

We are one of the largest landscaping companies in our area. We do commercial and residential, installation and maintenance, public and privately funded projects. And about me personally? My ex-in-laws own the business. Eight years ago, I was a restaurant manager; they were looking for someone to work as a construction assistant. I didn’t have any experience in landscaping, but I’m very good at bossing people around. I progressed from construction assistant eight years ago to being CEO, and I am in a contract to purchase the company. In the meantime, I’m divorced from their son, but it’s all amicable; everyone is on board.

2. What are some trends you’re seeing there in Northern California?

Probably because of COVID, one of the biggest trends we’ve seen lately is in the residential work we do. We have more customers who want to do part of the work themselves. We’ve had a lot more residential work in 2020 because more people are at home, and they want to make their backyard into an oasis because they feel like they can’t go anywhere. They have more time at home, so they want us to come in and do the heavy work with our equipment … with the Bobcat or the mini excavator, do the grading, those things … then, they install the materials themselves. We’ve also had a lot more customers who thought they could do the work, and it turns out to be more than they can handle; they call us as well.

3. What is a tool you like to use to get the job done?

Software. We’ve been trying to implement more software and use fewer manual processes. We’ve started using Jobber, and that has been very successful. The integration capabilities with QuickBooks will be good. We’re also looking forward to using the scheduling component. On the construction side, we’re using On Center software. That’s something else we’re setting up, but the capabilities of that program are wonderful. Everything including takeoff and placing the orders for the materials will streamline things quite a bit and eliminate some of our manual processes.

4. Do you have an especially memorable day at work that stands out in your mind?

The day that changed us the most as a company is when we had a consultant come in and talk to us about setting up standard operating procedures (SOPs). That sounds so boring, but it really changed our company for the better! Now, we’re setting up SOPs for every aspect of our business, including writing emails, setting appointments and putting together material lists. It’s been monumental for our company. I’m all about being proactive. In construction, there are all sorts of things that can happen last minute, so you have to be flexible. There is freedom in processes, because once it’s set up, you can focus on other things.

5. If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone, who would you invite, and what’s on the menu?

My son is 12. He is, as most 12-year-olds are, interested in YouTube. He and his friends think they’ll be millionaires by age 18 by becoming YouTubers. One of the people he likes is MrBeast, who is very famous and very wealthy. I would invite him, my son and my sister, because she’d get a kick out of it … and I’d ask him to have a very frank conversation with my son about how being a YouTuber works and what’s required, the time commitment involved and how long he had been doing it before he became rich. And, we’d probably have tacos.

Photo: Seth Jones

Seth Jones

Seth Jones is is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. A graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Seth was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. He has more than 23 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories.

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