The Jedi Services
By Lee Ann Jastillana
John Chaco always knew he wanted to start his own business but couldn’t figure out what type of business it would be. During his days as a laborer, Chaco found cutting grass extremely therapeutic and immediately became accustomed to the job. “It’s not too bad — I just put on my headphones, listened to music,” he says. “I don’t have to use my brain; it was just that the grass needs to get low, and I needed to make it nice.”
His fondness for the job soon gave rise to The Jedi Services, a lawn care company servicing over 70 residential and business properties in the Guam area. Chaco started the business in 2016 and since has been finding balance between his company, family and full-time job as a firefighter.
Chaco heavily emphasizes that he wants customers to feel at ease when approaching and communicating with him. “I really just want it to make you feel comfortable calling us,” Chaco says. “The Jedi Services — the brand — is supposed to make people feel comfortable, especially if they like Star Wars.”
What’s the inspiration behind the business name?
I’m not as creative as other people are with coming up with graphics and all that cool stuff. That’s not my style, so it was hard for me to pick a name. I was figuring out how to make the name catchy because I can’t just name it “John’s Lawn Service.”
People think I really like Star Wars, which I kind of do, but I’m not a huge fanatic. My son is the super huge Star Wars fan. His name is Jediah and we call him Jedi, so that’s where the name came up. Our logo looks kind of like a flower, and it has the “jedi” look — like Yoda. A lot of people tell me they called me just because our name had “jedi.”
What different services does your company currently offer? How long does a service take?
We do basic lawn care maintenance like grass cutting, hedge trimming, tree trimming, tree removal, pressure washing and green waste removal. An average lawn could run 20 to 45 minutes; that’s how much I clock my guys. We typically do three to four yards a day, but a bigger service could dictate the schedule as well.
How many employees do you currently have?
I have three full-time employees and two part-time. These three full-time employees — these guys are the backbone of this company. Without these guys, I can run some of it, but I can’t please everybody. These guys can please everybody.
In what ways does the company differ from other lawn care companies?
Probably just the name. I don’t focus on any other companies. I’m not a competitive guy, and there’s so much grass out here to take care of, I want to share the wealth. My customers do say that we are more professional, more consistent and we’re definitely more affordable. Those are the top three things customers love in a lawn care company.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced since you started your business?
Finding the right people to work. Everybody loves to say that they know how to cut grass and that they’ve done construction. As soon as they get on the first day of the job and they feel the heat, they don’t come back. I don’t blame them; grass-cutting isn’t for everybody. We’ve run through so many people, you’d be surprised — 20, 30 guys back to back. Hire them one day, they don’t show up the next. The three guys that work with me now full-time, these guys are carabaos.
What’s the best part about being in this type of business?
You get to see the beauty when the yard is finished. If you look at a nice, two-story house – big, beautiful 20 foot windows, super big lawn but the grass is really high, it just doesn’t look nice. You’re thinking, “Does anyone even live there?” You can’t really see the beauty in the structure.
But if you cut the grass, it’s so beautiful to look at a house. You can have a tin shack in the middle of a beautiful yard, and that shack would be beautiful. You could have the most beautiful building, but if you have grass surrounding it, your building is not going to look beautiful at all.
What’s your favorite part about owning your own business?
I get to help my employees feed their families. The main reason is to help people that need work and give them a chance. It’s for anybody, they don’t have to be my friend or colleague, just be anybody that needs work. I give them an opportunity to grow.
I’ve had guys come into my company, work and find a better job. I love progression — that’s how I grew up. My dad always told me, “Don’t quit your job unless you get a better job.” All my guys that I’ve hired have high school diplomas, and I pay them more than minimum wage. I just try to focus on what’s around me, and I make sure everyone around me is healthy and happy.
What are some products or services you plan on introducing in the future?
We plan on expanding, getting more customers, hiring more people and getting more equipment. And then, for services, maybe housekeeping — something where we can go inside the building, help people clean up inside. Not residential, but business cleaning.
What other goals do you have for the company?
I want to advance in a way that makes the business more customer-friendly; something where they could go online and schedule an appointment. The guys would be there without them having to contact anybody. I still find that hard to do, and it would take away the integrity of our business.
I love to meet the customers. I’ve met every customer we’ve had, past and present, because I like that — I like to put a face to the name. I don’t want them to see the reviews and think it’s a really high-end company. It’s one or two guys running this whole operation.
How can someone interested in your services book one?
All they have to do is give me a call or message us on Facebook. They could schedule an estimate — our estimates are free. I do a side visit — that’s all it is. I take a look to see the condition of the grass, how big the area is and I figure out what kind of equipment I’d need to tackle that. All of it is just scheduling to their convenience after that. They give me a day, and I try to work for that.
What advice would you give someone looking to start this kind of business?
You need to know how to cut grass. You need the proper equipment. You need water — hydration. That’s the basic three things to start up a lawn company.
Do not let anybody tell you that you cannot do it. If you feel that you can start a business like this, do it. There are going to be challenges, but continue to press on. I’ve had so many people tell me that I can’t do this, but those are the ones that don’t matter. That’s why so many yard companies fail.