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Veteran Becomes a Business Owner With Pool Scouts Franchise

After 24 years of service, Hicks helped his wife start her own photography business, realizing that the support offered through franchising would be a better option.

By Erica InmanStaff Writer
Updated 2:14PM 12/05/23

Rontario S. Hicks is a retired Army veteran with 24 years of service under his belt. After retiring from the service, he was keen to take on a new challenge in business ownership, particularly one that could fund his retirement hobby of golfing. He started out by helping his wife start her own photography business and learned a lot about independent business ownership in the process. Ultimately, this led to his decision to franchise with Pool Scouts in Huntsville, Alabama. 

“What I found was that it was extremely daunting, it took a lot of time, we made mistakes, and the one thing I did take away from it is that I didn't want to do that whole process alone again,” explained Hicks. “That led me into franchising.”

Why Franchising

Hicks was drawn to the idea of franchising for the support and the tried-and-true business model it offered franchisees. He knew it was a risk as he was dipping into his retirement fund to get his new business off the ground. After speaking with existing franchisees and meeting the corporate team, Hicks felt confident that this was the right move to provide him with both a fulfilling career that was backed by a supportive team and the funds to be comfortable in retirement afterward. 

"My wife has jokingly said that when I retire, I need to stop playing golf and spending money every day on the golf course,” said Hicks. “It's our inside running joke because playing golf is enjoyable, but it doesn't bring in any income.” 

While Hicks enjoys learning new skills through franchising, the challenge of business ownership and the ability to scale, he is most thankful for the opportunity to spend more time with his family. 

“I've been away from my family for years due to multiple duty assignments, and I owe them some quality time back,” he said. “My wife has been the backbone of our family, keeping us in line. This venture gives me the chance to give back to her, be present for my family and still contribute to the community in a meaningful way."

Selecting Pool Scouts

As franchising was new to Hicks, he sought guidance from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse, which eventually led to him connecting with FranChoice

Ultimately, after some questionnaires and personality tests, Pool Scouts emerged as a brand that resonated with Hicks. Once he knew of the brand, he started to notice a gap in his community for reliable pool services.

“You buy a new car and you start to see the same car everywhere; this was the same thing with pools,” he said. “I noticed pools everywhere and realized there are tons of opportunities.” 

Conversations with Pool Scouts parent company Buzz Franchise Brands’ president and chief operating officer Brian Garrison, a fellow military veteran, and CEO Kevin Wilson further solidified Hicks’ confidence in choosing the brand. Now, Hicks loves that he is able to be out and about in his role as franchisee rather than stuck at a desk.

“I enjoy being out, talking to people and engaging with the community,” he explained. “This shift allowed me to step away from desk-bound management and strategy roles that I had been doing for years.” 

Military Background

Hicks’ experience in the Army has contributed to his success as a business owner. Namely, the values instilled in him still inform his decisions in his new career. 

??"One thing the Army has taught me is to live by the Army values, and their main values are integrity, honor and courage,” said Hicks. “There are seven values, but these three stand out to me.”

Those three values have motivated Hicks to always try to do what is right by people to establish their trust, be brave enough to take a chance on something that can impact his community and to challenge himself. He feels franchising has given him the opportunity to put these values into practice everyday. 

His military experience has not only shaped his perspectives, but it guides his behavior as well, especially when faced with a challenge. 

“Drawing from my military background, where things happen on the battlefield that require quick thinking and super vigilance, I approach situations with a calm demeanor,” explained Hicks. “Instead of panicking, I take a moment to sit back, think about it, formulate a plan and then execute it. Every time I do this, it reflects back to my military background."

Finding Success In the Franchising World

Hicks has achieved a great deal already in the franchise world, receiving the Rookie Franchise of the Year award at a recent Pool Scouts conference, but he is competitive and keen to scale.

“My personal goal is to reach a million by the third or fourth year, and we're on track to achieve that," he said.

In addition to his ambition and work ethic, Hicks also attributes his success to the reliable community of fellow Pool Scouts franchisees. The brand has franchisees in 17 states across the country, and Hicks knows he can reach out for support whenever he needs it.

“Considering the scale of Pool Scouts, with an average of about 13,000 pools serviced last year, it's reassuring to know that I always have a friend to call," he said. “Whether it's troubleshooting a problem or discussing the use of certain chemicals, having a network of fellow franchisees allows us to compare notes and make informed decisions that benefit both our bottom line and contribute to our continued growth.” 

In this way, Hicks and his fellow Pool Scout franchisees contribute to each other’s growth and they all benefit. 

Words of Wisdom

Hicks’ only regret is not venturing into franchising sooner. That being said, he advises anyone who is thinking about it to get out and start the education process because there is a lot to learn.

“Go out and call a franchise coach and they'll help direct you,” he said. “When I was looking at franchises by myself, it was overwhelming; there were a ton of businesses out there that I didn't even know existed. Do your research and your due diligence to look deep inside the model to make sure it's a fit for you … it's about the culture that you're walking into.”

To watch the full interview, click here.

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*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.