Massive Potential In A Fragmented Market

  Pool Scouts will focus on residential pool care.

Pool Scouts will focus on residential pool care.

Published in Pool & Spa News on April 6, 2016

The pool service segment has gained another franchiser with aspirations to go national.

Virginia Beach, Va.-based Buzz Franchise Brands, parent company to Mosquito Joe pest control services, recently launched Pool Scouts.

The first location opened in Virginia Beach at the start of 2016 and was set up through the acquisition of a construction company’s service division.

Pool Scouts will revolve around the cleaning and maintenance of residential pools.

“That’s kind of where our sweet spot is,” said Michael Wagner, president of Pool Scouts. “We do some small repairs and we’ll likely do some commercial pools. But, really, our focus area is on single-family residents with pools in their backyards.”

This is the second franchise operation for Buzz, and while the connection between mosquito control and pool services might not seem too obvious, officials with Buzz Franchise Brands consider the categories closely related.

“Both are outside, both are in the backyards of the homeowners, and people who use [Mosquito Joe] like to be outside and have fun, so they probably have a pool,” said Kevin Wilson, CEO of Buzz Franchise Brands.

More than 48 percent of Mosquito Joe customers have pools in their backyards, Wagner added. “There’s actually a pretty big field of synergy.”

In the months since Pool Scouts’ first location opened, Wagner reports, the operation has done very well. He expects that to continue as the company applies its marketing experience and a strong acquisition strategy. Wilson expects these things to put the company in a prime growth position.

“Most industries that provide services to the home — and this is a broad generalization — generally, they’re not very good at marketing,” Wilson said. “We already do it for a type of service to the home ... so we feel we can do the same type of customer engagement from a marketing point of view that we’re doing with Mosquito Joe.

Mosquito Joe has grown to more than 210 locations in three years, and rapid expansion is expected for Pool Scouts as well. The plan is to open locations throughout Virginia this spring and summer, and then broaden nationally. Management is aiming for at least 500 locations in the next five to seven years, with a focus on Florida, Texas, California and Virginia.

“We feel that we have the scale, background and support infrastructure to be able to open anywhere in the country as long as we find great franchisees,” Wilson said.

Pool Scouts franchisees can own up to three territories, and those who purchase the maximum are required to open one store per year, Wagner said. Territories can be anywhere in the country.

While the franchise model has blossomed in other product and service industries, including fast food and health clubs, it has been slow to take hold in the pool industry. With 205 outlets, America’s Swimming Pools is the largest service franchise in an industry fragmented by mostly smaller, locally owned mom-and-pop operations. But other franchises have entered the service segment in the past few years, including One Stop Pool Pros and retail/service franchiser Poolwerx.

Pool Scouts sees the fragmented market as an opportunity.

“For an industry this size and this fragmented, we feel that another company franchising will provide a good alternative,” Wilson said.

DANA ROBINSON | SENIOR EDITOR AT POOL & SPA NEWS AND AQUATICS INTERNATIONAL