Jessica Harkins, co-owner of TLC Outdoor Living in Katy, Texas.
Jessica Harkins, co-owner of TLC Outdoor Living in Katy, Texas.

As the economy continues to rebound, more entrepreneurs are rolling the dice and opening pool and spa retail shops across the country. Jessica Harkins, co-owner of TLC Outdoor Living in Katy, Texas, hung her shingle in August 2016. The new store offers hot tubs as well as outdoor kitchens and grills, plus accessories. The firm also builds custom pools and patios, which is a component of the business that has been around for about 10 years.

While things were a bit rocky at first with regional flooding in nearby Houston, business has been doing well, and Harkins is very optimistic about 2017. The store is located in a shopping center and more eateries and other businesses are under construction, which may help bring more foot traffic to TLC.

For other entrepreneurs who are considering getting into the pool and spa business this year, Harkins has one very practical piece of advice: Choose a customer relationship management system that really works for your company. “Notebooks or excel spreadsheets just don't work,” she said. “Having a great system to keep track of customers and potential sales will really help minimize those errors and put you ahead of the game.”