Problem:

Customers who might once have paid to have a certified pool tech install their equipment are now purchasing parts online, and often installing them incorrectly.

Solutions:

Online retailers need to develop a process for matching the right parts with the right system, and ensuring customers only purchase what fits, techs say. Online retailers counter that they’re willing to try, but the responsibility will ultimately fall to the customer.

Problem:

Due to lower overhead costs, online retailers sell products for much less than brick-and-mortar stores can charge.

Solutions:

Techs who bill for time, parts and other overhead costs claim they’re seeing profit by servicing Internet-bought products. Online retailers say that since they can’t service the equipment they sell, there’s still plenty of room for experienced techs to benefit.

Problem:

Internet sales are spread thinly and widely around the country, and across many Websites. A truly effective service referral network would have to assemble all this data in a useful way.

Solutions:

Some techs sign up with every referral network they can find — and receive a few new leads per month, which they supplement with a regular route. Techs and e-tailers agree that no company has even tried to tap the full potential of this referral market yet.