We have all read articles about pricing of pool equipment and where the consumer goes to get a cheaper price. As pool service techs, we need to do the same.

There are several ways to do this. But be careful not to compromise “deals” you have from distributors or original equipment manufacturers.

By simply doing a little homework on items you buy most frequently, you might be able to get a better deal.

Here are some tips to help you in your pricing and have a little more buying power, just as your customers do with you.

First, make a list of things you buy. For the sake of the topic, let’s stick to smaller items, parts instead of big-ticket items. Although this will work for big items, it’s a little easier for the smaller stuff.

Once you have your list, make columns for the places where you will check prices. Look at Lowe’s, The Home Depot, local hardware stores, distributors and any online sites. I list prices and dates for the price for future reference. The date is important because, as we all know, prices seem to change and increase daily.

You may have solved your problem with pricing just by looking at sources other than your local distribution centers. Most electrical parts are cheaper at the big-box stores and local smaller hardware stores than at distributors.

Remember that distributors may be able to match or beat a price. Other times, although they may want your business, they can’t move on the price.

I have sent about 25 common items to each distributor to get their pricing. I’m not calling to price match. Some things will be cheaper at one and some cheaper at another. This is good. Don’t do all of your shopping at one place.

Internet purchases are tricky because you might need the item immediately. Buying ahead is a wise investment if you know you’ll use the parts eventually. Remember that returns can be an issue with sales on the Internet.

Another great way to get the best pricing is finding the original manufacturer.

Let’s say you’re looking for a standard water pressure switch for a heater. Your “Big Three” OEMs do not make these--they buy these and install them at their plant.

Look at the name brand on the side of the switch. Lexmark is common in our industry. Look up the manufacturer online. See if they sell directly to the public. They might send you to the company they ship to, who then sell to the heater OEMs.

Remember, many things we use, like boards and switches, are not pool-specific. This is the best way to get the best pricing. Trust me. Starting with the source is best.

Another great place to buy cheaper is your local national pool store. They often run specials on certain products and bigger ticket items. Sometimes they take a loss on the product in hopes of "Joe Customer" buying other things. Items like pool cleaners can be cheaper, especially in the spring, than at a distributor.

Lastly, make sure that by buying items from many sources you’re not missing out on a program that you may have with your distributor or bigger OEM. Some will give you deals or incentives on things. Even more so, buying from say your competitor (the big national chain) only incentivizes their programs with OEMs.

The important thing is to shop around and chart your findings, not so much for bargaining as much as a for reference. One national distributor has an App for smart phones that you can scan or input the part and get pricing in seconds in the field.

Most of all, do not bring your price down for Joe Customer if you don’t have to. If you know you are bidding on a job for a part and the other pool company you know buys from distributor “A”, and you know the price you have is $30 cheaper, don’t give it all away! Be, say $20 cheaper.

You make more and the customer doesn’t need to know why you’re cheaper, just that you are.