Chirpy Chirpy “Cheap Cheap”

Can you believe this was a monster hit in 1971?

That’s a Scottish band called Middle of the Road, and “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” hit #1 on the European charts. And it’ll be bouncing around your brain all day!

Way to go, Europe…

Our topic of late has been the language of hydronics – more specifically, the words we tend to use and their meanings (click here and here to review).  Words like “payback” and “investment” are pretty loaded with meaning, and the way you mean them and the way the customer interprets them may be very different. Use them at your discretion, but make sure you and your customer both know what you mean.

With that said, here’s a word that should vanish from the industry’s vocabulary, especially when talking with customers:


Is there anything positive about the word “cheap?”  When used “in the biz,” it usually represents a lower priced product or option, as in “it’s cheaper this way,” or “I use that product because it’s cheaper.”

But in the mind of the person who is actually going to live with the end result, the word “cheap” has an entirely different meaning – usually “low quality,” or “inferior.”  If you tell your customer you use a certain product because it’s “cheaper,” this is what they hear you saying:

“Mr. & Mrs. Johnson, my role here is to find the cheapest piece of junk I can find and stick it in your house.”

Doesn’t really inspire confidence, does it?

And “cheap” goes by other names, too.  Have you ever used any of these code words?

“Cost effective”

“Price competitive”

“Builder’s grade”

And my personal favorite: “Value engineered.”

In other words…

We all know customers are, shall we say, price conscious. That doesn’t mean price is the only thing that matters, even if they tell you it is (click here to read more on that crazy concept!). It’s often a good idea to offer your customer a “good, better, best” menu – this helps equate price levels with value levels.

A “Good” package is functional, of sufficient quality, has basic functionality and meets your own personal standards for workmanship and professionalism.  It’s also your lowest-priced offering (but has sufficient profit built in – don’t work for nothing!)  For example, this could be the basic cast-iron replacement boiler with fixed speed circulators – a good system that will perform for a long, long time.

“Better” should be a nice, value-laden upgrade.  Perhaps it’s still a cast-iron boiler, but with variable speed Delta-T circulators to maximize the boiler’s economy of operation, along with an indirect hot water tank to make tons of hot water in the most efficient way possible.

“Best,” of course, is Christmas, New Year’s and a ban on foreign imports all rolled into one.  This is your top shelf, most efficient, most effective, coolest rock ‘n roll system you can envision – it provides maximum comfort, maximum efficiency and maximum value for your customer.

Present your customer with the choices, explain what they’re getting with one option vs. what they’re giving up with another, answer their questions and then let them choose.

And never use the word “cheap.”

If you do, I promise, you’ll always think of the above tune!

And when you offer your customer those three choices, chances are they’ll more than likely choose the middle option.

Because everyone loves the Middle of the Road…

The other “big hit” from 1971 for MOTR (that’s what we fans in the know call them), “Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum,” which hit #2 throughout  Europe.


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