The “Heat/No Heat” line

For some truly odd reason, this video strikes me as truly, oddly hilarious…

Something tells me that despite Spiro Agnew’s warnings in 1971, the folks at the Lawrence Welk Show had absolutely no idea what this Brewer & Shipley classic was all about.

Trains, right?

Ah one anna two…

Lines are pretty important in our world, aren’t they?

One of the first things you learned in school was to stand in a line and wait your turn…for the pencil sharpener, for lunch, for the bathroom.  Up until kindergarten, the only line you ever had to deal with was the one waiting to talk to Santa.

From that moment on lines are everywhere, imposing new boundaries. Parents warn us to stay in line, bullies dare us to cross lines and teachers force us to color inside the lines.

There’s one line in the home heating world that’s pretty simple and absolute. We call it the “Heat/No Heat” line.

It’s pretty self-explanatory.  When you do a job, you want to be on the right side of the “Heat/No Heat” line.  That means you’ve met the bare minimum requirement for a heating system.

The good news is that if this were school, you’d have passed!

The bad news? You got a D-minus.


The beauty of the “Heat/No Heat” line is that success is clearly defined.

Are you freezing to death?  No?  Then leave me alone.  Oh, and don’t forget to tell all your friends.

The problem with the “Heat/No Heat” line is that you can do lots of stuff wrong and still “succeed.” It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve provided your customer with comfort, efficiency or long-term performance.  You’ve merely succeeded in keeping them alive in the winter.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. But when you joined the HVAC Brotherhood, did the Sacred Heating Guy Induction Oath go like this?

“I (state your name) do solemnly swear to use all my skills and powers,  and all the products provided by manufacturers and reps to deliver to my paying customers the absolute bare minimum level of comfort possible in order to keep them from freezing to death, and nothing more.  Amen”

We need another line.

Let’s call it the “C&E/No C&E” line.


Comfort and efficiency, of course.  Here’s what the new matrix looks like:

The “Heat/No Heat” line is simple and straightforward. You either deliver heat or you don’t – there aren’t any “style” points.

The “C&E/No C&E” line, however, has plenty of room for improvements and customization.  You can provide a base level of comfort; a mid-range level of comfort or you can offer room-by-room zoning for the ultimate in comfort.  Same with efficiency – you can offer a basic efficiency boiler, a basic boiler with outdoor reset, a mod-con or solar and geothermal.  At that point, it’s kinda up to your customer.

What’s the point of this little matrix?  People like visuals, and this is a powerful one you can use with your customers to differentiate yourself from your competitors and to demonstrate the value of the options you’re providing.

We’ll discuss how you might be able to use this slick little matrix in our next installment.

As for today’s song, here’s a much better version…

Yep, it’s definitely a song about trains running on time…


One Response to “The “Heat/No Heat” line”

  1. Hi John,
    I really liked following your train of thought through the Comfort and Efficiency analysis/sales pitch. I do this routinely but without the graphic. True, many people are visual, but I’m not sure I could use it without it coming across poorly.
    I usually do it in a tabular form listing the features and advantages and apply a dollar range for each option. This becomes the basis for my firm-fixed quotes.
    I don’t always get the high end, but it leaves the customer knowing there is room for improvement in their system. Showing them a staged approach also helps to promote future improvements without re-building the system each time.

    Cheers. Season’s Greetings

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