One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor
I think that within every problem there is a new business. For instance, the
The idea was to divert the constant 100 GPM flow of 55-degree water through a heat exchanger and use it to cool the church during the summer, and then use the same water through a heat pump to heat the place during the winter. The project cost $80,000 and the church received a state grant to fund it. The congregation expects to cut their heating costs by 80 percent, and their cooling costs by half, and isn’t that a wonderful American story?
There are no problems. There are only opportunities.
The town of
Other smart people are talking about doing a similar thing in
Which brings me to this: I’m reading in the papers that
We stared our business in 1989, just in time for the last big recession. We had no savings and our four daughters were very young. They were also the reason we were starting this business. We knew that if all went well, the four of them were going to be in college at the same time in 2000 (and they were), so we simply couldn’t afford to participate in that recession. And we didn’t.
Instead, we set out to look for problems. I wrote 14 books about heating problems and how to solve them. I traveled the country, doing seminars on the same subject. There were plenty of people with heating problems, so we sold a lot of books and did a lot of seminar. We left that recession to others.
But I will admit we were lucky. We had a couple of things going for us. First, we knew that it was going to get cold during the winter. Winter’s pretty reliable that way. You can always count on it. Second, we knew that just about everything involved in a heating system is mechanical or electrical, and mechanical and electrical things break. People were going to want to know what to do when that happened, so that was like money in the bank.
The more we thought about it, the better we felt about things. Even when the economy was slow and people were turning their backs on preventative maintenance, that stuff kept breaking down. You know why? Because Mother Nature makes no allowance for budgets or ignorance.
A few years ago, we had a string of winters that were warmer than normal here in the east. Lots of people put off replacing their old heating equipment. They just let it limp along and the heating contractors were crying the blues. But then we got hit with that one wicked cold winter, and all the neglected equipment dropped dead at the same time. The contractors were deliriously happy.
Mother Nature will always be on our side when it comes to this. She’s wonderful that way. She loves the heating business.
My father used to say that the heating business is the next best thing to civil service. People are always going to need us, especially in the winter, so make a conscious decision not to participate in this recession. Leave that to others. Get out there and look for the problems because within every problem, you will find a new business.
Think about all the products you sell today that came from someone else’s problem. Toilets came from outhouses. Boilers came from fireplaces. In the ‘70s, the price of fuel soared and along came high-efficiency boilers. You did okay with those, didn’t you? And because high-efficiency boilers often don’t get along with old chimneys, you got to sell chimney liners. There’s gold in those chimney liners. And when people balked at the price of the liners, the modulating-condensing boilers showed up. No need for a chimney with those beauties. Business follows problems like lunch follows breakfast.
And how about the circulators? Oiling circulators was a chore, so along came water-lubricated circulators to make life easier for everyone. And what came next? Why the three-speed circulators. How come? Because you were carrying too much inventory, and so was your contractor customer. You folks had a problem and the manufacturers had the solution.
Air will always be a challenge with any hydronic system, so the manufacturers built a better trap – the microbubble separator. You made lots of money with those as well because air isn’t really a problem; it’s an opportunity.
Fuel prices rising? No problem! Here comes solar, and wind and geothermal – all these exciting technologies that are about to change our industry. Isn’t it grand?
How you look at problems determines how you’ll do in business. Marianne and I love it when the price of fuel goes up because lots of building owners want to know how they can save money on their heating bills. So they come to our Web site and they buy lots of books from us. They also come to our seminars. The contractors get busy and our business booms when the price of fuel rises.
And when the price of fuel creeps down a bit from its peak, as it usually does, building owners get complacent and they stop coming to our site. They put things off and the contractors get slow. We sell fewer books, but this is when we see even larger crowds at our seminars. Contractors don’t go to seminars when they’re busy, but they sure do sign up when things are slow. They’re looking to get sharper, to get an edge over the other guy.
Slow times are great times for wholesalers to offer contractor training. And that’s a fine way to add value to what you do for your customers. And fast times are great times to reach through to the building owners. Show them what’s possible, how they can save fuel, and how you can help.
One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor. There are no problems. It’s all perception. I hope you’ll embrace that truth. Spend time each week thinking about who your customers are, what’s going on in their lives, what’s troubling them, and then focus on how you can help.