When we buy clothes, food and cars, we decide what styles, brands and models best fit our needs and desires and then find the best price on those products. The same applies to heating systems.

An old boss of mine loved to talk about something called the "price-value matrix." It was his boss' pet theory though, and when bosses have pet theories, they can't bring them up often enough. At the time, I had no clue what a price-value matrix was (still don't), but whenever he brought it up, I smiled agreeably, nodded a lot and told him what a wonderful price-value matrix it was.

So, how does this nice little story help you sell home comfort systems? Well, if there really is such a thing as a price-value matrix, it's important to know how home comfort systems fit into it and how to relay that information to your customer.

When your customers build a new home, or renovate their existing one, the question of whether to buy a home comfort system never really comes up, does it? I mean, it's not a question of going without - they have to have a heating and cooling system. It's one of life's necessities. Now the question is, which one is right for them? They do have options when it comes to choosing their home comfort system. Your first challenge is to get them to think about how they purchase any of life's other necessities. Do they: A) Buy the cheapest option? B) Buy the best option? or C) Work toward finding the best possible option at the best possible price? For most of us, the answer is C.

When we buy clothes, food and cars, we decide what styles, brands and models best fit our needs and desires and then find the best price on those products. Americans are smart, savvy consumers. We don't automatically buy the cheapest stuff out there. (Does the name "Yugo" ring a bell?)

We realize cheaper isn't always better, so we work hard to find the best possible value. Do you expect a loaded Cadillac for the price of a stripped Chevy? No, of course not. But if you like the Caddy and it's out of your price range, you can look at a loaded Chevy, or a Pontiac, Olds or Buick.

In other words, you would look for a car that fits your needs and desires in the price range you're expecting to pay. That's how you do it.

Guess what? That's how your customers do it, too.

But they do so with one huge disadvantage. Our stuff is very technical, and they are not. The technical stuff needs to be in a context they can understand. There are lots of options out there, and like any good consumer, they want to know the differences, the features, the benefits and how each option will make their life better.

The Best Decision

Once they gather all that information, they make the decision that's best for them and their family. That decision should always include at least some radiant floor heating.

Whoa! There's a bold statement, but think about it. Most residential new construction features at least one or two areas that demand radiant floor heating; it's the only way to heat these spaces comfortably. Here's why: Mother Nature loves balance. She's really cute that way. When you have a warm surface (oh, like feet) coming in contact with a cold surface (oh, let's say a tile or linoleum kitchen floor), Mother Nature wants both surfaces to be the same temperature. So, she steals warmth from your feet and sends it to the floor. The end result: Your feet get cold just to please Mother Nature. And if your feet are cold, your entire body is cold no matter what the temperature in the room may be.

You need to tell your customers these things.

If your customer is building a simple, average everyday house - not a mansion or a mountain retreat, just a regular home that a regular family can afford - radiant heating is a tremendous value.

In all likelihood, this home will have a bathroom, basement, kitchen-breakfast room and family room with a cathedral ceiling. We've all been in rooms such as these, with floors that feel more like center ice during the Stanley Cup finals than the warm, cozy hearthstone we expect our home to be.

Radiant floor heating, quite simply, provides these rooms with true comfort, while the alternatives cannot. This, gang, is value.

You need to tell your customers these things.

Overall, your customers are spending lots of money. Radiant heating isn't always going to be the cheapest option, but it will always be the very best solution when taking into account the following five factors:

    No. 1. Your customers are spending a sizable amount of cash building or remodeling. No doubt, the home is one of the biggest investments you or your customers ever make, and every single building trade is after their money. They need to make common sense decisions on where to spend. Remember, they deserve to feel warm and cozy in their new or renovated home. Their home comfort system dictates how comfortable they'll feel when this massive project is done. It's not a place to skimp.

    No. 2. Americans are spending more time at home. Are we ever! We spend roughly two-thirds of our lives indoors, and more than half of that is spent at home. When we're home more, we start to notice things such as uneven heat, inconsistent (or nonexistent) zoning, hot heads and cold feet, dust, noise and wasted space.

    No. 3. The home is an investment. As mentioned earlier, the home is most likely the single biggest investment your customers will ever make. Whether it's their dream home or a home for only the next 10 years, your customers want it comfortable, loaded with features that will retain their value and help at resale time.

    No. 4. Rising energy costs. A No. 1 concern when it comes to home comfort systems is their efficiency. Everyone wants a system that consumes fuel like a desert nomad consumes water. Radiant floor heating is the most economical form of heat delivery there is. Boilers, furnaces and water heaters all have efficiency ratings. This isn't system efficiency; it's merely the relative efficiency of the appliance creating the heat. In order to be truly efficient, a home comfort system must combine an efficient appliance with an efficient delivery system.

    No. 5. People want comfort. No kidding! Every penny spent on our new or renovated homes is tarnished if our customers aren't comfortable. Why, then, would anyone settle for a bargain basement home comfort system? Radiant floor heating is absolutely the best, and often the only, comfortable heating solution for finished basements and slab-on-grade construction, including kitchens and breakfast rooms (brrr É cold tile), master bathrooms (brr É more cold tile), family rooms ("Ooh, look. Tommy's playing on a cold floor.") and any room with a cathedral ceiling. There are cheaper heating options, but in these rooms especially, your customers simply will not get the comfort they want or need.

Ask your customers to think about why they're building this house, how they'll want to live in it, and the family they're going to raise. Also, they should think of their home comfort system the way they look at other major purchases. Do they always buy the cheapest solution or do they look for the best solution at the best price?

Remember that more than half of the people out there are unhappy with their existing home comfort systems. Ask them what kind of system they currently have, and if they really think about it, are they happy with it? You know that all home comfort systems are not created equal and that forced hot air doesn't have to be the automatic choice. Your customer needs to come to that same conclusion and they need your help and input to do it.

You need to tell your customers these things.