Butch Welsch

I had the occasion to attend three functions over a period of five nights recently, each of which included a number of contractors, and in two of the cases, their employees. I was very disturbed at what I saw as I went around the rooms. I’m referring to the dress and appearance of these contractors and their employees. In very few cases did any of the employees and very, very few of the contractors project a professional image. There were torn shirts and jeans, there was dirt in many cases that appeared as if it had been there a while. I asked myself, what are these guys thinking?

This is an area in which I thought our industry had been improving. From what I saw, maybe we haven’t improved at all. We consider ourselves to be professionals in the heating and air conditioning industry and we should present ourselves as professionals. Just because a doctor operated in the morning and ends up with a blood stained uniform, that doesn’t mean he still has that appearance for your office visit at 3 p.m. The same should apply to the heating and air conditioning industry. While it isn’t necessary for a technician or an installer to change clothes several times during the day, I do believe that if he or she is going to represent your company at a late afternoon or evening function, then he should change from the dirty uniform he used during the day.

Each of us has to remember that whether we are the company owner, a service technician or installer we are still representatives of our company and the way we act and appear reflects directly upon our company as well as us. I urge every company owner to take the time to look at his staff that is representing his company. This means everyone representing the company, including sales personnel and the owner himself. Take a few moments and stop to think, is this a person with whom I would want to do business, or more importantly, is this someone with whom I would be comfortable having my wife do business? Give an honest answer. If there is any hesitation at all, I believe it’s time to get your entire team together to impress upon them how important their appearance is to the image of your company.


While we are talking about first impressions, I was at a stop sign the other day and next to me was an HVAC truck that I thought had just finished an off-road race. First some of the lettering was peeling off, and the truck was just filthy. Now I realize that weather may make it difficult to keep your trucks clean and looking sharp, but what is the real FIRST impression your company makes on a customer. It’s the truck pulling up to the door. How do want that truck to reflect on you and your company? I can assure that if the truck next to me pulled up at our house, my wife would have locked the doors and headed for the basement.

I know that there is an old saying that “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” But there is also an old saying that “first impressions are lasting impressions.” Unfortunately, I believe in our industry the latter trumps the former. In fact, as in the attitude my wife would have taken, the contractor with the filthy truck would not have even had the opportunity to “show what was in his book”, because my wife would have judged him unfit just from the initial appearance. It may be unfortunate that appearance means as much as it does, but the fact is that in our business it means a lot. Whether it’s the appearance of your vehicle or your personal appearance, that appearance is going to have a great deal to say about your success or failure.

We have come a long way from the old “furnace man” days. Let’s make sure that we do everything we can to maintain the professional image of our industry, for which so many have worked so long to develop.

Publication date:06/13/2011