Management • Industry Insights • Business Tips • 40 minutes

Planning for Success: When a Teacher Brings her A-Game to HVAC

May 9, 2023

Episode Overview

There’s a well-known, inspirational book in which the author’s central thesis is that he learned all life’s essential lessons in kindergarten. 

Stephanie Postell makes a similar observation. The co-owner of Anchor Heating and Air in Charleston, South Carolina, believes nearly everything that makes her company successful stems from procedures and policies she established as a kindergarten teacher.

Walking down the hall in line. Sitting criss-cross applesauce with hands in your lap. Before kindergarten, these simple concepts are foreign to kids.

Kindergarten and business foundations make a great analogy, Postell says.

“When children go to school for the first week, they don’t know about policies or procedures,” she says. “Same when you are first growing a company. If you don’t have those things in place from the beginning, you’re not building a great foundation.”

Both teachers and business owners have to assess their charges by strengths, Postell adds. 

“People all learn things in different ways,” she says. 

Some just by hearing. Others by doing, or gaining hands-on experience.

“That’s what has to be done with companies,” Postell believes. “Whether it’s a technician or a CSR, we do better by helping make sure they’re in the right seat.”

Though it’s not a trait you want to sow in a kindergartner, Postell says knowing when to be stubborn is actually a good thing when you’re in a management position.

“That’s one of my tips: Be stubborn,” she says. “My husband, David, and I have an understanding that we’re going to be decisive and not get analysis paralysis and never make a decision.”

Case in point: pricing. In starting out Anchor Heating and Air, they priced services to be competitive with the biggest competition in the area.  

“We’re priced to grow when we need to grow,” Postell says. “You’ll never hear me call my company ‘affordable’ or ‘cheap.’”

That’s based on advice she got, and is just one foundation the company was built on. 

Maybe you don’t learn everything you need to know in kindergarten. But like the book says, and Postell has deduced, the lessons are elementary. And essential.

Stephanie Postell recently joined ServiceTitan’s Jackie Aubel as part of Season 8 of the “Toolbox for the Trades” podcast, which included Postell’s thoughts on:

  • (6:26) Pivoting a teaching background into technician training 

  • (15:20) Pricing, appearance and leaving a lasting impression

  • (22:48) Why you need to plan for success from day one

  • (26:50) Knowing when to be stubborn

  • (28:29) Owning mistakes and empowering a team-building culture

To hear more stories from the trades, subscribe to Toolbox for the Trades on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, our website, or anywhere you get podcasts.

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Toolbox for the Trades is a podcast where top service professionals share the tips, tricks, and tactics they use to succeed in their industry. Hosted by Jackie Aubel, this podcast is brought to you by ServiceTitan—the leading home and commercial field service software.

Episodes will feature stories and strategies to help contractors grow and scale their service business.

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