We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Sara Miles. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Sara below.
Sara, appreciate you joining us today. Can you recount a story of an unexpected problem you’ve faced along the way?
The Covid19 pandemic was a wildly unexpected problem to deal with as a business owner and service provider who was working daily in person with clients and their pets inside of client homes! Once everything started to shut down and no one was going out or inviting people in to their homes, I had to pivot my business to stay afloat.
I turned my focus to coaching people through training tasks and behavior modification protocols via Zoom. It was a bit rocky at first as I figured out the best ways to share materials and demo things I could previously do in-person with the dog. But it was the best thing I could have ever done for my business. Virtual training sessions are perfect for people seeking help with their dog’s fearfulness, anxiety, reactivity, or aggression. It allows us to work together on skill building and making environmental changes first, and this in turn makes meeting in person so much more successful because we’ve built a solid foundation already.
Now I work with people all of the country and their dogs, and I’ve started building out online courses and resources to better support pet parents everywhere!
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I’ve spent the last fifteen years of my life devoted to helping animals as a professional trainer and behavior specialist. I started out at the San Diego Humane Society, working as the Behavior Center Coordinator until I moved to Phoenix in 2016.
I started Smiles Dog Training in 2017 to bring my expertise in training and behavior modification to pet parents of the Phoenix metropolitan area. As a certified professional, I continue to pursue education and credentials that serve my clients. In 2018, I became a licensed educator for Family Paws Parent Education, a Pet Dog Ambassador Instructor/Assessor, and a Fear-Free certified professional. I also served as Co-Chair for the Education Committee for the Association of Professional Dog Trainers in 2019.
In 2018, I also opened PHX Animal Behavior Center with co-owner Carrie Seay, giving Phoenix a place to complete positive reinforcement group classes for all ages. I am so thankful for the gracious community support that helped us win Best of the Valley 2020!
When the pandemic hit I refocused my energy into Smiles Dog Training, growing virtual training options for pet parents all over the world! My current courses include 7 Habits of Perfect Puppy Parents, DIY Dog Training, Foundations for Fearful Fidos, and Mayhem to Mellow: Helping Your Reactive Dog. I also offer one-on-one training for pet parents in virtual and in-person formats here in Phoenix, and share lots of training tips and tricks through social media for the general public.
Any advice for growing your clientele? What’s been most effective for you?
Word of mouth! When I work with people and their pets, everyone becomes a part of the Smiles Dog Training family. Their wins are my wins, and if they’re struggling I want to help them through those obstacles. While this is a business, I train dogs and work with pet parents because it fills my soul up, it’s my purpose on this earth. I believe people understand that when they work with me, and it allows people to take a journey with their dog that brings them to unbelievable empathy and understanding for their dog and themselves. It’s life changing for a lot of my clients!
How do you keep in touch with clients and foster brand loyalty?
I’ve been really investing my time and resources into building more for my clients beyond our training sessions. My social media and email newsletter bring new ideas, tips, tricks, and fun to anyone that wants to participate. Seeing pet parents share their life with their dog after working with me is inspiring for me daily. I only get a few hours with people and their pets so I genuinely love that connection through places people are already spending their time like email, Instagram, and Facebook.
- Website: https://smilesdogtraining.net
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smilesdogtraining/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/smilesdogtraining/
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/smilesdogtraining