We had the good fortune of connecting with Steve Mark and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steve, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
The most rewarding aspect of dog training is the impact that we have on the lives of people and dogs. For example, one of the many services that we provide is therapy dog prep classes. Some of these dog and handler teams go on to provide comfort for people in hospitals and hospices. Other teams visit children with conditions such as autism and help them to overcome various challenges. Some provide comfort and courage to children who have to testify in court. Therapy dog teams serve many purposes and some of their stories are emotional and uplifting. Clients in our group classes and private sessions run the gamut from people that have no experience with dogs and just brought home a new puppy, to clients that are at their wits-end when they call us because they have a dog that is making their lives unbearable due to behavioral issues. When we ask students in our obedience classes to tell us why they’re here and what they expect to get out of the class we of course get several different answers. However, the answers can be summed as; “I want a dog that is a good companion and is easy to live with. We work with our clients and give them the training skills that they need to create a dog that is a good companion and is easy to live with. We have had clients tell us that we changed their lives. When we work with clients, it is not uncommon for us to see tears of joy or gratitude when someone is able to walk their dog calmly for the first time, overcome a behavioral issue, or who are elated at how great of a dog their puppy turned out to be. It’s difficult to describe how it feels to have such an impact on someone.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
About Our Business East Valley K9 Services is owned and operated by Brandy Girot and Steve Mark. We provide home-style boarding, board and train, private training, and group classes such as obedience, therapy dog prep, and fun and games. What sets our company apart in the dog training field is that we do not use a one-size-fits-all methodology in our training. We customize our training depending on the needs and capabilities of our clients. We recognize that not all people are the same nor are all dogs the same. A training technique that works for nine dogs might not work for the tenth dog. We read our clients and their dogs to create a training program that will work for them. There is no point in trying to have someone do something that they physically can’t do or are unwilling to do. Some dog owners want a dog that is highly trained in obedience, others just want a companion with good manners. We work with all of them accordingly. How We Got To Where We Are Today We are respectful of our clients and their dogs and treat them how we would want to be treated. We are always upfront with our clients and we do what we say we are going to do. Being upfront and honest sometimes means that we have to tell dog owners something that they don’t want to hear but we tell them anyway because they need to hear it. This is difficult for us too sometimes but it is a necessary part of the process. Networking is also a part of our success. You have to get out there and tell other related businesses, such as veterinarians and groomers in our case, about your business. Tell them what it is that sets your business apart. Tell your friends and neighbors. Develop relationships with other trainers but don’t ever step on their toes by taking business from them. Relationships are important. Once a relationship is established, it must be maintained. Stay in touch with everyone. Business Challenges Developing and operating a business of any kind is never easy. If it were easy though, it would greatly diminish the level of satisfaction. Our biggest challenges are bookkeeping and marketing. Our bookkeeping challenges are now behind us and we have a system that works well but it took some trial and error, Marketing however is an ongoing challenge for any business. Technology and society is constantly changing. We have a monthly newsletter that has helped get our name out there but that is just a small part of it. We are constantly working to improve our online presence through social media and search engine optimization. There are always challenges and sometimes we find ourselves in uncharted waters and question whether or not we are making the right decision for our business. An advantage that we have is that we often come at problems from different points of view. We are always honest and upfront with each other and treat each other respectfully, This has allowed us to work through the challenges and celebrate the successes. We share many of the same skills but we also have our own unique skills that round out the management and operation of our business.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Not really applicable in our case.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Eileen Tonick of Angel Dogs has provided much support and guidance to Brandy and me to help us get to where we are today with East Valley K9 Services. She has provided input that has helped us with our business structure as well as a second training opinion when we needed one. Family VetCare of Chandler has also helped us. Not only do they care for our dogs, they have entrusted and referred many of their clients to us that were in need of dog training. Dr. Michelle Dougher, DVM has been in many of our classes and also refers many of her clients to us.
Photos credits: Steve Mark, Brandy Girot, Lizzy Girot