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Effective ways to reach people in your local community with Collin Funkhouser

Nov 3, 2021 | Get in the Press, Podcasts

Collin Funkhouser Podcast

Would you love for your pet business to be the go-to pet business in your local community?

Maybe you have some support locally but you want to branch out and reach more people?

Perhaps you’d like to target people in your local community who aren’t on social media and be the talk of the town for all the right reasons.

If so you’ll love this chat with American pet sitter Collin Funkhouser who shares the amazing ways he’s grown his pet business in his local community.

It all started as a side hustle but is now a full time job for Collin and his wife Meghan, plus they run an amazing podcast and community for pet sitters too!

From wearing clothes that scream Pet Sitter to securing hard to reach clients, to speaking at local colleges to being an authority in the US pet space, Collin shares loads of brilliant advice.

You can listen in on the player link below or carry on reading as a blog post.

Hi Collin, can you tell me about what you do in your pet business?

I own Funky Bench Pet Care, a pet sitting business with my wife Meghan.

We started ten years ago as a side hustle and now it’s grown massively. We also have a pet podcast and community for pet sitters too.

How did you find yourself in the pet industry?

It began when we graduated to earn extra money and it’s grown from there.

We both challenged each other when we graduated to earn some extra money.  One was a pet sitting business and one was an aquarium cleaning business… one worked out better than the other!

Because we both grew up with pets and loved working with dogs, we started with dog walking and then the idea and business grew from there.

At the beginning, how did you reach people?

We were in Texas at the time which is a large town and used the website Craigslist to post advertisements, then Facebook to post in local groups.

As we worked with people, word of mouth spread and we started to offer our clients incentives for referrals with discount codes which worked really well. 

We got a lot of success with using discount codes for referrals and block bookings too.

There were times we’d go to a new neighbourhood that we’d want to expand to and the people would be spending minimal time on social media, so word of mouth recommendations worked really well.

We also wore branded T-shirts so that we were visible to people, it’s a white T-shirt with big black bold lettering that says ‘Pet Sitter.’

Since getting the shirts we’ve had comments from people who want to know more so we give them cards with our details.

Were there any stumbling blocks at the beginning of their journey?

The biggest one for us was that we didn’t know what we didn’t know! We were so new to it that everything was unfamiliar.

If we could go back and change something we would’ve got connected to a community of other pet sitters and businesses a lot sooner, because we were trying to figure everything out on our own.

Part of the problem was that we got too busy so we couldn’t take a step back to figure out a better way of doing things as a business.

When it came to putting yourself out there, what was the biggest challenge?

The fear did lead to self doubt.

Whilst I think it’s important to have a healthy dosage of being humble and understanding limitations, as a business owner you can take extreme confidence in knowing that, whether you recognise it or not, you have a lot of experience and knowledge and that’s where you start sharing from. 

Your personal experiences are your strengths.

And did you find publicity helped?

Yes, for our pet sitting business, one of the best exposure examples was getting featured in our local newspaper. 

The journalist found us through our content and then wanted to highlight us as a local business. 

This connected us to so many new clients and into so many circles of potential clients, people that weren’t on Facebook but did read the local newspaper. 

The other example is when I had the opportunity to talk at a local college, one of our clients was a professor and invited us to talk on her business course. 

This really helped to increase our self worth and understanding of our strengths as a business.

Can you share any tips for getting in the media?

Focus on building your presence and content you’re putting out there, make sure it’s really valuable and that it really represents you. 

Tag relevant people and places, for instance we always tag our local park when we are out and talking about things that were going on there.

They started following us back and interacting with us, making us part of the community. 

The most valuable thing you can do is be consistent with your presence on social media, your blog and website so that people can see that you can bring value to them.

And you have a podcast, how did that come about?

My wife and I are very sciency so we wanted to branch out and do something creatively together. 

We started the podcast to share our experiences and knowledge and give a behind the scenes look at what the life of a pet sitter is actually like.

We get to share peoples struggles, successes and grow a strong connection to other people with the podcast and that’s why we love it.

So you’ve built a community of pet sitters and pet professionals via the podcast?

We want to give the most possible value to that person and always focus on bringing the best to those that are receiving it.

We want to impact people, help them build their business through sharing weaknesses, strengths, lessons, funny stories. We also get experts to comment and contribute too which is wonderful.

Does your podcast help in your face to face business?

It’s helped grow our knowledge of things that are going on, not just being  connected to the community but actively learning through interviews and researching topics. 

We both feel like we are more competent in handling problems as they come up and answering client questions, being  able to stand up if someone disputes our prices. 

A lot of this comes through years of being in business but I also attribute it to running the podcast and interacting with other people.

Do you think it’s helped you to position yourself as experts in the industry?

We never used to claim we were experts, we would say we were pet sitters but that meant different things to different people.

But we are experts, we are business owners in the pet industry and we have a lot of knowledge.

What’s next for you, your podcast and business?

For our pet sitting business, we’re working on expanding and changing our service offerings. 

At the moment we offer boarding and house sitting with a few walks, but we want to try and flip that to grow and expand in hiring. 

With our podcast, we’re planning to continue doing what we are doing, bringing on amazing people to tell stories, give tips and grow the community. 

You can find out more about Collin and Meghan’s Podcast here: www.petsitterconfessional.com 

Join them on Facebook and Instagram: @petsitterconfessional


If you enjoyed this podcast you might like Best podcasts for pet professionals, How a podcast can raise your profile with Greg Pattison or How to start a podcast for your pet business with Ant McGinley.

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