Community

Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Filed in: Marketing

From Dealer to Vendor: Industry Pro Chris Costner Shares His Wisdom

Many dealers contemplate making the jump from retail to the consulting/vendor world. Unfortuantely those considering the change may not be prepared, have the best guidance - or even worse - know what they're getting themselves into. 

So, after speaking with good friend and industry pro Chris Costner I felt his story could be helpful to many within the community. 

Chris was the BDC Director at Southern Volkwagen for several years before leaving and joining forces with Jerry Thibeau at Phone Ninjas as the new Vice-President of Training. He worked extremely hard to help build the dealership process and structure relying on industry best practices. He mentioned that part of his successful personal and professional journey were the result of two basic actions: 

1. Helping the dealership staff learn new things - he loves helping others improve.

2. Becoming active within Facebook and twitter - he credits this for his new career move.

He describes himself as being someone who simply wanted to help his staff, share ideas and truly cares about the people around him.

He also noticed how his social activity extended his helpful messages and increased his ability to engage with others. Chris quickly realized his message and his style was well received. He began writing more, received positive feedback and the engagement factor helped fuel his overall philosophy of helping others while reaching so many others on bigger scale. 

Chris enthusiastically called it "An amazing feeling knowing he was helping people do something great!" His infectious "Do or Die" attitude is inspiring and refreshing.

Here's three excellent pro tips Chris shared about his recent change. These can also be applied to any type of life-changing event you may be considering. 

1. You need endless drive - he calls it his "How can I get there?!" mentality. He shared a great story - his Oh Sh#t! moment came when when he flew across the country for his first meeting with Jerry. He was asked to drive the rental car to the meeting in the mountains of San Jose. So here was, sitting with someone he respected and looked up to for years and now he was "there." He was square in the middle of the place he had often wondered about how he was going to get to. His drive got him there and he knew it would keep him going. 

2. You obviously need experience to make a transition. A lot of it. And you better be really good at what you're doing. Chris became really good at creating a plan, teaching it to others and sharing his vision to create change. Eventually you're going to have to demonstrate your knoweldge; if you're not prepared, then you're done. 

3. Don't assume the grass is greener. Many people make a change simply because they want out of their current situation, not because they're following a plan or trying to accomplish a goal. Chris says it well with "Know who you are and know your own personal goals." You really do need a personal brand because that's what helps you move towards your goals and obejctives. 

Chris is a great example of a successful dealer who managed to cross into the vendor world and continue his success. Thanks for sharing your experiences Chris - I'm sure you'll continue this wonderful journey you're on!

Have a question for Chris? Add your comments below, shoot him an email and follow him on twitter @ChrisCostner.

Comments

Definitely enjoyed the conversation as always DrivingSales. Thank you for the wonderful gesture and time. It was a pleasure.

May 3, 2013

Chris is a top notch guy, both professionally and personally. He is one to watch!

May 3, 2013

Too kind Ron and thank you very much.

May 3, 2013

Proud to know Chris and call him a friend

May 4, 2013

As someone who also made the jump from Internet Director to Vendor, which I did in 2005 starting with Autobytel, it's a fun but challenging transition. Great article, guys!

I have personally watched Chris handle this transition with (seemingly) relative ease thru Social Media sites. He is 100% genuine, loves what he does and puts his life out there for his friends and clients to see. That commands respect. I have both observed his activity through my news feeds on
FB (https://www.facebook.com/costnerchris),
Twitter (https://twitter.com/chriscostner),
G+ (https://plus.google.com/111394679525654271849/posts),
Tumblr (http://chriscostner.com)
here on DS (http://www.drivingsales.com/profile/11927),
subscribed to his paper.li (Chris Costner Cares Daily at http://paper.li/chriscostner)
and I've interacted directly with him many times. We finally got to meet face to face at NADA, which was great - I get a big kick out of meeting people in person that I only knew previously online.

I can see that Jerry's tutelage has contributed to his successful transition as well - that he hasn't done it all by himself, but relied on experienced leaders to teach him some new tricks and fill in the gaps as he goes.

Chris understands the dynamic of what's happening in dealerships today, and has the passion, experience and knowledge to help the sales staff improve. Anyone looking to break in as a vendor needs to have these qualities in order to be successful long-term. I look forward to watching Chris's continued growth in the industry.

Adam Ross
Managing Director
Infinite Prospects, Inc.
(201) 448-7253
http://infiniteprospects.com
http://blog.infiniteprospects.com
http://infiniteprospects.brandyourself.com

May 4, 2013

Nice job Chris! You have certainly contributed to the automotive community in the past, and I'm sure you will continue to be an asset in the future!

May 4, 2013

I am a huge fan of Chris. He is a great person and a real professional. We have communicated in the past and finally met at NADA. I am proud to call him a friend. It is always great to watch good people like Chris make a powerful transition in order to grow.

May 4, 2013

Thank you Brian for the kind words, the feeling is mutual I assure you. Adam, WOW, truly honored and thank you sincerely. I am learning every single day and seek progression from the day prior. Jeremy, thank you Sir and I will be sure to keep working to stay an asset to this wonderful industry. Stan, very happy to call you a friend as well and thank you for everything as well. Keep pressing everyone and have a GREAT weekend. Hope to see many of you next week in Orlando.

May 4, 2013

Great tips Chris! I am making a similar transition later in the month and your advice is timely. Have a great day and keep doing what you're doing to help others to succeed.

May 6, 2013

Comments 1 - 9 of 9

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

DrivingSales News' Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • BDC metrics

     We have a Business development center that has 5 sales business development reps and 2 service reps. I measure the reps with certain metrics.  For the sales group we look at number of calls per day, number of appointments made per day, number of appointment that have shown and the number of them that buy.  For service we measure the number of calls , number of appointments made and the number of them that show.  We also base their bonus plans around these metrics.  Am I missing anything? It is time to look at new pay plans for next year.   ...Read post

  • Holiday Travel Marketing Guide

    The holiday travel season is in full swing, with an expected 90% of travelers opting for a road trip over air travel. What does this mean for your dealership? Now is the time to prep your customer’s vehicles for their holiday journeys. Here are three easy ways you can keep your dealership top-of-mind, build brand recognition, and drive additional service business to your store. Remind Customers of Maintenance This idea is probably a no brainer, but I want to make sure to state it. Deliver a communication to customers about needed maintenance on their vehicle before holiday travel. Think about offering a Holiday Road Trip Service Package, wherein your team would perform and check all vehicle elements to ensure they arrive at their destination safely and without hassle. Offer Assistance The holidays bring about a lot of busy work and things to keep straight, which means, your customers may forget some key elements when hitting the road this holiday. Remind them of the manufacturer’...Read post

  • LotLinx...Does It Measure Up To The Hype

    LotLinx has exploded in 2014 right when the progressive dealers started to migrate away from form submissions to VDP's to establish ROI. LotLinx deeplinks your new and used inventory to 3rd party partners and routes the VDP click thru to your VDP thus bypassing 3rd party VDP's and form submissions. Uncovered are concerns about Lotlinx reporting issues and inconsistent daily referral resulting in a unusual spike monthly. Can LotLinx resolve this and turn this good tool into a great tool as toutedRead post

  • 4 Tip and Tricks to Drive Engagement On Your Dealership Website

    We recently completed a usability study with REAL in-market car shoppers to determine how they engage with inventory on dealer websites while researching their next purchase. Participants in the study were recruited from the local Seattle area and consisted of people currently in-market for a new vehicle. The goal was simple— to find out directly from the mouths and mouses of real shoppers what makes car shoppers click when browsing your vehicle details pages (VDPs) and vehicle search results pages (VSRs).Read post

    By Cobalt on November 25, 2014

  • How To Maximize Your Dealership Black Friday Sales

    It's the holiday season, that means one thing, you only have a few weeks left to hit your year end sales quotas. While this turns into a very stressful time for many dealerships, it doesn't have to be this way; so put away your Grinch costume and use that shiny little device (smartphones) all you customers have to turn your inventory into perfectly wrapped presents that constantly keep driving off your lot. Everyone's Online According to PunchTab 90% of consumers plan to shop online this holiday season,and with consumers spending more than 15 hours per week researching on their smartphones capturing capturing your customers pre-purchase is essential to ultimately gaining their business.   You want to capture all these customers as they look for vehicles don't you?   Step 1: Simplify Their Search Shoppers make store visits after searching, and if they find all the information they are looking for they are 75% more likely to visit the store.   Take control of how your custom...Read post

  • Content Marketing Strategy: How to Create a Winning Company Blog

    Content marketing, in general, can provide many valuable benefits. It can help create and maintain a brand presence; assist in search engine optimization; and position executives as thought leaders. It can also serve as a valuable source of information for both customers and potential customers.   There are many types of content marketing. Technically speaking, everything your business creates and publishes is content marketing. This can include such items as marketing pieces, videos, blog articles, articles published in trade magazines, social media posts -- you name it. If your audience sees it, chances are that it’s content marketing.   While most businesses understand the importance of content marketing, many get stuck when trying to make it an ongoing reality. Think of it as an extreme case of writer’s block. Someone is tasked to create this “content” but they don’t know what to create on a regular and ongoing basis. Some companies create comprehensive content ma...Read post

  • New Google transparency requirements hold 3rd party partners more accountable for AdWords Mgmt fees

    Google is introducing two new requirements aimed at increasing transparency and accountability of third-party partners. Starting in November, agencies and other third-party firms and individuals that manage Google advertising for customers will need to conform to new third-party policies. The current policy mandates that third-parties disclose Ad Words media costs, clicks, and impressions at the account level. Now all management fees must be disclosed on invoices and be itemized to show the net cost of the Google portion separate from any management fees or mark-up. The days of ‘black box’ digital advertising packages appears to be coming to a close. Black box refers the idea that you pay your digital vendor or agency a monthly amount to provide a host of online services and they ‘optimize’ it among various digital elements such as paid search through Google and Bing, retargeting ads, banner ads, in banner video, search retargeting, or any of a host of other types of digital advertising. While there are positive points to this approach, it has also presented an opportunity for vendors to provide less than full disclosure regarding the ‘third-party’ fees they are actually charging to manage these services.Read post

  • "Selling" at the Zero-Moment-of-Truth

    As an industry, we often activate a vast array of tools...shiny widgets....and systems in which to be effective to the modern consumer….. HOWEVER....do our systems: Target - Communicate – Integrate together; As-One; in order to ensure Buyers are delivered at the ‘Zero Moment’ through a direct-path to OUR specific Stores? Websites? Telephones? As Dealers = "WE reserve the right, to Market OUR Brands, OUR Stores, OUR Inventory - with a single and direct connection to OUR stores, everytime!" Automotive News | Dealers > Best Practices ( Nov. 24, 2014 ) Cardinale Group makeover flexes digital Muscle http://www.autonews.com/article/20141124/RETAIL07/311249996/cardinale-group-makeover-flexes-digital-muscle   ...Read post