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From: Jared Hamilton
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DSES Speaker Profile: Chris Costner

Let's be real for a moment: This business doesn't work unless you're passionate about it. Results don't follow, success doesn't come if you go through the motions and pretend to care about the business or the customers you serve. Reaching personal goals in the automotive world takes a thick hide, persistence, commitment to best practices and passion for the day to day work of connecting, guiding and nurturing relationships.

All of which is why Chris Costner will be standing up as a breakout speaker at the 2012 DrivingSales Executive Summit. He's passionate about the business, to be sure. But he is also committed to applying smart digital solutions to the challenge of marketing and selling cars, and follows the “customer for life” principle of doing business. Currently the Business Development Director for Southern Volkswagen in Chesapeake, Virginia, Chris has over twelve years of automotive retail experience. He takes pride in providing service with integrity and accountability, and is expert at digital marketing, business development and social media strategies.

As a community editor with DrivingSales, he enjoys engaging with the automotive community about best-practices and industry trends. Those conversations will surely continue at this year's DSES, where Chris will talk about customer loyalty for dealerships. We can’t wait to hear more!

DSNews: What can #DSES attendees expect to hear from you?
CC:Attendees will get my perspective on "Customer Loyalty" for dealerships, and ultimately the brands they represent. We spend so much time and effort with our marketing to convert prospective purchasers into buyers, but what are we doing to build loyalty? There's more to loyalty than a rewards program, and it's easy to lose focus once the customer leaves the dealership.

DSNews: What do you love about the car business, or digital marketing?
CC:First, I am proud to say that I absolutely fell in love with this business the moment I sat down for my first day of sales training. At that exact moment, I realized what an honor it truly is to be of service to those seeking information, advice and ultimately a vehicle that will be part of their everyday lives. Thirteen short years later, this belief is just as strong and makes each day exciting. I’m passionate about digital marketing because it's constantly evolving -- and fast. My idea today may not be a good idea for tomorrow! That in itself is exciting, as is the ability to gauge, optimize and measure.

DSNews: What’s your passion? What makes you get up early in the morning?
CC: I have built a career that has afforded me a great living, but I can’t see pursuing something just for the money. What I enjoy the most are my daily interactions with clients, colleagues -- that means a lot to me. I get up each morning because from day one I've have a plan to accomplish my goals and make a career out of a business that I'm passionate about.

DSNews: What’s your best car memory?
CC: One of my best memories is selling cars at Steven Kia in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It was a new franchise; a new building with a two-car showroom and just three of us helping 100+ purchasers take home a new Kia. If one of us sold a vehicle, one of the other two would take the vehicle to the wash bay and give it a million dollar detail, while the selling salesperson takes the F&I turn. It was teamwork at its finest.

DSNews: Tell us about a recent dealership pain point that your team was able to solve.
CC: Almost a year ago we brought on a new vendor product that wasn’t producing the results everyone was expecting. It got to the point where many BDC managers companywide wouldn’t “get in front of the ball” with these leads, and interest went from 100% to 0% very fast. I spent many nights thinking about it, and decided to step into a different mindset -- and create another approach. That turned things around just as fast, conversions came to life and today it's business as usual. I think the vendor is happy too.

DSNews: What are the three topics dealers should be focused on as we head into 2013?
1. Customer Loyalty
2. Mobile Marketing
3. Social Media

DSNews: Speaking at #DSES is…
CC:...This is my biggest personal accomplishment thus far in my career. I’m truly honored to be selected by the Dealer Panel, and certainly beside myself. The professionals I am listed with makes it that much more special. I’m ready.

To learn more about Chris and his fellow Breakout Speakers, visit the #DSES website. Don’t forget to register! 

Follow Chris on twitter @chriscostner


--Brian Chee

Eric Miltsch
Chris, Congrats on being a part of #DSES this year, very happy for you - we're glad to have you present! Looking forward to having you share your experiences & your enthusiasm with the community. See you there!
Bryan Armstrong
I can't wait Chris. Well deserved!
Chris Costner
I appreciate everyone's support definitely. This experience has been on my "radar" for years now. I am honored and very excited. Thank you once again. I definitely look froward to meeting all of you and learning from everyone there.

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