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Get to Know Our DSU Scholarship Winners | DrivingSalesUniversityBlog.com

Get to Know Our DSU Scholarship Winners

Greetings to all you DSU students out there—both current and potential!  A few weeks ago, we announced the DrivingSales University (DSU) scholarship winners. We wanted to give you a chance to get know the three dealers pursuing a DSU Marketing Manager Certification.  We asked them to share their bios, answer a couple questions on what drove them to apply and what they hope to gain from being DSU Certified.  Here’s what we came up with…

Shaun-Kniffin-150x200Meet Shaun Kniffin who is Pursuing an Advanced Marketing Manager Certification in SEO:

Shaun is the Director of Marketing for the Germain stores owned and operated by Steve Germain in Columbus, OH, Ann Arbor, MI, and Naples and Sarasota, FL regions. Promoted from Director of eBusiness Development this year to this new role, he now oversees both Digital and Traditional Marketing.  In 2012, Germain rose to #4 on Ward’s Top 100 Internet Dealers.  Shaun has been published in numerous publications and also serves on the Dominion Dealer Council and TrueCar Dealer Council. He is an Executive Committee Member of the NCM Internet 20 Group.


DSU: What was your main motivation to apply for the DSU Scholarship?

Shaun: The evolution of my previous position as Director of eBusiness Development over the past 13-years has been through several changes, especially as traditional ad spend has continued to decline and more opportunities to invest in digital strategies expand into several verticals.  With that said, understanding exactly how these ad-spends can be further optimized requires a deeper knowledge of how the SEO teams we employ work to optimize our Internet presence across multiple platforms.  So far, with just a few modules studied, I think the decision to pursue this scholarship opportunity is proving to be a really good decision.

DSU: Why did you decide to focus on SEO for your Advanced Digital Marketing Manager Certification?

Shaun: Simply put, I am firm believer that many decisions should be looked at from a “cause and effect” viewpoint.  Understanding how SEO can affect the web metrics is important when adjusting to future and ongoing strategies.  

DSU: What are you hoping to gain from this experience?

Shaun: I have already gained a huge appreciation for what it takes to manage the SEO for each of our stores’ Internet strategies.  The “behind the scenes” understanding also brings to the forefront a better understanding of how to optimize all of our digital strategies and synchronize all of the possibilities that we utilize.  One of the most important events that I look for in my daily activities are articles on “consumer behavior.” I believe that as an industry we need to be able to rise-up and exceed consumer demand and expectations.  We have a lot of work to do in this arena, but have so much to gain in respect to what our automotive customers want in their purchase experiences.  We have so much to learn from other online retailers and it is important to listen intently to what our customers want, reduce friction through more transparency and implement strategies that improve the customer experience at their core.


Bill-Simmons-150x200Meet Bill Simmons who is pursuing a Marketing Manager Certification:

Bill Simmons is the newly appointed E-Commerce Director for the Haley Auto Group in Richmond VA. Prior to this position, Bill was the General Manager of the Haley Toyota Certified Center for 8 ½ years. He is an industry veteran with 35 years of experience in all phases of dealership management.



DSU: What was your main motivation to apply for the DSU Scholarship?  

Bill: In my new role as the E-Commerce Director for our group, I have taken on more responsibilities to strengthen the online presence for our stores. Many of our stores have needs that are different than some of the strategies that I was using at the store where I was a General Manager.

DSU: What are you hoping to gain from being a DSU Certified Digital Marketing Manager?

Bill: This education opportunity will give provide me with the knowledge to make better decisions on digital marketing strategies for our group of 8 dealerships.

Grant-Gooley-150x200Meet Grant Gooley who is pursuing a Marketing Manager Certification:

Grant is the Director of Marketing at the Boyer Auto Group in Toronto, Canada With a strong background in digital media; including design, video and web development, Grants focus and success has been around building a digital culture within the group. On a weekly basis Grant is presenting to dealerships across Ontario to develop the ever so needed “Shift” in the automotive industry.


DSU: What was your main motivation to apply for the DSU Scholarship?

Grant: My job as a Director of Marketing for 6 dealerships is cumbersome. The position is so new and the roles and responsibilities change often. When I saw an opportunity to sharpen my skills and focus on the hottest topics in Digital Marketing, I knew that I had to apply for the DSU scholarship.

DSU: What are you hoping to gain from being a DSU Certified Digital Marketing Manager?

Grant: At DSU I will have the tremendous opportunity to study under North America’s automotive leaders. I’m eager to excel and apply newly gained skills and knowledge in a rewarding career.

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