CAR BIZ INSIDER FEATURING DON ROMANO – HYUNDAI AUTO CANADA – EP#6 – Automotive Podcast
We will have a special guest, Don Romano from Hyundai Auto Canada Corp.
Mr. Romano brings decades of experience in the Automotive industry and a true leader. He is also a true champion in diversity and embraces “level the field” for people for every background in car business.
Mr. Romano said “Our executive ranks are not going to look anything like they look today,” Romano told Automotive News Canada last year (Full article link below). “They’re going to look more like what our customer base looks like, which isn’t a bunch of old white guys like me.”
We are super excited to host Mr. Romano and our topics of discussion will be;
1- Get to know Don Romano
2- Hyundai’s secret recipe of success
3- The new Hyundai EV and how Hyundai copes with chip shortage
4- Online vehicle purchase
5- Hyundai Canada used car business and short term rentals
Please join us on February 23rd for this special conversation live. We thank Mr. Romano to make up some time for Car Biz Insider in his busy schedule.
If you can’t watch it live, you can always watch on YouTube and listen as a podcast in your favourite podcast place.
#hyundai #hyundaicanada #hyundaiev #ioniq5 #automotive #managementconsultant #usedcars #sales #vAuto #AutoAlert #SEO #dealershipManagement #variableoperations #fixedoperation #opentoconnect #automotiveindustry #managementconsulting #profitabilityimprovement
00:00:27 Jon Toker
Hi everybody, this is Jon Toker from car Biz insider. We are having our episode #6 Presidents edition. I have a very special guest here with me today, Don Romano from Hyundai Canada so hi Don how are you today?
00:00:41 Don Romano
00:00:42 Don Romano
I’m doing great how you doing?
00:00:44 Jon Toker
I’m good, thank you very much.
00:00:45 Jon Toker
For being on the show, we have quite a few audience right now, so why don’t I put you in the spotlight?
00:00:52 Jon Toker
You introduce yourself to us, tell us about who’s?
00:00:54 Speaker 1
It is not.
00:00:55 Jon Toker
Don Romano and,
00:00:56 Jon Toker
All that good stuff.
00:00:58 Don Romano
Let’s do it, John.
00:01:00 Don Romano
Well hello everybody.
00:01:01 Don Romano
Again, I’m Don Romano.
00:01:02 Don Romano
I’m the President, CEO of Hyundai Canada.
00:01:04 Don Romano
I I love talking to auto enthusiasts, so this is a great opportunity.
00:01:08 Don Romano
John to just.
00:01:10 Don Romano
Chat about what we.
00:01:11 Don Romano
Love and that is automobiles and this is an industry that’s under immense change right now that you all know about.
00:01:19 Don Romano
I mean whether it’s electrification connected cars, autonomous cars, whether it’s selling, direct selling through dealers? I mean, we could talk about 1000 different things, so you know, John, I’ll just turn it to you. And and let’s rock and roll.
00:01:34 Jon Toker
Perfect, so uh before jumping into the questions.
00:01:38 Jon Toker
I I I I had an opportunity to listen to other podcasts that you were on before and I I actually learned that you were a a pilot before becoming getting in the car business.
00:01:48 Jon Toker
So would you like to talk?
00:01:49 Jon Toker
About that a little bit.
00:01:50 Jon Toker
Because I feel it’s very interesting topic so.
00:01:54 Don Romano
No, you know, I mean.
00:01:55 Don Romano
I had dark hair then.
00:01:57 Don Romano
That was a long time ago, and and when I was in university I was working for Flying Tiger Airlines in Los Angeles and I was my my career was going to be a commercial cargo pilot and one day I learned business the hard way and I showed up to work.
00:02:17 Don Romano
Flying tigers at the time had the most extensive pilot training program outside of the military.
00:02:22 Don Romano
And you didn’t.
00:02:23 Don Romano
Want to go into the military?
00:02:24 Don Romano
So if you were able to get accepted into the flying Tiger Training Pro?
00:02:27 Don Romano
Graham much preferable.
00:02:29 Don Romano
So yeah, I showed up one day and there were there was yellow tape all over the building and police outside and we had gone belly up and so I walked up and I said, well I can still finish all of my certifications and and I was at the time working on.
00:02:47 Don Romano
Flying at 7:07, but I wanted my 747 and certification.
00:02:52 Don Romano
And they said, yeah, sure, just the the military office for recruiting is down the road and this is before desert Storm and all the other fun things that happened in in the world.
00:03:02 Don Romano
So anyway, I was driving home with my my tail between my legs wondering what I was going.
00:03:07 Don Romano
To do for a living, I still had another year of university that I had to finish.
00:03:13 Don Romano
And I had to drive by one of my competitors headquarters for North America and I thought, hey, you know airplanes cars, why not?
00:03:22 Don Romano
Let’s stop by.
00:03:22 Don Romano
So stop by and.
00:03:24 Don Romano
Filled out an application and they laughed me out the door, but then they called me back and said hey, actually we have a a a private pilot that is one of our directors.
00:03:35 Don Romano
Would like to meet with you, hired me on the spot and that was almost 40 years ago.
00:03:41 Don Romano
Never looked back.
00:03:42 Don Romano
Been in the car business ever since, never got my.
00:03:44 Don Romano
My private pilot license.
00:03:47 Don Romano
I only wanted commercial.
00:03:48 Don Romano
I wasn’t a jet.
00:03:49 Don Romano
I wasn’t interested, but I didn’t want to drop bombs so.
00:03:52 Don Romano
Anyway, that’s why I’m here and it’s been a great career.
00:03:56 Don Romano
I’ve lived in six different countries.
00:03:58 Don Romano
I’ve I’ve seen this.
00:04:01 Don Romano
I’ve seen a lot of change, but nothing like I’ve seen in the last two to three years.
00:04:05 Don Romano
There is definitely no better time to be in this industry than now.
00:04:10 Don Romano
If you like change if you don’t.
00:04:13 Don Romano
Probably best to yeah, go do something else for a living.
00:04:19 Jon Toker
Yes, yeah I completely agree.
00:04:19 Don Romano
Not this morning.
00:04:21 Don Romano
Yeah, that’s Eric.
00:04:21 Jon Toker
You’re you’re absolutely right, and it’s it’s very interesting to see that the that the the pilot background and then your transition into the automotive business side because I like planes a lot and when I.
00:04:32 Jon Toker
Was a kid I was looking into becoming a pilot too and I love it a lot and I I lived in multiple countries too.
00:04:39 Jon Toker
Thanks to my family and we traveled.
00:04:41 Jon Toker
A lot and every time we take a plane they used to give little those badges like a.
00:04:46 Jon Toker
Pin that you can put on.
00:04:47 Jon Toker
Your like chest.
00:04:49 Jon Toker
And I had the ones from like multiple different airline companies.
00:04:52 Don Romano
Yeah yeah, I remember those well, I’ll tell you now.
00:04:55 Don Romano
Hyundai is one of the leaders in air transportation we’re developing.
00:05:00 Don Romano
Drone systems for transportation.
00:05:03 Don Romano
As we look at.
00:05:04 Don Romano
As we look at transportation in the future, not necessarily just from automotive, but for mobility.
00:05:10 Don Romano
A mobility perspective and how are we going to?
00:05:14 Don Romano
Take care of the transportation needs of customers in the future beyond just selling them a.
00:05:19 Don Romano
Car providing options on travel options on the terms and lengths that you have a a vehicle.
00:05:27 Don Romano
There’s a lot of stuff that’s under.
00:05:29 Don Romano
For investigation, some under development right now, that’s going to change the landscape of transportation so.
00:05:36 Don Romano
Maybe that audit?
00:05:36 Don Romano
Maybe that air transportation background will come into play before I retire.
00:05:43 Jon Toker
Well that’s that’s that’s amazing.
00:05:45 Jon Toker
Well, I jump, jump right into my questions that I prepared for you.
00:05:49 Jon Toker
Uh, hopefully this will help out to the viewers and listeners too, because you know, you don’t.
00:05:56 Jon Toker
You don’t get to have Someone Like You on your show all the time, and it’s it’s good to hear that from you.
00:06:01 Jon Toker
These answers so.
00:06:04 Jon Toker
My first question is, Hyundai has been having a tremendous success in the past couple of years, right?
00:06:10 Jon Toker
The product quality is significantly up.
00:06:12 Jon Toker
Companies making cars that are fun to drive, great features and very affordable.
00:06:19 Jon Toker
What do you guys do?
00:06:20 Jon Toker
Is sacred like what what’s?
00:06:21 Jon Toker
What’s your secret sauce here?
00:06:22 Jon Toker
Like how do you guys manage?
00:06:23 Jon Toker
Because like JD Power rankings like I just see one, the reliability is through the roof.
00:06:29 Jon Toker
They’re very affordable too, right?
00:06:31 Jon Toker
They’re they’re easy to access to your vehicles for younger generation, any generation and very high demand product.
00:06:37 Jon Toker
And you guys are one of the best warranty in the market too.
00:06:41 Jon Toker
What’s the secret here?
00:06:43 Don Romano
Innovation, you know you.
00:06:45 Don Romano
You never can stop, especially in today’s environment.
00:06:49 Don Romano
Coming, you know, understanding your customer base first and foremost, what what they’re looking for and then delivering it and and then also delivering things that they may not be.
00:06:58 Don Romano
Thinking about that they find.
00:07:00 Don Romano
And that our that soon become irreplaceable that that they have to they have to.
00:07:05 Don Romano
It’s a a.
00:07:06 Don Romano
Need not a want.
00:07:07 Don Romano
You know there are times where we would look at a BS as a want.
00:07:13 Don Romano
Now it’s a, uh, need right?
00:07:14 Don Romano
And and a lot of functionality going into the cars are quickly becoming needs, but.
00:07:20 Don Romano
It it’s always trying to stay a step ahead and that’s hard in this environment, but I believe our engineers and our R&D centers in Korea coupled with our plants across the globe. They’ve been quick to adapt, you know. And and.
00:07:36 Don Romano
You know we are now the second largest EV seller in Canada.
00:07:41 Don Romano
Next to that other car company based in Silicon Valley.
But our goal?
00:07:48 Don Romano
Now we we’ve had our dealers invest.
00:07:51 Don Romano
You know, close to a billion dollars in upgrading their facilities and preparing for electric vehicle sales in upgrading the brand.
00:08:00 Don Romano
If you consider where we came from, where we were, as you mentioned, John.
00:08:04 Don Romano
And just you know why a?
00:08:06 Don Romano
Company that focused on the lower end of the market.
00:08:10 Don Romano
You know, we’ve grown up and we’ve matured, maturities of brand by investing in.
00:08:18 Don Romano
You know our customer engagement processes and in the products and we’re just skimming the surface right now because.
00:08:26 Don Romano
You know that’s going to continue to change and we got to stay ahead of that change, and I think when.
00:08:30 Don Romano
You again just take electric.
00:08:32 Don Romano
Vehicles as just one example. You know we’re #2 in the in the country right now, and some.
00:08:39 Don Romano
Of our competitors.
00:08:40 Don Romano
Have yet to introduce one all electric vehicle.
00:08:43 Don Romano
So I think.
00:08:43 Don Romano
That’s the type of attitude it takes to.
00:08:46 Don Romano
To have a sustainable success model to ensure that you’re going to be relevant in the future.
00:08:54 Jon Toker
Well, congratulations on that spot.
00:08:57 Jon Toker
I’m sure you guys will soon surpass that and maybe you become number one soon.
00:09:01 Jon Toker
You never know, right?
00:09:02 Don Romano
Better, that’s it.
00:09:03 Don Romano
You know, if you’re not going for number one, you know, stay on the porch, you’re.
00:09:08 Don Romano
Not going to run with the.
00:09:08 Don Romano
Big dogs, so we’re we’re running.
00:09:11 Jon Toker
That’s really good.
00:09:13 Jon Toker
That goes to my third second question, which is related to the electric cars so.
00:09:19 Jon Toker
The latest car introduced by Hyundai, the Ionic 5 I don’t know if I’m pronouncing properly Ionic 5.
00:09:25 Jon Toker
Is all you guys said?
00:09:26 Jon Toker
00:09:28 Jon Toker
Which is called by.
00:09:29 Jon Toker
One of the best TV’s for 2022, right? But how did you guys manage to introduce Ionic 5 during a global chip shortage? Like like how?
00:09:39 Don Romano
00:09:39 Jon Toker
Is it even possible?
00:09:40 Don Romano
No, everything is hard right now with the with the chip shortage, whether it’s an Ionic 5 or a palisade or an Elantra or two sun.
00:09:48 Don Romano
I mean, we’ve just come out with complete new lineup of vehicles.
00:09:52 Don Romano
Feels right at the time chips.
00:09:55 Don Romano
The chips are down and you know you couldn’t ask for a more challenging period to try to launch new vehicles when you can’t get the components necessary to build them.
00:10:07 Don Romano
But we happen to be probably the best, if not one of the best.
00:10:13 Don Romano
At securing chips for our production, we’re we’re leading the country right now.
00:10:18 Don Romano
Growth, so we’re we’re holding our own.
00:10:21 Don Romano
If not, maybe even doing a little better, but it’s still nowhere near demand.
00:10:26 Don Romano
You know supply is still well below demand and that I speak not just for Hyundai, but I think for the industry in that respect.
00:10:33 Don Romano
And it’s going to take time for the industry to catch up.
00:10:36 Don Romano
So I think you’re going to see again.
00:10:39 Don Romano
Inventories being tight, we do not have enough ionic fives to go around right now. But if you asked me a year ago, did you have enough EV’s to meet demand? I would have had more leaves than demand with the Kona EV, which is.
00:10:53 Don Romano
One of the best selling EV’s in Canada and a phenomenal vehicle. The vehicle I drive actually so it it’s.
00:11:00 Don Romano
It’s fantastic, but you know you you have to deal with the cards that are that are dealt and you gotta do the best you can.
00:11:08 Don Romano
So what we do now is we.
00:11:10 Don Romano
We work on taking orders.
00:11:12 Don Romano
We try to be as transparent with the customers to give them a proper timeframe that the vehicles will likely be produced.
00:11:20 Don Romano
Assuming everything stays consistent and we we just try to maintain communication with those customers so they they know where the car is and where they stand in terms of delivery, it’s not easy.
00:11:31 Don Romano
This is all new.
00:11:33 Don Romano
You know this didn’t happen before COVID, and it’s not just COVID.
00:11:37 Don Romano
I mean, there’s also a lot of demand.
00:11:39 Don Romano
00:11:40 Don Romano
Pent up with respect to new.
00:11:44 Don Romano
Systems in the car for safety and for driveability and for entertainment all require more chips, so you have a you know you have challenges with supply chain you have challenges with employment you have great demand and you’re now building cars that need even more.
00:12:04 Don Romano
And it’s when you put all that together that you know you have the the situation that we face today.
00:12:10 Don Romano
However, it is temporary.
00:12:13 Don Romano
Nothing is like this is permanent, it’s just a matter of working through these things and I believe.
You know we’re.
00:12:19 Don Romano
Going to see relief later this year.
00:12:21 Don Romano
You know, I, I think it’s it’s still going to be tight. I think 2023 we’re going to be getting back to normal because you can see the chip makers moving quickly. You can see the supply chain issues will get.
00:12:32 Don Romano
Resolved, and yeah, we’ll be off and running, and at that point we’ll be introducing the Ionic 6, the ionic 7.
00:12:42 Don Romano
We’re bringing out the GVR Genesis brand, the GV 60.
00:12:47 Don Romano
It’s just a little tight on.
00:12:49 Don Romano
Supply right now.
00:12:50 Jon Toker
That’s very impressive, because as you said, like these have a lot more components than a traditional vehicle.
00:12:58 Jon Toker
They they need more sensors to run with more chips.
00:13:01 Jon Toker
So my assumption was like Ionic 5 probably has a lot more chips than an accent or or Sonata, right?
00:13:06 Jon Toker
So that’s why I was shocked.
00:13:08 Jon Toker
When you just pulled this garage.
00:13:09 Jon Toker
And and you guys are selling, like, you know hotcakes.
00:13:12 Jon Toker
I’m like where did.
00:13:13 Jon Toker
They get the chip.
00:13:13 Jon Toker
For him to build these cars.
00:13:15 Don Romano
Well, just imagine all the cars in the future will be connected so that we can begin to diagnose problems before they occur, right?
00:13:23 Don Romano
So that improves the safety of the vehicle and our ability to hey, by the way.
00:13:30 Don Romano
We need to have something checked out before it becomes a problem that requires chips.
00:13:36 Don Romano
Fronting collision lane.
00:13:39 Don Romano
Keep assist systems.
00:13:40 Don Romano
I mean the list goes on and on John it.
00:13:43 Don Romano
Chips are part of the.
00:13:46 Don Romano
The current and future of the automotive industry, and they’re not going to get less.
00:13:51 Don Romano
They’re only going to get more so.
00:13:55 Don Romano
They won’t be down forever though.
00:13:57 Jon Toker
Yeah, I I completely agree with you.
00:13:59 Jon Toker
They are our dependence on the chips.
00:14:01 Jon Toker
Probably going to be even more and more and more more the technological features, especially when we’re talking about these self driving cars.
00:14:07 Jon Toker
When we got bored stop driving cars, right?
00:14:07 Don Romano
Yeah, I mean.
00:14:09 Don Romano
It’s not just cars, right?
00:14:10 Don Romano
It’s these things too.
00:14:11 Don Romano
It’s these things to you know this is this is the world of technology that we’re all moving into so.
00:14:17 Don Romano
I’ll tell you.
00:14:18 Don Romano
What though John?
00:14:19 Don Romano
Our focus is really, you know.
00:14:21 Don Romano
Less about the product, we we. We leave that to the engineers and the R&D people in the States and in Korea and over in Europe.
00:14:31 Don Romano
What our focus has to be here in Canada is on customer service period and that’s going.
00:14:36 Don Romano
To be the.
00:14:37 Don Romano
The key differentiator of the brand in the future, and you know it.
00:14:42 Don Romano
It’s easy to say it’s not easy to do because you’re dealing with a vehicle that’s driving in multiple conditions.
00:14:49 Don Romano
Having to endure a lot of different challenges on the road but but if you don’t take care of your customers, you know your growth is not going to be sustainable.
00:14:59 Don Romano
Your success won’t be sustained.
00:15:01 Don Romano
So this to me is is the biggest challenge, not the chips, but providing the best possible customer service and a lot of that has.
00:15:10 Don Romano
To do with the ways in which we engage with customers.
00:15:14 Don Romano
The old way.
00:15:15 Don Romano
Of kicking tires on a on a car lot and then walking into a dealership are pretty much gone.
00:15:21 Don Romano
Most of the business is transacted online.
00:15:24 Don Romano
And you know it’s requiring a lot of new systems and processes to provide greater transparency, ease of doing business, scheduling, service appointments quickly, being able to again take care of customers online.
00:15:39 Don Romano
So that is really what I have our organization focused on is just making.
00:15:44 Don Romano
Making it easier, better, more enjoyable to do business with Hyundai than our competitors.
00:15:50 Jon Toker
That’s really good for consumers to know that that someone who’s in charge of the company is.
00:15:57 Jon Toker
That’s your main focus.
00:15:58 Jon Toker
To keep them happy and give them a seamless transaction experience online or offline right?
00:16:03 Jon Toker
Which is good because I I hear your other podcast too and you talk somebody ask you a question about which is going to be my next question.
00:16:10 Jon Toker
Find out about that online purchase experience and you said.
00:16:15 Jon Toker
And yes, we we provide all the service we could, but we still believe that there’s a human touch in some part of the process and we are willing to provide that too.
00:16:23 Don Romano
Well it the car can’t be streamed, right?
00:16:26 Don Romano
So you know you’re going to have to ultimately go pick it up and the cars are very complex now and you may you know if they’re they’re.
00:16:36 Don Romano
They’re space shuttles on wheels now, and what you need to do is invest the time, not haggling, not negotiating.
00:16:43 Don Romano
00:16:45 Don Romano
But explaining how the car functions and to make sure everything is intuitive before the customer drives off the lot, it that can’t be done in a 10 minute delivery.
00:16:55 Don Romano
It could take hours to go through and make sure that all the systems and connectivity that your your apple or your Android are properly connected.
00:17:04 Don Romano
You know how to work.
00:17:04 Don Romano
But you know what systems you can turn on and off, and there’s a lot of customization.
00:17:09 Don Romano
You know it’s not just moving his seat up.
00:17:11 Don Romano
And back, but you.
00:17:13 Don Romano
Know a lot of our cars, the lighting and the cars can be adjusted the.
00:17:18 Don Romano
The ride the handling uh, I was driving the other day up in Collingwood and you know had to shift it to Snow mode and that was phenomenal but.
00:17:29 Don Romano
You know was that is are all these functions being properly explained to customers, and I think we need to do a better job as an industry.
00:17:38 Don Romano
Of teaching our customers how their vehicles operate so they get maximum use out of the functionality that’s being built into these cars.
00:17:47 Don Romano
We’re developing an app right now that helps the dealerships actually check and go through everything that’s being done all the way up to taking your XM radio stations.
00:17:58 Don Romano
Making sure they’re set to the things you want to listen to and make sure that.
00:18:02 Don Romano
That you know you’re.
00:18:04 Don Romano
You are very familiar with it with every feature, and to me that’s part of customer service right there.
00:18:09 Don Romano
So when you know what it’s like when you go from an old car to a new car and the new car.
00:18:13 Don Romano
Has different functionality and you’re.
00:18:14 Don Romano
Like how do I do this?
00:18:17 Don Romano
And I don’t ever want that to happen.
00:18:19 Don Romano
I want people to be that transition to be in the hands of our.
00:18:23 Don Romano
Dealers who do the delivery and they’re like, yeah, I know how this car is going to function and how to make adjustments, but for the most part it’s all set and ready to go for me right now.
00:18:34 Don Romano
That’s got to be our focus going forward.
00:18:36 Don Romano
We do it with Genesis right now and Genesis when it comes down to sales in its first year of being monitored was ranked second in the country for customer satisfaction, and we used a completely different model.
00:18:50 Don Romano
John, we we we sell completely online you buy from us.
00:18:54 Don Romano
The factory and our agencies that are out there, there’s 30 of them throughout the country.
00:19:00 Don Romano
Their focus is delivery is delivery.
00:19:03 Don Romano
It’s not on.
00:19:04 Don Romano
The price is set, it’s all inclusive.
00:19:06 Don Romano
It includes all your maintenance, so you you pay 1 price we pick up we deliver.
00:19:11 Don Romano
Sure, and we just try to make your life easier. And I think for the enthusiasts listening here, you know that I think we we want that for every vehicle, but it’s a lot different when you’re selling 10,000 Genesis versus 150,000 hyundais. So it’s going to take a lot more work to get hondata.
00:19:29 Don Romano
Where genesis is.
00:19:31 Jon Toker
So yeah, that that’s actually gonna be my next question because.
00:19:36 Jon Toker
So is there any plan in place for consumers to purchase Hyundai vehicles like the Genesis brand which has that complete online experience that you were talking about?
00:19:46 Jon Toker
It is that something plan going to happen for Hyundai too soon or?
00:19:49 Don Romano
Yeah, it’s going to happen for everybody whether they know it or not.
00:19:53 Don Romano
I don’t care what the brand is on the outside of that car.
00:19:57 Don Romano
If you don’t, you’re not gonna have any customers come in to your website and buying.
00:20:01 Don Romano
The product it’s going to become an expectation.
00:20:05 Don Romano
00:20:06 Don Romano
It’s a a benefit.
00:20:07 Don Romano
It’s a it’s a want but it will become a need in the future.
00:20:11 Don Romano
These cars are too complex not to be able to spend the time with the customers on the product unless you only have so much time, right?
00:20:19 Don Romano
So you’re not going to walk into a.
00:20:20 Don Romano
Dealership after you’ve done.
00:20:21 Don Romano
Everything online and then spend 8 hours in finance that it just isn’t going to happen.
00:20:27 Don Romano
You’re going to walk in.
00:20:29 Don Romano
They they are going to make sure that you’re.
00:20:33 Don Romano
That all of your paperwork’s in order, because there’s a lot of financing that goes on, and that’s not an easy process, and the registration and you know there are products out there that give you extended service maintenance and warranties and protection that they’re going to want to make sure you you understand.
00:20:53 Don Romano
But we’re talking, you know, 30 minutes and not hours of time.
00:20:58 Don Romano
Now you deduct that from that process and you invest that time with the customer and their their vehicle.
00:21:04 Don Romano
You don’t have a customer drive off that lot.
00:21:06 Don Romano
You have an enthusiast and an ambassador for your product.
00:21:10 Don Romano
Driving off that lot.
00:21:11 Don Romano
And and that’s what the future is all about.
00:21:14 Don Romano
And you know, I I didn’t want to mention about just say it.
00:21:17 Don Romano
I mean when you look at Tesla buyers, it’s a it’s not just a company, it’s a cult because those people are crazy about their products and they’re crazy about it because they know every inch of that product and we have to be at that same level.
00:21:32 Don Romano
Where you just need to understand with all the technology how it operates, what it does, what it doesn’t do, how it makes your life better and you.
00:21:42 Don Romano
Have to feel comfortable.
00:21:43 Don Romano
Everything has to be intuitive and.
00:21:45 Don Romano
You know that’s.
00:21:47 Don Romano
That’s the task in front of us for one day, and that’s the.
00:21:49 Don Romano
Task we’re going to achieve.
00:21:51 Jon Toker
Well, I’m I’m I’m blown away I feel like I’m in 2035 and talking to the hyundais president in 2035, not 2022. It’s just like it’s still.
00:22:00 Speaker 1
I’ll be a.
00:22:00 Don Romano
00:22:01 Don Romano
By that time my friend.
Well, it’s just.
00:22:03 Jon Toker
Amazing, the stuff that you’re telling and and it’s just I’m blown away, you know?
00:22:10 Don Romano
Let me let me raise another issue that I think is imperative for our industry to achieve that by 2035. Heck, to achieve it by 2020.
00:22:19 Don Romano
25 and that is our customers that are buying our products. They they don’t look like me. They’re not from my my age group and that means we have.
00:22:31 Don Romano
If you look at the people buying our cars, if you look at Canada in general you know what do you see.
00:22:37 Don Romano
You see a very diverse.
00:22:40 Don Romano
Group of people.
00:22:41 Don Romano
Out there from all walks of life all.
00:22:44 Don Romano
Backgrounds all different colors of skin, different religions, different ethnicities and different.
00:22:54 Don Romano
You know sexual orientations and all these things that makes what makes Canada great.
00:22:59 Don Romano
But you’re not going to relate to these people if you have nothing but a bunch of 60 year old guys running old white guys like me running the.
00:23:09 Don Romano
Company and it’s imperative.
00:23:11 Don Romano
I think that our industry, which has been dominated by white males for far too long.
00:23:18 Don Romano
This never should have happened, but it is.
00:23:20 Don Romano
We have to change that so I would say above and beyond everything else.
00:23:24 Don Romano
I told you my goal is the diversification of my organization so that they can better relate to the customers.
00:23:31 Don Romano
In the future.
00:23:32 Don Romano
That are that are doing business with our brand and knowing how they feel about our brand and knowing how to deliver on their expectations and that requires more females.
00:23:44 Don Romano
That would cut people.
00:23:45 Don Romano
Of color people from different walks of life and we’re a country of immigrants.
00:23:50 Don Romano
I’m an immigrant.
00:23:52 Don Romano
I am a.
00:23:52 Don Romano
Canadian but yeah.
00:23:53 Jon Toker
We were going to.
00:23:57 Don Romano
Which which is great.
00:23:58 Don Romano
I think that’s what makes Canada great, but our industry has been slow to to adjust and we need to speed that up at Lightspeed.
00:24:06 Don Romano
And we need to start putting.
00:24:08 Don Romano
You know, if you take a look at some of my competitors that have females running their companies and the success that they’re achieving, that’s not a coincidence.
00:24:16 Don Romano
You know, I mean, you can relate better when your executive team reflects your customer.
00:24:23 Don Romano
Case, so I think that.
00:24:24 Don Romano
We’ve got a lot of work to do in this area, and I don’t think.
00:24:27 Don Romano
I know and I.
00:24:28 Don Romano
Want to lead in that?
00:24:30 Don Romano
I don’t want to just be the.
00:24:31 Don Romano
I can’t be the best at customer service if I don’t have people that can relate to our customers.
00:24:36 Jon Toker
You’re you’re, you’re absolutely, absolutely 100% right. When I was doing a little bit research about you two, I see that.
00:24:43 Jon Toker
Uh, you’re you’re you’re uh, I think Automotive News you spoke with and you said exactly like that and it was very impressive to see that and when I was that’s one of the main reasons I wanted to re.
00:24:54 Jon Toker
Issue to talk to you because you’re championing diversity so and me being myself as a as an immigrant, you know and and.
00:25:03 Jon Toker
In big car business.
00:25:04 Jon Toker
It was a perfect person to reach first too, you know, and it was.
00:25:08 Jon Toker
It was really.
00:25:09 Don Romano
Good any any CEO that isn’t thinking this way in our.
00:25:14 Don Romano
Industry should not be in the chair that they’re sitting in because you always want.
00:25:19 Don Romano
As a CEO, you want to leave the company in better condition than you received it.
00:25:25 Don Romano
Better financial condition.
00:25:27 Don Romano
Better you know business condition.
00:25:29 Don Romano
But more importantly a better employee condition.
00:25:32 Don Romano
Better with the right people that can lead the company into the future.
00:25:36 Don Romano
’cause we establish a vision for the future of where we want to take this company and you know we we have.
00:25:44 Don Romano
Over 10,000 employees when you use all the dealers and all the people that are involved with our business and they’re all looking to to us.
00:25:53 Don Romano
And what do they see you know?
00:25:54 Don Romano
And and it’s important that they they don’t just agree, but they embrace the importance of diversity.
00:26:02 Don Romano
And you know, there’s obviously an importance from a social perspective, but there’s also an importance from a business perspective, and you can look at it, hopefully both ways, and say, listen as.
00:26:15 Don Romano
A human being.
00:26:17 Don Romano
From a humanitarian point of view, this is the right thing to do from a business perspective.
00:26:21 Don Romano
This is the.
00:26:22 Don Romano
The right thing to do, and when you put those two together, you put the company on the right track.
00:26:28 Jon Toker
Well, that’s well amazing.
00:26:32 Jon Toker
I’ll I’ll, I’ll ask my last question.
00:26:35 Jon Toker
This is the question I’m.
00:26:36 Jon Toker
I’m really curious because that’s I would consider that’s area of my expertise and I I spend a lot of time on this about used cars.
00:26:44 Jon Toker
I I remember seeing online that Hyundai offers short term rentals at select Ontario dealerships, yeah.
00:26:51 Jon Toker
And I was super excited about it, so I got a couple questions about this.
00:26:55 Jon Toker
How did it work out?
00:26:56 Jon Toker
What was the feedback from deal?
00:26:58 Jon Toker
Here’s Scott because in my first podcast I had it with gentleman from Florida Brian Kramer, who runs a big dealership there and they get into the rental car business to generate used car inventory.
00:27:12 Jon Toker
He calls them a used car factory basically, so he puts these cars on, read them out, then bring them back and sell them as a used car.
00:27:19 Don Romano
What was the?
00:27:20 Jon Toker
Feedback from your those select dealers or it’s became now countrywide, like what’s the?
Yeah it was, it’s.
00:27:25 Jon Toker
Situation with that.
00:27:26 Don Romano
It was difficult.
00:27:27 Don Romano
We we lost our insurance.
00:27:29 Don Romano
Our insurance company pulled back.
00:27:33 Don Romano
I won’t name the insurance company, but.
00:27:35 Don Romano
You just can’t.
00:27:35 Don Romano
Do it unless you you can provide rentals with insurance.
00:27:39 Don Romano
So what we did is we decided, but we did have good demand.
00:27:44 Don Romano
So what we decided to do is we connected with Turo which is a ridesharing company and I can’t give a lot of details at this.
00:27:53 Don Romano
Point it will be announced in the next couple of months, but we’ll be working with Turo to provide short term.
00:28:02 Don Romano
Mobility solutions for people, so we’re going to be putting it in the hands the same strategy, but we’ll put it in the hands of a partnership that can better that has the insurance capabilities to provide short term ownership for people and.
00:28:22 Don Romano
So that’s that’s the direction where we’re.
00:28:23 Don Romano
We’re kind of just.
00:28:25 Don Romano
We’re not changing.
00:28:26 Don Romano
Course, but we’re we’re we’re changing this we’re adjusting the sales a bit to try a different approach to something that we had a lot of demand for, but we’re unable to properly execute ’cause we didn’t have the support of the companies we needed that had come into this with us.
00:28:45 Don Romano
To help us do this and when we lost insurance, obviously the the program was no longer viable.
00:28:54 Jon Toker
00:28:54 Don Romano
So we will still.
00:28:55 Don Romano
Do it now.
00:28:55 Don Romano
We’ll still do it.
00:28:56 Don Romano
You’ll you’ll hear about it shortly though.
00:28:58 Don Romano
I can’t give too much information or my public relations executive here.
00:29:03 Don Romano
Will will kill me.
00:29:05 Don Romano
It has to be announced properly.
00:29:07 Jon Toker
Of course, I’m just trying to because I was very excited when I see that news.
00:29:13 Jon Toker
I’m like that’s really smart because.
00:29:15 Jon Toker
’cause the used car business is good in terms of, you know, talking about creating an ecosystem, like your EV competitor, right and and and you give people an opportunity to drive your car for a short term without a commitment.
00:29:27 Jon Toker
And maybe they’re going to fall in love with the car, and they have an option to buy it out.
00:29:30 Jon Toker
Or even if they don’t, that car comes back and then you can make that car as a certified pre-owned.
00:29:35 Jon Toker
Consult through your dealership network to write the opportunity valid.
00:29:38 Don Romano
In which you’re.
00:29:38 Don Romano
Talking about this is the future of mobility.
00:29:41 Don Romano
This is where we.
00:29:41 Don Romano
Are all going to have to go?
00:29:43 Don Romano
In other words, do.
00:29:44 Don Romano
You need a car sitting in your garage for 80% of the.
00:29:47 Don Romano
Time, yeah, you’re paying for it.
00:29:49 Don Romano
You’re paying insurance.
00:29:50 Don Romano
For it it’s depression.
00:29:51 Don Romano
Waiting I think about it, I mean there the logic would say no, we gotta come up with better solutions than giving somebody a, you know, selling him a car and financing it for seven years.
00:30:01 Jon Toker
Makes sense we got couple I can think we got one question came from LinkedIn so.
00:30:10 Jon Toker
Alright, if you still have a couple more minutes.
00:30:12 Don Romano
Yeah, I do sure.
00:30:13 Jon Toker
Are there any plans for a car bravo type of platform for their used units?
00:30:21 Jon Toker
Are you aware of that I?
00:30:22 Don Romano
Yeah, yeah, of course of course, and and.
00:30:22 Jon Toker
I don’t know, I probably.
00:30:26 Don Romano
Yeah we are.
00:30:28 Don Romano
I can’t get into it right now but but absolutely again it gets back to the whole idea of mobility.
00:30:34 Don Romano
And providing options, the more options you can brought provide customers, more customers you’re going to to have with your engaged in your brand.
00:30:43 Don Romano
So car Bravo type of solutions.
00:30:46 Don Romano
We have a a CPO program right now but we are going to be moving in a.
00:30:52 Don Romano
A different direction with with our used cars we want them to be certified, which means we’re there when you buy it, it’s gone through a rigorous process of evaluation and and upgrades where you know if the brakes are are low or if there’s a.
00:31:08 Don Romano
You know something that’s wrong with the vehicle.
00:31:11 Don Romano
It’s fixed before you drive it off the lot, so the certification does.
00:31:14 Don Romano
That, but then the.
00:31:15 Don Romano
Way in which you acquire that vehicle. That’s the thing that we’re working on now, and we’re working closely with the US as well. With the team down there to come up with one.
00:31:23 Don Romano
North American solution.
00:31:26 Jon Toker
That’s very good.
00:31:27 Jon Toker
Well, well, we’re in that 30 minute mark I I’m, I know you’re extremely busy person.
00:31:32 Jon Toker
Run a huge company.
00:31:33 Jon Toker
So before we close up, is there anything else you want to add anything at all?
00:31:39 Jon Toker
I’ll put you in the spotlight.
00:31:41 Jon Toker
You can talk about it, then we’ll wrap it up.
00:31:44 Don Romano
No, I I I think we we’ve covered a lot of ground in a very short period of time.
00:31:50 Don Romano
And I just appreciate the fact that you have all these.
00:31:52 Don Romano
You know people are interested in the car business interested in cars.
00:31:56 Don Romano
It’s all going to change, so the way we look at it today, whether it’s the product or the processes that engage people with a brand in our industry, it’s all going to change so and hopefully it’s going to change.
00:32:10 Don Romano
Not just I know this could change for one day, but hopefully for the whole industry we’re going to become much more.
00:32:18 Don Romano
In alignment with the future expectations that customers have for our companies, and that’s that’s a tall order when it you, you’re transitioning a complete system of vehicle production from combustion engines to electrification.
00:32:35 Don Romano
But that is the future we are all going to be driving electric vehicles.
00:32:39 Don Romano
Whether we want to accept that or not, it is going to happen.
00:32:43 Don Romano
We also are going to be looking at alternatives such as you know fuel cells for certain certain applications, but the bottom line is we need to create a better a better future.
00:32:55 Don Romano
And these vehicles this this.
00:32:58 Don Romano
This technology is going to be part of that, but with in that technology there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
00:33:04 Don Romano
I would not say every electric vehicle is built as efficiently as it could be, so you know and and we’re also dealing with a lot of issues on a global basis.
00:33:16 Don Romano
With you know potential wars and and different geopolitical issues that make some of.
00:33:23 Don Romano
The sharing of technology even more difficult.
00:33:26 Don Romano
So we have to overcome some of the geopolitical issues our governments are going to have to step up in those areas and and we just gotta look that this world is getting smaller and.
00:33:37 Don Romano
You know the the need for us to continue to work on improving the environment and taking care of the environment and at the same time taking care of our customers is going to.
00:33:48 Don Romano
The challenges are only going.
00:33:49 Don Romano
To grow so.
00:33:51 Don Romano
That’s really that’s where we’re headed, and hopefully we’ll get there sooner than later.
00:33:56 Don Romano
And that’s it, John.
00:33:58 Jon Toker
Well, I I I really appreciate it.
00:34:01 Jon Toker
I’m blown away.
00:34:01 Jon Toker
I learned a lot of stuff from you today.
00:34:03 Jon Toker
Really appreciate for your time.
00:34:05 Jon Toker
I hope we can do this sometime again sometime down the road.
00:34:09 Jon Toker
00:34:09 Jon Toker
This one is.
00:34:10 Jon Toker
It’ll get warm.
00:34:11 Don Romano
Or are you going to be at any DA or you’d be any plans to head down to the NAD a conference?
00:34:18 Jon Toker
I I’ll for June this year.
00:34:19 Jon Toker
I won’t be able to, but next year for sure I did my booster shot on everything, but I still don’t feel confident to go.
00:34:26 Jon Toker
In case you know the issue is like you may get test positive even though you have no symptoms and.
00:34:31 Jon Toker
You may not be able to come back right?
00:34:32 Don Romano
Yeah, and then what do you?
00:34:33 Don Romano
Do yeah, I don’t blame you and I don’t think it’s over yet, but I I do think we’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel.
00:34:41 Don Romano
It’s not a train coming at us either, it’s.
00:34:43 Don Romano
The sunshine, so hopefully.
00:34:46 Don Romano
Hopefully this is we’re nearing the end and we can get back to the life we had before the pandemic.
00:34:52 Jon Toker
00:34:52 Jon Toker
Are you going to be are you?
00:34:54 Jon Toker
You will be attending, right?
Yeah, I I.
00:34:55 Don Romano
Have to go down there.
00:34:56 Don Romano
I mean, that’s my dealers are down there and part of everything I talked about is working with our dealers to make these things a reality.
00:35:03 Don Romano
So where our dealers are there, I will be and they are our partners.
00:35:09 Don Romano
And if the closer we work together, the faster we can deliver on everything I talked about.
00:35:15 Jon Toker
That’s very good.
00:35:16 Jon Toker
Well, in in case somebody wants to reach, you have a question.
00:35:20 Jon Toker
What is the best form of communication to reach Don Romano?
00:35:24 Speaker 1
You know LinkedIn.
00:35:25 Don Romano
Is good easy to to to get on LinkedIn and and connect.
00:35:31 Don Romano
So that’s that’s usually the best, and if you.
00:35:35 Don Romano
Know people want to talk Car Talk or talk plane talk?
00:35:41 Don Romano
Airlines, cars, any kind of transfer.
00:35:43 Don Romano
You talk trains I, I’m good with all of it.
00:35:45 Don Romano
So that’s the best way to reach me.
00:35:47 Don Romano
It’s just Don Romano.
00:35:49 Don Romano
On LinkedIn you you’ll see my face, unfortunately.
00:35:53 Jon Toker
No, that’s that’s really good.
00:35:55 Jon Toker
You’re pretty active on LinkedIn.
00:35:56 Jon Toker
I see that too.
00:35:57 Jon Toker
And well again, thank you very much for your time today and hopefully we can connect again sometime.
Yeah, I like it.
00:36:04 Jon Toker
But as to our viewers and listeners, if you would like to reach Don Romano, you have specific questions so you can reach him out on.
00:36:14 Jon Toker
LinkedIn and probably send him a communication request and send him a message and.
00:36:19 Jon Toker
You’ll be more than happy to help you.
00:36:21 Jon Toker
Uh, if you like if you missed a live streaming, you can always go to YouTube and watch this.
00:36:26 Jon Toker
Also, you can listen to this conversation on your favorite podcast so you can go to Apple, Google all over the place you like to listen in the car, but it’s been an absolute pleasure, Don.
00:36:40 Jon Toker
Your as as as a human being.
00:36:42 Jon Toker
You’re phenomenal, great person.
00:36:44 Jon Toker
Your people work for your extremely lucky to work for you.
00:36:49 Don Romano
Depends on the day John.
00:36:51 Don Romano
But yeah, maybe today.
00:36:54 Don Romano
Responded pleasure John and thanks for doing what you do. I just you know it’s good to have people like you that are keeping our industry in the forefront of everybody’s mind and and help them clarify some of the things that are going on out there. So thank you.
00:37:08 Jon Toker
All the best.
00:37:09 Jon Toker
Have a great day and we’ll chat later, OK?
00:37:10 Speaker 1
00:37:12 Don Romano
Thanks to everybody for joining take care John bye.
00:37:14 Jon Toker