Toronto Auto Consulting

Car Biz Insider Ep#6

Car Biz Insider featuring Don Romano – Hyundai Auto Canada – Ep#6


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 

It’s perfect. 

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 

It’s hard. 

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 

That’s been. 

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. 


You know? 

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 

Not grinding. 

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 

Right now. 

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 

Different president. 

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 

That’s unfortunate. 

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 

Uh maybe. 

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 

Hope so. 

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? 


You know? 

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 

Thank you. 

00:37:12 Don Romano 

Thanks to everybody for joining take care John bye. 

00:37:14 Jon Toker 

Take care.