Doug Ross

Listen more – you have 2 ears and 1 mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you talk.


Born in Woodstock, Ontario, Doug Ross and his family moved to Toronto when he was 8 years old. After graduation from Silverthorne Collegiate Institute, Ross attended the University of Toronto where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. Following U of T, Ross attended the Northwood Institute in Michigan for Automotive Marketing & Management.

From a young age, Ross has been interested in the auto industry and at the age of 14, began working part time at a General Motors (GM) car dealership. Over the years, he did every job he could possibly achieve from basic maintenance all the way to sales manager. At the age of 26, Ross became the General Manager of the dealership and when he was 30, he became the youngest owner of a Nissan dealership. At his peak, Ross owned two GM dealerships, one of which he sold and the other was closed during the company’s consolidation. Since his time at GM, Ross as worked with Ford, Hyundai, and Nissan to help their companies and stores grow.

Outside of his business life, Ross has been happily married for over 30 years to his beautiful wife. He is the proud parent of two daughters and the proud grandparent of six grandchildren.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

When I was the GM of two GM dealerships, the names of the locations would follow the company’s standard naming procedures which would either be named after the city that the dealership was in or the name of the owner of the dealership.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I am an early riser and like to get to work early as I find that I accomplish a lot during that time. After a review of customer satisfaction survey returns, I check on how many service appointments for the day and if we have any potential issues. I also want to speak with all the Technicians and Parts personnel to inquire as to how they are doing and if we need to order anything. However, most of my day will be spent on people ensuring they are happy, engaged and if they need any assistance. My favourite aspect of my job has always been getting the opportunity to talk to customers.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I believe that most of the best ideas are borrowed and then refined and changed to suit the situation. I am smart enough to know that many people are smarter than I am at their specific fields and defer to their judgement at times. A team culture develops the best ideas and you need to constantly encourage people to come forward with their ideas to improve both their department and the company has a whole.

What’s one trend that excites you?

One trend that currently excites me in the auto industry is the rise of alternative fuels – for both vehicles and at home. With the importance of reducing emissions, the rise of alternative fuel sources is not surprising, but it is an exciting time for the industry.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

One habit of mine that I believe helps me stay productive is that I do not procrastinate, I do thinks as soon as I have the time to do them. Additionally, I always have a To Do List on the go to ensure that I am always completing important tasks first.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Listen more – you have 2 ears and 1 mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you talk. A lot of people have very good advice to give if you are willing to listen to them.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I believe that a vacation is best served as a vacation. I do not think that I could ever spend an extended period in a tropical destination, but a short visit occasionally is nice to refresh the mind.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Ask questions – don’t be shy or concerned with how others will view you. While the questions may sound basic at first, if you don’t ask, you will never learn more.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Joining a Performance Group as well as other associations for your career – there are many successful people to learn from who are willing to share information. Additionally, these groups often are some of the best ways to network as you get to meet many other people from your industry.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I made an employment change based solely on money that was wrong, so I researched my next move very carefully. I have learned that it is important to always have a full understanding of the consequences of my actions before acting or there can be very costly mistakes.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Pet rentals – a lot of people want a pet but can not look after them full-time for various reasons. I believe that a well planned and marketed pet rental service could be extremely popular.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I donated $100 to my wife’s charity 100 Women Who Care Muskoka. I believe that giving back to the community is one of the best things a person can do as it can help those who need it the most.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

One web service that I regularly use is an online calendar. This allows me to always know my schedule and receive notifications as they occur and to never forget about important meetings or events.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Feeding My Mother by Jann Arden – it teaches you how to deal with people who have Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

What is your favorite quote?

“I find the harder I try, the luckier I get”

Key Learnings:

• Be grateful for what you have
• Write thoughts & ideas down for reference later
• Always be learning & growing
• Question yourself