Mandal Buick GMC opened Monday at the busy junction of Interstate 10-110 and right next to it Galleria BMW will be ready for its debut this spring.
“It is the first new BMW dealership location in over 32 years,” Mandal said. BMW has 335 dealerships nationwide. Another is under construction in Grapevine, Texas, but Mandal said, “I think we’ll be first to market.”
Both new dealerships will blend what the Mandals have learned in 45 years in the automotive business, 20 of them in D’Iberville. The combined dealerships are a $25 million investment for the Mandals.
“I had 20 years to plan it,” Mandal said as he leads a tour of the new Buick GMC dealership, located on the site where the Ocean Expo was once planned.
He has 400 new, used and certified cars, SUVs and trucks on the lot and 10 in the new showroom. Trucks are the biggest sellers. “The Gulf Coast buyers — they yearn for trucks,” he said.
Beyond customer service, the attitude at the new dealership is a transparent customer experience, Mandal said. A coffee bar with free snacks is next to the clean and bright customer waiting rooms outfitted with big screen TVs. Chairs with built-in work desks accommodate a book or computer and 52 free WiFi hot spots assure customers get a signal wherever they are in the buildings.
A message board like those displayed in pizza shops will tell customers how long before their vehicle is serviced, and with the touch of the display board, customers can request a free car wash if they have time. If they are in a hurry, a fleet of loaner cars are available for a couple of hours or days.
Mandal shows how computerized systems diagnose why the “check engine” light is on and whether the car needs tires and alignment when drivers arrive at the service center and even before they get out of their vehicle. Customers get a copy of that report, he said.
Technology and safety are built into the shop, with an exhaust ventilator system that keeps it free of fumes and an Auto Butler system that waxes and polishes a vehicle in less than 20 minutes and gives the paint a lifetime warranty.
On this first day the shop, like all of the dealership, is “clean, bright and new,” Mandal said. A machine will clean and polish the custom German tile floors in the shop floor daily to keep it that way.
Behind the scenes are a two-story parts warehouse and a staff of professionals, many of whom have worked at the dealership for many years. Mandal said he expects to have more than 100 employees between the two dealerships.
Galleria BMW, when it opens, will have an even bigger showroom, with 14 cars on the floor, plus an open-air certified pre-owned area, a first for BMW, Mandal said.
The exterior will have a very European look with a lot of sleek lines and walls of glass. “They call it the jewel box,” he said.
The BMW service area will be totally inside an air-conditioned shop and have a coffee bar and a shopping area offering BMW products.
Mandal said the excellent location along the highways, the proximity to casinos and the tourist traffic made D’Iberville site a great choice for the first BMW dealership in the country in decades.
“I call it the little city that could,” he said of D’Iberville. Once people just passed by but he said, “Look at it now.” The new dealership will help continue the legacy the city’s founding fathers created, he said.