Randy O’Daniel says trying to buy a car online is a lot like buying a pair of pants on your iPhone.
“You can look at them online and do all of your research, and you can eliminate cars and vehicles that won’t work for you, but you’re going to be left with a short list and you’ll want to ensure the car will fit your needs,” he says. “It’s very hard to tell from pictures and videos how the car is going to feel and how it’s going to drive, similar to ordering a pair of pants online. You don’t know if they’re going to fit because every different brand and every different style within that brand fits differently. It’s always disappointing when you order something online, it arrives and it either isn’t what you expected or it doesn’t fit your needs.”
He says that’s what drives people to the showrooms.
“We see a lot of people who do their research online and then determine where they’re going to go look at the cars based upon customer reviews. Then they will visit the showroom of their choice to verify that the car is what they need and want.”
The O’Daniel Automotive Group of Fort Wayne has five locations offering vehicles from eight different manufacturers: Dodge, Jeep, Audi, Mazda, Porsche, Ford, Chrysler and Ram.
Per stipulations from the manufacturers, the showrooms are regularly remodeled and updated to showcase the latest trends and options.
“The manufacturers want to put their best foot forward and show new products, and they’re coming out with record numbers of innovative products right now. They want to present these to the public in a very uniform appearance. They find it’s very important for the brick and mortar establishments to look the same throughout the country. Each manufacturer sends us an appearance package and a design package that we put together.”
Over the last few months, the Mazda dealership on Illinois Road was remodeled inside and outside, as was the Jeep dealership on Illinois Road. The group’s body shop was relocated from Illinois Road to the Ford dealership in New Haven. The space there was renovated as was the Porsche/Audi import service center, which is now located on Illinois Road in the space previously occupied by the body shop.
O’Daniel says the showrooms today are nothing like the ones of yesterday.
“Our manufacturers don’t want their showrooms to look luxurious like they used to. Instead, they want a very nice, clean, functional and comfortable space for customers. The showrooms are styled very much like the products they represent. For example, Jeep showrooms have an outdoors-y feel while Mazda is a little more sporty-looking and upscale. Customers really don’t care if a showroom is glitzy. They want it to be comfortable and casual. They want to get a good car and deal with people who have a high degree of honesty and integrity.”
O’Daniel says they take their customers very seriously and listen to them instead of trying to sell them something they really don’t want or need.
“It’s always been our opinion that it’s much better to try and help someone buy a car than it is to try and sell someone a car. Once they buy a car from us, whether new or used, we have all factory-trained technicians and we use the highest quality parts to service the vehicles.”
He also recognizes the concerns customers have about the ongoing supply chain issues affecting the automotive industry.
“Different manufacturers are having different supply problems, but we are still getting cars in on a regular basis. With some of the brands, our inventory can get a little low, but we have the ability to order cars for people and get them in a reasonable amount of time.”
In 2021, the O’Daniel Automotive Group was named Indiana Dealer of the Year for all of its franchises, which is based on customer satisfaction and customer reviews.
“I think that says a lot about who we are and how we operate,” says O’Daniel. “I like to tell people about how we’re a progressive company in the community and we’ve been here a long time. Our employees and our company actively support a number of organizations locally because it’s important to us to give back. When you combine that with the modern, comfortable feeling we offer to our customers, it makes O’Daniel a good place to do business.”
O’Daniel Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram: 5611 Illinois Road
Audi Fort Wayne: 5715 Illinois Road
Porsche Fort Wayne: 5709 Illinois Road
O’Daniel Ford: 631 Lincoln Highway W, New Haven
O’Daniel Automart Mazda: 4200 Illinois Road