At the new dealership in Fort Lauderdale, there’s a man who will fix whatever goes wrong
By Eric Barton
Paul Jensen takes a yellow business card from his wallet. It gives his name and a toll-free number but no title. That’s because Jensen’s role is too indescribable for a simple job title.
“My job is to keep people out of trouble,” Jensen says.
He’s standing on the partially completed second floor of the new Audi dealership in Fort Lauderdale.
As he speaks, construction workers are everywhere. It is mid-July, and the company that owns the dealership, Qvale Automotive Group out of West Palm Beach, is hoping to open 13 days later.
In addition to making sure that happens, Jensen is also in charge of correcting most problems that arise, construction-related or not. For instance, there was the time one customer walked out from a hockey game and found his A7 sitting on the ground, with no tires or wheels. Towing it like that was impractical, so when the owner called Jensen for help, Jensen had tires taken off a new A7 and brought to the hockey rink.
Then there was the time Jensen got a call at 9 one night from a frantic customer. His car had been in for service, and he had left something in the loaner he returned that day. It was his computer and his tax return – and it was April 15. Jensen met him at the dealership, found the computer and tax return and gave the customer the address of the nearest post office.
“I’m the guy, yeah, I’m Mr. Wolf,” Jensen jokes, referring to the fix-anything character from the movie Pulp Fiction. “You got a problem, and I’ll be there.”
Jensen’s job description is emblematic of what Qvale is hoping to do with the new Fort Lauderdale dealership. The idea is to remake the basic premise of a car shop, away from the image of an aggressive sales force and into a customer-service center. Qvale is trying the same thing at all 18 of its dealerships.
The building itself certainly looks unique, with honeycomb aluminum panels, triangle windows and a stout exterior. The design is based on a blueprint for all new Audi dealerships. Here, though, it crams 158,000 square feet of space, 75 employees and 300 cars into a mere 1.7 acres. Inside is a relatively small showroom of black tile and a curved mezzanine meant to evoke a race track.
The showroom is small because people don’t come in to simply peruse cars anymore, says Bruce Qvale, the company’s owner. They shop online first, so when they get there, the new dealership will have the exact car they have in mind, gassed up and ready for a test drive.
“Buyers are far more educated and well down the buying process when they arrive at the dealership nowadays,” Qvale says. “It’s a quicker process, and the new building is going to lend itself to that streamlined system.”
A grand opening party is scheduled for Oct. 8. As for Jensen, he is off to oversee the construction of a Qvale dealership in Lakeland, where he will surely be solving new late-night problems.
Audi Fort Lauderdale, 1200 N. Federal Highway, audifortlauderdale.com, 888-806-9276.