Florida dealer Larry Zinn was holed up in a hotel room Monday, blindly assessing from afar the impact Hurricane Irma had on Warren Henry Auto Group's stores.
Zinn's uncertainty extended to his own logistics of when he will be able to fly back to his home and if he will have enough staff to run stores when they can reopen.
"The bigger problem is many people were evacuated so we have staff who are all over the country right now," said Zinn, general manager of Warren Henry Auto Group in Miami with six stores in Florida. "Some areas are not allowing people back in yet. Miami Beach, for example, will start allowing people back in tomorrow at noon. We're waiting for the airports to open back up."
Zinn caught the last flight out of Miami Friday morning. So far, he has relied on reports from his team on the ground to assess store damage. The photos they've sent show trees crushing some vehicles and blown-out store signs. Irma left much of the state without power and debris blocks roadways. All of this is troublesome, but some dealers say a people problem is a growing concern.
"If you take one of my stores, it can operate [sales] on a lighter staff," said Ali Ahmed, owner of Atlantic Coast Automotive in Miami Lakes, Fla. "But on the service end, you talk about technicians. We can only fix the cars so fast. So making sure everyone on the service end is taken care of and back to normal as soon as possible is key. I see that as being the leading edge of our traffic and business more so than the sales side."