"We are focused on our associates and making sure they are safe. There's 8,000 of them, so it's a massive undertaking. The good news is we're hearing from them, and most of them are safe," said Marc Cannon, AutoNation's chief marketing officer. "Electricity is a problem. Most of them have lost electricity.
“We continue to assess the AutoNation facilities and stores in Florida and at this point we have many that have power and we will begin the process of reopening on Tuesday morning," Cannon said. "Again, we are still waiting on the curfews to be lifted in some counties to assess facilities. At this point all associates are safe.”
Asbury Automotive Group closed all 24 of its stores in Florida and does not know when they will reopen. Loss of electricity has been the biggest issue for the dealerships, but the stores are structurally sound and precautions to protect inventory were taken, said spokesman Jed Milstein. Asbury is still assessing the inventory, he said.
“For now, we’re planning next steps to reopen for our customers and employees,” Milstein said. “It’s interesting because everyone is talking about how over time as people need to buy and service cars, there should be good volume, but right now we’re trying to figure out how to reopen and where to put generators.”
Asbury closed its Duluth, Ga., headquarters and stores in the Atlanta area as a precaution for the tropical storm.
“Generally, we’re in good shape, taking the right precautions for our people and our property,” Milstein said.
Braman Motorcars, which sells Bentley, BMW, Mini, Porsche and Rolls Royce vehicles in West Palm Beach and Jupiter Fla., is looking to reel in consumers during the possible post-Irma rush.
The company launched a digital ad campaign Monday touting its “post storm special” for BMW and Mini models. It begins a TV and radio blitz pushing the limited-time specials on Tuesday as its stores reopen. Braman Motorcars also sent an email to 50,000 clients informing them of plans to resume normal business hours on Tuesday.
“We have people with mortgages to pay. My main job in advertising and marketing is to make sure that we can get back on our feet foot rapidly, so that people can start earning revenues without any major downtime and get the buying public back in here,” Danny Bayard, Braman Motorcars' advertising and marketing manager, told Automotive News last week.
Earlier Monday, former NADA Chairman Alan Starling, who owns Chevrolet, Buick-GMC and Cadillac stores in central Florida, was surveying the damage at his operations.
Starling said it appears his stores and inventory sustained minor damage. Two of Starling's Chevrolet and Buick-GMC stores are in Orlando's western suburbs, while a Cadillac-Chevrolet store is north of Orlando in DeLand.
"I've lived here a long time and there has never been a hurricane like this one," he said. "Employees have been hit pretty hard, and most are still without power. We will be closed today and probably Tuesday as well to allow everyone to recover."