"Hopefully this storm won't have the kind of property damage that we've seen with other hurricanes," Smith said. "We're pretty geared up to respond." Preparations included securing inventory, closing stores and sending employees home.
Some stores, such as Panama City Toyota, announced they would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. "We apologize for the inconvenience, but we want to keep our employees safe and allow them to take the measures necessary to ensure the safety of their families," the dealership announced on Facebook. Bill Cramer Chevrolet-Buick-GMC, also in Panama City, said it would be closed Wednesday.
The storm's path so far is taking aim at a part of the state where there is a lighter density of stores, Smith said.
"From Tallahassee to Destin there's not a lot of stores along the coast," he said.
Last month, Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina. The Carolinas are still dealing with cleanup, and several stores saw property damage.
CarMax closing stores
CarMax has closed three of its stores in the path of the Hurricane Michael, which is approaching the Florida panhandle as a potential Category 3 storm.
The retailer said in an email that its shops in Tallahassee and Pensacola, Fla., as well as a store in Dothan, Ala., had all closed by 3 p.m. Tuesday. “CarMax will assess if other locations need to be closed for the safety of both CarMax associates and customers,” the company said.
Asbury Automotive Group owns three dealerships around Tampa, Fla., (Courtesy Palm Harbor Honda in Palm Harbor, Courtesy Hyundai in Tampa and Courtesy Toyota of Brandon in Tampa) which as of Tuesday afternoon were operating normal business hours. But the company is continuing to monitor the hurricane, said Jed Milstein, a spokesman for the auto retailer, in an email to Automotive News.
“Although at this time we do not expect a significant disruption for our stores from Hurricane Michael, we always take precautions using the hurricane protocols developed by our store leaders and risk team. We make sure that first our employees are kept out of harm’s way and then reduce risk to our buildings and inventory,” Milstein said in an email. “Our risk team constantly monitors and communicates the storm’s projected strength, path and speed of movement as we determine if/when to exercise the protocols. If the potential impact regarding Hurricane Michael changes, the stores will be ready.”
Asbury, of Duluth, Ga., ranks No. 7 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 99,975 new vehicles in 2017.
Richmond, Va.-based CarMax ranked No. 1 by volume on Automotive News’ list of used vehicle dealers in the U.S. in 2017.