Revenue at Brian Benstock's two stores in New York City nearly evaporated in the second half of March.
Benstock declined to share revenue or profit figures, or the exact percentage they've dropped. He closed his Paragon Honda and Paragon Acura stores in the city's Queens borough at the close of business March 22 in line with orders from the state.
While the state on March 26 said it would allow limited sales online, the public is largely staying away in the city hit hard by COVID-19.
"Needless to say, this has had a dramatic impact on business," said Benstock, the dealerships' general manager. "We have a protocol for 20 percent reduction in revenue. We have a protocol for 40 percent reduction in revenue — and even a 50 percent reduction in revenue. I never built it for 100 percent reduction in revenue."
Benstock said last week he has begun laying off some of his nearly 500 employees, though he declined to quantify the cuts. It was the "most benevolent thing we could do," he said. Hourly employees working no hours and salespeople going without commissions could then apply for unemployment aid, he said, as the stores seek assistance from the federal stimulus package.
Some personnel are staying to operate the business at its current demand level. Benstock's plan is to slowly rebuild sales, starting with digital buyers.
"We're now looking to trickle online sales," Benstock said. "And when I say trickle, we want to make sure that we get our processes and our procedures in place as we do minimal amounts of transactions. Then we want that trickle to build up to a flow, where we can do somewhat more business without risking any of the health of our people or customers."