As business slumped during the two-year renovation, the Stewarts took a hard look at costs, making significant cuts, particularly in advertising and personnel, said Stu Stewart, Earl's oldest son and co-general manager.
A used-car manager was demoted to sales, and a new-car manager was relocated to the used-vehicle department. The dealership began to work on an extensive pay plan cut.
"We are still struggling how to — without blowing hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising — grow our volume. We've struggled in our Internet sales department, and we've gone through a revolving door of managers there," Stu Stewart said. "We've watched our F&I numbers get worse."
The storm isn't helping. But even as around-the-clock Dorian coverage inflames locals' fears, it also normalizes them. With home preparations complete and the storm stalled over the Bahamas, some residents begin to venture out to run errands — such as vehicle service appointments.
Christie and Michael Gidos come to the store to fill out paperwork to lease a 2019 Toyota Tacoma. A Facebook ad drew them in.
"I'm not buying anything until after the storm," Michael Gidos said. "I'm pretty caught up at the house right now, so now I'm just waiting to see if it turns."