The recent hurricanes both in South Texas and Florida have clearly made their mark on the surrounding areas. The impact touches, not only the residents and businesses in those cities but all over the country.
Cox Automotive has estimated 300,000-500,000 vehicles were destroyed by Hurricane Harvey alone. With that kind of hit to inventory, manufacturers are working overtime to get those new vehicles replaced at the dealerships.
So, how do priorities change when a hurricane hits? We asked Jarrod Kilway at Germain Toyota of Naples to tell us what they are doing to move forward and finish out a year that has put up lower numbers than previous years.
NU: What was the extent of the impact from the hurricane on your Dealership?
Jarrod: We were without electricity for a few days. Initially, we knew we needed to get in touch with all of our employees. After talking to our performance manager at Nextup, we were able to get all of our employee contact information dumped into the Nextup platform.
We started using the Nextup messaging tool to communicate with them one-on-one. I know that’s not what the tool is intended for but it gave us a way to communicate with our whole team without using a group text where some employees may not want to make public how they were personally impacted.
All in all, we were very fortunate. We had almost no damage at the dealership and our employees had minimal damage to their personal property.
NU: What are your priorities moving forward? How have they shifted from before the hurricane hit?
Jarrod: We always have our main agenda in place. I wouldn’t say our priorities have shifted but we have definitely shifted our focus when it comes to our customers.
When people started coming in, they really had their walls up. After hearing about all of the price gouging going on in Texas during Harvey, people were really guarded. We just wanted to change the focus and take care of our customers, no matter what.
We offered discounts through the OEM and set up a landing page for Hurricane Irma Relief for our customers. We really just wanted to let people know that we are here to help. Not take advantage of the situation.
It’s funny when something like this happens. Everyone just sort of comes together as a community and starts taking care of each other. After everything, it’s good to know we were able to build a strategy that we can use and execute to prepare for any events like this in the future.
NU: Was there anything that happened you didn’t expect?
Jarrod: Yes! Right before the hurricane hit, around labor day weekend, people started coming in to replace their cars. We did not expect that at all. We thought people would be busy getting out of town.
Since everyone was in the process of evacuating, there were a lot of concern that their cars wouldn’t make it all the way to Georgia or South Carolina. They wanted to upgrade so they wouldn’t be stuck when the hurricane hit. It definitely wasn’t something I would have predicted.
We also received a rush in Service customers after the hurricane hit. Every one started bringing in their cars to get checked out and repaired. We expected some of this but not quite so many so quickly after the storm.
Overall, Germain Toyota and their employees were very fortunate to have minimal damage. As Naples and the surrounding areas come together to rebuild their communities, they are staying positive and looking ahead. We wish them and all of the communities impacted by the hurricanes the best.