As Florida watches the tropics, FADA would like to remind you of the great insights from dealers who’ve experienced past hurricanes.

Protecting your dealership and your employees could become your number one priority this week, so we offer the following tips:

  • First and foremost, all dealers should know where their insurance policies are located.  More importantly, you should review your insurance coverage to determine if you have any specific exclusions related to hurricanes. It is vitally important to review your building values in the event that you have to replace or repair structural damage.
  • Since water can enter your buildings in a variety of ways, care should be taken to protect all dealership documents. Water damage from past hurricanes caused extensive damage to the interior of many dealerships as most lay-in ceiling tiles fell to the floor throughout all of the offices.
  • Cover all office equipment and machinery and remove computer units from the floor in all offices.  Perform a BACK-UP on disk of all your data on computers and store it off-site.
  • Do all that you can to preserve your customer files to the extent possible in the event that water or wind enters your premises.
  • Flying debris caused huge damage – minimize this by removing all debris around the dealership premises.
  • Get cell phone numbers and a complete list of all employees so that you can check on them following a storm. Since communication systems may be totally destroyed, have a plan for your employees to assemble at your dealership at a certain date and time after a hurricane. This will give you an opportunity to access damage to your employee’s homes and determine which employees will be available for clean up at your dealership. Most insurers will pay for employees who perform debris removal following a storm.
  • Be aware of your responsibility to mitigate damages following a storm – your insurers require you to be able to secure your premises and prevent further damage from wind and rain following a major storm.
  • Floor plan your used units that are eligible with your manufacturer’s finance arm
  • As much as possible, have all vehicles picked up by customers.
  • In order to minimize your down time and provide a safe haven for your employees, develop a source list for the following products and services:
    1. Water & Ice – think of the large 7-11 style ice machines.  You will need ice & water and a way to store it.
    2. Generators – a life saver – so that you can restore power at your dealership. Finding generators after a storm is difficult, so plan ahead and have them before the storm hits.
    3. Gas & Chainsaws
    4. Locate a source for portable bathrooms for your staff who will be involved in clean up, as there may be no electricity or water for extended periods.
    5. Speak with area contractors who would be able to provide some patchwork for damaged roof areas and contact an electrician who can connect a generator into your regular dealership service.
    6. Designate someone in charge to feed your employees daily if you take a direct hit
    7. Locate a source for mobile trailers in the event that your showroom is demolished. These trailers will serve as headquarters for clean up and will be useful in the event that your sales operations need to continue from mobile units.
    8. Have a plan for securing your premises after a storm. You may wish to contact local security firms to prevent individuals from entering your premises during non-working hours.
    9. Insure that you have a contractor available who can also help you dry out your facilities. Contractors with drying equipment and dehumidifiers are extremely helpful.
    10. Talk to the people that handle your trash dumpsters and be sure that you can get additional dumpster facilities for clean up after the storm.
    11. Contact area firms for bobcat and front – end loaders for debris removal.
    12. Have a team of handy/strong employees who can help your employees at their homes if necessary.
  • If you utilize bottle water dispensers have plenty of fresh water on hand and a small generator so that you can continue to dispense cold water.
  • Develop a plan for your replacement inventory; several dealers noted that it was important to remove their damaged vehicles before the new inventory can be brought in. It is important to have a plan because there will be a delay and when you decide to return to sales, you may have insufficient inventory available.
  • Take digital photos of the damage done to your dealership. You may wish to take digital photos throughout your office so that you can reconstruct your losses for your insurance company.
  • Follow a storm carefully with your floor planners and take particular care to work closely with all adjusters, as they can be tremendously helpful in finalizing your losses.
  • Have cash available at a secure location as banks may be down and all ATM’s will be unavailable.
  • Due to the extent possible, have gasoline reserves on hand if possible for generators and so that you can travel to remote areas to locate certain services or dealership necessities.
  • Most dealerships tremendous problems locating skilled labor to help with damaged roofs and other structural work. For those with steel buildings, the need to contact contractors in advance is even more important as these supplies may or may not be available.

FADA is pleased to provide these hurricane preparation tips gathered through our visits with our members affected during past storms. Remember, in the event of a hurricane or any other natural disaster, FADA is ready to assist you in any way possible.