While some dealers in the Carolinas suffered major flooding damage — particularly those located near Wilmington, N.C. — many seemed to have been spared in the aftermath of one of the nation's latest natural disasters.
That's a huge sigh of relief.
Those who are in the midst of rebuilding their homes and/or businesses, please know the industry is there to support you.
Reporting about the aftereffects of Hurricane Florence is an appropriate time to remind businesspeople in general — and tire dealers in particular — about some of the steps they can take, before, during and after a national disaster.
First off, have a disaster plan. If you don't have one, get one. It's imperative.
Practice it. Let your staff know what it is and what their responsibilities will be. Once a disaster strikes, you'll be better prepared to know what should be done and, most importantly, how to execute it to keep your employees and customers safe.
In the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, keep family first.
Take care of the technicians and clerks who keep your business running smoothly. If their homes are damaged, make sure they have a safe place to stay.
Contact some of the services available in your area, particularly the United Way, American Red Cross and Goodwill Industries. Get them the help they need from the agencies with the resources to do it best.
In her one of her latest Tire Talk podcasts, our automotive service expert, Pam Oakes, suggests that tire dealers explain to customers that they will have to reschedule appointments until things are under control. She suggests offering customers a discount on oil changes or other items during the rest of the month, or perhaps the rest of the year.
Should a dealer only have a limited staff available in the wake of a disaster, Ms. Oakes suggests that managers post signs, telling customers that the shop can perform only critical services, such as brake jobs and engine issues, at least until everyone is mobile again.
Ms. Oakes should know: While she owned her auto repair business in Florida, she said she withstood four hurricanes in seven weeks in 2004, including Hurricane Charley.
She also suggests making your business a meeting place where those in need can find help, or perhaps meet for a cup of coffee, cookies and an encouraging word.
You and your employees can make a mark in your community as well, volunteering to help in recovery efforts, even if it is to pass out food, blankets or water.
Don't get complacent, particularly if you're in an area immune from a hurricane. You'll never know when a disaster will strike, be it tornadoes, snowstorms, earthquakes, fire — even something as simple but as crippling as a prolonged loss of internet or phone service.
Be prepared. And most importantly, stay safe.