COVID-19 Entrepreneurship

Stacking up the cars – Day 1. Business shut down – COVID 19 / Coronavirus

Tuesday, March 17, 2020. San Diego, CA. – Mango Easy Rent, my car rental business has been and will further be impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak. Yesterday, March 16 marked the date the decision was made to shut down the business, ground, park, stack, and gridlock the fleet. With that, we also decided to, as of today cease all bookings, decline on any rental extension, and recall cars already in active bookings. This is a tough decision made as a result of the added liability of having our cars out and not within our reach if a city shut down or lock down is ordered in San Diego, just as it has already been done with Los Angeles and Orange County in our state.

Today we had to shuffle around our cars as well as other operators’ and we worked as a team along with Sixt Rent a Car and some Car Sharing hosts to move and stack our cars. We still have a dozen or so cars that will be coming back within the next few days and then we’ll be leaving the cars parked for the days, weeks, or months before the virus craziness and danger dies and we reach our new normal.

One of the most disturbing ironies of this tough decision of shutting down is that just last month my company acquired and added to the fleet 40 new cars, a few of them still in the process of being fleeted in. Mango, my business was growing and had a bright future.

Making the decision was not easy and it filled with sadness my heart. I am a tiny operator compared to the big car rental players… Avis, Hertz, Sixt, Enterprise. In fact, we share the lot with Sixt who operates almost 600 cars in San Diego and Avis with a few thousand. Sixt has been stacking also dozens of cars while Avis has an estimate of 2,500 cars at our lot. For them, they use the lot only for overflow vehicles. If my and my partners’ losses, including possibly having to return cars to the banks, could be in the couple of million dollars, I can’t imagine the big guys’.

Still, within the scope of things, and trying to see the positive, our Federal Government is enacting bills that would pump resources in the form of tax breaks, rent, eviction, and repossession protection, SBA emergency and hardship loans, and possibly even grants to rebuild the business. Tomorrow will be the day to explore this as well as payment deferrals with our banks and lenders.

Resource for California companies to seek relief and help employees:

Another important lesson today. We can work as a team. While many companies can compete in the same market, we can also work together. Many other Car Sharing operators came to our aid and helped us shuffle and move around our cars to line them up and stack them in preparation for our closure. We even had Sixt Rent a Car’s head of San Diego fleet operations come to work on un-gridlocking our cars. In times of hardship we can come together and make it a less sour moment for all.

I am grateful for my business partners, my fellow Car Sharing operators, our fellow car rental competitors, our landlord and our families for making of today’s nightmare one we could cope with and feel satisfied about.

Tomorrow will be the second day of our shut down. I’m sure it won’t have any dull moments. I wonder if San Diego will shut down. I’m ready in case it does happen. I shall talk about the plans and activities I will be engaging on to keep my sanity. Meanwhile, I know there won’t be any income in weeks to come. I’ve withdrawn enough money from the bank, and I believe this nightmare won’t go beyond a few weeks.

Time will tell.

I’ll add a new blog entry tomorrow. For the time being, peace out!

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