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Changing of the Guard: Grandson Takes Over at West Coast Tire and Service

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Changing of the Guard: Grandson Takes Over at West Coast Tire and Service

“Cool it with the direct mail.” That was the advice given by Tom Eisenberg to Bob Mirman, his mentor at West Coast Tire and Service Inc. in Los Angeles.

Mirman, the company’s founder and co-owner, listened to his grandson, a millennial with a keen understanding of today’s market and the importance of gathering customer information.

“Data is king, and it’s the data that tells us where to look and what needs to be changed,” says Mirman.

“We have worked hard over the years to win our clients’ trust. In the past, direct mail and repeat and referral business have been the ways we generated traffic. These days, thanks to Tom’s efforts, we focus on internet marketing, SEO and review websites like Yelp and Google. We have more than 600 five-star online reviews.”

New customer counts averaged about 200 a month the Mirman way; now they are averaging about 310 new customers a month thanks to the internet efforts, notes Eisenberg.

Passing the torch

Last year after 65 years in the tire industry, Mirman handed the keys to the dealership to Eisenberg. At 87, Mirman still meets with his 27-year-old grandson at least once a week for lunch to discuss business.Although proud of his grandson, Mirman says it is a great blow to his ego that he is running the company better than he did. With Eisenberg’s input, sales and gross profit over the last few years have risen 10% annually to $5.3 million retail at 53% gross.

“My goal was not just to increase profit,” Eisenberg says. “I was seeing things being done old-school that could be improved, updated and done easier.”

Mirman started West Coast Tire in 1970. Eisenberg began working at the company in 2006, when he was 16. “I was a tire mounter. I would mop floors, clean bathrooms. I was a gopher. At first it was just a summer job, but then as I got older, I realized I enjoyed spending time with my grandfather and the employees who mentored me.

“I was always interested in business. And the possibility of running the company was too good of an opportunity to pass up. I wanted to soak up all the knowledge that my grandfather had.”

Eisenberg has taken West Coast Tire, a Tire Pros franchise, from just a simple tire and general repair location to a one-stop complete car care center that can take care of the customer. Seventy-five percent of the work is done on the premises and 25% is sublet.“Our customers come from Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Santa Monica and all surrounding areas,” he says. “We see more high-end luxury cars in an average day than most tire shops see in month. The more expensive the vehicle, the more demanding the client.”

From fixing flats to complete restorations, and everything in between, “there is never a reason to go anywhere else,” says Mirman.

Not long after taking over the company, Eisenberg attended a four-day digital marketing seminar put on by Michelin North America Inc.

“One thing I learned was how important your website is. I came home and scrapped our site and started over. I rebranded the shop. And we’ve seen huge growth in our sales numbers and car counts.”

Eisenberg says his employees are trained to perform great customer service, “so I never have to worry about that. That’s why I can pay close attention to the actual numbers and how they compute into dollars.

“For instance, I switched expenses to the Capital One cash back card. We save $40,000 a year. Insurance issue? I spent one morning on the internet and found a better rate and saved us $10,000. We used to pay $20,000 for electricity annually. I had 150 solar panels installed which are now producing 97% of our power. Two percent here, 1% there, it all adds up.”

Although retired, Mirman remains the company’s president. Eisenberg runs the company as vice president, general manager and co-owner (and was recently named to be part of the mission-based marketing council for the Tire Pros network of independent tire dealers). Eisenberg is also a member of Modern Tire Dealer's On the Rise, a group of young leaders in the industry. His mother, and Mirman’s daughter, Stacy, is secretary/treasurer — as well as a successful real estate developer.

When asked about opening a second location, Eisenberg stated, “When we reach $6.5 million, we’ll talk.”    ? Do you know a bright young tire dealer like Eisenberg? Nominate them to join MTD's On the Rise here.

When asked about opening a second location, Eisenberg stated, “When we reach $6.5 million, we’ll talk.”    ? Do you know a bright young tire dealer like Eisenberg? Nominate them to join MTD's On the Rise here.

Mirman Keeps Busy Helping Others

How is West Coast Tire and Service founder Bob Mirman handling retirement? "I am busy with our family's charity devoted to helping disabled veterans learn to scuba dive. Our charity, Dive Warriors, last year certified 66 new veterans who participated in over 761 dives.”

Check it out at www.DiveWarriors.org

Mirman also has been asked to sit on the board of directors of an organization called Veterans Holiday Celebration (VHC). For 18 years on the first Sunday in December, VHC has fed more than 3,000 veterans and their families.

"This year our goal is to feed over 5,000," says West Coast Tire Vice President Stacy Mirman-Eisenberg. "Many of the veterans are homeless, so we will be providing transportation from all over Los Angeles so they can attend."

The organization already has organized hundreds of volunteers, but can use more help. To learn more about VHC, visit www.vhcevent.org. One hundred percent of all donations go directly to this event.

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