At 28, Tom Eisenberg is blazing his own trail as the fifth-generation owner of the family business.
He’s done away with direct mail. He installs tires ordered off Amazon. And he’s implemented a credit plan so customers can pay for whatever their car needs whenever.
“You have to change,” says Eisenberg about evolving West Coast Tire’s business model to adapt to the times. “A tire shop in LA isn’t going to make it. You need to have other business plans.”
But in order to take over and create change, Eisenberg had to prove himself to his grandfather, the iconic Bob Mirman, who passed away late last year.
Since age 16, Tom worked for his grandfather at the shop mounting tires during the summer. He worked his way up from a tech in his teens, to a service writer and straight up to assistant, then general manager.
“We have a big shop with 22 employees,” Eisenberg says. “You gotta show everyone you know what you’re doing, especially in the automotive culture.”
A pivotal moment in his career was in his early 20s as he was figuring out what he wanted to do. The shop was down a few guys, and he took on on the responsibility of opening and closing the two times a week for over two months, putting in 12- to 13-hour days.
Fun Fact: “Liars figure, but figures never lie” was the best piece of advice Eisenberg received from his grandfather as he started to take over more duties in the family business.
“At that point, I think I proved to him (Mirman) that I wasn’t messing around, and I can handle the shop and take care of it…. That was a changing point for him. That’s when he started letting me handle the marketing and handle things a shop owner needs to focus on.”
Eisenberg knows that long gone are the days when customers remain loyal to a shop. Instead, millennials look to Yelp and other online reviews for the best place to go. So, he took the shop’s advertising dollars out of the yellow pages and put them into SEO and Yelp ads. The changes, he said, translated to a huge increase in new customers.
As he continues to grow into his role as owner, he’s creating his own goals for the shop and making his name in the Tire Pros franchise. Namely, he’s an advocate for TireBuyer.com, American Tire Distributors’ online tire buying platform that allows customers to book an appointment at checkout.
He also says he installs at least 25 tires per week that get shipped to him from e-commerce sites like SimpleTire, TireBuyer and Tire Rack.
“I know a lot of shop owners refuse to install tires, which is stupid,” he says. “You’re leaving money on the table. Companies like TireBuyer should be the future for independents. TireBuyer is important for the industry, and if independents get behind it, it won’t get sold to a company like Amazon. Until that happens, the tire industry is going to be a stressful place for (independents).”
To keep up on the best marketing and business practices, Eisenberg listens to podcasts and reads the trade magazines. Everyday, he also reviews each ticket with his general manager to figure out what the shop could have done better with each transaction.
To this day, he follows one of the many pieces of advice his grandfather gave him and gets as much done as early in the day as possible. Then, he takes a walk, usually with one of his employees, to get a pulse on the shop.
When he’s not working, Eisenberg loves playing soccer, spending time with his family, working on hot rods of his own and going to car events.
But now at the helm of West Coast Tire, Eisenberg credits the industry for helping him find his path.
“I like what the industry comes with: it’s lucrative but not glamorous,” he says. “This industry is not easy, but if you run a good shop and you’re business savvy, you learn how to run a company.”