Every once in a while a person comes along who makes a profound difference in the lives of many.
For many in the tire business, one of those special people was Bill ``Coach'' Dimalanta, who died Feb. 14 at age 87 at his San Mateo, Calif., home.
To those who knew Coach or experienced one of his retail tire seminars, he was a burst of energy, a fountain of ideas wrapped in practicality, gentleness and respect for his dealership audiences.
His enthusiasm was obvious as he bounded into a room or service bay to start a seminar, arms flapping, voice rising as he lugged in a battery and jumper cables to ``charge up'' his audience. And his positive attitude was contagious, evident even to those in the hospital caring for him as he struggled against his final illness.
But for those in the tire industry, it was his astute business advice grounded in common sense that helped Coach Dimalanta stand out to so many people.
He had a way of keeping things simple, basic. Yet when you walked out of one of his sessions, you felt you had really learned something. And you felt fired up to follow his suggestions.
``In life you tend to overcomplicate things sometimes,'' said Dave Redfern of Bridgestone/- Firestone about Coach. ``He just always had really sound (advice).''
One popular seminar topic for Mr. Dimalanta was his five simple steps to a tire sale: provide a friendly greeting; show the product's features and benefits; overcome any objectives; ask for the order; then close the sale.
Alpio Barbara, a tire dealer in Redwood City, Calif., appreciated the simplicity of this approach. ``I don't care if it's five steps to introducing yourself to a lady you just met, if you do all five steps she'll like you,'' he said of the Coach's philosophy.
Mr. Dimalanta also was known for his insightful witticisms.
``Do all the ordinary things extraordinarily well, like answering the phone, selling a tire, meeting a customer-I'm not asking for supernatural things,'' he told dealers at one of his seminars.
Regarding customer service, he said: ``You want to wake up your customers? Show some action. I want you to grab your clipboard and run out there to the parking lot and greet them.''
To improve individual productivity, he reminded dealers: ``There are two kinds of people you have to take care of-the external person, your customer-and the internal, your employee. People are our most important asset.''
Those who knew him well said Mr. Dimalanta lived the life he spoke about so relentlessly in his seminars. He rarely complained and, when faced with a fork in the road, always took the optimistic path.
Coach was one of those rare individuals who for years made a positive difference in many peoples' lives-and had fun doing it. The tire industry was lucky to have him.