Just recently Restyling magazine had a conversation with restyler Diana Braschler, SEMA’s 2008 PRO Restyler of the Year. She and husband Rick Braschler own and operate Dealer Source Ltd. in San Antonio, Texas.
As 2008’s Restyler of the Year we asked her to share her thoughts about the industry and its current state of affairs.
RE: Diana, thank you for spending some time with Restyling. To get started, let’s talk about how long you have been in the business and how you got started.
Braschler: Let’s see. I worked for a competitor to start, and I am one of their “defectors,” if you will. I’ve been in the industry for 12 years now. I’m one of a dozen people who left and went on to start their own businesses. I left them in 2005, and I’ve been in business for four years on my own.
RE: What led you to the restyling business?
Braschler: I just answered a simple ad in the newspaper. I soon realized I was passionate about customer service, and this industry was an industry that I could flourish in.
RE: Realizing you had a genuine knack for this industry, you pursued that aptitude. I’m sure many of your peers had similar starts, but you became SEMA’s PRO Restyler of the Year in 2008. How did you achieve that?
Braschler: As I said, I’m very passionate about what I do. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I do know I am very much on the cutting edge of what we do. My husband runs the inside of the business, and I do the outside sales. Our company pretty much hit the ground running, and we have been able to be a cornerstone for other restylers and help them with applications, product and marketing. We share what we’ve learned to help other people be successful. I believe that we can all be great at what we do if we just to work for it.
RE: Helping others to do better business helps the industry as a whole, and that’s certainly a good reason to earn such a prestigious award. Given that status, I’m curious: How do you see the restyling market today?
Braschler: The failings and damage of Chrysler, GM and other companies has led me to understand one very important thing: Keep a strong balance sheet in your business and be responsible. Then, when the bad times do come, the people that took care of their companies, their employees and their bottom line are going to be able to persevere over the ones that did not. In today’s market, you can see that a lot of companies have gone out of business. And, with companies like mine, where other people see defeat we see victory. That prompted us to open a new location in Austin, which week after week, is doing great. We opened the first of April.
RE: A successful new location is good news to hear, and it brings up another question: With all that’s going on with Chrysler’s and GM’s bankruptcies -”and even super-strong Toyota showing major cracks-” do you envision a drastically different automotive retail world that will affect restylers? With what will be far fewer dealers out there, what advice do you offer expediters?
Braschler: The advice I can offer other expediters is this: Stay informed and stay on the cutting edge, wherever that edge may be. If my market was to only sell leather, I would be out of business today. If my market was to only sell sunroofs, I would be out of business today. If it were only electronics, I would be out of business today. But the diversification of my products and staying in front of the technology has given us a foothold in this business. I think you’re going to see restylers emerging with a variety of products, and those who chose to stay headed in one direction will have the toughest time surviving today’s market. You have to be able to flex and react. When one market is weak, another is strong. When one market is cold, another is hot. You never know what the market is going to give you, you just have to be ready to catch the ball and run.
RE: Anything else?
Braschler: I tell everyone, “There’s enough business out there for everybody.” All we have to do is get out there and put into it as much as we can. If there’s not any business at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop. We’ve got to keep going until we get the business. We’ve got responsibilities to uphold, people to pay and families to feed. We don’t quit.