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Good morning and happy Sunday folks!
I am have done this with my own cars and am quite happy with the results. The headlights and car looks better; safety, appearance and even sale-ability comes from doing these projects. After some discussion with a friend at work, he is looking at creating a business venture out of this and looks like a great way to create some extra income, let alone becoming a full-time business.
Lots of shops are doing this now, and I'm surprised how expensive it is compared to the ease of buying a DIY kit.
I think it's similar to the restaurant pricing model for mark-up, and if you are willing to be the key salesperson and labor, you should be able to cash0in.
To my ongoing amazement, people are willing to pay pay pay for this...300% is a great margin, so I say take a step and fire a few bullets toward this one. Save the gunpowder for a cannonball, if this turns out to be a hit...you can always expand if you gain traction.
Great thoughts. I was thinking the same thing. The kits, retail, don't seem to cost much but you do get what you pay for. It takes about an hour to do. I believe it may just be a time and money issue for folks overall. It is easy, but how many people, including myself, pay for an oil change?
Then again, a headlight assembly can cost easily $100 used to over $800 new. I guess we will see, either way it moves, I will definitely share the results.
Thanks and God bless.
I've sold a nice kit from Equalizer, a bit more professional-oriented product, but really the kit can be built so easily.
Personally, I prefer to polish the headlights with a rotary machine polisher, the same as doing paint. The problem is, headlights can be very small, so it's hard to get even a 6" or 4" pad into the tight areas.
I bought a 5 1/4" backing plate for my Makita Rotary, and ground it down to 3" around, glued on a velcro backing, and now use 3 1/2" foam pads designed for a drill-mount. It works FAR better than a drill-mounted polisher.
Sandpaper, I use 1200 and 2500 grit, only 1200 if the headlights have very bad scratching or pitting. Otherwise, I only use 2500.
The other key to headlight restoration is protecting after. Headlights originally have a UV protectant, and if you don't replace that with something LONG lasting, they will haze over very quickly after polishing. This is the main part of the Equalizer kit, the protectant is rediculously strong and long lasting.
The kit I use has been discontinued, but here is the replacement kit they offer:
Which restoration system are you referring to? Is this the system that uses a buffer and polishing compound?
I first used the Turtle Wax (white box) for about $9.00 on my wife's car but was not exactly happy. After a month, it looks like it was never touched. I then used the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit, after doing some online research. Consumer Reports seems to have liked it, so I tried it. As you can see from the pictures, it is a big difference. I can also say that after a month, the headlights look the same. Now, I did not use any drills or such, just hands and elbow grease AND followed the directions to a "T".
After I showed it to a few folks, that is when one of the guys asked more about it. Talked about creating a bit of income and began to make a bit of sense. I tracked down the manufacturer through the MSDS for the Sylvania kit and came up with www.dvelup.com as the source. They are actually only about 30 minutes from my house in Lakeland, Florida.
If you buy their kit directly, it comes down to about $2.66 per assembly. Not too bad for what some folks pay for. I have seen anything from $45 up to $75.
If you read Dan's post, you can see his thoughts on this. My wife agrees with Dan. I did not see the fellow today at work, but probably have a chat tomorrow.
Any other questions, just let me know.
I love anything car related - but I'm not sure one small idea like this is enough to build a business. When I'm driving around in places like Florida I see signs for headlight restoration for like $15. I'm sure once they have you in they will try to sell other services, and I suspect that the best use of the idea. When you consider the time to find and sell one person on the idea - for what may be once in the life of the car - I just don't think you'll have enough margin. I use the inexpensive kits from Auto Zone or Advance Auto myself.
Thanks for taking the time to add some great input. I know you are a car guy also so that does help. I must agree with the once a lifetime per car just does not bode well for the business owner.
As I mentioned above, I tried the $9.00 Turtle Wax and was not that impressed. The Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit was quite impressive and has been so far. Consumer Reports rated it pretty high. Yes, its only been about a month for the Accord in the photos above.
The thought was that if someone is willing to pay for an oil change, maybe they would be willing to pay for this service. As I was asked to research this out, I found the manufacturer for the Sylvania product through their MSDS and they are at www.dvelup.com. They offer this at $2.66 per assembly, depending on the professional kit you buy. His thought was charging about $45 or more per headlight and see how this process works from there.
He said he has some friends and family lined up, so if that goes through I will post here as well. I can see your point in this being a non-recurring revenue stream so this could be an interesting experiment if he goes through with this.
Again, thanks Dan for your insight.
I agree Dan, this is an add-on package, and needs to be paired with something else to provide income.
I know of a LOT of windshield rock-chip businesses that sit in the mall parking lot and print money all day, as an addition to that business offering headlight restoration is a GREAT idea!
Now that I've put that into writing, I can't believe more of those rock-chip businesses don't offer headlight polishing as well?
I'm not wise enough to speak on the viability of this as a business. Dan Miller and others are much more qualified for that. All I can give you is feedback as a customer. I did a restoration like this on a 2000 Grand Caravan using the Sylvania Kit, which I bought at Auto Zone for $25. If I'm remembering correctly, it took about 2 hours and the results were amazing. Not only did it LOOK a lot better, but the lights PERFORMED much better (which, as you know is a safety issue). I was very impressed with the product and received several compliments, even one from the Auto Zone guy when I went back and showed him the results (he asked me to do that).
Since a replacement pair of lenses would have cost me $100 for just the parts and another $50-$75 for installation (if I didn't do it myself), I figured I easily saved $150 by using the kit and doing it myself, and that may be a conservative figure. But here's the thing, I didn't enjoy it. It wasn't hard, but neither is changing oil and I never do that myself 'cause I just don't enjoy it. And in the future, if I needed headlight restoration done again, I'd just pay someone else to do it as long as they could demonstrate that by doing it I would be saving at least $50 to keep from buying new lenses and having them installed. Any savings less than that, I would just prefer to have new lenses. So from my scenario, I would've been willing to pay you up to $125 for you to restore my lenses and I would've been happy with a $50 savings. Don't know if that helps you determine margins or not and I realize I'm just one customer.
In summary, if you were to try this, I think your USP needs to be the convenience factor. That's your "silver bullet." Since it does take longer than an oil change, you would have an advantage over any shop/dealer if you could find a way to do this remotely and come to the customer, while they're at work or shopping in the mall or something. Never know, you might even find people willing to pay you UP TO the amount of a lens replacement if you could come to them and keep them from having to spend two torturous hours in a dealer/shop waiting room.
One last thing, ever since I did my headlights it made me more conscious of just how many cars are out there with this problem. And they're not just older models either. So I think the need/market is out there, I just think you'd have to find the right combination of...
demonstration of need (looks/safety)
cost of total replacement vs. restoration
convenience factor ("I come to you, you don't waste 2 hrs. in a shop").
Hope that helps. Keep me posted. Now I'm curious to see what happens with it.! :)
Great response and loaded with fantastic information. I do truly appreciate you sharing this with us.
This definitely brought up some serious discussion for my friend and I. We kind of likened this to window tinting in the way you probably only have that done once per vehicle. We live in Florida so many cars have this. I think your assessments on USP are right on. The only way to see if this works is to get out there and test it.
Being a car guy myself, I enjoyed this and saw HUGE improvement. I had thought about this as a business when I restored my daughter's headlights. My thought was, how many folks would actually go to the store, get the kit (decision factor-which one), then actually follow the directions and restore the headlights, spending an hour or so of their precious time? I know Dan would and many others, because we are car guys. But so many others are not.
You are correct, there are lots of cars that need this type of service and being mobile would be a huge benefit for the client and more dollars for the restorer. A bit of a surprise was when my wife stated she now sees hazy headlights everywhere. Too funny and probable opportunity!
After doing pretty much all of this research and actually doing a couple of vehicles, I might try this myself to bring in some extra income. My friend and I work at the same place, but he lives almost an hour south and I live almost an hour north. So, with that said, I don't see any immediate competition and might even be able to help each other out.
"Safety-Appearance-Sellability(?)" / "Personal-Public-Fleet-Auto Lots"
Hmm, much to think about and discuss. I will definitely follow-up with this post so folks can see how this moves along. It is time to download Dan's Business Plan Guide.
Again, thank you Dean for your customer perspective.
That's it - just jump in and try it. There's not much down-side. Surprise us with some spectacular financial success.
Trust me, from experience, once you've got the system down, a 30 minute headlight restoration job will take you 8-10 minutes TOPS. I can do a really nice headlight restoration in under 8 minutes nowadays, although I prefer to take my time a bit. I charge $60 for both headlights, and I get it done in ~15 minutes beginning to end, with tools put away and all.
That's a pretty good hourly rate if I had a lineup of vehicles to do!