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Headlight Restoration


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Curios to hear what other shops are doing for headlight restoration services. We used to just wet sand then polish with a bottle of some turtle wax headlight cleaner. They looked great when we finished, but the problem was it didn't last. We then started using a product called Light Rite. It takes much longer to use this product since you are having to tape off a good bit of the surrounding area when you spray on the clear coat. It looks great most of the time, but we've had issues with it flaking later one, or not going on real evenly. It's also difficult to charge enough and still come out ahead time-wise. 

 

So I'm curious, what is everyone else doing and what are you charging? What kind of warranty are you offering on the service? I'm to the point that today I told the guys we are not selling the service anymore until we find a better way.

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We do not ever talk about cleaning the headlamps. We tell the customer that they will be able to see MUCH BETTER at night if we replace the headlamp assemblies, and we sell a butt load of headlamp assemblies.

Just 2 weeks ago we installed a set in a Chevy Equinox for around $770.00 and the client was absolutely delighted to see her new lamps in place. Last week we installed a pair in a 2007 Impala, and today I

ordered a pair for a 2006 Dodge Caravan. These replacements make for a very high profit job and a very satisfied client!!

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GREAT POST!  We also stock the Lite Brite System - seems to be the only one that actually works.  And like you, I have a hard time selling the job and making any money.  Especially if it is cold and cloudy out and we have to use the UV lite to make things dry.  And I have a shop around the corner with a sign out front doing the 3M job for like $39.95 with a "Lifetime Warranty".  I think I may change my tactics and sell more headlights.  :-)

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We used the Lite Brite system for a couple of years.  Some cars did really well, others we had to redo, some more than once. And as already stated, you can't do it on cloudy days without the UV light.

We eventually decided that is wasn't something we wanted to offer and we stopped doing them in house. We have technicians in the shop and not painters.  We do quote Factory headlight replacement and sell a few here and there. We also have made arrangements with a local body shop and send all of the restorations to them. Every single one they do looks better than any restoration we have ever done.  They put a lifetime warranty on the service and we have had zero warranty issues in the 3 years we've been using them.  They give us a discount if we bring them the vehicle or charge full retail to the customer if they bring it (that way the price is the same to the customer so we don't look like we are "overcharging").  This has worked out great for us and in this business it is always good to have a relationship with a body shop! 

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Unfortunately, we work on a lot of luxury vehicles. I've seen a RX350 set of headlights cost over $2,000 just for the parts, not counting labor, so selling a new set is out of the question sometimes 😬 and I'm over the comebacks. At this point, we've stopped selling the service. Until we can find a better solution that is profitable and doesn't have as many comebacks, we're going to continue holding off.

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We have experimented with several products (brush and spray) and I can't even remember the names of most. We have all the 3M buffing kits and products (which we no longer use except for the sander). All you really need to make it faster is the small 3" DA sander and make sure the the adjacent painted surfaces are masked off to prevent sanding damage. We charge $99 and just mask off the lamps,  sand them with 500-600 grit paper and spray them with spray can clear which works as well as any of the products we have experimented with. We inform the customer that they will last 1 -2 yrs at best. Yes over time they will sometimes peel , and the results will not be as good as headlamp replacement, but if you inform the customer up front it's not an issue. They know they are getting a temporary fix. We give the price for the alternative and that usually seals the deal.  They are typically delighted with the finished product. We are also located in South Texas so getting them to dry is not an issue. 

And if you're thinking about using aftermarket lamps I would not recommend it. I also have a Collision Shop and pretty much they are the standard for insurance replacement if it is not a current year model car or if you don't have an OE rider on the policy. Those things are absolute junk from the quality and fitment.  I can't tell you how many failures and lamps we warranty out. They are cheap and that's what some people want. Just understand what you're selling. 

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1 hour ago, Marksas said:

We have experimented with several products (brush and spray) and I can't even remember the names of most. We have all the 3M buffing kits and products (which we no longer use except for the sander). All you really need to make it faster is the small 3" DA sander and make sure the the adjacent painted surfaces are masked off to prevent sanding damage. We charge $99 and just mask off the lamps,  sand them with 500-600 grit paper and spray them with spray can clear which works as well as any of the products we have experimented with. We inform the customer that they will last 1 -2 yrs at best. Yes over time they will sometimes peel , and the results will not be as good as headlamp replacement, but if you inform the customer up front it's not an issue. They know they are getting a temporary fix. We give the price for the alternative and that usually seals the deal.  They are typically delighted with the finished product. We are also located in South Texas so getting them to dry is not an issue. 

And if you're thinking about using aftermarket lamps I would not recommend it. I also have a Collision Shop and pretty much they are the standard for insurance replacement if it is not a current year model car or if you don't have an OE rider on the policy. Those things are absolute junk from the quality and fitment.  I can't tell you how many failures and lamps we warranty out. They are cheap and that's what some people want. Just understand what you're selling. 

Don't know why we didn't think to use a DA. I have one laying in the shop, just collecting dust. Any particular brand clear coat you recommend? And are your guys spraying 1 coat, or multiple coats?

 

I was charging $147 and still dreaded selling the service.

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Use a small 3" DA, it's easier to handle than the 5 or 6". We've used Krylon, or Rust Oleum. Doesn't really matter. It's whatever the hardware store had. Usually 2 coats.  Just don't use "frosted" clear...lol We're not particular fond of doing them either. 

 

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

    • By Joe Marconi in Joe's Blog
         4
      Typically, when productivity suffers, the shop owner or manager directs their attention to the technicians. Are they doing all they can do to maintain high billable hours? Are they as efficient as they can be?  Is there time being wasted throughout the technician’s day? 
      All these reasons factor into production problems, but before we point fingers at the technicians, let’s consider a few other factors.
      Are estimates being written properly? Are labor testing and inspections being billed out correctly? Are you charging enough for testing and inspecting, especially for highly specialized electrical, on-board computer issues, and other complex drivability work?  Is there a clear workflow process everyone follows that details every step from the write-up to vehicle delivery? Do you track comebacks, and is that affecting production?  Is the shop layout not conducive to high production? For example, is it unorganized, where shop tools, technical information, and equipment are not easily accessible to every technician?  Are you charging the correct labor rate and allowing for variables such as rust, vehicle age, and the fact that most labor guides are wrong? Also, is there effective communication between the tech and the service advisor to ensure that extra labor time is accounted for and billed to the customer? These are a few of the top reasons for low productivity problems. There are others, but the main point is to look at the entire operation. Productivity is a team effort.  Blaming the techs or other staff members does not get to the root cause in most cases.
      Maintaining adequate production levels is the responsibility of management to create the processes that will lead to high production while holding everyone accountable. 
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