Headlight restoration: Lighting the way

Headlight restoration: Lighting the way

Clear headlights are important for visibility. Keep your customers safe with the proper restoration procedures.

Headlight restoration is a popular topic among professional detailers, carwashes and even consumers.  While there are many over-the-counter kits available that produce great results, there still seems to be hesitation on the part of some consumers to attempt this job on their own due to lack of knowledge, time or overall confidence in their abilities. This is where a huge opportunity exists for you as a business owner to provide a highly needed and profitable service.

Bring safety to light

If you think about headlight repair, the obvious reason for this service is appearance. If a customer brings you his or her vehicle to make the paint or interior look better, it is almost a given he or she wants the headlights to look new as well. That said, many of your customers do not realize the safety factor built into clean and clear headlights.

As headlights begin to yellow and oxidize over time, their light output begins to diminish and can be greatly reduced, creating a dangerous situation of poor visibility. This means the driver of the vehicle cannot properly see, and others potentially cannot see the vehicle either. This safety factor can also be a concern in many states during the vehicle registration process.

The solution to these problems is simply education. The first step as a business owner is to ensure your staff is fully trained on both problems created by headlight degradation and the solution(s) you offer.

Many appearance care suppliers/manufactures offer instructor-led classes as well as online videos to discuss the process of headlight restoration. I recommend reaching out to your product supplier to see what the best option is for your facility.

Greenlight restoration knowledge

The next step is for your staff to be properly trained on the process of headlight restoration. There are many levels of service you can offer.

For light oxidation/yellowing on headlights, hand application is the best choice.

These types of hand-applied, single-liquid systems can be used with confidence in one step by just about anyone on your staff. This process is not only fast, but requires little training. Two headlights can be completed in approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

For moderate oxidation/yellowing on headlights, machine application will most likely be necessary.

This is a two-step process (plastic cleaning and plastic polishing). A dual action polisher, utilizing microfiber pads along with the proper liquids, is the best choice for this application since it is safe and extremely effective. You can expect this type of service to take approximately 15 to 30 minutes for two headlights.

For severe oxidation/yellowing on headlights, a full restoration is required.

This process will include multiple steps of sanding to remove the damaged ultraviolet coating followed by compounding and polishing, utilizing a dual action polisher, liquids and then, of course, adding a protective layer to the headlights. This process must be done by a skilled technician(s) on your staff and will take approximately 30 to 60 minutes for two headlights.

Be a leading light

By offering all three services to your customers, you are guaranteed to offer a solution to any and all types of headlight restoration opportunities with which you are presented.

The final step is for your staff to begin an effective dialogue with potential customers regarding the benefits of headlight restoration and the services your offer to meet the needs of each and every customer’s needs. That said, you will have select employees who are better skilled at conversing with customers, and you should certainly allow them to shine in this role.

By training your staff to confidently engage with customers and complete the repair in an effective and timely manner, you are not only able to increase your revenues, but you can build trust within your customers and community as the “go-to” for their appearance care needs.

Mike Pennington serves as global director of training and consumer relations for Meguiar’s Inc. (www.meguiars.com). With more than 25 years of experience with the world’s leading surface care company, Pennington is one of the foremost experts in the world for proper car care techniques. A lifelong auto enthusiast, Pennington is the epitome of Meguiar’s company passion for cars and surface care.

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Today, there are over 285 million registered vehicles in the U.S. According to a study from IHS Markit, the average age of these vehicles in 2020 is 11.9 years old, which is a one-month-older increase from 2019. In addition, as noted on www.caranddriver.com, new vehicles only made up 6.1% of vehicles on the road last year, and IHS Markit expects this mark to be closer to 5% this year after the research is dissected. 

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