Marketing Advice?

Discuss all aspects of headlight restoration, including marketing, technical, and business advice.
cvilleHR
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Marketing Advice?

Post by cvilleHR » December 26th, 2013, 6:25 pm

Hey everyone,

Since this is my first post here, I'll start by introducing myself. My name's Alex, and I'm located in Charlottesville, Virginia. I'm currently a full time college student, and I work part time at Starbucks. My interest in Headlight Restoration stems from a desire to make a little money on the side, and if possible, cut back at the bux. Believe it or not, being a barista is hard and very unsatisfying work.

Anyway, I've been browsing this forum for a while now, and I know that Charlottesville would be a great market to get into, but I need advice on how to do that. I have the Delta kit and I've been playing around with cars belonging to friends and family, and I've been doing well. I have a website set up, and I'm charging a VERY reasonable price ($40). So now I just need to get my name out there.

I've tried Craigslist ads with no success whatsoever. I put flyers out on people's cars (and hated myself for doing it, but that's just me), and had no success. Over 200 flyers out, and not a single phone call. I've looked at used car lots, but they all seem to have someone doing it already. I still plan to contact them, but I don't want to count too much on that. I haven't explored fleet options yet, but that will come with time. Hopefully.

Any and all advice is welcome. I need to pay for the kit before I can invest too much more, so if it's possible to start cheap, that would be awesome.

Thanks guys,

Alex

P.S. I figured I'd throw in a few pictures of completed work, if it makes a difference. Sorry about the huge pictures.

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That last one was done in the snow. And let me tell you what, that's no fun. No fun at all. Still came out fine though.
Last edited by Kgobin on December 27th, 2013, 6:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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t4k
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Re: Marketing Advice?

Post by t4k » December 28th, 2013, 4:05 pm


cvilleHR
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Re: Marketing Advice?

Post by cvilleHR » December 29th, 2013, 12:55 am

Hey t4k, thanks for the response.

I checked out the link you gave me, and I'm still at a bit of a loss. I've contacted every dealer in town, and all but two do it themselves, for a much lower cost than I could ever hope to compete with. I'm waiting on a response from the manager of a used BMW dealer and a Toyota dealer, but with the amount of success that I've had so far, I don't have a lot of faith.

Retail's still not going well. The only responses I've had from Craigslist are spam, so that's out. My website is good, but I need a way to get it out there. I have a business page up on Facebook. I have a business page on Yelp. I'm really not sure what else I can do in terms of e-marketing.

Which leaves fleets, be it trucks or rental cars or whatever. But I have a feeling those are going to be a really hard sell.

Like I said, I really believe that I can make this work. And at $40 per restoration, I know that if I can get in front of the right people, I'll be golden. But damn, I'm having a hard time getting there.

Thanks again for your suggestions. Any and all others are still more than welcome.

-Alex
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candyman
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Re: Marketing Advice?

Post by candyman » December 30th, 2013, 4:58 am

Most dealers do a quick polish with a buffer and out the door it goes for used cars. concentrate on detail shops , and work your FB since you seem to know how. Put your business card on every medium to high end car or truck that you see , that needs a HLR. Also look around at work vehicles. Phone company, Directv, Cable, Contractors. I did 3 HLRs Saturday on a, Buick, Freightliner dump truck & a Peterbilt tractor. I have 5 more to do today, while they are parked for the holiday. Heavy rain Sunday , or I would have done them then. Think and look around. Dont waste your time chasing old cars. The owners rarely spend money.
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cvilleHR
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Re: Marketing Advice?

Post by cvilleHR » December 30th, 2013, 10:45 pm

Thanks candyman, I'll look into that. I got a very encouraging response from that BMW dealer, and I'm keeping my eye out for likely fleet cars/trucks. How do you get business from detail shops? It seems to me that that would be a service they already have. I guess I could ask to put out informational flyers/business cards if they didn't though...

Like I said, getting out there is proving to be more difficult than expected, but I have a feeling that things will be great once I build up a reputation. So far, my FB is limited to friends and family. I really don't have the money for their exorbitant advertising prices, so how do you guys get likes? Is it mostly "word of mouth", or do you have a trick to it?

Thanks again,

Alex
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Re: Marketing Advice?

Post by Old Blue 66 » December 31st, 2013, 7:58 am

Provide your service as a menu item in the service department at car dealers. They sell your service at a profit and you get calls. Tell them what day your in the area and they will scedule cars for those days. We are in a lot of car dealers in both the used car department and the service department. Make sure you hit the import stares like Honda, Toyota and BMW. They will be calling.
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cvilleHR
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Re: Marketing Advice?

Post by cvilleHR » January 17th, 2014, 4:14 pm

Hey again,

I'm having a lot of trouble. I have contacted literally every dealership within 50 miles. Most of them have their own person in-shop, and the ones that don't have someone that comes once a month and does them for $8 per headlight. And I can't and won't compete with those prices. The fact that the job I do is 1000 times better is irrelevant, they just want something that looks good for a week or two.

I have contacted every taxi, limo, and trucking company in town. No dice. They all say that they can't justify $30 per car (Which is all I charge if I can get a bunch lined up).

I have contacted every detailing shop in town. Every single one of them already offers the service.

At this point, I'm ready to sell my kit. Unless anyone has another idea?
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Re: Marketing Advice?

Post by cvilleHR » January 17th, 2014, 4:16 pm

Hell, I've even told friends and family that I will pay them for referrals. And I have not gotten anything.
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Re: Marketing Advice?

Post by chips1144 » January 20th, 2014, 8:35 pm

$8 for headlight restoration, I think someone wasnt being honest with you or they simply didnt really know what they were talking about, I dont know of a vendor who does any service on a dealers car lot for $8. Put this aside and keep asking real dealers.

Ive seen crappy work at dealers where a guy just sands it off for $40, and says "thats what they want to pay", its a joke they are yellow in a month or two, Dealers dont always know the difference between good and bad until they have had a really nice job done.

I would offer to do a free job for a dealer and impress him, then charge accordingly, try to read if he is impressed or not, that should give you some confidence, be sure to impress the sales guys too, they want rigs to look nice, give them some Biz cards.

I wonder if your advertised price on craigslist is too cheap, If I saw an Ad for $40 I would think its not going to be a very good job, I would expect to pay much more than that, I dont do headlights but maybe you should try pricing yourself higher, It cant hurt to try.

Last thought, sign on rear of your vehicle, Most headlights restored $79 a pair what ever you decide, Call (your phone number).
Make it pop, make it easy to read, plain and simple.

I wish you well.

cvilleHR
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Re: Marketing Advice?

Post by cvilleHR » March 19th, 2014, 9:15 pm

It's been a while, I figured I'd give an update.

Still absolutely no luck with marketing to individuals. I've done craigslist ads, flyers, handouts, you name it. I even did a series where I offered free restorations in return for social network sharing. Not a single hit.

I've had slightly more luck with the small, back-yard dealerships on the outskirts of town. I show up, do a free demo, try to talk them into it. One of the four turned me down before I got through the door. One gave me a list of eight cars and said that he would be calling regularly. The other two were exceedingly impressed, but no matter how many times I check in with them, they're still "waiting on approval from the manager".

I emailed Carmax today, in the vain hope that I could pick up such a huge dealership. The person who got the email forwarded it to their manager and to the head of the Virginia dealerships in Richmond. I'm not expecting to hear back.

I can't afford to put stickers on my car, and frankly, I don't know if they'd fit (I drive a Miata. Getting my toolkit in and out is hilarious.). Plus, I drive like an a$$hole, and I'm not sure I want my name and number plastered there for everyone to see.

Any more suggestions? I still have hope that this could take off, but damn it's been hard work for such small returns.

Thanks,

CvilleHR.
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