Veenstra’s Garage Grows in Leadership, Confidence, Sustainability

Can a shop management system make you a better leader? Mike Veenstra of Veenstra’s Garage in Grand Rapids, Mich., said it has. He credits the complete system of Shop4D – from the product to the coaching and training – in helping stretch his team to maximize their potential and achieve their goals.

“I’m a different leader today because of their coaching and guidance,” says Mike. “One of the underlying themes of their coaching is the importance of educating customers about repairs, which builds trust. It’s not about the dollars in the till, it’s about how you can take care of your customers and their vehicles. My techs like that it’s not about the how-can-I-push-you-harder-so-you’ll-sell-more approach. It’s about educating your customers to take proper care of their vehicles and give them the right information to make a good decision.”

Mike says that over the four years his two shops have used Automated Marketing Group (AMG) marketing and the Shop4D product, it has made it easier for his team to track their work. Shop4D coaching has helped him with compensation systems and setting up an all-incentive pay plan, which allows his staff to pull together and work more cohesively.

“I like that it’s complete and comprehensive, and my entire team can check their performance,” says Mike. “My service advisers can check their performance, the techs can measure themselves and see where they are daily, weekly, for the month and the year. With the click of a button, I can easily go in there at any time and do my reporting. I can measure my guys’ performance and see how we’re performing against my peers.”

By tracking their goals daily, it has allowed his team to remain focused and achieve their goals more quickly. As a result, Mike is proud that several of his employees have recently purchased new homes and a vehicle, thanks to the growth and profitability achieved through Shop4D.

Veenstra’s Garage has also improved its efficiency, saving time.

“With our old system, techs would have to go to the service advisor to discuss parts and other things. Now they have the system in their hands and can access the information quickly and readily. We removed an entire step out of our service and repair process,” says Mike.

One of the biggest differences he has seen in working with Shop4D and its marketing platform is the higher caliber of customers. The shop’s previous marketing was coupon-driven, emphasizing cost and saving money. But in using AMG’s marketing, Mike said their message shifted from being about low-cost car care to a shop where customers want to come and do business with you because your marketing builds trust and credibility.

“I’ve had customers tell me, ‘I got your mailer, and it talked about you being the repair shop that I can trust, so I came in,’” said Mike, of the type of messaging that resonates with customers today.

For Veenstra’s Garage, Shop4D’s comprehensive platform stood out from many of the leading shop management systems he has used over the years. Celebrating 43 years as a service professional, Mike is excited about the sustainable growth and profitability he has seen in the last four years. With previous systems, he says, growth and profitability were never consistent. His second location in Ada, Mich., has grown by double.

In his calls with his coaches, Mike is happy to see something he has not seen consistently before: retained earnings. “It’s nice to have money in the bank,” he says. As he looks ahead to retirement in the near future, he can plan for that season with greater confidence and success while handing the baton to his son to take over one day. Knowing that he will hand it off with Veenstra’s Garage thriving provides him with great peace of mind.

Not to rest on his laurels, Mike is still actively engaged in both shops but has a nicer pace to his work life. He has greater confidence in his day-to-day operations with the right shop management system infrastructure.

One of the best parts about coaching is the objective standpoint of the coaches who can see further down the road due to their experience and know-how.

As he looks to the future and opening a third location, Mike is grateful for his team that has made this success possible. “They get to be the best version of themselves,” says Mike. “That’s what we’re always attempting to do – to be the best version so the company attains the best version of itself. I’m proud of my folks who take the best care possible of customers.”

For anyone considering Shop4D for their facility, he says he can only point to his great results as evidence that it’s been a smart and solid business decision for him. “Of course, there is a learning curve [when you switch], but it’s very easy to get into the system. They make it easy to transfer the old data into the new system, and, I’ve never seen training like what they provide before.”

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