Frank van Laar’s independent auto garage is hard to find without navigation. Since the 1930s it’s been located in the residential area in Pegasus Street in Haarlem. Behind a facade on the first floor that barely differs from that of the local residents, you can breathe in the atmosphere of yesteryear. In those days each district had its own auto workshop and the neighbors were the customers.

“That’s still the case,” laughs owner Frank van Laar. “We really get a lot of business from people in the neighborhood. Customers are happy with our service and some customers have been coming here since before I was born.” Frank is 49.

Frank’s grandparents started the garage in Pegasus Street in 1930 during the crisis years, and it’s been in the neighborhood ever since. Frank grew up between the tires, oil filters and wrenches. Once he had completed his automotive engineering training, he decided to focus himself fully on the garage and hasn’t regretted it to this day. “We work with a small team of three mechanics and two job-sharing on the counter. It’s manageable. Fortunately we have plenty of work with 10 to 15 cars a day.”

Upgrading

Frank considered moving from the neighborhood to an industrial area on the outskirts of the city, but is now happy that he chose to stay. “The rents are so high there and what would I actually have scored? The relationship with our customers is great and they also appreciate the fact that I’ve remained here with my company. It creates a sort of bond.” Frank decided to invest his money in upgrading his business instead.

From that perspective, Frank also focused his attention on the most difficult part of his business: automation. For this he chose Driver garage software from MivarGroup. According to Frank, the previous software that he was using no longer met his demands. “I worked with that package for ten years but in recent years it did not seem to keep up with developments anymore. Cars have obviously changed drastically, and so has the market. Their service wasn’t too good either. All in all I would spend a big part of the day on administration and administrative hassles and that was not the reason why I chose this profession.”

Anxious

It was not an easy decision for Frank to switch software: “Obviously you’re always anxious when making a big change. You also have to invest time and energy into it and you don’t know whether the new package will do what you want it to and whether, for example, your customer history will be transferred over properly. But I would recommend anyone to persevere. I even regret that I did not make the decision to go with Mivar earlier.”

Earlier, Frank sat on the Bovag automation committee and thus got a lot more insight into garage software programs. Through the Bovag ROSLA research, two programs stood out from which Frank wanted to make his choice. Frank wanted the new garage package to including an integrated accounting system in line with his business processes. Eventually he chose Driver and that brought him a great deal of peace of mind. With Mivar he feels well supported, something that his clients also benefit from.

Driver takes care of the complete workshop administration in an uncomplicated way: tracking relationships and vehicle data, buying in and selling processes, accounting, planning, and time tracking.

The complete Mivar solution

Frank not only chose Driver because of Mivar, but also for the total support that Mivar provides, such as supplying the hardware together with the software. The monitoring of the hardware and associated software is also provided by Mivar.

“Driver is also linked to the online shop of my regular wholesaler. This shop includes the technical information from TecRMI (formerly AIS from AuDaCon, ed.) which is also provided by Mivar. With this information it is easy to order the right parts and put it on the work order at the same time. For missing information, we use Mivar’s service desk. Mivar therefore offers more than just a software package. So it allows me to focus all my attention on the things that matter: my customers and their cars.”

“Automation should suit the company and not the other way round”