Great news for all mechanics, hobbyists and other DIY and car enthusiasts. Venyard has the self-service concept to end all self-service concepts. With an entirely unique look & feel and online/offline experience that’s changing the vehicle recycling sector.
Tekst André Bisschop
Fotografie Verse Beeldwaren
A green banner lines the perimeter fencing, upon which the promises leap out alongside the contrast-rich logo. The founders of Venyard are no stranger to the secrets of great branding. Only four years previously, the site played host to a desperately hopeless eyesore in Roosendaal. Today, visitors will find 1,250 cars neatly ordered, each with their own spacious plot on the 25,000 m2 paved Walhalla for car enthusiasts, ready to be stripped.
Visitors are greeted by an informative clerk, dressed neatly in black and ready to layout the unique concept. Clients are familiar with the process and house rules in no time flat. Before visitors can enter the yard, they are asked to sign a mandatory safety statement. This document includes key guidelines such as a ban on open shoes, smoking, dogs and children. Jacks, welding equipment and cutting torches are also most unwelcome, along with food and beverages. While Venyard may feel like an amusement park to many of our enthusiastic visitors, especially with our selection of hits streaming throughout the terrain, it is more reminiscent of a large, modern open-air museum. “Ikea for car parts”, summarises the clerk.
Martijn Traas and Wim van der Ven are the brains behind Venyard. The idea came to them six years ago during an exchange trip to the US. They were instantly impressed by the American self-service yards, “but we weren’t sure if the concept would be a hit at home. You need a large plot of land and many cars,” explains Traas, Van der Ven Autos’ financial director. After crunching the numbers time and again, he concluded that the investment would cover itself as long as the demand for car parts stayed as high as it was. When the opportunity to buy up the excavation site behind their existing car recycling facility presented itself, Traas and Van der Ven were ready to take the leap. It took them three years to transform the yard to what it is today. “We took the American yards as our muse and infused it with our own insights. We added online components and developed powerful branding.” Countless loads of soil, a thick layer of asphalt, a kilometre of fencing, 40 lampposts with speakers and security cameras and one new reception hall later, the Venyard opened its doors on 15 February 2019.
Each car is placed in its own, numbered space. All of our vehicles are suspended 40 centimetres above the ground and the body is firmly planted on cement blocks so that the vehicle is stable while clients are working. We planned for a spacious 1.5 metres between the vehicles, which are organised by brand. “It’s very orderly and well-organised”, says a client while tackling a Ford engine block. He takes a satisfied look at the result of his work. “I’m proud of what I managed to achieve.” This satisfaction is one of the welcome side effects of self-service. People have a higher regard for businesses that offer the opportunity to contribute. A British study showed that clients are even prepared to pay more for a product that they can independently take apart or put together.
A car hangs around for about three months. What’s sold is sold. “If a good deal of parts is removed and we have a new, complete model coming in, we exchange them directly,” explains Traas. “A car doesn’t necessarily need to generate the maximum revenue.” Most cars in the Venyard are ten years or older. Some models are younger and draw more attention, together with rare vehicles and models from the Youngtimer segment. “We gauge exactly what our market is looking for”, says Traas. “This allows us to react dynamically and determine which cars we’re looking for.”
Repurposing parts is a high level of recycling. “It’s a great step toward the cradle to cradle initiative”, says Traas. A year ago, each of the cars that make their way to the Venyard would otherwise have been sent directly to the recycling depot. Parts in high demand are removed, materials are separated and the wreck is then prepped for the shredder. “Parts with quick turnaround are placed in the warehouse. It’s not possible to remove and store all 400 components from the car”, explains Traas. “This just wasn’t a lucrative model. Frustrating because we often receive requests for original parts from older years.” This makes the self-service yard the best thing since sliced bread. More parts are sold and repurposed, and less new products are made. Better for the environment, a significant reduction in CO2emissions, “and good news for the client’s wallet” adds Traas.
Clients enter via one side of the terrain and leave via the opposite side. A bag check is conducted at either end to prevent any confusion. With the interactive map on the website and the Venyard app, clients can view exactly which model of which make is at which space. Transactions are processed in real-time so that clients can see which parts have already been removed from the vehicle. “We didn’t want any clients making the trip for nothing”, says Traas. When clients are searching for a special model that isn’t on the yard, they can register for an email alert. When ‘their car’ arrives, they receive a message letting them know exactly where the car is. Each part has a set price. A lamp is a lamp, whether it’s from a Mercedes, Opel or Daihatsu. We also provide a month warranty. “You take what you need, place it in your shopping cart and check out. If the part doesn’t work, it can be returned or exchanged for another.” Visitors can also rent tools at the checkout. The deposit is returned together with the tools. “We aim for a high level of accessibility. Pretty much anyone who can hold a screwdriver can manage here.”
We have a wide range of clients. Everyone from professional mechanics and DIY and car enthusiasts with a surprisingly high number of women who enjoy working on cars or supporting their partner. We credit this to the welcoming atmosphere and the tidy appearance. A young woman visiting with her father happily confirms this. “We want to keep things orderly and tidy and put a great deal of energy into achieving this”, says Wim van der Ven who manages operational processes within the organisation. The liquids and batteries have been removed from the cars and if you remove something that still contains liquid, you are given a drip tray to collect it. This concept can no longer be compared to those demolition plants where wrecks were lying three stories high in a meadow.” Thanks to the asphalt, the ground is mud-free and lighting ensures that customers can also work in the dark. After 90 reviews, Venyard scores 4.8 stars on Google. “It makes people happy. Recently, a real estate agent was looking for a seat for her 2-year old Fiesta”, tells Van der Ven “She had already seen had online that we had one in the exact same colour. The seat cost 25 euros. After chartering a local mechanic to stop by and collect the seat, her car was spruced back up to its former glory. It cost a modest 75 euros and she is so pleased with the result that she now tells everyone who will listen. You never used to see a woman like that independently looking for replacement car parts. With Venyard, we’re really reaching out to a new audience.”