According to Fan Courier CEO Felix Patrascanu, the workforce crisis affecting Romania is also felt by his company, which is losing a part of its workforce to migration. The entrepreneur spoke at BVB’s Made In Romania Entrepreneurs Forum.
“We are in the middle of a workforce crisis, which is also triggered by us. There were a lot of people knocking at our doors who wanted a job and we thought this was always going to be like this. But the crisis taught us how to treat people,” Patrascanu said.
“At Fan Courier we are trying to manage it. We haven’t yet touched its peak,” the entrepreneur said, adding that Romania is not the only European country facing this type of challenge. “Germany has a deficit of 1,000,000. They are making up for that by bringing people from Eastern Europe, or by opening up towards migrants from Asia, for instance.”
Locally, the lack of qualified workforce is felt by the company. “Area managers say they find it people to hire well-qualified people. They are not well trained, because, overall, there is a disconnect between school in Romania and the demand on the labour market,” Patrascanu said.
In order to fill positions, the Fan Courier co-founder explained, the company set up its own school. “We had 200 candidates who registered, then after we called them, we were left with only 15,” he recalled. In addition, the company is losing trained staff that prefers to go abroad. While some return, “I thought Brexit would scare them, but we’re losing more and more people,” he said.
In response, in order to keep up with demand and competition “we must consider innovating and investing in technology,” the entrepreneur said. “Profits increased very much, but they went mostly towards investments,” Patrascanu, added. “We relocated on Bucharest’s bypass, where we bought 20 hectares of land, and are building there a sorting line with a capacity that exceeds that of our current one, bought seven years ago. We will go from processing 9,000 to 39,000 packages per day. This is due to the advance of e-commerce, which drew us in this ecosystem,” the entrepreneur said. “But right now, there isn’t any difference between our delivery services and those provided elsewhere in Europe or in the US. I am visiting hubs and see that we are not far from, or we even perform better than similar services in other countries.
“We have around 12 or 15 projects involving technology that are in the works,” Patrascanu said. “Technology is very important. We are pushing projects such as the one involving making payments by bank cards. A lot of customers asked us to equip our staff with POS terminals, because they don’t have cash in the house,” the entrepreneur said. “But there are a lot of online stores that do not want to join us on that,” he said. “Also, we would like to find a solution so we don’t need so many people in our call centres. We are open towards innovation,” he added.
Also, technology is useful because helps with avoiding mistakes, Patrascanu added. “We are afraid of discovering that there are 2,000 deliveries that were not registered,” he explained. “In the past, such mistakes costed EUR 1,000, but now they can cost up to EUR 2 million. That is why innovation is so important,” the entrepreneur added.