Staff shortage: solve it without personnel
- Amber Kuipers
- 24 Feb 2023
- 2 min
- Managing and growing
You have posted job vacancies. Family and friends have searched with you, but you cannot find new employees. Hiring a self-employed professional is too expensive. A little longer and you have to close down because you have no staff to run your business. Or not? Two entrepreneurs from the hospitality and logistics sector tell how, thanks to technology, they do the same work with fewer staff, without working overtime.
One form of technology is robots. Robots replace or reduce work and they solve routine jobs. Big investment? A checkout robot in a restaurant will pay for itself in as little as a year.
Hospitality industry: Robots in service
When restaurant FoodExplore could not find enough new staff after the corona crisis, owner Deon Poon bought three types of robots. The robots support the existing staff. "At the reception desk is robot Bella. She guides guests to their table and sometimes sings a birthday song at the table. In the eating area, there are three other robots called pudu. The pudu's collect dishes from the tables and put them on a work cart. And we have two Billy's. Those pick up the dirty dishes from the work carts and bring them to the rinsing kitchen."
Poon says customers respond well to the robots. "In the beginning, our guests reacted with surprise to the robots we had in the restaurant. We are now a year on and most customers are used to them."
"Each type of robot has its own price tag, but on average a robot for the catering industry costs €10,000. You have almost no other costs besides power costs, because a robot requires little maintenance."
"The robots have a long lifespan, which makes them very valuable. A robot does about as much work as half a full-time employee. Our goal is not to save money, but to improve the guest experience. Our staff now deliver better service. With the presence of the robots, our staff are now more responsive to guests and have more time to explain the menu, for example."
Stock management with a drone
Logistics company Schavemaker Logistics Solutions counts stock using a drone. Logistics manager Arnoud Paans explains that counting stock is a time-consuming process. "In logistics, you build up stock to sell delivery shortages. You also replace stock regularly as the range changes. So, employees regularly count stock. While counting, employees always remove a pallet from the rack. Because of the current staff shortage, we wanted to free up employees for other work. So we started to investigate whether stock counting could be automated. Our software supplier Arox Logistics IT is developing a drone that can fly through the warehouse independently, automatically checking the stock."
"Depending on the size of the warehouse, a drone costs between €2,500 and €5,000 per month.
"We were able to free up 2 employees for other work because of this solution. The investment was recouped within 12 months.
Where to start?
Buying a robot can be exciting. It requires knowledge, time and money. Also, it is not immediately clear what it will get you. So, start with the following steps.
Map out your business processes.
- Investigate which activities take up the most time.
- Use the Quickscan (in Dutch)of SME Robotises to check for which processes you can use a robot.
- Think about whether you need a physical or software robot.
- Spar with a KVK adviser (0800-2117) or a branch association (in Dutch) about your options.
- Get help from a student at Workshop for Digital Entrepreneurship (in Dutch).
No budget for a drone or robot? Explore your financial options, take out a business loan or apply for a subsidy. Entrepreneurs in Zuid-Holland in the retail and hospitality sector can apply for a subsidy of at least €1,000 and a maximum of €2,500 via MKB Digitaliseringsvoucher (in Dutch).
Do you want to know how others deal smartly with staff shortages? Watch the video series Smarter Entrepreneurship (Slimmer Ondernemen). English subtitles are available.