EBRD know-how helps Romania’s Ariola Prodcom

By Cristina Savu

EBRD know-how helps Romania’s Ariola Prodcom invest in its employees

The EBRD has helped Ariola Prodcom, a distributor of money-handling machines and systems from Romania, to strengthen its capacity to provide higher quality services by working with the best practice principles of Investors in People.
 
Founded in 1994 in Cluj Napoca, Ariola Prodcom is a distributor of money handling machines and systems.  Ariola offers its customers a full service, from consultancy on selecting the best solution, to installation, periodical maintenance over the warranty period and post warranty services.
 
The company’s service team covers the region around Cluj Napoca, while for the rest of Romania Ariola cooperates with 10 similar companies that provide maintenance services under the Ariola brand.
 
As the machines they distribute must be checked 1-3 times a week, the service department is Ariola’s largest in terms of staff, bringing in 30% of revenues and the highest margins. This is a very dynamic market where client satisfaction is very important, so one of the main concerns of Ariola’s management was to consolidate the internal structure of the company, as well as that of its partner network.
 
Team cohesion and internal communication were a priority, as team members and collaborators were spread across the country. Moreover, Ariola understood that properly allocating human resources to meet customer demand was essential for successful and timely delivery of services.
 
To address these issues, the company decided to implement the Investors in People (IiP) standard, a business tool launched in 1991 in the UK by the British government and introduced in Romania in 2010 by the Romanian Economic Institute.
 
IiP is a quality standard exclusively focused on employees and one of the best performance management standards worldwide. In a donor-funded project employing funding from Austria, the EBRD's Small Business Support team in Romania connected Ariola to Arc Consulting, a local consultant certified to apply the IiP methodology.
 
The consultant performed face-to-face interviews with company staff and collaborators in order to evaluate the company’s people management policies and proposed an action plan for implementing the IiP standard.  This included significant changes in the company’s people management structure and procedures, through job descriptions, evaluation processes, training schedules, and beyond.
 
The consultant involved Ariola’s entire team in the process and the 10 partners they work with to ensure that the same levels of service would be provided by all. Almost one year after the project’s completion the recommendations of the consultancy project have been fully implemented and Ariola has received the “Working with Investors in People” Certification – one of only 10 companies in Romania to do so.
 
 Since implementing the standard, Ariola has experienced improved internal communication, closer working links with its partners, improved customer satisfaction and positive organisational development.
 
The result has been a 10% increase in sales and a 10% increase in productivity per employee in 2014. Ariola also had better cost control in 2014, while the main business line involved in the project, maintenance, increased its contribution to total sales from 30 to 54%. Profits rose by 400% all while the company registered a decrease in service delivery time.
 
Upon its 20th anniversary in December 2014, Ariola reflected on how it had turned its vision and values into business success, by investing not only in its own people but in those of its business partners as well.
 
“The most visible project result is the increased cohesion of the team”, said Robert Nagy, Ariola’s General Manager.
 
“Without exception, every employee has grown on a professional and personal level, following trainings and workshops targeting team development. And in the end, we are happy to say, the customers were the ones who benefited most."