PetroCONNECT Gives PRP Solutions Two Thumbs Up

PetroCONNECT, a local consultancy and agency for petrol service stations across South Africa, approached PRP Solutions in 2019 to assist with the supply of smart solutions for the multiple HR challenges that face PetroCONNECT customers (petrol station owners and managers).

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PetroCONNECT, a local consultancy and agency for petrol service stations across South Africa, approached PRP Solutions in 2019 to assist with the supply of smart solutions for the multiple HR challenges that face PetroCONNECT customers (petrol station owners and managers). The implementation of PRP Solutions’ technology – namely the Honeycomb portal, Bee Series biometric time management system, and the Buzz Employee App – has enabled financial savings of 10 – 20% (site specific) and also optimised managerial administration significantly.  

“One of our mandates is to mentor retailers who are new to the industry. They don’t necessarily come from an HR background, but are thrown into the management of service stations, where they need assistance with a basket of HR functions,” explains Sbonelo Mbatha, Co-Founder and Director, PetroCONNECT. In addition, many of these customers manage multiple sites and thus cannot be on-site every day, to manage personnel and operations directly. 

The challenges facing PetroCONNECT’s customers included:

  • Manual processes and record-keeping. Not only was this highly inefficient, but it exposed service station managers to the risk of non-compliance, and of lost or stolen records, etc. 
  • Employee time-keeping. The cumulative cost of employees arriving at work, just 5 minutes late, is significant. Consider this scenario: Staff are 5 minutes late for every shift. If the manager has 30 staff, then the business “loses” 150 minutes. Each employee works 15 shifts each month, which means the business loses 2 250 minutes every month (or 37 hours). If the hourly rate for staff is, for example, R35, then the business is losing R1 295 each month. In a year, the business loses R15 540 to tardiness or early departure. 
  • Management of overtime, paid leave, etc. Manual processes are inefficient and error-filled.
  • Staff discipline, including time-keeping, policy compliance, accountability for day-to-day task management, etc.
  • Rostering and scheduling, which was time-consuming and inefficient, and especially challenging for those station managers/owners who cannot be on-site permanently. 
  • Processing of monthly payroll, on time. For many PetroCONNECT customers using manual payroll systems, this process was time-consuming and inefficient. For those managing multiple sites, monthly payroll took days to complete, with managers travelling from one site to the next to process payroll documentation.
  • Validation and verification of personnel. “Most of our dealers would have, at some point, paid an employee who doesn’t exist, or double paid an employee who registered on the payroll with different bank accounts, under different names,” says Mbatha. 

Digitisation and automation drive productivity and enhance efficiency 

The Honeycomb platform from PRP Solutions is a cloud-based (secure) solution that seamlessly integrates with existing HR and payroll systems, and automates different management and administrative tasks. This includes planning of resources for various operations and tasks, and the execution of payroll functions. It enables real-time, agile and highly efficient management of employees (even if the manager is not on-site). 

As a result, PetroCONNECT’s rostering is now quick and easy, while overtime has been brought down to acceptable levels. “The system saves a lot of time. I don’t think there is any business owner who wouldn’t want that. It provides a great overview of the business, and it lends us traceability. It consolidates information from multiple sites, giving the manager a full view of the business and its operations,” comments Walter Mbambo, Industrial and Employee Relations Advisor, PetroCONNECT.

The Honeycomb is accessed via laptop or mobile phone, any time, allowing the user to see which staff are on duty or who clocked in late. “The system enables the user to authorise payroll, on the go. Its notifications make the user feel comfortable in the knowledge that their service station sites are operating properly, even when the manager is not present on-site,” says Mark Harper, Co-Founder and Director, PetroCONNECT. 

Employee verification is streamlined via the Honeycomb, according to company policy and is completed when a new employee is on-boarded, negating the risk of fraudulent staff profiles. “South Africa has very stringent labour laws. Employers should consider progressing to an innovative system that ensures compliance and safety of records,” states Mbatha. 

Prompting the right behaviour improves operations

Coupled with the Bee Series biometric devices (which clock employees in or out), the system has automated staff time-keeping, daily task management, and payroll. “Employees know that when they’re five minutes late, the system automatically records the tardiness which will be deducted from their timesheets. Knowing this, employees make sure they’re always on time. In turn, this improves productivity levels and ensures prompt service to your customers,” adds Mbatha.

The Buzz app for employees connects each PetroCONNECT staff member to the Honeycomb via their phone, enabling the system to send reminders and notifications (e.g. operational task list and a checklist which the employee must complete with the upload of time-stamped photos). “It’s not about micro-management. It’s about prompting the right behaviour and creating good habits, so that operations run more smoothly,” comments Harper. Smooth operations, with efficient processes and productive management, make for a more profitable business. 

A partnership for the industry

The partnership between PRP Solutions and PetroCONNECT is about more than the supply of cloud-based technology. As Harper puts it, PRP Solutions has the right technical and operational expertise to solution HR challenges, and this has enabled PetroCONNECT to better serve its customers. “PRP’s bespoke solutions couple well with PetroCONNECT’s labour expertise. Service station owners benefit from having data to support the resolution of many day-to-day disciplinary matters,” adds Harper.

Mbatha believes that the partnership will be driven forward by the extraction of useful data for the industry, which will enable the company to develop sustainable solutions to sectoral challenges. “PRP solutions don’t claim to know our dealers. But they’re open to new suggestions about what might work for the industry,” he concludes.

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