Monday, June 20, 2011

Tim Hortons (Ranting)

No matter how you like to call it, a donut house, coffee shop or a deli, Tim Hortons has become a household name for Canadians. I frequent it for its overly sweet double-double (double sugar, double CREAM) coffee more often then I should, not because of its ... humm at its very best mediocre coffee (in my opinion of course) or food, but for the sense of familiarity. The convenient locations, the familiar decor, the overly sweet flavors experienced when young are the few reasons for my return visits. Many memories, countless precious hours have been spent in their shops. I am pretty sure many loyal customers have the same sort of feelings and sense of familiarities on their return visits.

Tim Hortons has expanded quite rapidly over the last 5 - 8 years in terms of number of locations and food selections, offering more than just coffee and donuts but all sorts of sandwiches, soups and of course wraps. In terms of business potentials, one can clearly see from its constant queues almost in every single outlets across the nation. While one may judge by such observations as a positive sign, a simple act of actually queuing up for a cup of coffee would prove you otherwise, unfortunately!




Their potential will be hindered unless there is a significant improvement on staff training and particularly on efficiency! It is a fast food business after all! Over the past 3 weeks, I have visited quite a few Tim Hortons in different provinces (namely Ontario & British Columbia) and almost in all instances (both peak and non-peak hours) there were long queues. Queues can be a sign of good business but when one can see 4 - 5 staff behind the counter, 2 cashiers taking orders, being 2 in line, I had to wait ... let me see ... 00:12:23 (hh:mm:ss) for a single large cup of coffee that cost around CAD 1.57 + tax??!!! The same applies to the person in front of me who waited 00:13:12 for her single cup of mediocre coffee and good luck to the 10 lining up behind me!

I thought being in Hong Kong for so many years, I have lost the sense of so-called patience but I was not the only one complaining, the customer in front and behind me whispered "Oh my dear," "amazing! what are they doing?" "Are you serious?" "Can this line up another slower?" "Sigh ... sigh." Just to be fair, such situation happened not once, not twice but almost 95% of my visits in the last 3 weeks! In different provinces as well! Not an isolated happening here, trust me! Either there is something wrong with their division of labour or simply incorrect resources allocation.

For the time of 00:12:23, I could have gone to Starbucks 100m away, got my coffee, finished it while reading the entire sport section of any newspaper! When loyal customers are willing to wait in line for a single cup of overly sweet and creamy coffee, please don't ruin it by putting precious patience on the line! When the queue extends to about 15 people, please step it up, walk a tiny bit faster, grab that donut just a bit faster and pour the coffee (and push that cream + sugar dispenser button) a little bit faster. Am I overly demanding? Perhaps, but when one has to wait this long for a cup of not so great coffee, the loyal customers queue will start to diminish faster than one would expect. The familiarity / sense of belonging card will no longer of any value, once it is gone, it is gone.

A note of personal opinion, please don't jeopardize a potentially great Canadian franchise in the making with the current service level.

Feel free to share your experience because I know I am not alone on this ... ... usual rant of mine?







9 comments:

Miss Fong said...

lol, you are too used to the HK pace of life/service! If I was behind the counter at Timmy's I'd be taking my good ol' time too. :D

Joyce Lau said...

My husband, a French chef, tried a Tim Horton's for the first time in Montreal this summer. He said it was the "worst coffee he's ever had in his whole life." (Neither of us take sugar).

I think the appeal for people like you and me is nostalgia. I was talking to a Canadian friend in HK -- we all remember being students, freezing cold, everything else is closed, and heading toward Tim Horton's like it was a beacon in the snow, where we could get hot coffee and food for a few bucks.

But, honestly, as an adult who has travelled and eaten? It's not so great.

Also, being French, my husband refuses to like either bagels or donuts. So that doesn;t help.

Funny -- the Tim Horton's was only moderately busy and quite efficient when we were there. It was an unseasonably chilly morning (for summer) and there were some working class construction worker guys, and some office workers. And the line was very fast.

Joyce Lau said...

I wouldn't call it a deli since, for me, delis specialized in meats, particularly cold-cut meat sandwiches.

Jason said...

@missFong: I want you to try to queue up for one when you come back next time! please!!! argh!

Jason said...

@Joyce: nostalgia is definitely the word in this case, I still ask myself I choose to go to Tim Hortons the first thing I land or the last place I stop by before leaving the country. Perhaps it is something ... Canadian that made me have such a behavior. As for the quality of the coffee, am I being too kind in saying "at best mediocre?" haha ... As a coffee lover, an espresso drinker, I do think I was too kind in saying so as well but after-all, I still have "feelings" for it at this stage haha ...

As time passes, our taste buds often change for the better but memories will always be there for us to treasure.

HK Epicurus said...

@ Joyce and Jason - Coffee is a funny thing. I normally drink ANY type of coffee from anywhere in the world, with probably the sole exception of France. I even drink HK style coffee. I can drink and distinguish between all the styles but French coffees are even darker roasted than Southern Italian by default. I guess that's when the "nostalgic value" imprinted in our heads really kicks in ! : D

As for donuts, just convince your husband they're the same as a French Beignet (not New Orleans type!). ; )

Jason I love it when you rant, and it actually always makes sense!!

Jason said...

@HKE: that means I should try to Rant more right? haha ... thanks!

Steven said...

I miss timmy's! I enjoyed your entry so much as I live in Paris now, I have that craving too, makes me a bit homesick. Starbucks just doesnt hit the spot and although there is great cafe culture here its just cant beat coffee and donuts lol nostalgia...

Jason said...

@Steven: exactly! the nostalgia factor has a great impact on our daily habits, including below average coffee haha ...

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