Tim Horton’s Protests Spread Across Country

The Tim Horton’s War just gets bigger and sillier with every passing day. And, now, it appears that the fire first kindled in Ontario is spreading across the other provinces and territories. It’s time to clear away the murky misunderstandings and abiding untruths surrounding the affair…

Tim Hortons - Clifton Hill - © cliftonhill.comIf you really want to help keep the lights on at Tim Horton’s 3,000-plus locations
in Canada, patronize them, don’t protest!

Let’s start at the beginning…

First, there was the take-over of Tim Horton’s Canada by Restaurant Brands International (RBI), a holding company whose primary goal is to further enrich its share holders. Based on RBI’s previous record, observers predicted that Horton’s Canada would be stripped of all the things that made it  great thing to be part of. Long-term franchisees say being a Tim’s store owner used to be like being part of a family, and programs Tim’s head office coordinated and supported made Horton’s operators community leaders. Employees say they always thought of Tim’s as a great place to work. Until RBI came in. And lived up to its dark reputation.

Second…

RBI not only stripped all the corporate fat out of Tim’s head office, they also started stripping profits from their franchisees, raising prices for supplies and insisting that menu prices not rise to make up for the hit on franchisees’ profit margins. Franchisee support programs were slashed and the focus quickly settled on, “Where can we wring an other penny out of this system that we can send back to the shareholders?” Horton’s franchis owner-operators began to get alarmed.

Third…

The RBI guys in the head office stood up to the franchisees and said, “This is the way things are, now. Love it or leave it!”

Fourth…

A group of heavily invested franchisees came forward to RBI and demanded a fair deal. RBI stood fast and basically reiterated its earlier position, that dissatisfied franchise owners could simply sell out their businesses of they weren’t happy. The fanchisees countered with the news that, due to the RBI takeover and the resulting changes in the Horton’s policies, they would have to sell their franchises at a loss and that was entirely unacceptable as an exit strategy. RBI told them that was their problem.

Fifth…

The most concerned of the franchisees opposing RBI formed a business group – the Great White North Franchisees Association (GWNFA), and lodged a lawsuit against RBI on a number of accounts, not the least of which were misappropriation of pooled promotion and advertising funds and failure to support franchisees per their franchise agreements. The GWNFA is looking for (C)$500 million in compensation for their losses as a result of the alleged wrongdoings of RBI.

Sixth…

January 1, 2018, arrived and all Ontario businesses that employ minimum wage workers were hit with a staggering increase in the minimum wage, which the Liberal government claimed was just and fair and would be no problem for employers to deal with. Nonsense. Especially in the restaurant business. And even more especially for Tim’s franchise operators who were faced with a standing head office order not to raise menu prices.

Seventh…

Some Tim’s franchise owners responded to the new and untenable reality by cutting employee perks and breaks. Anything to help keep their heads above water, budgetarily.

ALARM! ALARM!

The Tim’s franchisees who performed Number 7, above, were assailed by protests and attempted shamings by misinformed members of the public who marched with picket signs at Horton’s locations. How misinformed were the protestors? They thought Tim’s was cutting employee wages. Bu that would have been against the law. How they got that idea remains a mystery to me, but it might have had something to do with RBI’s repeated condemnation of its unhappy franchisees as ‘rougue owners’ and worse.

And next?

RBI stands firm in its position that it has dome nothing wrong to its franchisees, and the GWNFA stands determined to see its lawsuit through against RBI. The great mass of the public who think they have an equal stake in the Tim’s War are still off on a tear fuelled by misinformation and a skewed vision of how business works.

How the business works…

In the case of Horton’s franchise owner… Business works like this: You buy a franchise and build a building to the head office’s specifications. You are into the bank for two three million before you even brew your first put of coffee. You remain confident in the head office and its time-tested franchise development plan Things slowly grow and, if you’re lucky, thrive. You begin to crawl out of debt. You carefully balance your revenues against your costs so that, at the end of every month you can pay yourself and, maybe, take a modest corporate profit.

Then, RBI takes over he head office and you start to have trouble paying yourself, let alone taking any corporate profit. The minimum wage is jacked up more than $2 an hour all at once, and you’re not allowed by head office to make change that could soften the blow. An incredibly public row with RBI blows up into a full-fledged public war and your franchise investment is rendered worthless by bad PR and bad karma.

To make things worse, misinformation that seems to grow out of the cracks in the sidewalks and propaganda from RBI are making the atmosphere smelly and foggy.

That’s what’s really going on, folks…

Tim’s franchise owners are NOT making windfall profits off the backs of their employees. They have been betrayed by their new Head Office, which has thrown the original franchise agreement out the window! If you really support Tim’s, or have an intractable Timmy’s Habit, support menu price increases so Tim’s franchise owners can stay profitable. Franchisees say an across-the-board increase of 10 percent would keep them from drowning. How much is your Timmy’s Fix worth to you?

~ Maggie J.

Posted under: Comfort Food, Food News, Food Tips

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