Tim's Coffee Mug - © Tim Horton's

Tim’s Tanks In Another Popularity Poll

We recently reported that, amid the war between upset franchisees and their head office, Tim Horton’s had nose-dived in an annual brand appreciation poll. Some said it couldn’t be true, but, now, a second ‘reputability’ poll has confirmed the results of the first. And that’s got to worry the Head Office…

Tim Hortons - Clifton Hill - © cliftonhill.comMore bad news for Tim Horton’s: Second brand survey confirms negative result of first.
The sun has not yet set on the once-great chain, but many franchisees
must feel they’re living in the Twilight Zone…

An annual corporate reputation survey by research firm The Reputation Institute says Horton’s has fallen to 67th from 13th place among the 250 largest companies in Canada since last year. But the research firm notes that 67th out of 250 is still a relatively strong showing. That’s probably no great consolation to Restaurant Brands International (RBI), which owns Horton’s, Burger King and Popeye’s, though. All the new survey really does is confirm the findings of an earlier Globe and Mail commissioned poll in which Tim’s fell from fourth to fiftieth place this year over last.

In the new survey, 27,000 Canadians, were asked to score companies on their products, innovation, workplace governance, citizenship, leadership and financial performance.

What’s happening…

By way of a quick update on the franchisee war, the Great White North Franchisee Association (GWNFA), which, at last count, represented more than 60 percent of Horton’s franchisees, had asked Federal regulators to look at claims they’ve made, that RBI reneged on contractual promises made at the time the chain was acquired and misappropriated a large cash fund that was earmarked for national brand advertising and promotion.

Also, A U.S. branch of the GWNFA has been established and it’s embarking on a similar official protest against RBI.


RBI has previously called the GWNFA a ‘splinter group’ – but 60 percent is a pretty big splinter.  And RBI says the media are responsible for drops in sales and popularity at Tim’s outlets in Canada, because the media have covered the conflict between franchisees and head office intensely and generated ‘negative perceptions’ of the brand.That amounts to ‘I didn’t do it – he did it!’, the last resort of the playground bully.

Once calmer heads prevailed, though, RBI came out with a program designed to restore both franchisee and customer faith in the company. Called ‘Working Together’, it’s designed to portray RBI as ‘nice guys’ who only want the best for their partners. employees and customers. RBI’s CEO has pledged to travel to all corners of the Tim’s Canadian empire to meet and greet the folks who serve the Coffee and the folks who drink it. No news, yet, of what kind of reception he’s getting, or if the plan is working.

In addition, RBI has decreed that the chain  will undergo a $700 million renovation, freshening up the overall store design, the decor and the Coffee-making gear. In fact, a major feature of the facelift plan will be the installation of new $12,000 Espresso machines in all stores. Originally, it was understood that franchisees had to pay for that, but, now, RBI says it’s picking up the tab.

Where it’s all headed…

My take on the whole sordid situation is that RBI is doing too little too late to make a positive difference anytime soon in the company’s popularity ratings or sales. And it appears that RBI has an even longer way to go to regain the trust of its franchisees and employees.  It will be interesting to revisit this story after the renovations are completed. It’s all just to so sad, to see how one of Canada’s signature commercial and community institutions has fallen into ruin.

~ Maggie J.