I was shocked to discover this story in the back pages of the Business Section of my daily paper, rather than on one of the food news feeds I get. But that just underlines the stealth aspect of this new test marketing initiative focusing on fresh-made Salads to compete with McDonalds…
Tim Hortons has been making the Business pages for the last couple of years not only for it’s high-profile acquisition by Burger King but for its continuing efforts to make its menu ‘healthier’ and offer selections that will set it apart from the competition.
There are two new Tim’s Salads under test: Caesar and Garden. Each has its own carefully-selected dressing.
First of all, they’re made fresh, within view of the customer. That is intended to underline the Freshness of the food. McDonald’s and high-end competitor Starbucks buy in Salad Mixes in portion-sized bags – Salad Kits, if you will – and simply pour them out into serving containers when ordered.
But food service industry observers caution that pledging to make salads fresh, to order, right in front of the customer has definite drawbacks, especially for a fast-service operation. If there’s a massive positive response for the new Salads, it could mean slowdowns and traffic jams at the order counter.
Another issue, in the eyes if observers, is the difficulty of providing individual ingredients (to be combined per the customer’s order) consistently on a daily basis. Do Tim’s outlets have enough refrigerator space to store, say, three days worth of those supplies? How much extra training will it take to ensure that Tim’s staff make salads properly, with proper amounts of ingredients, offering consistent value for the buck?
Hence, the stealth roll-out…
These questions and more are probably the reason Tim’s has been so secretive about the Custom Salad test marketing program. As one industry guru noted, they probably want to make sure they’ve got it right before they start blowing the fanfare over it. Kudos to Tim’s for that piece of good thinking.
We’ll keep an eye out for further info on Tim’s Stealth Salad Program and pass it on to you…
~ Maggie J.