The Real Reason Tim Hortons Is Struggling To Stay In Business

In recent years, Canadian institution Tim
Hortons has found itself in a bit of trouble. Sales are down. Locations throughout the United States have
been closing. It seems that for whatever reason, Timmy’s
has lost some of its luster. This is the real reason Tim Hortons has been
struggling. Tim Hortons, the coffee and doughnut shop
founded by the hockey superstar of the same name, has long been a staple for Canadians
looking to get their morning caffeine or sugar rush. It’s the second largest coffee chain in the
world, after Starbucks, with more than 4,000 brick and mortar shops across nine countries. “Friendly service. Happy customers all the time.” When it started out as a small mom-and-pop
storefront in Hamilton, Ontario, it only had two donuts on the menu, apple fritters and
Dutchies. But it quickly grew into a national chain,
and later became an international powerhouse. But then, something changed, and not for the
better. In October 2017, a survey conducted by the
Canadian news magazine Maclean’s suggested that Tim Hortons is no longer the favorite
coffee shop in Canada. Surprisingly, it’s not even the second or
the third favorite. At the time of the survey, Tim Hortons was
trailing in at fourth place behind McDonald’s, Second Cup, and Starbucks. With a recent, unexpected drop in sales at
the end of 2019, the once-popular coffee shop appears to be heading towards a slow and unfortunate
decline. This raises the question: Where did this once-beloved
Canadian powerhouse go wrong? In October 2019, The Toronto Star reported
that Tim Hortons saw an unexpected and sudden drop in sales for the third quarter of the
year. Previously, analysts had predicted the company
would see a slight increase in revenue during that quarter, about a 1 percent uptick. But when October rolled around, it turned
out that Tim Hortons’ sales actually declined by 1.4 percent. Restaurant Brands International is the parent
company of Tim Hortons, among other fast food giants including Popeyes and Burger King. The company saw a general increase in sales
for its other brands that quarter. Burger King enjoyed a 5 percent increase in
year-over-year sales, likely due to the introduction of the Impossible Whopper in April 2019. Meanwhile, Popeye’s saw a 10 percent increase
in sales, likely due to their super-popular chicken sandwich. According to The Star, Tim Hortons brings
in about 60 percent of the RBI’s total revenue, so the slump in sales at the coffee house
isn’t a great look for the parent company. Restaurant Brands International merged Tim
Hortons with its other fast food brands in 2014, after RBI’s own parent company bought
out the chain in a $12.5 billion deal. Shortly thereafter, the company tried its
best to up the coffee shop’s profits and decrease its costs. Sounds like a good, rational business plan,
right? Not quite. In so doing, RBI evidently cut a few too many
corners, at the cost of alienating its franchisees. Alex Macedo, Tim Hortons’ former president,
told BNN Bloomberg in June 2018, “The second thing we could have done a much
better job in is communicating with them, and being out there on the road within the
restaurants talking and learning about what’s happening to the franchisees.” According to the Financial Post, RBI introduced
a stricter management system to the company, which franchisees weren’t used to. Employees largely felt dissatisfied with the
new direction, especially after a round of layoffs shattered employee morale. According to Eater, the number of corporate
employees dropped from nearly 40,000 to a little more than 1,000, mostly after they
sold off company-owned locations and started depending more on franchisees to run restaurants. After that, required remodels of those now-franchised
locations were paid for at the expense of the franchisee. Eater reports that roughly half the café’s
franchisees in the United States decided to take legal action against RBI in 2017. They claimed the company collected around
$700 million from franchise owners for marketing and promotional materials, but actually used
it for other expenses that were largely unconnected to Tim Hortons. In October 2019, Star reported that, “Restaurant Brands International Inc. is blaming
weakness in the cold beverage and lunchtime sandwich categories for a surprise drop in
comparable store sales at its Tim Hortons restaurant chain.” As BNN Bloomberg reports, Tim Hortons has
struggled to generate hype around its menu items in the same way that its sister companies
have. Tim’s menu doesn’t really have a whole lot
that the general populace can latch onto the way they did with, say, Popeyes’ chicken sandwich. “We have steak. Like our new mushroom steak panini.” But it doesn’t seem like that’s the only factor
at play here. Tim Hortons’ competition, places like Starbucks
and Dunkin’, have done a much better job at remaining relevant among millennials. One major reason might be the ambiance of
these establishments. According to Forbes, Starbucks is continuing
to grow, thanks to the company’s robust marketing and ongoing efforts to create a pleasant atmosphere
for customers to relax in. Think about it: You can walk into a Starbucks
at pretty much any time of day and find students catching up on classwork or writers typing
away at their laptops. Tim Hortons simply doesn’t have the same effect
on people, and that’s not necessarily because Starbucks’ coffee and pastries are any better. It’s just that Tim Hortons hasn’t put nearly
as much time and effort into making its cafés a cool and comfortable place for people to
hang out. Part of Tim Hortons’ has been its down-to-earth
approach to customer service. As The National Post puts it, “[Tim Hortons’] brand identity is so down-to-earth,
unfussy and defiantly provincial that even the vaguest suggestion of the cosmopolitan
is enough, it’s feared, to drive away regulars.” But “unfussy” isn’t exactly what people want
nowadays. Fast-casual dining isn’t as popular as it
once was, because customers are generally seeking out a more boutique-style dining experience,
one with careful and conscientious service. Tim Hortons has a number of menu items which,
if marketed properly, could be immensely successful in this ever-shifting dining landscape. The problem is, no one really knows about
them. Take their Homestyle Biscuits for instance:
They’re vegan, but Tim Hortons doesn’t really market that fact. It’s a shame too, since younger customers
might really latch onto the product, seeing as veganism has become so popular in recent
years. One of Tim Hortons’ shortcomings is its failure
in letting people know that they’re keeping up with the trends. Beyond Meat has certainly been having a moment,
even non-vegetarians love the plant-based burger, for its ethical sourcing, environmental
sustainability, and near identical mouthfeel to real beef. In July 2019, Tim Hortons tried to hop on
the vegan meat train, inspired by other fast food restaurants’ take on vegan burgers, like
sister-company Burger King’s Impossible Whopper. “It’s made of f—ing beef right here, you
see that? That’s beef.” “We swear, it’s not beef.” But a few months later, Tim Hortons pulled
the Beyond meat sandwiches from all locations except for some in British Columbia and Ontario,
which happen to have Canada’s highest density of vegans and vegetarians, respectively. In January 2020, Yahoo Finance reported that
Tim Hortons decided to pull the plug on Beyond Meat at all of its locations, due to a general
decline in interest in the plant-based meats. It’s not difficult to figure out why: People
associate Tim Hortons with coffee and doughnuts, no one is actively seeking out Tim Hortons
to satisfy their meat cravings. In 2018, Tim Hortons introduced a new lid
design, and many customers weren’t happy with the end result. “They’re making the change because the current
lids, as you may know, tend to leak, drip a little coffee. The new ones won’t.” In fact, even pop star Justin Bieber had a
few choice words for these newfangled lids, and none of those words were “Yummy.” In a December 2019 Instagram post, the disgruntled
pop star complained that, “these new lids are uncomfortable on the mouth,
and you get very little liquid each drink it’s a damn outrage and needs to be changed
back.” The singer even conducted an Instagram poll,
to which 70 percent of respondents said that they also missed the old lids. Then again, the CBC reports that many customers
weren’t particularly happy with the old lid design, and referred to the flattened lid
design as a “double dribble,” because patrons inevitably spilt a bit of coffee onto their
shirts as they sipped their beverage. But customers found themselves in a similar
pickle with the new lids. Evidently they’re even more prone to spillage,
which people haven’t hesitated to point out on social media. Some disgruntled customers noted that the
lids don’t allow for as much coffee to come out in one sip. Meanwhile, one poor soul even tried to push
the lid down to resemble one of the old lids, which evidently didn’t work. As the CBC reports, some customers are jokingly
selling “antique” Tim Hortons lids online for up to $200, because customers miss the
old design so much. Perhaps Tim Hortons customers are getting
their coffee somewhere else, where the lids are less of a hassle. Tim Hortons has added plenty of menu items
to its repertoire since its humble beginnings in 1964. But the coffee’s quality has remained rather
static over the years. Meanwhile, tastes have changed quite a bit:
As The Washington Post reports, coffee fanatics are drinking more gourmet coffee than ever
before. Specialty coffee shops are all about high
quality, ethically sourced coffee; think local, independent coffee shops that focus on educating
customers about the origin of their beans. Meanwhile, Tim Hortons’ coffee is certainly
better than your grandfather’s bitter cup of Folgers, but it pales in comparison to,
say, the fruity notes of a delicately crafted pour-over at that artsy café downtown. And customers are catching on: About 61 percent
of Americans are drinking gourmet coffee on the regular. Speaking to The Washington Post, a spokesperson
for the National Coffee Association defined gourmet coffee as, “[Coffee that possesses] at least one distinctive
attribute in the body, flavor, aroma or acidity.” Tim Hortons doesn’t spend much time talking
about the flavors and aromas of its coffee, or even where it comes from, so the chain
likely falls short for those customers looking for something special in their cup. Even when Tim Hortons tries to focus on the
things it does right, like donuts, the chain still seems to fall short. In July 2019, Tim Hortons launched an experimental
Innovation Café concept in Toronto, where the coffee shop had a more expansive menu. The cafe tested out a bunch of new donut ideas
like maple pecan donuts and, of course, Pumpkin Spice donuts, but most of these so-called
innovations have yet to make their way into general Tim Hortons locations. Meanwhile, many customers felt the few Dream
Donuts that did make it to general TIm Hortons locations left a lot to be desired…despite
having fancy flavors like Dulce de Leche, Chocolate Truffle, and Strawberry Confetti. Many people took to social media to post about
their Dream Donut disappointment. One dissatisfied customer tweeted: “Picked up one of those dream donuts from
@TimHortons. Zero filling in it. No wonder your sales are slumping.” Another gloomster tweeted to Tim Hortons: “[Your] dream donuts taste like a nightmare” In recent years, Tim Hortons has introduced
several new menu items, seemingly in an attempt to appeal to a younger generation of consumers. “Now that’s a sweet deal.” We’re thinking specifically of offerings like
the omelette bites. But since its inception, Tim Hortons has been
known for its simple, down-to-earth aesthetic, a place that caters to the working class. But by adding all these newfangled dining
options, they run the risk of chasing off their old customer base, and what they’re
offering isn’t quite good enough to bring in new customers. In 2019, MacLean’s argued that recent additions
like the aforementioned omelette bites and waffle breakfast sandwiches have the potential
to be great additions to the menu. But because of the café’s huge network of
locations, they have to forego quality a bit in favor of consistency: That means using
pre-made foods to streamline the process. Meanwhile, they’re ditching old standbys that
regular customers used to love to make way for its newer items. That’s a problem. But it’s not all doom and gloom over at Tim
Hortons. While they’ve clearly struggled in recent
years, the company’s leadership hasn’t given up on the fast-food chain just yet. As The Financial Post reported in January
2020, Duncan Fulton, the chief corporate officer at Restaurant Brands International, noted
that, “While it’s interesting to test in burgers
and cereal, it’s not what we’re famous for.” The publication also claimed that, “Tim Hortons is plotting a return to its roots
as a simple coffee and doughnuts chain, backing away from the frenzied menu experiments that
have complicated its kitchens.” Sure, the company has been having something
of an identity crisis lately, but they seem to be getting back on their feet, and they’re
starting to realize that customers want the same old Tim Hortons we’ve come to know and
love. They might also want to invest in a better
marketing team. “I think it’s very important to recognize
moms, because moms are the heart and soul of the community, so it’s very important that
we give back to them.” Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite
fast-food chains are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.

93 thoughts on “The Real Reason Tim Hortons Is Struggling To Stay In Business

  1. Oh Yeah!…..Cold Stone Creamy🍧🍨👌🏻🤤…Love Tim's☕🍵👌🏻 but I miss Dunkin Dounts🍩 in Toronto!
    Vegans are destroying the industry…Especially in Ontario…losers who STILL crave meat🍖?

  2. Short answer, it’s not just a coffee and donut shop anymore. Quality dropped massively because of all the added food gimmicks to try and compete with other chains. It’s a damn shame

  3. I’m sorry, but if your “coffee” 🥤 drink has more than 200+ calories in it, ~ it is NOT a “cup of coffee” ☕️.
    It is a coffee-flavored milkshake!!

  4. Well when it was owned by canadians it was doing well.. it was when Americans decided to buy it which wasnt the problem.. it's there american attuide towards it all.

  5. their food has turned into cardboard, why would I come here on a usual basis anymore. Only the Honey Cruller and Ice Cap is still good.

  6. Isn't that how it generally goes, corporate suits get involved quality drops, then profits and it's someone else's fault.

  7. I also started going to Starbucks instead because of their beyond meat options and they lost all the meat eaters that go wherever there are options for everyone

  8. Ever since Timmies was acquired by Burger King, their coffee has become trash; tastes watered down. I’d rather get my coffee from McDonald’s or second cup.

  9. It sounds like Tim Horton’s needs to realize.That if it’s not broken why fix it?

  10. Search out Denis Leary's rant about Dunkin' Donuts.

    You're welcome.😉

  11. Burger King is the fast food Death Star.
    Pair Tim’s with Safeway kick out that crappy Starbunks. We love Tim’s

  12. I am a diabetic…no NO SUGAR option at Tims. And I want a beef donut..screw the vegans.

  13. I'm never even heard of Tom Horton because I live in California I've never been to Canada

  14. Ever since they were bought up by RBI a number of years ago, they made tons of changes which forever changed the restaurant. Other than breakfast their other offerings are poor. Poor and super expensive food along with tiny portions. The food is cafeteria tasting. Bland and below average. Although Tim’s management Say the coffee is unchanged, it clearly tastes different. Not in a good way. Their so called specialty coffee are all made using with essentially vending machines. It’s like the ownership doesn’t know what to do with the chain. If they don’t figure it out soon, they may start to have to close locations as the chain starts to falter.

  15. There all so dirty now and they never give you the right things you ordered

  16. Did they ever think that the employees treat ppl terribly and mess up everything.

  17. When Tim's opened near me, it became.a hotspot because it's new. Tried it a few times but lost interest when I realized I liked the McMuffin and J.Co's doughnuts more than Tim's breakfast sandwich and donuts respectively at a fraction of the price. It was just overpriced shit.

  18. It's the new corporate goofs RBI they need to be bankrupted the goofs that they are

  19. The BEST coffee I had in years , Also Thank you Canada much LOVE from the USA : )

  20. Using national pride can only go so far, as a Canadian I have no problem consuming higher quality foreign brands then a shitty domestic brand. I have no problem if Tim Hortons goes bankrupt and disappear forever.

  21. F Tim hortons. Use to supply garbage cans, use to have customer service. Now it’s all about $$$ at any cost and hurry up.
    Ps. Go to country style. Donuts are bigger and bagels are twice as big and taste better.

  22. Some of the back of the house changes are pretty stark. All their muffins and donuts were scratch made in house up till they got big. Now literally everything is IQF. And their coffee supplier changed. Nestle Canada use to broker it all in, till Tim's decided to ditch the producer at the end of their contract because they wanted more money on the supplier end. That worked in McDonald's favor, because they swooped in to grab those coffee beans around the time they started McCafe.

  23. I remember Tim Hortons, and the donuts were not great compared to the other competitors

  24. They opened a bunch of these in New York and the New England states, and they've closed so many of them.

  25. Tim Hortons has lost the Canadiana identity to us Canadians after RBI in 2014… even though RBI is a Canadian multinational holding company.

  26. From fresh donuts to frozen donuts, changed their coffee brand are the major reasons

  27. What happens when you sell to foreign nationals. It's not a Canadian company and and most Canadians know this. It has become a bleeder corporation and the bottom line is more important than quality. Stop trying to become a restaurant and be a coffee shop.

  28. The problem with timmies is they dont have their own identity. They used to back in the day. But now they just follow the suit

  29. What they just said is great about Starbucks is actually what many ppl hate. Why do ppl think that Canada is only big cities. In fact many ppl complain about Starbucks cuz it’s fake big corporation that actually does very evil things and it’s owners always sabotage other stores seinf them

  30. Beyond meat is not actually plant. It’s plant based which can actually mean less than. 10# actual ingredients. As most of them actually turn out to be all additives and bullshit lab grown dangerous fake synthetics. Ya don’t accept gmo modification in any thing in any way but ya fine with lAb created fake foods

  31. lol Starbucks. Cup lids are actually produced in factor thT openly dumps all its wAsye in lot Nigerian waters. Also Starbucks Actual cups are produced using the most unrecyclable fit of Plath. There is. And the cardboard supposedly recycled. Aren’t recycled. It’s mid printed and mustang cups broke down Anne made to cups aka. They charge you money for others garbage n you thank em for it

  32. This is ridiculous it really seems lik. Ya saying timmies is failing because it doesn’t change absolutely everything for inconsiderate millennials who avoid buying things anyways.

    Starbucks is evil. They act liberal so ya don’t see th truth.

  33. Terrible cushomer service, horrible taste, I hate Timmy. McDonald's is such a great coffee!!

  34. It is because Mc Donald's coffee is better and their baked goods are shitty

  35. The coffee's good but the food sucks plain and simpl It's all frozen reheated stuff. For food Tim hortons is a last resort when nothing else is open.

  36. Still love their coffee, but the breakfast sandwiches are fair to middling at best. Donuts are average as well.

  37. Ever since Tim's was first sold to Wendy's and right through to this day it has been a downhill slide. Frozen donuts from a factory that get warmed up and called fresh. Not a single fresh ingredient. I guess everything changes … some for the better and some not

  38. Their donuts are terrible… they taste like they come from a package.

  39. Hire a bunch of Filthapino's who speak broken english at best and you wonder why.

  40. Timmies isn’t having a hard time lol at least not in Canada. Here in Ottawa there’s a tims on every street corner

  41. This is what happens when you take the Canadian out of such a once great institution. No respect franchise owners or employees, coffee not what is used to be, donut selection+quality+price is gone – so tell me why the hell would I want to got to Timmies? It's been McD's for my coffee for me last 2years, and found out they actually get their coffee from Tim's original supplier 🙂

  42. Because once they became a conglomerate, their quality has gone down to the point even many Canadians don’t like it. When they dropped their coffee supplier, McDonald’s snapped them up and is selling coffee as inexpensive as Timmies.

  43. the coffee sucks, and so many other places sell coffee and doughnuts for cheaper and better tasting…

  44. The majority of the people who work at Tim Hortons are turds, rude turds, who can't stir a coffee, despite the fact that's their entire job.

  45. there ripping you off half cup and told you lose but server won twice today that say's it all

  46. They used to make the best maple bars. I believe their downfall us when they kept adding items to their menu. They forgot the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid.

    Go back to what you are good at. You will win back your customers by consistency and quality!

  47. Where did they go wrong? How about the watered-down coffee and the airline-quality food? They just don't measure up to the competition anymore. Just compare a Timmies breakfast sandwich to one from McDonald's. Same with the coffee.

  48. You guys ignored the two biggest issues. First they stopped making the donuts and bagels fresh in store (I believe the soups were too) and second at least in Canada they lost their beans to McDonalds in the early 2000s and it has been awful ever since. Who's Mocha Joe without the beans?

  49. Coffee has been garbage ever since BK bought them out. I see flies in the display cases all the times. That's why they are struggling.

  50. I recently got fired from tim hortons so I'm salty but their Lattes leave a bitter taste in my mouth all day

  51. their lids which they havent been able to fix for like 10 fukn years should tell you something about them.

  52. rbi should get bankrupted and go to hell with their greedy ass, then tims may get back to what it was and recover

  53. I loved timmy hos in Kandahar Afghanistan even rush played a concert .

  54. RBI is majority owned by 3G, a Brazilian conglomerate who are known to be vicious when it comes to the bottom line. I used to enjoy Timmys coffee but it’s now tasteless and their food offerings are overpriced. 3G would probably insist the franchisees reuse the coffee grounds if they thought they could get away with it. Tim Horton’s best days are definitely behind them. Too bad.

  55. All the TIMS in Quebec are scrap the food sucks and most employees are not 100 percent there and slow as hell, haven't eaten there in years.

  56. Tim Hortons drive thru's take forever now and the donuts tastes terrible. Go back to baking them fresh in the store like Country Style!

  57. Years ago I used to pull up to a Tim Hortons and knew exactly what I wanted, a coffee and a doughnut. Now I pull up to a timmes drive thru, I sit there for 5 minutes just reading through their menu and the hundreds of new items they launch every week …. which are always a disappointment. My advice for Tim Hortons is to keep it simple and keep it fresh.

  58. Tim's used to have the best fast food coffee but it is not as good as it used to be, it tastes weaker now. Having said that, the Detroit area Tim's near me has hands-down the best morning service! The 2-for-4 breakfast sandwiches are also a good deal. While McDonald's has the same quality coffee, it is half the price of Tim's. The problem with McDonald's is that the lines move at a snail's pace. If you go in the morning, you better be ordering lunch.

  59. I love Tim Hortons, I even love the voice of Mashed videos but come on, you cannot pronounce "dulce" like "dulche", dulce de leche (milk candy) is Spanish, not Italian.

  60. The coffee started to have this strange almost acidic taste so I dont eat or drink here anymore.

  61. They make their food way ahead of time… Tastes like cardboard.. Orders wrong always..

  62. Well, the workers in Tim Horton have no union, no insurance, no pain break, no paid vacations, no discounts… you name it
    So how do we expect to get good service or a right order, it's crazy to believe it.
    Indeed, no one with self-respect will go there.

  63. So true Tim H. Atmosphere SUCKS! I don't mind paying a little more for their food if they can make it more welcoming and comfortable!

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