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Tim Hortons well-served to go back to basics

In this week's 'Everything King', Wendy praises the iconic company for seeing the light
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(stock photo)

There’s a couple of mottos I’ve always tried to live by.

Run your own race!

Stay in your lane!

I have thought for ages that these would be good business strategies, too.

While it must be very difficult to be in any business trying to stay ahead of the curve, it has got to be so hard to stay current, come up with new ideas and products and strategies.

However, sometimes I think less is more.

Take restaurants, for example.

I was reading an article recently in the Financial Post about Tim Hortons' 2020 strategy. Suffering from slumping sales and sluggish lunch numbers, the company went in to planning mode.

That strategy is what most of its customers have been suggesting forever and that is to get back to basics.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Executives from the chain have been rolling out the new ideas in a series of town-hall meetings.

Here’s what they are suggesting: Concentrate again on coffee, donuts, baked goods and breakfast items.

Yes, because that is what made the company great in the first place.

I know a little something about Tim Hortons, as I worked there all through high school.

Back then, there were donuts, cakes, pies and coffee. That was it!

Limited menu.

They made a fortune.

Again, I understand times have changed and progress is essential, but, to be honest, sometimes keeping it simple is best.

Once Tim's expanded into soups, sandwiches, chili, breakfast sandwiches, salads and, recently, those decadent "dream donuts," it just confused it all.  

Plus, if they did come up with a new product you might have enjoyed, chances are by the next time you visited it was no longer on the board, as it was a limited-time offer.

Customers no longer knew the menu by heart. That slowed everything down. Drive-thrus were never meant for people ordering a full meal with a million choices. How are the employees supposed to keep up? 

Plus, there's that timer displaying how long it's taking them to serve each customer. I can’t imagine the angst. While they rushed to make individual sandwiches, customers got angry with the wait.

So, I was thrilled to read that the big-wigs are seeing the light.

According to Duncan Fulton, the chief corporate officer for Restaurant Brands International, they are backing away from the crazy menu experiments saying, “While it is interesting to test burgers and cereals, it is not what we’re famous for.”

He suggests the chain will focus again on coffee and baked goods, as well as upgrade the drive-thrus and loyalty program.

He likely could have figured that out over a cup of coffee with some customers, but at least he gets it now.

I think a lot of businesses can learn from this.

Do what you do and do it better than anyone else.

Stay in your lane.

Maybe, it's just me, but I don’t go to Swiss Chalet for perogies. I go for the chicken and I think most people do. That’s not to say the other offerings aren’t good. I just think it's not always necessary.

Despite all the things we are offered at every turn, I still believe customers want to know when they go into an establishment what to expect. No surprises. Don’t fancy it up. Just give us what we want.

When I go into a diner, I want it to look like a diner. Spare me the high tables and chairs I need a ladder to get into. I don’t need rectangular plates. Don’t stack my food into a pyramid. Slap those pancakes on a plain old white dish and keep the coffee coming. 

Again, I appreciate it must be horrible trying to stay true to brand and remain innovative in this economy. I’m just suggesting maybe you're spinning your wheels. In some cases, it might be better to stop trying to be everything to everyone and just get back to basics.

Tim’s has always been a tradition. I’m sure it will remain so.

We love you and want you to succeed.

Just saying… it's hard to go wrong with a good cup of coffee and an apple fritter.

Now, about those new lids...

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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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