Saturday, July 7, 2012

Tim Hortons, Entrepreneurial Success

Dream, values, willingness to work, principles, service, quality … made Tim Hortons a part of Canadian life.

Those times I travel out of the country, I find myself anticipating getting home and stopping at “Tims” – somehow seems like I’ve arrived back in the familiar and secure. Seems a lot of us think this way in Canada. And jumping in the car and traveling right within our own country is often measured, for many of us, by the distance between Tim Hortons stops.

“Let’s stop and have a coffee.” You guessed it. Tim Hortons.
“You want to go out for a coffee?” Ditto. Same.
“Where should we meet?” Yep. You got it.

Now I’ll confess. Tim Hortons missed out on a lot of coffee money from me throughout most of my life. I never drank coffee until just a year or so ago. I never really liked it. Then I had an epiphany of sorts. Drinking coffee might be a substitute for drinking what I saw as too many sugar loaded products. I still barely drink any other coffee (still don’t care for it), but I can certainly entertain a Tim Hortons coffee. It’s become my gold standard against which others are judged.

And just for the record ... in case it crossed your mind. All those coffee cups you see in the picture above? Collected over time. I could never drink that much coffee in a day.

Well, the point is not my particular consumption or tastes in coffee but the fact that Tim Hortons is around at all on a national landscape the size of Canada and that it plays so big in the psyche of we Canucks. Certainly it’s the coffee and donuts and the familiar shop in every town, but it’s just as much the support of kid’s hometown soccer and hockey, the youth camps, Roll Up The Rim to Win and various other activities this company engages in. They’ve made themselves a presence. They’ve interwoven themselves in the fabric of community life in a way, at least from an observer’s point of view, most of us can admire in a corporate citizen.

Former Tim Hortons, Marketing Director, Ron Buist, in his book, Tales From Under the Rim recounts:  

“Tim Hortons started with nothing more that a dream, a few dollars, and personal values that came from starting life during the Great Depression: the willingness to work as hard and as long as the job required; the acceptance of the principle that, to spend a dollar, you had to have a dollar; and the drive to make the most of whatever resources might be at hand. Supplying neighbourly service and great donuts and coffee twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with consistent high quality in every single store have made Tim Hortons a part of Canadian life.”

There’s something in there for those of us who are entrepreneurs or lead businesses and organizations. Good things can happen with creative thinking and hard work. As Ron Buist points out, it probably won’t happen overnight and it will probably mean a lot of inconvenience and sacrifice for a time … but it can happen.

Okay, maybe most of us won’t be a Tim Hortons … but we won’t know until we go for it will we? They started with only one storefront. Who knows what might happen when we apply ourselves to the task with the tools that made ‘Timmys’ great … dreams, values, willingness to work, principles, a belief in service and a pursuit of quality.

All that having been said, let’s have a coffee.Tims anybody?

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