New Saint-Lazare Tim Hortons clearing first hurdles
Owners, young staff forging ahead
When the bright, spacious, new concept Tim Hortons opened Dec. 16 on chemin Sainte-Angélique, in SaintLazare, Cardin and Bincette were as ready as they could be after five years of planning, hoping and waiting to own their own franchise.
The couple from Les Coteaux , parents of two daughters, said they felt like they won the lottery when Tim Hortons head office approved their request to become first-time franchise owners after many years of waiting. The move was a leap of faith for the pair, who have invested much more than hard-earned money into the venture. Prior to becoming restaurant owners, Cardin worked as a special care counsellor with special needs children, while Bincette worked in a distribution centre. And though he had some experience managing a small staff, he says overseeing a staff of 35 employees is very different.
“Ninety percent of our staff are teenagers, and for most of them this is their first job,” Bincette noted, adding all but three employees live in Saint Lazare.
And while both owners, who are also learning on the job after having completed seven weeks of corporate training, say giving top customer service is their first priority, they hope customers will be patient while the franchise works through its opening growing pains.
“Right now we are here sometimes 20-hours a day,” Cardin said. “We’re serving customers, cleaning tables,
As owner-operators of the newest Tim Hortons in the region, Kathy Cardin and Éric Bincette might be the most popular people in Saint Lazare these days. But the tireless couple who are running on more than a few cups of their own coffee, are hoping customers give them and their young staff a dose of patience as they get up to speed.
making sandwiches along with our staff; we’re part of the same team.”
Sales during the first two weeks were a little higher than expected despite encountering problems with the restaurant’s debit card machines, as well as its Internet service.
Cardin says their employees, who had one week of training with experienced staff from other Tim Hortons restaurants, are improving each day.
But alleged customer complaints have led at least one patron to take to a social media page imploring others to “show patience and compassion with the employees of our new Tim Hortons.”
The post went on to say: “no one is perfect on a new job the first few weeks.”
Sixty one people agreed with the sentiment, with many commending the young staff on giving friendly service.
“We are a small community and should not expect a new business to find experienced staff,” another person wrote.
Part of the community
Cardin and Bincette say they chose Saint-Lazare for their franchise location because they love the community. Their oldest daughter attended Forest Hill Sr. elementary school before going on to study at Collège Bourget. “My fatherin-law lives here and we want to move here soon,” Cardin noted.
The couple plans to become very involved in the community once their franchise is up to speed.
“Right now we have a lot of people coming to ask us to donate and we want to help as much as we can, but only once we can do it,” she said.
The new franchise has already agreed to sponsor the cost of sending two children from low income homes to camp this summer, while it donated 50 backpacks filled with school supplies to the regional CLSC, which helps distribute the supplies to those in need.
And while the parents are not seeing as much of their own kids as they would like these days, Cardin knows the round-theclock shifts will soon end.
“I can see myself working a regular shift, taking time off to go skating at the park (Bédard) with my daughters, then coming back here... for now this is a huge investment for our family, because under the big Tim Hortons name, we are just a family who want to be a part of this great community.”
The Saint-Lazare Tim Hortons will hold an official grand opening within the next two weeks.
Kathy Cardin and Éric Bincette are first-time owner-operators of the newest Tim Hortons in the region, located in Saint-Lazare.
The new concept restaurant includes comfortable seating areas and an electric fireplace.