Labor shortage: “There aren’t any employees”

Fast food franchisees, gripped by the labor shortage, are simply too breathless to foresee long-term options. “We go there from day to day,” says Pierre Sévigny, well-known franchisee of a Tim Hortons in Quebec.

The former professional hockey player, who wore the Canadiens’ uniform in the 1990s, does not take any detour to address the current situation.

“I’ve had a lot less fun in recent years,” says the owner of Tim Hortons rue Bouvier for 18 years.

“Pressure, I’ve had it all my hockey life, I didn’t buy a job to have done so much at 50, still racing.”

His wife and son have taken over the daily operations of the restaurant. Despite everything, he is there two days a week to give them a helping hand.

“I went yesterday. I got home at 4 a.m. and got out at 4 p.m. Today my wife got home at 4 a.m. and she won’t be back until 6 p.m. It has become that, our life, ”he reports, insisting that“ there aren’t any employees ”.

Quite a puzzle

A few years ago, Mr. Sévigny would show up for a few minutes at the nearest unemployment office to recruit a missing employee.

Today, he is racking his brains to keep his restaurant open, and like many others, he has had to close his dining room.

“At the beginning, we said to ourselves that we could throw the key to the restaurant in the river because we were open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Let’s say we had to change our minds, ”he confides, adding that the solutions are not obvious.

Immigration processes are long and arduous, and francophone employees are sometimes hard to find. And the hiring of retirees is not having the expected success. “People find it hard, they find it going too fast and I understand them,” said the ex-hockey player, adding that he had adjusted the working conditions, without success.

“The wages are higher than people think, these are no longer minimum wage jobs. Our people are treated very well, we do everything to have them, ”sighs the entrepreneur.

Irritable clientele like never before

In this context, more and more often, customers, in a hurry, get impatient. And it is the few remaining employees who suffer. “It’s not easy for them,” admits Pierre Sévigny.

Other Tim Hortons franchisees have confided anonymously to the Journal that the relationship with customers had been difficult since the crisis.

“I have an employee who had a coffee recently launched because it was taking too long. We had to call the police, ”relates a manager who wants to educate customers.

Vicious circle

Pierre Sévigny and his family do not intend to give up, but admit that the pressure is strong. “From the time I started, there aren’t many people left, many have given up,” says Mr. Sévigny with regret.

“But if the little ones close, it’s going to put even more pressure on those who stay. It is a wheel that will not stop turning the wrong way. ”

More and more frequent closures

If at one time the last thing you thought to see closed was one of the countless Tim Hortons scattered across the province, today’s reality is quite different.

Many customers have encountered closed doors in recent months, either due to reduced hours of operation or temporary closures related to the workforce crisis.

This was particularly the case in Lévis in recent weeks, where the President-Kennedy Boulevard branch posted the following message:

“We have to close this restaurant temporarily due to a major labor shortage […]. »

An absence and everything falls apart

In Quebec City, one of the restaurants with the highest turnover in the region must close after 2 p.m.

“I have no choice, my employees come home at 4 am, I can’t keep them more than that, it’s inhuman”, says a manager who requires anonymity since the franchisor does not allow it. to talk about the restaurant situation.

Another told the Journal that the situation is so critical that it is often only one employee absent to force the shutdown.

“I have young people, on occasion, that it is the parent who calls me to tell me that he cannot come home because he is sick. And I must tell them that if their child does not come home, I must close my restaurant. It doesn’t make sense, ”says this source, which reports constant pressure.

Contact with the government

Asked to comment on the situation, the channel admits that the situation is difficult.

“Many franchisees are short of employees, although many of them offer bonuses and other incentives and benefits,” said the communications department of Tim Hortons, ensuring to work with the provincial government to “highlight the urgent needs of franchisees ”.

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