‘I’ve never seen anything like this in my whole career.’ Jim Treliving on the COVID-19 pandemic

Nothing slows Jim Treliving down. He’s the most travelled Dragon, and, if you ask Michele Romanow, he stays out later than most! 

But his jet-setting lifestyle had to be grounded because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is the longest I’ve ever been down,” says Jim.

As Jim stays put in his Vancouver condo, Dragons’ Den senior producer Molly Middleton took this rare opportunity to catch up with the Franchise King.

How the pandemic is impacting restaurant business

Jim’s lived through three recessions and multiple natural disasters, but he’s never experienced anything like the negative impact COVID-19 has had on the economy.

Boston Pizza, Jim’s franchise, has around 400 stores but due to social distancing, only 310 have stayed open to operate delivery and take out service. This dramatic shift resulted in the layoff of 24,500 employees. “It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my whole career,” says Jim.

Jim is hopeful that once social distancing is over, the restaurants can re-hire those workers.

What does the ‘new normal’ in business look like?

Ladies and gentlemen, Jim Treliving has discovered Zoom video conferencing. “It’s great. We can get all our franchisees on [a call] across the country,” he says. “We don’t need to book boardrooms.” This doesn’t mean in-person socializing will be completely phased out, but there will be changes.

New rituals

Jim and his wife Sandi are early birds. The couple wakes up to watch the news at 6:30 a.m. then goes for daily hour-long walks before starting their work days.

In his downtime, Jim created his own Netflix account to enjoy shows such as Tiger King and The Crown. He also discovered a small machine in his laundry room which he now refers to as his pet — a Dust Buster.

At the end of each day at 7 p.m., Jim joins others in his neighbourhood to make noise to thank the first responders and front-line workers who are dedicating their time to helping us get through the COVID-19 pandemic.


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