The federal government's multibillion-dollar Paycheck Protection Program has been very beneficial in helping KFC and Pizza Hut franchises stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kevin Hochman, who serves as KFC's president and Pizza Hut's interim president, said Thursday.
"The PPP program for our franchisees, who most are small business owners or entrepreneurs, have been really helpful to get us through this as well as keep people employed," Hochman told Maria Bartiromo during an interview on "Mornings with Maria."
However, the funds are not a cure-all. Hochman said that although the funds have helped, "not all [franchises] will make it through" the unprecedented crisis which has pushed unemployment to Depression-era levels.
Through the relief program, the government doled out roughly $530 billion to millions of small businesses to cushion them from the sharp downturn induced by the coronavirus. The funds have helped them pay operating costs, forestall layoffs or even rehire staff.
To date, almost all of the KFC locations are open for drive-thru and delivery, with 200 now opening for dine-in service, Hochman said. Not only are these locations up and running but they are making changes to make sure customers feel safe.
Like its competitors, Yum Brands, which owns and operates KFC and Pizza Hut, has focused on adding proper protective equipment for staff, implementing plexiglass shields at counters, closing every other table to adhere to social distancing guidelines as well as increase sanitization, Hochman said.
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What's more, both KFC and Pizza Hut are actively hiring. KFC is looking to fill more than 8,000 roles nationwide and plans to keep adding workers as dinning rooms reopen. Similarly, Pizza Hut, which announced in March that it was looking to fill 30,000 positions nationwide, is still actively looking to recruit 10,000 more employees.
Although hiring is always a challenge, the company is "very aggressive" in terms of their recruitment efforts, Hochman said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.