Each day that goes by thousands of restaurants will shut their doors and not reopen.
Based on potential restaurant closures from the COVID-19 virus, the industry could lose 25–30 percent of its sales and put as many as 7 million people out of work. As thinly capitalized businesses, many restaurants will be forced to permanently shut their doors unless we move with great speed to protect them. One in 10 Americans work in the restaurant industry, which employs over 15 million people. We must act fast.
The Treasury and the SBA are both working hard to provide badly needed funds to the local businesses that are most affected by this crisis. These funds need to be leveraged quickly to have an impact.
Each day that goes by thousands of restaurants will shut their doors and not reopen because they can’t bridge the financial gap, leaving millions of people unemployed. This is solvable. The success of a mission like this requires three critical components:
- Speed because of the thinly capitalized nature of the industry
- Infrastructure because the program will have to go directly to restaurants, many of which are not sophisticated at accessing these programs themselves
- Expertise because the restaurant vertical has a unique set of financial dynamics, which is why traditional financial institutions generally have not served this industry
My team at Rewards Network has been advocating for restaurants for 35 years, and we will not stop now. Therefore, through April, Rewards Network will provide our Marketing Services product to restaurants in our network at no cost to them. Zero. We are ready and willing to work with the Treasury and SBA to utilize our infrastructure to get these restaurateurs the funds they need to stay afloat before it’s too late.
Finally, each of us as individuals play a role. Call your favorite restaurants and order takeout or delivery as often as you can. Or buy their gift cards to provide them the capital they need now and the night out you could use later. You can enjoy foods you love and support local business owners to ensure the future of your community.
Ed Eger is the CEO of Rewards Network, a provider of marketing and financing services to the restaurant industry in partnership with the world’s leading loyalty programs. For restaurants interested in finding out more about the free marketing services Rewards Network will be providing to restaurants in April, please visit this page or call (800) 766-3463.