If you have been a coffee shop owner for any length of time you will get to know your regulars, what type of coffee they like, do they take almond milk or soya milk instead of diary milk, you will probably even get to know them by name, they are your customers because you make great coffee but they are also your customers because you are providing them with free Wi-Fi. This Blog will help you in managing your Coffee Shop Wi-Fi.
Since the pandemic people’s way of working is very different now, no longer are people chained to their desks at the corporate head office. Everyone has a laptop and can work any time, any place, anywhere.
These people may not necessarily look business like in a suit, but you can tell the people working on the move, they will sit next to the closest power point and could spend hours nursing a single cup of coffee and be endlessly talking on their mobile phones or conducting Zoom Meetings, but are they affecting your bottom line?
Free Coffee Shop Wi-Fi is simply an expectation for anyone visiting your establishment. We expect it everywhere there is a public space, Cafés, Bars, Restaurants, Hotels. Below are some things you should consider when managing your coffee shop Wi-Fi effectively so that it doesn’t have a negative impact on your business.
Keep your Till & PDQ Network Separate from your Free Wi-Fi.
Most coffee shops have a single internet connection and everything that requires access to the internet is connected to the same network, Tills, PDQ machines, CCTV and their customers. This is a big security risk
The operational side of your Coffee Shop should be kept separate from your customer Wi-Fi, this doesn’t need to be a separate internet connection but it should be virtually separated using a Virtual Network (VLAN).
Speak with your current IT provider or Us to advise you on how to do this.
How fast does your Coffee Shop Wi-Fi need to be?
We have all come to expect internet downloads speeds of 80Mb, or above if you are lucky to have Fibre Broadband in your home. On your home network if you are a family of 4 you will mostly likely have 12 – 15 devices internet connected to your home router all sharing the bandwidth that you have.
Now think about your Coffee Shop. Your Tills, Your PDQ machines, your CCTV cameras and your customers, you could easily have 50+ devices connected and the same time when you are busy. So how do you ensure that your everything stays operational and your customers happy?
In order to manage your Coffee Shop Wi-Fi effectively your traditional Wi-Fi router supplied by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is more than likely not going to have the capability to cope with that number of devices and will most likely not be setup to use Virtual Networks (VLANs) to separate your customers from the operational side of your Coffee Shop. Any device connected to your customer Wi-Fi will also be able use up as much of your available bandwidth as possible if someone decides to catch up on their favourite TV show.
It is important that you install a business grade Internet Router/Firewall and that you can setup multiple Wi-Fi networks where you can control how much bandwidth each device connected can use. Please do consult with your IT provider on what you should be using.
Marketing your Coffee Shop
We have all been to the big chain coffee shops like Costa & Starbucks and connected to their Wi-Fi and your taken to a branded landing page with special offers or you have been able to sign in using your social media accounts. These are called “Captive Portals”.
These are not limited to the large chains, business Wi-Fi grade access points will allow you to setup your own branded Captive Portals to further reenforce your brand and can be used to collect email addresses for email marketing purposes. Do ensure that the Captive Portal Provider you use follows the strict new GDPR regulations.
Make sure your customer Wi-Fi is Friendly Wi-Fi Certified
If you are providing Free Wi-Fi for your customers make sure that your Wi-Fi installation has been Friendly Wi-Fi Certified. Friendly Wi-Fi is a government-initiated safe certification standard for public Wi-Fi. The Friendly Wi-Fi symbol tells you where the service meets minimum filtering standards – particularly in areas where children are present. You can find a list of approved Friendly Wi-Fi providers here.
Turn off your customer Wi-Fi network when it’s not in use.
A lot of Coffee shops in towns and cities have residential flats above them, your Wi-Fi signal has the potential to travel up into their flat, if they know your Wi-Fi password they could be using your internet connection for free.
Business Grade Wi-Fi access points will allow you to setup a schedule for when the wireless network is being broadcast, setup this schedule so that your customer Wi-Fi network is not being broadcast when you are closed, this will also stop people sitting outside your Coffee Shop piggy backing off your Wi-Fi.