Whether you’ve recently opened your own coffee shop, or are already successfully running one but haven’t setup WiFi for your customers, you’ve come to the right place. When opening up your WiFi to the public, there are best practice rules to ensure it’s fast, smooth and reliable. Here, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about effective coffee shop WiFi management.
Why Offer Free WiFi?
We live in a world where we all expect free WiFi in coffee shops. If you don’t offer it, then what’s to say your customers won’t up and leave and head to the nearest Starbucks?
Providing free WiFi will give your customers a reason to come back time and time again (aside from the great coffee and cakes…) provided of course, that’s it’s speedy, reliable and secure.
Understand the Needs of Your Customer
Before you even set up your WiFi, you first need to understand the needs of your customer. Are they freelancers who spend a good part of the day in your coffee shop, working on their laptops? Are they meeting their friends in the evening, Instagramming their #latteart? Or, are they morning commuters, frantically checking their emails whilst waiting for their double espressos?
There are so many ways customers can access your WiFi – whether it’s on their phones, tablets, laptops or other devices. In fact, with so many ways to connect to the internet, there’s likely to be more devices using your WiFi at any given time, than you’ll actually be able to see. It’s integral for effective coffee shop WiFi management that you understand this, because then you’ll be able to choose the best speed and equipment your customers require.
Whilst lower speeds can be tempting as they’re cheaper, they’re really not worthwhile. Have you ever been to an airport or hotel, and tried to connect to the WiFi but it was so slow, you just gave up? Remember how frustrating that was? You don’t want to be known as the coffee shop with the really bad WiFi – you may as well not offer it at all.
When it comes to effective coffee shop WiFi management, it’s key to browse the packages offered by various providers – you’ll find a wealth of different upload and download speeds, at price points to suit every budget.
For customers to be able to browse the internet with ease, we would recommend looking for a package that has at least 20 mbps speed.
Network speed and reliability is ultimately dependent on the equipment you choose. In the most basic form, you’ll need to purchase a modem and wireless router. However, in order to create a separate WiFi signal that allows for public access, you’ll need to invest in a premium model router.
There are some models available that enable you to set up a captive portal, meaning users need to agree to your terms and conditions before they can access your WiFi. This can be ideal when it comes to coffee shop WiFi management, because not only will it provide your business with legal protection; it also allows you to filter adult content (e.g. gambling), whilst managing and limiting how much bandwidth your guests can use – putting a stop to frustrating video streaming.
It goes without saying you’ll want to have your WiFi password protected, but to make it secure, you’ll need to have separate passwords for customer and business use.
In fact, your individual back-of-house devices will need their own separate connection and password – that includes your payroll system, cash registers and music streaming system.
For effective coffee shop WiFi management, you’ll need to encrypt your network with WiFi Protected Access II (WPA2), which is a security protocol that was created specifically to protect networks such as those in coffee shops
Where to Display Your Password
Now you’ve set up your WiFi and chosen a separate password for customer use, you’ll need to choose where to display it.
If you’re wondering whether or not to have a password in the first place, then just consider whether you want people potentially loitering outside trying to connect to your WiFi. It’s probably not the ideal situation.
So, whilst you don’t want just anyone accessing your WiFi, by creating a password, you don’t want to hide it either. People are sitting in your coffee shop to ultimately support you, so by displaying your WiFi password on a chalkboard, or showcasing it near the till, it shows that you trust people to use it responsibly, as you’re putting it on clear display.
Some cafes print their passwords onto receipts, so WiFi is restricted only to those who make a purchase. However, with contactless payments not giving receipts, this is kind of redundant – and for people to sit down in your coffee shop in the first place, they must have bought something from you.
Ultimately, for effective coffee shop WiFi management, you need to ensure it’s fast, reliable and secure so customers can trust using it, whilst ensuring it’s separate to the WiFi your business uses. If you’re unsure about how to set it up, you can request us to conduct a wireless network installation survey. We’ll help to establish the goals of your network, and how many customers are likely to be on your WiFi at any one time. We’ll also help you to decide which manufacturer is ideal, and locate where your switches, access points and firewalls will be.